by sonja thorsvik

How To Be Taken Seriously As A Freelancer

man wearing pink checkered shirt while sketching

If you’re a freelancer, you know that it can be challenging to establish yourself as a credible professional in your field. Whether you’re just starting out or have been working independently for a while, there are several key steps you can take to boost your credibility and earn the respect of potential clients. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most effective strategies for being taken seriously as a freelancer, from building a strong brand to enhancing your skills and expertise.

Establishing Your Professional Brand

Establishing a professional brand as a freelancer is crucial in today’s competitive market. It can help you stand out from the crowd, attract more clients, and ultimately, grow your business. Here are some essential components of building a professional brand as a freelancer:

Creating a Strong Portfolio

A strong portfolio is one of the most critical components of building a professional brand as a freelancer. It showcases your work and demonstrates your skills and expertise in your chosen field. When creating your portfolio, it’s essential to make it visually appealing, easy to navigate, and include multimedia elements such as video or audio to make it more engaging for potential clients.

Additionally, it’s crucial to keep your portfolio up-to-date and relevant. As you complete new projects, be sure to add them to your portfolio to showcase your most recent work. If you have worked with larger name brands make sure to add their logos to your site as well.

Developing A Personal Brand

Developing a personal brand is another crucial component of establishing a professional brand as a freelancer. Your personal brand reflects your values, expertise, and unique selling proposition. It can include creating a personal logo, tagline, and mission statement that communicate your brand to potential clients and make sure to keep them consistent.

This goes offline now too. What you wear and your overall hygiene must be addressed. Yes, your looks are part of this game. If you are headed to a meeting with dog hair and coffee stains all over your shirt, it does not make for a great impression. In my company, for example, I am hired as a contractor yet I represent my clients all over the world both online and in person. I take into consideration how I present myself in order to be taken more seriously. I own big-girl clothes. They look nice, fit me well, and I feel confident in them. If you take as much pride in your physical appearance as you do in your work ethic you will move past the ‘disposable freelancer’ and into the trust circle.

When developing your personal brand, it’s essential to be authentic and true to yourself (I will shout this from the rooftops until the day I die!). Your personal brand should reflect who you are and what you stand for and no matter what I say, or anybody else says, should sway you. By the way, what you don’t say or talk about says just as much about you as what you do announce publically. By developing a strong personal brand, you can establish yourself as a credible expert in your field and differentiate yourself from other freelancers.

Related Article: Showing Up As Your True Self Is Your Superpower

Building an Online Presence

In today’s digital age, having a robust online presence is critical for establishing yourself as a professional freelancer. Your online presence can include creating and maintaining a professional website, and social media accounts, and participating in online industry forums and communities. Here it’s critical to remember that social media platforms can disappear at any moment, so think of your website as a key player in this game.

When building your online presence, it’s crucial to be consistent in your messaging and branding. Your website and social media accounts should reflect your personal brand and showcase your expertise. By building a strong online presence, you can increase your visibility, showcase your work, and connect with potential clients around the world.

If you like my website design, for example, you can get a similar template here.

Networking and Collaboration

Networking and collaboration are two critical components of building a professional brand as a freelancer. By networking with other professionals in your field and collaborating on projects, you can build relationships, learn new skills, and gain exposure to potential clients. A lot of times too, your network will be where your ‘word-of-mouth’ clients come from. So make sure to attend something at least 1x per month.

Attending industry events, participating in online forums, and reaching out to other freelancers in your field are all great ways to build your network and establish yourself as a credible expert. Collaboration can also lead to new opportunities and projects, helping you grow your business and expand your portfolio.

Related Article: Engagement Strategies To Grow Your Brand 2X Faster

By focusing on these essential components, you can establish a professional brand as a freelancer and position yourself for success in today’s competitive market.

Setting Boundaries and Expectations

As a freelancer, it’s important to set clear expectations and boundaries with your clients. This not only helps to establish yourself as a professional, but it also ensures that both you and your clients are on the same page. One way to do this is by creating a detailed contract that outlines your rates, payment terms, and work policies. This contract should be reviewed and signed by both you and your client before any work begins.

Critical Article To Read Next And Bookmark: How To Identify Difficult Clients Before Signing A Contract

Communicating Your Rates and Policies

When communicating your rates and policies, it’s important to do so in a clear and professional manner. Be sure to provide detailed information about your rates, including any additional fees or charges that may apply. You should also outline your payment terms, such as when payment is due and how it should be submitted. Finally, be sure to communicate your work policies, such as your availability and turnaround time for projects.

Establishing a Work Schedule

Establishing a regular work schedule is essential for maintaining a healthy work-life balance as a freelancer. By setting regular working hours, you can ensure that you have time to complete your work and also take care of personal responsibilities. When communicating your work schedule to your clients, be sure to provide a detailed schedule that outlines your availability and preferred method of communication.

