Freelancing 101: Optimizing Your Business during a Pandemic

As communities around the world fight to stay alive, Asiedua’s Imprint joins in on this battle, which exists in all facets of life—genetically, spiritually, financially and more.

Simply waking up is a blessing. Still, like the great Maya Angelou said, “My mission is life is not just to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion and some humor and some style.”

Throughout my life, my biggest disappointments always proved to be precursors to my greatest breakthroughs. Coming to Ghana has been a tumultuous experience. I faced disappointment after disappointment from strangers and loved ones alike. Through this experience I truly came to understand the saying “Not all storms come to disrupt your life. Some come to clear your path.” Unbeknownst to me, this is exactly what God was doing, clearing my path so I could move forward without distraction.

Now, as a full-time freelancer, I am my own boss, and it definitely has its perks. I create my own schedule, can work anywhere I like and do things my way. My earnings are not determined by the hours I put in, but by my output and results.

I am responsible for managing all of my clients, getting my work done on time and am managing my resources much more intensely. The challenging part of being an entrepreneur is not always knowing when the next paycheck will come ( but let’s be real—is job security guaranteed in this day and age?) Through learning valuable lessons as a young entrepreneur, I now know it is not as sexy as it seems. It is a grueling task of fighting for yourself. It definitely builds character and is an empowering process.

COVID-19 is creating many more entrepreneurs, as employment insecurity reaches higher heights. Those who were part-time entrepreneurs are now kicking it up a notch, and new entrepreneurs are entering the game hungry for success.

If you are thinking about freelancing full time or are a budding entrepreneur, specifically a freelancer like myself, these questions may have popped up in your mind:

How much should I charge for my work?

How will I find clients?

What is the best way to market myself?

How will I manage my clients?

What do I do if clients try to back out on paying me at the last minute?

If you have ever come across these thoughts, this blog post is for you. I am sharing these freelance tips in hopes it will help you optimize your business and traverse more easily into the next phase of your career. Let’s jump right in!

Starve your Distractions—Feed your Focus

I cannot stress enough how important this is. Yes, balance is good, but consider how much time is spent on things that will not provide return on investment in the long run and allow this to guide your steps.

By this I don’t mean emotionally supporting your friend or making a home cooked meal. I am talking about the hours spent scrolling aimlessly on social media, chatting on the phone with that immature guy who keeps playing games or engaging in low vibrating activities. These time wasters can make or break your success.

Honorable Samiah Nkrumah, Ghanaian politician and daughter of Kwame Nkrumah, and I

Find Your Niche

It took me some time to find my niche, and though I am still carving my own space, I had to do different types of jobs to see what I could put meraki, or creative essence through work, into most easily.

Through doing what you love, work will be enjoyable. This will allow you to work more effectively, and to find and tap in to your community much easier because you will know what and who you are looking for. To be an entrepreneur, you must have a certain level of versatility ( if you are reading this you may already know,) but it is still helpful to have a unique selling point or ‘thing’ that people can recognize you for, in addition to your other skills.

Portfolio: Let Your Work Speak for Itself

The power of your work lies in the work itself. Create a portfolio and review it often. This can include your social media handles, as many businesses look at these profiles to gauge what they can about your identity and values. Make it easy for potential clients or partners to find your work through your social media page and/or google.

Now, during COVID-19, everything is online, so if you are not optimizing your social media and websites for business, you will be lagging behind. It may be helpful to brand yourself around your work. Think about your industry, the spaces you want to connect with and curate your content based on that using hashtags. This will lead people to click on the link in your profile that leads to your website. Still, stay authentic because that is #Priceless!

How to ‘Bag’ Clients

When it comes to securing clients, the process may seem intimidating, but a multi-pronged approach can make things easier. Now that you have your portfolio and an idea of your niche, it is time to hustle. Work with what you have! Reach out to your network, research potential clients who could use your services, send them a personalized email and even call to follow up if you don’t hear a response. Also, try direct marketing of your services on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It may be fruitful.

Create a pitch template but be flexible in utilizing it, as different businesses require a different approach, and hey, you may be inspired to create a whole new one for a potential client that makes your eyes gleam!

When searching for new clients, do not get discouraged if the first few do not respond. Use your tenacity to push through any disappointments. This will make your breakthrough much more satisfying and give you more vim ( energy) to progress when you do bag that first, second or third client. Pressure makes the diamond!

Figuring out How Much to Charge Your Client

For some clients, I first worked for free or for a humble price because I could see benefits in the near future, and/or needed help building my portfolio. This proved fruitful for me in the long term. Also, it is always helpful to research your industry and see how much others in your field are charging. If this is your first time doing a project, I wouldn’t advise you to go crazy with the price.

I created a price list that I alter and send to clients. I always speak with potential clients first to see what they have in mind and how they would like me to contribute. Then I inquire about the details, including their budget and go from there. If their price is too low for you or your price too high for them, use your interpersonal skills to reach a common ground. If not, on to the next!

If you are Nervous your Client will back out on Paying

Always write a contract before starting work. It should be signed by you and your client before you begin the job. Some freelancers request half of the payment before they start working, and then are paid the rest after. It is totally up to you and your client. Design the contract to be clear and transparent so there are no holes in expectations. If the client does not honor the contract, you can contact a lawyer about taking legal action.

Organizing Your Work

When working it is super important to create a schedule using a calendar. Scheduling deadlines and working backwards to break down tasks works very well for me. I also set priorities. Yes, all of client’s works are important but as a journalist, for example, some articles may need more leg room for edits, meaning you will have to turn it in earlier for it to still be published in a timely manner. I keep a list of ongoing projects in Excel and update them frequently to keep a clear head as far as my progress and future planning.

Always be on the Lookout for New Opportunities/Clients

Business is about relationships. It is creating, building, strengthening mutually beneficial relationships. Through developing adept interpersonal skills and being on the lookout for partnerships, your chance of success is heightened. Talk with people, learn about what they do and how you can fit their needs or vice versa. Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready! If you have to, practice your elevator pitch in the mirror so you know how to summarize your work concisely. Always look presentable, you never know who you might meet!

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this hopeful. As I am still learning, I would love to hear what you have learned along the way. What tips do you have for freelancers or entrepreneurs? Comment below!

2 thoughts on “Freelancing 101: Optimizing Your Business during a Pandemic

  1. Emmanuel Addo

    The quality of an individual is reflected in the standards they set for themselves.
    You can accomplish it if you begin it. 🙏🏾


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