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Becoming a successful freelancer takes hard work, a strong skillset, and a willingness to learn from others. From building your professional network to developing first-rate listening skills, here are our top tips for a successful freelance career.

Understand what clients want. Look beyond the task at hand and find the less tangible reason for what you’re doing. What problem is being solved? What impact will this project make? How will it make someone's life easier? These are good questions to ask and important infromation to know if you're going to do a superior job. Sometimes, even the simple act of asking these questions goes a long way. It conveys your intention of meeting clients' expectations and delivering exactly what they want. 

Be honest about needs and expectations. It’s important for everyone to be on the same page about your work environment, compensation, and the work itself. Complete transparency about who you are, what your process is, and what you expect from the work are absolute musts. Sharing professional and personal interests is a “soft skill” that builds trust and confidence as well – two things that may guarantee you continued work.

Stay present, even if off-site. Regular communication is the glue that holds a freelance-based relationship together. Respond in a timely manner, be proactive about periodically checking in and, if feasible, suggest occasional in-person meetings. It's an effort freelancers must make and trust us, it doesn't go unnoticed. 

Be someone people want to work with. When people say, “she’s fun to work with,” they’re not talking about after-work parties. Working well with others depends on a personable and reliable approach that helps build rapport. To get there, focus on being friendly, cooperative, and respectful. 

Go the extra mile. Taking your freelance career to the next level requires taking your work to the next level.There’s no better way to make yourself indispensable than by building positive work and personal connections. The competition in freelancing is fierce, with lots of people out there just as talented as you. Set yourself apart by going beyond what you were hired to do. 

Always use a contract. Even the smallest jobs should have one. It helps protect you and lets the client know what to expect. At a minimum, each contract should address five topics: originality/plagiarism, proprietary confidentiality, payment terms, responsibility for how the work is used, and termination rights.

Get comfortable with turning down work. It may sound crazy but don’t be afraid to say "no" to work that doesn’t support your goals. It may take some time to fully embrace the idea that, as a freelancer, you’re also running a business and not all business is good business. When deciding on whether you should take on the work, consider if it’s worth your time and if it will have a positive impact on your bottom line.

Focus on work that you love. Over time, it will become clear which jobs you’re most attracted to. Hint: They’re the ones you can’t wait to get started on! That’s the time to pick one or two areas to specialize in, narrow down the work you accept to those fields, and rebrand yourself as an expert in those services.

Showcase your work. Don’t try to please everyone. Concentrate on your specialized areas so that you continue to receive the work you want. You’ll also be perceived as the master freelancer people should hire!

If you’re a creative ready to take the next step in your career and personal life, our WunderLand recruiters will connect you with next-level creative opportunities. And use these tips to gain the confidence you need to take on the life of a successful freelancer.

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