It’s also important to be flexible when necessary. If a client has an urgent project that needs to be completed outside of your regular work hours, consider whether you can accommodate their request. If you cannot, be sure to communicate this clearly and suggest an alternative timeframe for completing the work.

Managing Client Relationships

Managing client relationships effectively is crucial for building a successful freelance business. One way to do this is by communicating regularly with your clients. Trust me, everyone already thinks freelancers are untrustworthy, prove them wrong with this. This can include providing updates on the progress of their projects, responding promptly to their inquiries, and addressing any concerns they may have.

It’s also important to deliver work on time and to a high standard. If a client is not satisfied with the work you have provided, be sure to address their concerns proactively and work with them to find a solution. By building strong relationships with your clients, you can establish yourself as a trusted professional who takes their work seriously.

Handling Difficult Clients

Dealing with difficult clients can be challenging, but it’s important to remain professional and maintain your boundaries. If a client is making unreasonable demands or is disrespectful, it’s important to stand up for the value of your work and communicate your boundaries clearly.

When addressing difficult clients, it’s important to remain calm (wooosaaaa) and avoid becoming defensive. Instead, try to understand their concerns and work with them to find a solution. If you are unable to resolve the issue, it may be necessary to terminate the working relationship.

Related Article: Controlling Overwhelm And Increasing Resilience

Remember, as a freelancer, your reputation is everything. By setting clear boundaries, communicating effectively, and managing client relationships proactively, you can establish yourself as a professional who takes their work seriously and build a successful freelance business.

Enhancing Your Skills and Expertise

As a freelancer, it’s important to continually enhance your skills and expertise to remain competitive in your field. Pursuing ongoing professional development is one of the most effective ways to establish yourself as a credible expert. This can include taking courses, attending workshops, or earning certifications or accreditations in your field.

By investing in your professional development, you can demonstrate a commitment to ongoing learning and differentiate yourself from other freelancers. This can help you gain credibility with potential clients and increase your chances of securing new projects. As you are learning, a great way to showcase this is with behind-the-scenes content for your followers. People love a good follow-along story.

Pursuing Professional Development

Professional development can take many forms, depending on your industry and area of expertise. For example, if you’re a web developer, you may want to take courses in programming languages or attend workshops on user experience design. If you’re a writer, you may want to attend conferences or workshops on writing techniques or earn certification in copywriting, or rapidly adopt AI in your workflow.

Whatever your field, it’s important to stay current with the latest trends and techniques. This can help you remain competitive and provide the best possible service to your clients.

Staying Current with Industry Trends

Staying up-to-date with the latest trends, tools, and techniques in your field is essential for maintaining your credibility and expertise as a freelancer. There are many ways to stay current with industry trends, including subscribing to industry publications (cough cough wink wink: subscribe to The Rush), attending industry events, and participating in online communities.

Subscribing to industry publications can provide you with valuable insights into the latest developments in your field. Attending industry events, such as conferences and workshops, can give you the opportunity to network with other professionals and learn from experts in your field. Participating in online communities, such as forums and social media groups, can also provide you with valuable insights and allow you to connect with other professionals.

Diversifying Your Skill Set

While it’s important to specialize in a particular area as a freelancer, having a diverse skill set can help you stand out from the crowd. Consider developing expertise in related areas, such as graphic design or social media marketing, to expand your service offerings and appeal to a wider range of clients.

For example, if you’re a web developer, you may want to develop skills in graphic design to offer website design services. If you’re a writer, you may want to develop skills in social media marketing to offer content marketing services. If this is not for you, consider collaborating or hiring this out, but still offer it as your own service.

Earning Certifications and Accreditations

Earning certifications or accreditations in your field is another effective way to establish yourself as a credible expert. This can provide additional credibility with potential clients and help you stand out from other freelancers who may not have these qualifications. A note here, you are not just competing with freelancers, you are competing with full-time workers as well. It’s called business.

There are many certifications and accreditations available in various fields, such as project management, digital marketing, and web development. Research the certifications and accreditations available in your field, LinkedIn for example has a nice assortment, and consider earning one or more to enhance your credibility and expertise.

Marketing Yourself Effectively

Marketing yourself as a freelancer can be a challenging task, but it is essential for building a successful career. In today’s digital age, social media has become a powerful tool for self-promotion. However, there are many other strategies that you can use to market yourself effectively.

Utilizing Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can be incredibly useful for freelancers. These platforms allow you to connect with potential clients and showcase your skills and expertise. When creating your profiles, make sure to use professional photos and bios that highlight your strengths and experience. You can also share your work, engage with your followers, and participate in relevant conversations to build your online presence.

