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January 25, 2020

Be a Freelancer, but Act Like a Company

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So now you're a freelancer. Life isn't too bad. You've been awarded a couple of gigs, and you've performed well. The clients are happy. But why do you feel like you could be doing more? Why aren't clients banging at your door demanding more of your services? Well, it may have to do with how you present yourself. If you're like most freelancers, you act just like that, a freelancer. A freelancer is generally an individual who doesn't portray himself or herself as anything more. At least that's how most freelancers operate. But not all.

There are freelancers in the marketplace who portray themselves as much more than individual contractors looking for contract work. In fact, if you didn't know better, you wouldn't even call them freelancers. You'd call them small companies because that's how they look to the outside world. That's how they want you to see them as well. But in reality, they are simply freelancers like you.

There's another difference. These individuals are likely to get more work than you do, probably much more work. Why? It's simple really. Employers or companies with contract work feel better in hiring smaller companies that specialize in a particular niche. They feel safer. They have a sense that this "company" will be more professional and the odds are better that the job will get done right than hiring an individual. Of course you know that no one will deliver better service than you, but how do they know that? Can you simply tell them that you're better? Probably not. There's a lot more to winning job contracts than most people realize. It's why many companies have entire departments dedicated to just winning new business.

Establish a Business Name & Look Professional

The first thing you should do is stop using your own name when you present yourself to employers. Establish a business name. Put some time into coming up with the right name too. Many business names won't serve you any better than using your own and some business names can actually do more harm than good. Most industries have certain commonalities when it comes to business names, and selecting something that fits within that accepted range is usually much better than using something like Joe's Internet Support or EZ Marketing Services. You're smart and super qualified, so select a name that reflects those qualities.

Once you've selected a name for yourself, you may want to consider incorporating or establishing yourself as an LLC. This adds a certain amount of credo to your name and can protect you when it comes to legal liability situations. There are several sites out there that make the process simple and relatively cheap, such as LegalZoom.

Build a Website to Showcase Your Services

Having a website is important. Having a smart looking website is even more important. Your website says a lot about who you are and how you see yourself, and prospective clients will pay attention. If building websites is something you do, then put extra time into making yours special. If websites aren't your thing, then hire someone who will build a good one for you. Posting a job to build a website on one of the freelance job sitesis always a good option.

Once your site is live and you feel comfortable with it, be sure to use an email from that domain versus a web email account such as Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail. Again, it's simply a matter of professionalism.

Consider Hiring Other Freelancers

So assume you've done everything possible to make yourself look like a small professional company and one day you're on the phone with a prospective client and they ask how big you are. How many people do you have?, they ask. What do you say? Honesty is always the best way to go, so you might say that it's just you. Or, you could build a team of on-call freelancers like yourself and answer questions like that with responses such as "We're a relatively small shop of 5 people" or "There are 10 of us, but I'm the principal developer, designer, writer, etc."

Working with other freelancers like you in this capacity can be mutually beneficial by making everyone involved look bigger. Just remember that it's important for everyone to be on the same page and understand how you are presenting yourselves. A little quid pro quo really works here. You allow me to say you work for my company, and I'll allow you to say I work for yours.

In the end, who knows. You may actually find that you all really enjoy working with each other become a small company for real.

Checklist to Making Yourself Look Bigger:

  • Establish a business name.
  • Incorporate as an S Corp or LLC.
  • Build a good website.
  • Use email from your website.
  • Work with other freelancers to build employee numbers.
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June 8, 2011 - 3:48 am
I'm impressed! You've mangaed the almost impossible.
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