11 min. read In the U.S. alone, 57 million of the country’s population were self-employed, according to a study from Upwork. And while operating your own business offers numerous advantages, such as the opportunity to skip the commute and pursue your passion, freelance life is not without its challenges. Read on for the benefits of an online presence and find out what needs to be done, to get the right person to the right job.
I write as long as I can remember. Most of the times to not forget certain things, or I have a observation or thought that I find funny or silly and then I write it down. I guess it’s an outlet for me – like music is for others.
Also, writing makes me more creative and aware of my thoughts. Since I started blogging I have been writing online – which is completely different. Here, I don’t write for myself but for you. And although I try to serve others, all of the topics that I write about are an extension of me – of what I find interesting and what I think you might find interesting as well.
This game of growing an audience online and coming up with interesting and engaging content too, has been giving me a lot of joy for a while now. But aside from that joy, I also have been building an online presence with it which enabled me to be found and seen as a capable writer and content marketer too.
No clients, no work
The remedy for freelancers is, no clients, no work. So aside from investing in yourself and your craft, getting found might be your greatest priority. Moreover, there are many ways of becoming more visible as a freelancer.
For example, marketplaces like Fiverr and Upwork are often used by freelancers to find a new job in the gig economy. Marketplaces like these not only seem to be a great way for them to get found by clients. Those marketplaces also seem to be of value for clients too, who like to find freelancers for their jobs and fix the talent gap problems within their company.
That’s because not only freelancers are challenged and struggle to be found for the job, also clients struggle to figure out who is capable enough to do the job. Marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork are supposed to solve this two-sided problem by bringing those parties together. Although this concept might sound as a win-win for both parties, there are some problems that can be found in the way those marketplaces bring the supply and demand together.
Lowest bidder to succeed
Businesses often assume that they can save money by low-balling freelancers for their services. Not only does this practice serve to frustrate freelancers as it forces them to be the lowest bidder to succeed, but it also tends to result in companies receiving inferior products.
Although freelance marketplaces do bring those parties together, the problem is that those marketplaces often contribute and speed up that race to the bottom. That’s because marketplaces want to be paid for every hour they work, and their interest is to match as many freelancers with the jobs as possible. As a result, the marketplace becomes a commodity marketplace where not necessarily the most capable freelancer for the job is being found, but the cheapest one.
For example, if someone searches for “copywriter”, there is a huge amount of pressure to be the freelancer who checks all the boxes, has decent reviews and is also the cheapest. The problem with that is that there’s always someone cheaper than you. Compliance and commodity pricing can’t possibly work well for an independent freelancer. Marketplaces for freelancers make it worse by pushing people to be bottom-fishing cheap commodity providers.
Therefore, that low-balling is not good for either the freelancer or the client. The gig economy is based on the magic of finding the right person for the right job. That magic falls apart when it becomes a commodity marketplace in which each freelancer struggles to be valued for the work they are able to create. For most freelancers, the hard part isn’t doing the work. It’s being tricked into believing that they have to be the lowest bidder to succeed.
As a freelancer, you are – and should be – proud of your products and services. When companies try to pay you less than you’re worth, you’re right when you’d feel frustrated. But the reality is that there are always businesses who will be hunting for the cheapest option. So I think it’s up to us to minimize our frustration and come up with smart and inventive ways to eventually get paid what we deserve. We need to find a way to change the perspective of being seen as the lowest bidder to succeed, to the one with the expertise and the experience.
Shifting towards being seen as better
This race to the bottom doesn’t go unnoticed for these marketplaces either. Marketplace Fiverr for example, introduced in the summer of 2017 a new premium freelancer marketplace to do something about this problem. Fiverr Pro focuses on high-end freelancers. It is a curated environment where freelancers get invited for a job based on their additional skills.
Although certain ideas might be a helpful first step, we truly need to shift the perception from being the lowest bidder to succeed, to being the right person for the right job. The freelancer needs to be seen as better, rather than cheaper.
One way of shifting that perception is by investing in a good and steady online presence. Becoming visible online can be a meaningful way to create opportunities for yourself. Although some businesses will always look for the cheapest option, you can minimize the frustration you feel by posting your rates clearly on your website and only responding to job ads that fall within your accepted salary range. But there are more benefits of an online presence.
Benefits of an online presence
Like I said, using your online presence might be a great first opportunity to show your worth and story to potential clients. Your online presence can be about using a website, a social media account, or a portfolio on a certain platform. All of them are ways that can help you to reach your potential clients and to get more of the better ones.
