The Best Way to Sell Yourself As a Freelancer

sell yourself as a freelancer

Longing to leave your company and go floating in the calm freelance waters — but afraid of the new reality and the need to regularly sell yourself for daily bread? You’re not the only one. But is there really no alternative to this routine?..

Dreaming of freedom

How many people working at the offices with a fixed 9-5 schedule dreamt about the freelancer’s life? Getting in as late as you want, working in the hours that suit you best, choosing only those tasks that bring you joy and money. Oh, the blessed life! Alas, the utopia of the freelance has numerous caveats. Not that it’s impossible to make ends meet comfortably, but in order to do so, you have to overcome one of the biggest challenges for all freelancers — the challenge of selling yourself. 

Self-promotion — one of the biggest freelance challenges

Why do you need to sell yourself? 

If you’re a freelancer, no one is responsible for your daily timetable but you. With this great power comes great responsibility: all your hours can be either working or leisure. If you don’t sell yourself well, you’ll have too little work for too little money — and your leisure will bear the impress of desperate sadness. That is the simple math of the freelancer. 

Many of my friends who worked at the office told me that they didn’t try freelancing because they had no experience in communicating with clients. What should they write? How to finalize projects? I thought that to be a successful freelancer, you just have to be someone else, but not a programmer — programmers aren’t that good in communications, and when you’re a freelancer, you can’t help communicating. If you don’t, you lose this game.

Mykola Solodukha, an offshore developer at Lemon.io

What do you need to sell yourself?

There are many almost obligatory soft (and hard) skills. Those who consider self-promotion a piece of cake for everyone don’t completely understand their luck. To sell yourself properly, you should:

  • know the price of your working hour (and its elements);
  • know what you’re offering (and how much do competitors take for it);
  • be able to plan your daily routine and keep the deadlines;
  • be empathetic and know the clients’ pain points to focus on them;
  • want to sell yourself, missing no chances to do so;
  • be a stellar Marketer, Salesperson, and Product Owner all at the same time.

Phew! And that’s just a starter kit.

freelancers' time is money


How often do you need to sell yourself?

There’s one sure bonus of the full-time job: you’re selling yourself only once — and after the job interview is over, no further effort is needed. Freelancers do that all the time to land the next big project. After finishing the project, you should start with a new one (unless you’re OK with the unpaid idleness). Yes, most of the time, you should look for the new one while working). 

I started freelancing when I was 15 — by then, I’d been learning to code for a year or so (wanted to create my first computer game) and just craved for some extra money while boosting my skills. Now, I’ve got a lot of friends I call office mice. They either don’t want to freelance or hesitate to start because they value their office life (fixed hours, corporate bonuses, etc.) and underestimate freelance bonuses.

Ihor Brazhnichenko, an offshore developer at Lemon.io

Marketplaces can help! 

What kinds of marketplaces are there?

Each kind of commerce has its marketplaces. In the world of coding, there is one main question dividing all the marketplaces into two big groups. Are you looking for the job yourself — or want a choice of tasks after being tested and registered?

Bidding platforms

With bidding platforms, it’s pretty easy. Your freelance friends have tried them tons of times and probably told you something about them, right? There’s often no pre-moderation or proper customer service — but the job offers are so plentiful that you just don’t think about such nuisances. You come, you see, you conquer! Nevertheless, the “conquer” part can sometimes be tricky — to get the job on the bidding platform, you post a bid (your price/time offer) and wait for it to win the time/money contest. Will you be the chosen one? Who knows. Will you be satisfied with your winning? Sometimes, the contractors use bidding platforms because they don’t want to pay much — and their price offers are rather woeful. Statistics are on their side: the more candidates are interested, the more professionals are among them, and the lower the final price.

Do you need to be a proficient self-seller to work on such platforms? For sure. 

Quite famous examples of this kind are Freelancer and Upwork. Rings a bell? 

Is it possible to use marketplaces without being forced to self-promote and self-sell? Maybe, there’s another kind of them — where the devs can just leave their contact details and wait for offers? Sounds too idyllic?

Vetting platforms

Suppose the bidding marketplace is a wide-open space where all kinds of coding pros get together and compete for the prize of the decently paid project. In that case, the vetting platform is a series of quest rooms you should pass to be listed as a possible candidate in the database. OK, let’s cut the metaphors down. To consider yourself a vetted developer, you should pass some assessments. Mainly, the vetting process comprises technical assignments. Less often, the devs pass language proficiency and/or soft skills tests. The vantage point of the said marketplaces is their working scheme: if you’ve come across a decent platform (read “Lemon.io”, *wink-wink*), you’ll be registered, sold, and decently paid in a regular fashion. Nevertheless, even the most prominent vetting platforms aren’t always “full-cycle.” 

freelancers' money

 

Lemon.io — more than just a marketplace

 A friend told me about Lemon.io and its super transparent working model. After contacting them, I passed some preliminary tests (took me two weeks in total, or so) — and after the final job interview, they registered me and gave the first projects almost immediately: I even had to choose between the two options. After I appeared in the Lemon.io database, they called me a couple of times, suggested clients, and in a year or so, I’ve got an offer to interview fresh candidates for the company. Imagine: I was such a developer not long ago, and now I check the newcomers. It’s much better for me to work here because you can choose the field you work with (I just don’t like fintech and blockchain — and I have the right not to!). No troubles with self-selling and self-promoting whatsoever: vetting platforms like Lemon.io consider their mission to sell their devs in the nice clients’ hands — and the devs are eternally grateful (me included). 

Dmytro Bruso, an offshore developer at Lemon.io

What are you getting with Lemon.io? 

