I’ve just got back to my desk after a 3-week trip away without my laptop (it was glorious, as you can imagine!), and I’ve come back feeling disillusioned with the whole freelancing world.
It seems that everyone is telling new freelancers to “do this, and do that” otherwise they won’t make it. The Freelancing subreddit on Reddit is filled with users lambasting each other for not charging enough, or charging too much, or not doing something the right way.
In light of all this, I realised that yes, I fall into the category of “telling people what to do” simply by running this blog, but I hope that the posts and resources I create here act more as a guide and educational content so you can make a business you love.
Last week, I sat down (and when I say sat down, I mean I woke up with a jolt at 1am and couldn’t get back to sleep) and considered all the things I love about freelancing.
Sure, there are the obvious ones, like:
- Freedom to work to my own schedule
- No glass ceiling on income
- The ability to say no to projects that I don’t feel passionate about
But there was one thing that kept rising to the top that I’d never given much thought to before, and that was the relationships I had with my clients.
If I had a dollar for each time a client told me they loved working with me because I was easy to get along with and communicated well… I’d still probably be writing this blog because I love helping you guys. But you get the gist.
The thing that has made my business stand out over the hundreds and thousands of others who have applied for the same jobs and projects as me over the years is (and I don’t mean to toot my own trumpet here) the way I work with clients.
Why Is Personality So Important?
If you haven’t noticed, the internet is rife with people sell, sell, selling everything they possibly can these days.
Courses are popping up left, right, and centre, and people have cottoned on to the fact that they can make money working from the comfort of their own home so are doing everything in their power to make that happen (regardless of whether it’s legit or not).
This has led to a culture of distrust, right?
People constantly think the person on the other end of the keyboard is trying to sell them something, or is trying to wangle them out of yet more money.
Add to this the fact that people are literally craving real relationships in the digital age, and you have an online world that’s trying to be authentic (because, hey, it’s the buzzword of the moment), but is actually succeeding at doing the complete opposite.
Back when I was younger, I thought this year would be super futuristic. We’d all have chips in our heads that thought for us and we’d be jetting around in space cars.
Well, things aren’t quite that advanced.
In fact, in some ways, we’ve taken things back a little. Whereas in the 90s and the 00s people were okay with spamming people for sales and stuffing content full of keywords, we’re now looking for something more real.
You know, the face-to-face, sharing humour, and generally being a flawed human-being kind of real.
Which is where your personality comes in.
Freelancers Have This Idea of Being “Professional” That’s All Wrong
I’ve advertised for freelancers a couple of times in the past to do some research for me, and guess what?
I was AMAZED at the amount of robotic responses I got. People were literally using long words that they’d NEVER use in person in the hopes, I expect, of appearing professional.
Now, let me tell you this:
Being professional does not mean being dry, dull, and hella boring.
It means sticking to your word, providing the service you say you’re going to provide, and generally being a Good Human Being.
People think that being professional means stripping away all sense of personality, but in fact you really want to be doing the opposite. Remember, when you’re applying for a job (no matter how big the company is), there is a real human being at the other end.
And guess what? Those human beings like being treated like human beings.
Clients Aren’t Just Looking For the “Best” Person
But more than that, you’ll find that clients aren’t just looking for the freelancer who has worked with the most prestigious companies, or someone who has been in business for a bazillion years.
They’re looking for someone who understands their needs and gels well with their vision and culture.
That means that they might pass on someone who has worked with the top brand in their niche in favour of someone who they have a rapport with and who seamlessly fits into the vision they have.
And that, my friend, comes down to your personality and how you present yourself to potential clients.
So how the heck can you go about doing that?
How to Use Your Personality to Land Clients in 2017
That heading kind of goes against this whole post. Instead of “using” your personality to land clients, you want to show it off to enhance your chances. Just because you’re hiding behind a keyboard (most of the time), doesn’t mean you have to hide who you are and what makes you passionate about getting out of bed in the morning.
But it’s difficult to present the very idea of you through a screen, right?
So let’s look at some ways you can inject a bit of you into your freelancing life to land more clients who you LOVE working with.
1. Personalise Your Website
You would not believe (or maybe you would) the amount of freelancer websites I come across that all relay the same boring information.
Yes, I know you’re a writer, but what makes you special? Why should I work with you instead of another freelancer?
You don’t have to make your website all-singing and all-dancing with pictures of you drunk at the weekend to achieve this. A simple injection of you on your About Page is enough (I’ve had lots of enquiries reference my “interesting facts about me” section on my website).
And use your words, too.
Use phrases you say in real life on your website, make jokes (if they’re appropriate), and generally write how you talk.
2. Personalise Your Pitches
With so many freelancers fighting for attention, it’s hard to stand out.
But once you know just how many of your fellow freelancers are pitching generically with robotic language, it actually becomes easier to stand out.
Because any kind of injection of being a real, live human being will put you head and shoulders above the rest before you even start sharing your portfolio and your biggest wins to date.
Again, you can do this through your words. Write how you would speak (would you really go up to someone and say “Dear Sir”…) and add anecdotes that show you’re a real human.
3. Don’t Be Afraid to Make Connections
Clients will be 10x more likely to hire you (or thereabouts) if you can build a rapport with them and create a connection, which is difficult to do when everyone is hidden away behind a screen.
To counteract this, you can offer to speak to them on the phone or over Skype, where you can both hear each other and see each other (if you choose to use video chat).
Most of the time, when I’ve scheduled a Skype chat with a potential client, they’ve gone on to hire me, even if there was someone else who had written for a bigger publication.
So now you know just how important personality is when it comes to freelancing, how are you going to start showcasing who you are to potential clients?