Top 10 tips every freelancer needs to know

Co-written by Jo Gardiner

The freelancer model is gaining momentum.

Since the start of the pandemic in 2020, the number of people leaving their nine-to-five jobs and switching to freelancing has increased. A large contributor to this shift has been workers re-evaluating what they want from their working life (and home life) post-pandemic.

Freedom, autonomy, and choice have become much more important than a fancy title or paycheck – starting a freelance business allows you to be your own boss, work when you want, where you want and how you want as well as be more selective about who you work with.

However, taking that leap and being a successful freelancer isn’t always as easy or straightforward – there can be a lot of uncertainty, your income can fluctuate whilst you build your client base and it can take time to adjust to a new way of working, especially if you’re used to being surrounded by a team of people.

Here at The Marketing Bee, we’ve attracted a significant number of extremely talented B2B marketers, who have all made the decision to start working as freelancers, leaving key roles in corporate organisations. We love to share our business ideas, tips and tricks, life experiences and perspectives in The Hive to support each other and we recently asked our Associates what their top tips would be for new freelancers. We’ve got some great nuggets of advice for you so read on to find out our top 10 tips we think every freelancer needs to know.

There may be more so let us know what your top tip would be from your experience, and we’ll add it to the list!

1.    Never say no to a project just because it scares you

Being a freelancer, you are constantly out of your comfort zone! But without taking risks, you may miss out on big rewards and the opportunity to learn new things, surprise yourself and delight a new client too. Ben, one of our Associates shared that many of his longest-term client relationships came about because he took on projects that he thought he couldn’t do…but he could, and he did! You can’t afford to stay in your comfort zone as a freelancer. There will always be projects that don’t feel right, and you will want to walk away from but those that scare you AND excite you are worth grabbing with both hands!

2.    Be prepared for the unexpected

As Emma and Heather from our Hive told us, freelancing can sometimes feel like a rollercoaster. One minute you think it’s never going to work, only to land a new client or amazing project the next day and crack open the champagne again!! Likewise, you think you’re going to take it slow for a couple of months and then projects pop up that you can’t pass on! So be prepared and embrace the unexpected – you never know what exciting opportunity is around the corner.

3.    Make time for business development

When you’re your own boss, it’s down to you to put the work in! You need to make sure you are continually learning and developing to improve your skills and progress your business forward. Ash told us how important it is to make sure you set time aside for business development. When you’re working too much IN your business, you’re not focusing on the bigger picture and you can end up in a feast or famine scenario, which adds unnecessary stress! Regularly reviewing what’s working, and what’s not and making any adjustments will set you up for success.

4.    Prioritise your own marketing

Although our Hive is full of marketers, copywriters, and content writers, you’d be surprised how many of our Associates told us they don’t prioritise their own marketing! As Jo highlighted, you have to treat your own business just like any other client otherwise you end up trying to squeeze everything into evenings and weekends (or not at all!). Jo’s tip is to get into the habit of setting time aside, whether it’s weekly or monthly to work on your strategy and content planning... and stick to it!

5.    Leverage social media

Showing up on social media isn’t always everyone’s favourite thing to do but every freelancer needs to get comfortable with marketing themselves and pitching their services. Social media is a great way to reach a wider audience, make connections, increase visibility, and grow your brand awareness.

6.    Communication is key

Communication is essential when you’re working with clients on a project. But it’s also important to keep the communication going with your wider network too, even when you're busy as it may lead to more work. Many of our brilliant Associates get their work through referrals or their freelancing network. Nigel’s top tip is to make sure you stay in contact regularly and not wait until you need the work as this will keep you visible and top of mind for when someone needs your skills and expertise!

7.    Embrace (constructive) criticism

Receiving any kind of criticism, especially when you’re new to freelancing, can be difficult but it’s an important part of the learning process and helps you understand client expectations, improve your skills, and refine your processes. All our Associates would agree their ways of working have been shaped just as much by what’s not gone right than those that did!

8.    Get used to hearing ‘no’ a lot

Rejection is part of the job, so get comfortable hearing the word ‘no’ a lot (or in some cases, being ghosted!) Not all pitches will be successful, and not all clients will want to or be ready to work with you, but you shouldn’t let that stop you. Being a freelancer means you need to constantly network, pitch and sell your services – the right clients are out there!

9.    Be prepared to say ‘no’ too!

Turning work down as a freelancer may seem scary but being your own boss means you get to say no to work you don’t really want to do! From nightmare clients who want to cut your rates or give you all the red flags to run in the opposite direction to projects simply not being your cup of tea and out of your skillset, you get to decide!

10.     Find a community of other freelancers

Luckily, we’ve got this one covered! Becoming a freelancer can be a huge shift, especially when you’ve been used to working alongside a team and having others around you to chat with, bounce ideas off and ask questions. When you join The Hive, it’s not just about gaining access to exciting projects and developing your career. It’s more than that. It’s being part of something special. We’ve built a supportive community where our Associates can connect with their marketing peers around the world, and share best practices, learnings, and freelancing experience.

Let us know what your top tips would be to help the freelancing community. And if you’re a new (or seasoned!) freelancer and would like to join our Hive, get in touch!