Creating Quality Engaging Content

Creating engaging content is another effective way to market yourself as a freelancer. By producing high-quality blog posts, articles, or videos, you can establish yourself as an expert in your field and attract potential clients. When developing content, make sure to provide value to your target audience. Consider creating tutorials, case studies, or helpful tips that solve common problems (always a winning method) or answer common questions. On this site, for example, I really do strive to produce high-quality posts so that you can learn and then go and make your next best move…

For example, if you are a freelance marketer, you could create a blog post that provides tips on how to optimize a website for search engines. This type of content not only showcases your expertise but also provides value to potential clients who may be struggling with SEO.

Have you listened to the Gigging For Gold podcast yet? It is also packed full of ideas and inspiration for you.

Leveraging Testimonials and Referrals

Testimonials and referrals from satisfied clients can be a powerful marketing tool for freelancers. When potential clients see that others have had a positive experience working with you, they are more likely to trust and hire you. Consider asking satisfied clients to provide testimonials or referrals that you can use to promote your services and establish yourself as a trusted expert.

You can also showcase your testimonials and referrals on your website or social media profiles to increase your credibility and visibility. For example, you could create a dedicated page on your website that features quotes from satisfied clients or a section on your Instagram profile that highlights your endorsements.

Participating in Industry Events and Conferences

Participating in industry events and conferences is another effective way to market yourself as a freelancer. These events provide opportunities to network with potential clients, learn new skills, and stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your field. Consider attending or presenting at industry events to boost your credibility and visibility.

For example, if you are a freelance graphic designer, you could attend a design conference to learn about the latest design trends and techniques. You could also network with other designers and potential clients to build your professional network.

Related Article: 30 Conferences And Events In 2023 For Creative Entrepreneurs

Maintaining A Strong Work Ethic

As a freelancer, maintaining a strong work ethic is essential for success. While the freedom and flexibility of freelancing can be incredibly appealing, it also requires a great deal of self-discipline and focus.

Meeting Deadlines and Delivering Quality Work

One of the most important components of being taken seriously as a freelancer is delivering quality work on-time, every time. This requires a combination of strong time management skills, effective communication, and a dedication to excellence. By focusing on meeting deadlines, communicating clearly with clients, and delivering work that exceeds their expectations, you can establish yourself as a dependable professional.

However, it’s important to remember that quality work is not just about meeting deadlines. It’s also about delivering work that is well-researched, thoughtful, and tailored to your client’s needs. Take the time to understand your client’s goals and expectations, and work closely with them throughout the project to ensure that you are delivering work that truly meets their needs.

Staying Organized and Managing Time

Staying organized and managing your time effectively can help you maintain the discipline and focus required to succeed as a freelancer. This can be especially challenging when you are juggling multiple projects and clients, each with their own unique demands and deadlines.

To stay organized, consider using tools such as calendars, to-do lists, and project management software. These tools can help you keep track of deadlines, prioritize tasks, and ensure that you are staying on track with your work. It’s also important to establish clear boundaries between work and personal time, and to prioritize self-care and rest to avoid burnout.

Related Article: Is Habit-Stacking The Key To Generating More Wealth As A Freelancer?

Embracing Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Finally, being open to feedback and embracing opportunities for continuous improvement is essential for establishing yourself as a credible, professional freelancer. Solicit feedback from clients and peers, and use it to improve your work and refine your skills. Prioritize ongoing learning and growth, whether that means taking courses, attending conferences, or simply staying up-to-date with the latest trends and best practices in your field.

Remember, freelancing is a constantly evolving field, and the most successful professionals are those who are always willing to learn and grow.

Balancing Work and Personal Life

Learning to balance your work and personal life effectively is essential for maintaining your focus, well-being, and professionalism as a freelancer. It can be all too easy to let work bleed into your personal time, especially when you are passionate about what you do. However, it’s important to establish clear boundaries between work and personal time and to communicate proactively with clients about your availability.

Make sure to prioritize self-care and rest, whether that means taking breaks throughout the day, scheduling time for exercise and relaxation, or simply disconnecting from work during your personal time (and yes, even though you should maintain an online presence you can take a break from it). By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to deliver quality work and maintain your focus and productivity as a freelancer.

By following these strategies for being taken seriously as a freelancer, you can establish yourself as a credible expert in your field, differentiate yourself from other professionals, and attract new and exciting clients to your business. Remember to stay focused, stay organized, and always be willing to learn and grow. Chin up.




I started my own entrepreneurial career in 2012 scaling up from $0 a year to over $100,000 each and every year. I firmly and wholeheartedly believe there are ways for all of us self-employed entrepreneurs to reach six-figures and beyond and I'm unapologetically here to show you how I do it so you can make your next best move. Let's go.

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