The Freelance Hustle

Why is social proof so important and how do you get it? This week’s Friday Feature is with Kayli, a digital marketing and UX nerd. She runs The Freelance Hustle, a site and community for creative freelancers to start, build and grow an amazing online business. Kayli shared her best tips for aspiring freelancers, and why social proof is key to your success.

What made you start The Freelance Hustle?

I quit my job 5 years ago to freelance full-time. I started getting messages from friends asking how I was living this life of travel and working from wherever I wanted. Most of the time when I would tell someone what I was up to, they would respond with something like “that sounds amazing but I would never be able to make that work.”

They were intrigued by the idea of working for themselves, but they were overwhelmed by the thought of it. I wanted to show them that it doesn’t really have to be that scary. So I started The Freelance Hustle to share what I was learning along the way and make the leap into freelancing a little less scary for people.

What creative strategies do you use to attract new clients?

I don’t get too creative with client-getting strategies, to be honest. I keep it pretty simple. I maintain connections with old clients, I ask for testimonials, I ask for referrals. Word of mouth and repeat clients are the best way to get a more stable income and a regular flow of work coming your way.

That said, I have gotten quite a few clients from social media and blogging. I’ve made friends in Facebook groups that have turned into clients or referrals. I’ve had people find me on twitter and reach out to work together. And writing about online marketing, both on my own blog and guest posting, has attracted new clients.

How do you manage freelance & travel at the same time?

I actually love working while traveling! I have always found I can be way more productive when I’m away from home (I’m even answering this interview on a flight!).

A few years ago I went full nomad for a short stint. I put my stuff in storage, sublet my apartment, and bought a one-way ticket to Vietnam. I spent 5 months in Asia that year and again the next (I’m from Canada, I like to skip the winters!).

I had set up all of my freelance jobs remotely - I worked with clients from all the over the US and Canada - so it wasn’t that big of a change. The only difficult thing to manage is timezones. I was less available for meetings as some of my clients would call a meeting at 3am my time. But on the plus side, I was 12 hours ahead so my clients would always wake up to finished work!

If you want to travel while working with clients, I’ve learned it’s best to be really honest about it and set up arrangements that will work ahead of time. Agree on meeting times and deadlines, let them know when you’ll be unreachable, and always deliver ahead of schedule before you go off the grid for a few days.

I try to keep a routine while I’m traveling so I can get work done and be a tourist. I usually get up early, do some work first thing, take my laptop with me to a cafe, go sight seeing or go to the beach in the afternoon, and depending on the day I’ll either work more at night or go out. I find a few cafes in each city I’m in with good coffee and wifi so I’m never wasting time looking for an internet connection when I really need to get something done.

These days my travel is in shorter spurts. I live in Montreal full-time and travel regularly for 2-4 weeks at a time. The same rules apply - I give my clients a heads up, get as much work done ahead of time as I can, and schedule work and play into each day.

What are your best tips for freelancer just starting out?

I have so many things I could say here, but if I have to pick one thing, it’s this:

1. I think the best thing freelancers can do when they’re getting started is to hone their skill. Being a pro at what you do is the best way to get consistent client referrals, get recognized for your work, be sought out by clients, and be able to charge a premium rate.

2. Make time every day to work on your skill. Take on new projects. Build your portfolio. Take an online course if you need to. But do not let mastering your craft stop you from going after clients now! The nice thing about freelancing is that you can get paid while you learn. Start by working with smaller clients and work up to the big fish.

3. Get a testimonial from every client you work with. Social proof is gold for new freelancers.

Sharehive is a network for women doing their own thing. We are copywriters, digital marketing experts, graphic designers, digital nomads, aspiring freelancers and founders who believe in the creative power of working together. Find freelance jobs, barter & learn new skills, build your professional network and make new friends.