Your salary as a freelancer depends directly on the strength of your online profile and on the first impression it causes on your contractors. How can you guarantee a great profile that will generate many leads in terms of employers? What are the most important elements of building a highly effective online reputation?
We surveyed many resources and put together a list of four crucial components for the ultimate freelancer profile. Our list talks about the entire process of building trust through freelancing, from choosing the right platform to creating your own website and portfolio.
Experiment with Different Freelancing Platforms
Building a strong profile in an online freelancing platform takes time and a considerable amount of effort. You must work a few hundred hours through many different contracts to collect a respectable amount of positive reviews. This is why it is important to experiment with different freelancing websites to find the one that suits you the most.
Notice, however, that this experimentation phase is advisable for the starting phase of your career as a freelancer. You will create accounts on several websites (Upwork and Fiverr are two of my favorite ones), and you will analyze the type of offers and contracts that are offered on these platforms.
Focus on One or Two Platforms
Once you have found the platform that suits you the most in terms of the type of work, remuneration system, platform fees, among other elements, it is time to focus on one or two to really build a strong reputation.
While it is possible to have freelancer profiles on many websites, it is very hard to build a strong reputation on all of them at the same time. You want to focus on one or two to guarantee that your reviews and reputation are concentrated in just a few places.
Remember: a strong online reputation is the most important factor in increasing your salary as a freelancer, so having to manage too many accounts at the same time will scatter your qualifications, positive reviews, and reputation through many platforms, leading to lower average salaries if compared to a strong profile on only one website.
Building a Great Online Reputation
Having a great online reputation is the best way to get more contracts or a higher payment as a freelancer. Your reputation has three components: your online profile, your previous reviews, and the trust you inspire in your employment leads.
Create a Professional-Looking Profile
A professional-looking profile focuses on transmitting trust and communicating the right information about your work. Here is a list of factors you must consider so your online profile looks professional, serious, and trustable:
- Use a professional picture: choose a picture of your face with a formal background. The background does not need to be fully white, but avoid pictures in bars, vehicles, and other informal places.
- Provide a specific headline: when writing your headline, focus on a specific niche of expertise. If you program using PHP, write “PHP Web Developer” instead of simply “Web Developer.” You will notice a much better quality of employment leads by simply being more specific in your headline description.
- Use your real name: do not use fake or nicknames. Your real name is very strongly linked to your credibility, and your future contractors can use the information to look for more references about your work. If you are ashamed of your real identity, the freelancing community might not be the right place for you.
- Connect to your social networks: this follows the same principle of providing the real name. The more information you make available about yourself, the easier it is for your leads to check your credibility.
Maximize the Impact of Your Personal Description
Once you improve the quality of your freelancer profile, it is time to focus on the particularities of your personal description. This element (or cover letter, if you are applying for a job as an online freelancer) is the first document your employer will read when considering your application. Therefore, it has to be impactful and communicate your unique competitive advantage. Before writing your personal description or cover letter, consider these questions:
- What is my personal competitive advantage?
- What do I have that other freelancers do not? How can I prove it?
- What is the employer looking for in my specific industry? Lower prices? Higher quality work?
- What are the most important qualities that generate value for my work?
Once you have answered these questions, you have a good background to write a great personal description.
Write in the First Person and Use a Professional Tone
Writing in the first person establishes an immediate connection between you and your future employer, and the sooner you connect, the better. You might want to use “I am an experienced [your skills]…”, or “we are the best agency for [your field]…”
By using the first person, you communicate the fact that you are a reliable freelancer, and this builds one of the most important elements of successful freelancing contracts: trust. Trust is essential for remote teams to function properly, so focus on building it right from the beginning. Be realistic about what you can deliver, as well as about the standards of your work. It is better to set standards that will allow you to positively surprise your employer instead of compromising to very high requirements that you are not able to fulfill.
Here is a good example of what a personal description might look like:
As you can see, the description is short, uses the first person, and is written in a friendly yet formal tone perfectly aligned with the type of service being offered (creative writing).
Be Brief and Communicate the Most Important Aspects of Your Work
This is highly related to the questions I asked before. How can you communicate the most value while using the least amount of words? How can you condense all your expertise into a few sentences to transmit everything your employer needs (and wants) to hear?
An essential point you must understand is that employers normally go through dozens of applications when choosing the right fit for the job. If you do not catch their attention in the first paragraph, it is very likely that they will not consider you for the next phases of the selection process.
Include One or Two Relevant Reviews You Received from Past Employers
I have found that including one or two short reviews from past projects is very effective when applying for freelance jobs. Positive reviews are the strongest indicator of a reliable online reputation, so why not provide them during your first contact with your future contractors? Since the personal description dictates much of the opinion a person or a company will have about you, showcasing the positive reactions of past employers adds considerable value to your application.
Accumulate Good Reviews: Study the Reputation of Your Employer Before Accepting a Job Offer
The reputation of an employer is extremely important when choosing for whom you will work. If the contractor has a bad online image or no reputation at all, it is very likely that you will have to deal with many disagreements that will lead to a harmful break of contract and a permanent stain on your reviews. This is why you must careful when choosing who you work with.
I understand that it is not always easy to get a job as a freelancer, especially if you are at the beginning of your career or if you charge more than the average worker in your industry (which is advisable if you have a higher-than-average profile and reputation). Impatience, however, might lead you to accept contracts from employers that are not well-rated, and this might prevent you from closing better contracts in the future.
My personal advice is to do some research about the reputation of your leads and to focus on those who seem reliable. How did they write the job description? Are they focused on the details? Do they clarify their expectations and standards? Do they answer your messages within an acceptable time frame? Are they friendly and open to new ideas?
Wisely choosing your online contractors will not only help you build a better reputation but will also give you a better working environment. Patience and attention to detail certainly pay off in this situation!
Create and Maintain a Personal Website
Isn’t building a strong profile on an online freelancing platform enough? Why should you create your own website?
A personal website gives you the freedom of exposing your work through a fully customizable portfolio, giving you a great way to create your own work and showcase it to future employers. It is fairly straightforward to set up a simple and effective personal website, and the platform helps you demonstrate your proactivity.
I have used my personal website as a way of creating articles about topics I wanted to start working with. Since I was new to the industry, I did not have previous content to showcase my expertise, so I decided to write the first articles and share them on my website. Not surprisingly, my first contract came less than a week after starting this initiative!
Being proactive is very important in the freelancing industry, and maintaining a website is a very interesting way of constantly communicating this quality to your future contractors. This is a great investment that brings great returns in the medium and long-term.