  • Our vetting/testing procedures are fast and furious. We invite our finest experienced freelance devs to check the newcomers’ tech skills. These devs get paid for the trimmed results, therefore they’re by no means interested in cheating or slowing the processes down. Mere two weeks separate filling out our form from getting the first offer. Our aim is swiftness and preciseness so that you won’t wait for too long. CV/LinkedIn check — soft/English skills check — tech stack check — Go! We need free hands more than ever!
  • All the available devs are our devs. We never let them sit on the bench for too long. Thanks to our comprehensive and detailed database, we’re able to meet the clients’ demands fast — leaving our devs no time for cashless idleness.
  • Our devs don’t sell themselves — we have a whole Sales department for it. For real — why should they? The Sales department is for selling devs to customers. The Matching department is for… yes, for matching specialists with projects. The Department of Client Success is fully responsible for your interactions with clients (all kinds of clients and interactions — even the toughest ones).
  • The devs we sell are never left unpaid. It’s not an empty talk — it’s a feature of our payment system. All clients start their work with a one-week deposit. Subsequently, they pay once a week for the time tracked. The deposit becomes a payment for the last week (even if it turns out to be the first one). See, cheating’s got no chance.

 I’m not like my “office mice” friends. I want to be the master of my days, and Lemon.io gives me every kind of choice. Matching and Customer Success teams do their best, and the stream of offers is really overwhelming, so I can be really picky — still getting jobs and wasting no time on extra self-trade.

Ihor Brazhnichenko, an offshore developer at Lemon.io

For me, Lemon.io became an example of a company that eliminates all the communication barriers. You get tested once — and then you just do your job in time. The best situation ever.

Mykola Solodukha, an offshore developer at Lemon.io

Lemon.io is ready to accept new coders — the clients are numerous, and you definitely won’t beat around the bush for too long. 

Need more answers? Read our FAQ below!

  • What should I write about myself as a freelancer?

    The best way to sell your skills on the internet (where no one knows you and no one sees how cool you are until you prove it by deeds or other credentials) is to introduce yourself decently, fully, and luringly as possible. If you sell yourself as a problem solver, target the problems. Examine them and think over the solutions you can offer.
    Keep your intro as relevant as possible. Don’t write much: our attention span on the internet is much smaller than on the zebra crossing. No one needs your life story: in fact, it can even harm you because your future employer will see that you can’t keep it to the point. Highlight your credentials and accomplishments — but make them relevant to the position you’re eager to get.
    If you have your own business, share useful insights and your business history.
    Give links to your best works if you’re a creator.
    If you keep up with these pieces of advice, it will be much easier to get your share of the client’s attention.

  • How do freelancers get their first clients?

    Wanna start freelancing but lack clients, credentials, and reputation? Read our 7 pieces of advice on getting the first orders.
    1. Experience first. If you’re a green novice, don’t neglect any job offers that can help you get experience. Price is now a secondary argument for you. Think for yourselves: how can you get decent remunerations if you don’t have any previous proof of your qualification? Who will pay more to the contractor with an empty resume?
    2. Revise your current skills. Just write them down and sincerely evaluate them. Which of them could come in handy in the current job search? Maybe, your skills will give you a hint about changing your job preferences. You’ll never know until you try.
    3. Create a website. Of course, those are plenty — everyone and their dog now have a website. But without one, it will be much harder to focus your future employees on your skills. Of course, if all your projects are neatly collected on some Behance or GitHub, you probably don’t need one — but again, it’s your chance to stand out.
    4. Build your network. People matter — and interconnected people matter twice as great. With a properly built social network, your reputation can be word of mouth, making the whole hiring process much easier. Who knows, maybe your future boss is just knocking at your door.
    5. Search in the right places. Sounds weird, but it works. Check out different freelance websites and filter them according to the main profile of the job-seekers. There are sites for developers, sites for designers — or universal sites like Freelancer, of course. 

  • How do I advertise my freelance service?

    Marketing is a cornerstone of every prominent freelancing career. If you’re selling your skills, don’t neglect marketing — and don’t put it on pause when you earn some money and decide to take a rest. It has a prolonged action — so to get results, you’d better start as early as possible. What else can we advise?
    1. Use all the social media power — join spaces, Slack communities, and Facebook groups. 
    2. Launch a podcast or (at least) create a blog. It’s not just about work: if you’re building a network, it wants to hear more about who you are. 
    3. Organize partnerships with freelancers from other topical fields. No, we’re not talking about competition now. Say you have a space for advertising someone’s talents, and someone else can use their space for advertising yours. Tit for tat — and everyone gets their bonuses.
    4. Ask for reviews and referrals. If you’ve already worked as a freelancer and your clients can say some pleasant words about your skills in public — let them do it. 
    5. Pitch your services. Learn a lot about your target audience. If you’re going to conquer someone in particular — learn as much as possible and find out their pain points.

  • How do you get a client to say yes?

    1. Know your customer (learn a lot, try to pitch, outline their pain points where you could be of use)
    2. Listen to your client. Don’t just pitch yourself — imbibe everything you hear and try to make it useful.
    3. Know your product, all its bonuses and flaws. If you can’t answer the client’s questions, you lose. Model different situations, explore client groups, but don’t keep silent.
    4. Prepare for non-standard situations. Don’t back off if something doesn’t go as planned. Devise your detours. If a manager says they can’t see an opportunity to utilize your product in their company, treat it as an invitation to tell them more about your product and its bright sides. 

  • How much should I charge per hour freelancer?

    Different freelancers charge differently — according to their main job profile. According to the last freelancer survey, many freelancers get $98 per hour, but this sum doesn’t seem legit for us. Maybe, there was some mistakes in calculations. At Lemon.io (selling remote engineers to Western startups), specialists get 45-60 USD per hour.