What have I learnt so far as a full-time freelancer?

Ever since I fully committed myself to work as a freelancer in mid-2020, it has been quite the journey. From having months where I was running around trying to complete 4 projects at home to having problems finding clients in the next; it has really been a learning experience.

First and by far the most stressful part of the entire freelancing world is finding clients. I was lucky enough to have a solid network that was able to get my first client. Apart from being able to work wherever I want, being a freelancer also gives me the luxury of being able to apply my own ideas and prove my expertise to my clients. Although at the start, it was hard to get the right ideas across to my clients. I have learnt that it is crucial to have a two-way communication channel, not only for the client to understand where I am in the project timeline, but also for me to understand the expectations of the client and if I am meeting those expectations.

Where I was lacking when I started:

When it comes to first dipping your toes into the massive sea that is freelancing, there are a lot of issues that we can face. For me, that was having a way to find clients and displaying what I knew to clients. The first, was one of the most challenging aspects as it required me to think of unorthodox approaches in reaching people during a time where we could not have face to face interactions. I utilised Linkedin and email addresses that I had gotten from some of my friends. Although at the start it was hard, over time I managed to understand the right way to communicate with potential clients through messaging and have found that the key is to approach them in a manner where they cannot say "no". This comes from being able to understand their position and see how they feel about having someone they have never met before help them in building their business.

As for presenting the right ideas to clients, I started to explore options of an easy to understand a medium in which it would not occupy much of my time, yet I could display an idea. This is where I started using Figma to help me a prototype and display it to clients with them being able to comment and provide my critical feedback.

My Methodology:

With the ever-changing landscape of the freelancing world, it is crucial to have a methodology that adapts to those changes. This is why I have decided to follow an ever-adapting approach in that:

  1. I work with a prototyping tool to make sure that the client is satisfied with the "to-be" website. Something along the lines of Figma (https://www.figma.com/)
  2. After, I discuss with them to see which platform would work best with my coding experience and what the customer would find most attractive. Normally, this is Shopify for e-commerce websites as it allows me to alter the code easily through the HTML, CSS and Liquid that I have learnt through my time with the platform. If it is an informative website, I would use WordPress or WebFlow as they easily allow for alterations and coding to be done on their platforms.
  3. The last step is to put the website in motion and get it up and ready for clients.

This is vastly different to what my old processes used to be where I would just jump in the deep end and ask "do you like this", "do you prefer it this way" and so on. Although this methodology was slightly faster on my end, some of the clients were getting overwhelmed with the number of sites I was sending and so I adapted this new methodology.

How I find clients:

When it comes to the bread and butter of freelancing it is really in the number of clients one has. There was a great quote said by a founder (can't remember the name) in which she said that "you can through a big net and catch a lot of fish or you can build a beautiful coral reef and have the fish come to you" in this context, the clients are the fishes. This quote stuck with me and it is the reason why I am in the process of building my "coral reef" with the recent launch of my website (www.rohan-malthora.com) and working on my Linkedin to make it appealing to proceptive clients, it is really about working with what you have and capitalising on the beauty of the internet and its platforms to make sure that you are able to build a sustainable "coral reef". However, for those of us who want to reach out to as many people to find clients, it is about building a healthy and productive relationship between oneself and clients. This can come in forms of applying for jobs on Linkedin and connecting with the job poster or sending cold emails. However, it is a way in which I am trying to stay against as it can come across as too "salesy" and lead to a freelancer having a bad reputation in the industry.

What people get wrong about freelancing:

When people hear that I am a freelancer they imagine that I am taking vacations on the weekly and sitting on a beach coding away. However, this is from reality. It is a lot of work building rapport between clients and understanding their exact preferences. For this, I have taken on a sales approach that was made by Ryan Serhant. It is the Follow Up, Follow Through and Follow Back approach in which you need to invest in your potential clients for them to invest back into you. This approach has enabled me to have great relationships with my clients and bring them the website that both they and their customers deserve.

Also, another brilliant approach that Ryan Serhant had come up with the Finder, Keeper and Doer approach. This is the time in which I spend time finding new leads, keeping in touch with current leads and delivering on the promises of the leads that I am already working with. This approach not only allows me to structure my day in a way which is productive, but it also keeps me on tracks. You can see a timetable of my day below:

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With this constant schedule, it allows me to keep my head on straight and achieve on the goals that both my clients and I have set myself.

On a final note, when we think of freelancers we perceive a relaxed work environment with a lack of personal initiative to take ones work to the next level. However, after being in freelancing personally and speaking to a plethora of freelancers it is clear to see that many of us end up working more than the average 9-5 in some countries. Although the freelancing market is hectic and sometimes a real pain, it is rewarding at the end of the day if one wants to be an entrepreneur and have that drive to work for themselves.

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Since 2018, Rohan has been working with both start-ups and well-established firms to help them build a spectacular website that is not only eye-catching but also informative. The main style that I have adopted is minimalist. After working in the corporate, 9 to 5 world, I found that it just wasn’t really suited for me and I would much rather work on my own accord near clients to help them deliver on their website dreams that not only attract customers but also give an exquisite brand image.