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In this course, author and seasoned freelancer Tom Geller shows you how to prepare for a transition to freelancing. Begin by taking a look at your career goals, the systems that will support you, and proper ways to plan for success. Find out how to marshal your resources, refine your portfolio for presentation to clients, and estimate your costs to avoid any surprises on the financial front. Plus, discover how to create invoices, manage your books and taxes, expand your client base with marketing, and grow your business.
A bonus chapter covers common questions freelancers have when entering the field.
As a service-centered freelancer, your work is judged by how well it fits the client's needs, so you have to know what those needs are. First, prepare. Know your client's business before your first meeting, and learn more based on everything they say. You'll probably get a lot of information just from their website. Spending half an hour studying it ahead of time will put you ahead of most other service providers. Second, listen more than you talk. As the saying goes, that's why you have two ears but only one mouth.
Talking too much is a common flaw of insecure freelancers and job seekers, and it's understandable. You want to show how much you know. But as I said before, you have to fit this specific project, and you'll only know how that's true or even if it's true by hearing and understanding what the project is all about. Third, once you get the message, mirror it back to the client. That shows that you're listening, and it gives them a chance to correct any misunderstandings. So, those are the methods.
But most importantly, act appropriately to the situation and to the client's culture at all times. Now that's tough, because there are so many ways to be inappropriate. You might be too familiar or too formal, maybe you accidentally go over someone's head or too harshly criticized the work of a staff member. Or, maybe you're too careful and fail to provide criticism where it's expected. The fact is that behavior varies not only from country to country, but from company to company, and even from department to department within a company.
The good news is that experience will make you better at feeling these things out, and knowing when to ask the client for guidance. In the meantime, you can ask around to see if you know people who have worked there. Or you can often get clues about a company's business culture from its website and corporate materials. But assuming you can negotiate the tricky parts of client communication, your value comes down to the quality of the work itself. Just as a skillful expert is incomplete without good client skills, clients have no use for good communicators who can't do the work.
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