However, an online presence is not built in one day. If you start out like me (as a nobody with potential and a lot of ideas), then you will need a lot of time and thought to make that online presence count. It’s about putting out an amazing strategy, about understanding what drives clients you want to work with to hire you instead of someone else, but it’s also about sharing your work in a way that gets other people to talk about it as well. All that will help, eventually, to charge and get what you deserve.
Let me highlight 5 benefits of an online presence.
1. Opportunities to diversify
Let’s say you are a freelance writer and have a website build up for yourself. Right now, you are using this website to show your portfolio with your latest gigs. But when you have a decent amount of people coming to your website every month, you might consider to diversify your business as well.
There are many ways to diversify your business online and in the upcoming DIY-kit to grow your online presence as a freelancer, I will be talking about ways to branch out from freelancing too. Sign up and I will send you an e-mail when we are going to launch!
Trying to sell a product, get speaking gigs, and promote workshops is a great way to not only create different income streams, which is, now in the age of coronavirus super welcome, it’s also easier to do when you already have an online presence and a platform to sell those things from.
2. Create trust and credibility
There is a funny story of a pool company that almost went bankrupt in 2008 and decided to make an advantage of their website. River Pools took a dive into Google and saw that there were many people having specific questions and searching for answers related to having and placing a pool in their garden.
The owner of the company, decided to answer all of those questions on his website and also put out a list with the best pool companies in the country to build trust among his readers. He didn’t mention his own company – although River Pools was building private pools too – and the traffic to their website grew drastically. Using content marketing turned out to be the best decision they could make in their circumstances, leading them to become not only the number one seller of fiberglass pools in their area, but the country and they are now not just selling, but manufacturing their own pools too.
As the owner of the company proclaims, building an stunning online presence prevented them of going bankrupt and turned their company in a thriving business. And even think about it, chances are big that potential clients are going to do a little research before they spend the cash. Especially the amounts of money that people pay for placing a private pool in their garden…
I think it’s a pretty cool example of how you can leverage your online presence, which is especially handy for freelancers as well. At the end of the day people like to buy from people and that trust and credibility can be created online too. But only when you are going to offer those potential clients a helping hand. You are going to show them that you really understand what they want and need, and that you can solve their particular pain points.
3. To tell your story
Freelancers struggle to be valued for the work they are able to create. Using your website to tell your story makes you unique. Potential clients will remember you for what you said or how you made them feel. Next time they need a freelancer for the job, they will think of you. Telling your story sets you apart.
Someone who did an incredible job in that is Seth Godin. His website is full of information about branding, of books that he wrote (with link to the place to buy it) and workshops that you can take. His head pops up all the time and with the uploaded videos he wants to make sure that you will not forget him. He is the perfect helping hand when you need help with building a brand.
4. Giving people a way to contact you
One of the other benefits of an online presence is that it can give people the opportunity to keep in touch with you. Platforms like LinkedIn or someone’s personal website are ways to contact a person and I’ve used those many times to get in touch with people. I see those online portfolio’s as an invitation to others to get in touch with you. Otherwise you would never put in so much effort to create that visibility for yourself. Not only are those platforms good opportunities to show who you are, but it’s also the best way to be contacted by potential clients.
4. Getting found (by strangers) more easily
Starting a website will mean that – if you allow it, Google will start to rank for your website. As a consequence, potential clients using Google probably will find you through this search engine machine. Showing up in these search engines can be incredibly valuable. If people can find what they are looking for then they probably won’t have any reason to look elsewhere and buy from you. It can give you freelance opportunities while sleeping.
Low payment and low quality of work is not in anyones best interest. To overcome this problem, we need to shift the perception from being the lowest bidder to succeed, to be the right person for the right job. It’s about being seen as the one that is better, rather than the cheapest one.
Like I mentioned, the benefits of an online presence are evident. And there are many benefits to name. Although building an online presence might be an opportunity to be distinctive to others, it might also seem an uphill struggle that you simply don’t have the time for – which I can imagine.
But your online presence can work for you in different ways. Whether that’s to attract more clients you really want to work with, cement yourself as an authority in your industry, or to eventually branch out and scale up your business. It depends on what you want to accomplish and how much of your time you want to invest in it. But there are different ways of doing it and it van be beneficial for you too.
More on this in our upcoming DIY-kit for freelancers. Sign up for updates now and we’ll let you know when it’s launching.
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