5 key strategies for differentiating yourself as a freelancer

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You have a distinct skill set that’s in demand and you’d like to begin taking on work as a freelancer, but you’re not quite sure how to stand out from others in the marketplace.

Whether you’re trying to find clients through your colleagues, on LinkedIn or a freelancer platform like Contently or Upwork, you should consider how to differentiate yourself from competing freelancers that offer similar services.

Daniel DiPiazza, a serial entrepreneur, writer and owner of the popular blog Rich20Something, suggests understanding the different ways of developing your own USP or unique selling proposition.

In DiPiazza’s new book, Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start an Epic Business, and Score the Life You Want he shares how to create a freelance career for yourself based on his experience as well as the success of other leading entrepreneurs.

Here are five examples of how to stand out as a freelancer according to DiPiazza:

1. Offer a lower price.

One of the best ways to stand out in the beginning of your freelance career is by offering your services at a lower price initially to compete with more established contractors.

As you’re able to build your client base, certainly raise your prices to equal the value you’re giving to customers.

This is a short-term differentiator unless you’re like a Walmart that’s built on the foundation of affordable pricing. DiPiazza stresses that the quality of your work still needs to be very high.

“That’s key, since most people expect that lower prices equate to lower-quality work,” said DiPiazza. “Blow their expectations out of the water and you’ll most certainly draw attention, recognition, and a steady stream of new business.”

2. Be more convenient.

By saving a client time, being easier to work with, having a systematic and logical workflow in place or presenting another form of convenience to your client offerings will help you stand out significantly.

Many freelancers offer their skillset to customers without packaging their services in a simple and easy to use way, missing out on an opportunity to make their products or services easy to access says DiPiazza.

3. Brand yourself.

Providing better quality or a more appealing aesthetic can help your services stand out amongst potential clients.

When your products or services are at a higher quality, your work speaks for itself.

You’ll need to understand what other freelancers are currently offering and take your work to the next level.

Not the top priority on day one of starting your business, but establishing a stronger aesthetic by building a branded website, creating credibility points like writing for an industry publication and more, can help showcase the level of quality your offerings provide.

“The quality and attention to detail you put into your products and services are huge factors in a customer’s buying decision,” said DiPiazza.

Don’t let the way you’re presenting your business to customers be the reason why they decide to work with someone else.

4. Variety gives clients options.

There are certainly pros and cons to this approach, but often times providing a few related services gives customers flexibility in how they partner with you.

For example, if you provide infographic design services, it’d certainly be helpful if you were skilled as a copywriter as well to impact your infographic offerings and present another useful skillset to companies.

Consider what other related skill sets would make sense for your business and dedicate time to learning and gaining experience in this area.

5. Superior customer service or guarantee.

Most companies don’t prioritize customer service in any shape or form, let alone on Twitter, Yelp or other online customer channels.

“There’s a huge opportunity here for you to rise above and provide 1st-class service and a better overall experience,” suggests DiPiazza.

Bonus: Walk the talk.

I’m always blown away by the number of freelancers that don’t follow their own advice that they share with customers.

I’ve seen web designers with awful websites, freelance writers who don’t write on their own blog and social media marketers who aren’t active on social media.

You don’t need to be everywhere and do everything, but you’ll stand out to customers in your industry if you publicly act on the skills and advice you provide to clients.

Taking action and showcasing your approach and experience is far more beneficial than simply talking about it over email or on your website.

This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.

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