Saturday, October 3, 2009

Meeting the Challenges of Providing Freelance Services

Providing freelance services is not without its unique challenges. Forget those images you see of the work-at-home freelancer who becomes incredibly rich and only works a few hours each week. Providing freelance services is a business just like any self-employed profession and you need to be aware of the challenges you will face and have a plan of how to meet them. Once you know how to meet them and have success at it, freelancing becomes an even more enjoyable and profitable venture. Here are some of the challenges you will probably face and some suggestions of how to meet them.

Get over the shock of how difficult the work can be. Too many new freelancers go into it thinking that they will have set or reduced working hours but quickly find out that the opposite is the norm. This is especially true when first starting out and trying to build a market presence and client base.

Another reason why the work volume increases is because the freelancer has to handle all business functions from product creation to billing. In other words, both support and profit-making tasks must be handled by the same person and the result is extended hours on the job. The best way to meet this challenge is to stay organized by not collecting stacks of paper, having a good filing system, and taking the time to plan and set goals. This way you not only stay on track but know how to find the tools and information when you need them.

Being alone at work is a new challenge for many freelancers. A new freelancer is excited at first at being in solitude and quiet thinking that his or her productivity will soar to new heights. But in just a short time, a cabin fever effect sets in and the freelancer begins to miss the water cooler gossip, lunch breaks with coworkers, and even the annoying busybody. It's tempting to get on the telephone and call those you worked with before and chat for several hours wasting both your time and theirs. The best way to meet this challenge is to be a mobile freelancer. Get out and go for a walk or exercise occasionally. If you are freelancing using a notebook computer, such as is with writing, go have a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and take it with you. You'll find that by taking small breaks and moving around that your day will be more productive.

Pricing can be somewhat of a challenge in the beginning. What many freelancers do in the beginning is quote lower than usual prices for their services or products in order to gain entry into the market. This is known as penetration pricing and it is a technique that will give you initial sales but cannot be sustained for long. Keeping prices too low can put you out of business. Eventually, you should develop a strategy of not quoting your prices up front but first communicating to the client what they will get if they choose your product or service. Establish the value first and then quote the price. Otherwise you will always be quoting too high or too low to your customer.

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