In the growing freelancing world in Asia, how can you rise above the competition to attract the best contracts from US companies?
American companies are hiring more freelancers than ever. Doing so gives them access to a global market and that, in turn, makes it easier to find the “exact skill set” that they need. Projects and initiatives are done in a faster and more efficient manner because the right talent is hired to do the job. Companies also benefit from lower labor costs by outsourcing to Asia. As a result, freelancing in Asia has expanded significantly over the past few years.
I’ve witnessed this growth with my own two eyes, having worked as a freelance writer for the past 8 years. Over that time, I’ve also noticed increased competition- especially when it comes to winning and retaining US clients.
But, do not let this discourage you. Instead of cowering under the competition, you need to make a plan for forming positive first impressions with US companies. You’re a talented freelancer, which means there are ways to shine through and make clients take notice of you!
Here are tips that will help Asian freelancers make a positive impression on US companies.
Find a Freelancing Site
If you are new at freelancing, you need to find a reputable freelancing site or company that you can be affiliated with.
I personally work through the Upwork platform. I started getting clients from this platform back in 2011, when it was still known as oDesk. While there are other freelancing sites, I decided to stick with oDesk because I liked how their system works. Clients are able to offer hourly projects that make use of a Work Diary, which takes screenshots to document the work you do. The system guarantees payment for screenshots that are work-related. I like that guarantee. Do your research and find the best one that complements your working style. Create an account, upload your portfolio, and take online tests that will prove your capabilities.
Be Clear About What You Can Do
As a freelancer, you are selling yourself. This is why you need to be clear about what you can do. When you create an account in a freelancing site, make sure you give a clear yet concise description of what you can do.
Avoid using general descriptions like “writer,” “graphic artist,” “accountant,” or something that is just as vague. If you are a writer, be more specific by saying that you are a Web Content Specialist or a Social Media Manager. These will attract the right clients and projects.
My personal Upwork account states that I am a Web Content Specialist. I chose this description because I have years of experience providing content for websites. Instead of getting offers to write eBooks, I attract clients who need quality content for their websites.
Prepare a Stellar Portfolio
It is very easy to fool people online. This is why online freelancers have to make an extra effort to prove that you can do what you said you can. That means providing examples of past work.
When I started my freelance writing career, I decided to create my own blog. Before getting hired for a job, I am usually asked to provide a sample of my writing style. I just direct potential clients to my site – which builds trust and credibility for my skill set.
Spend time thinking about how you might create a portfolio based on your freelancing career. A graphic artist might upload his or her best work (be sure to add a watermark to avoid cyber theft).
Displaying reviews from previous clients also supplements the work found in your portfolio. Highlight the most stellar reviews so future clients will know how awesome you really are.
Find a Specific Niche and Be Excellent In It
When you focus on a specific niche, there is a higher chance of becoming an expert on it.
For example, my personal niche as a writer involves debt and finances. Not that I was a subject matter expert before – I just had the opportunity to work for clients in that sector early in my freelancing career. As a byproduct, I personally developed better personal finance skills, too. Several years later, while I accept client offers from other niches, I still gravitate towards finance-related articles.
As you can see, a specific niche can either be something you are good at or something that you have developed over time. Knowledge of a specific niche can differentiate you from other Asian freelancers and help you attract the right clients. Remember, some companies prefer to work with an expert because it expedites the onboarding process and gives their output additional depth.
Know Your Worth and Set an Honest Yet Realistic Rate
Obviously, you do not want to raise your rates too high. But at the same time, you should not price yourself too low. Some freelancers make a mistake of pricing themselves too low just so clients will get them. It is true that companies would want to keep costs as low as possible; however, that does not mean they will immediately opt for the freelancer that offers the least rate.
Most companies look first for great talent – hourly rate is secondary to skill and value. Don’t be shy to price yourself right, based on your skills and expertise.
Get Your Plan for Freelancing in Asia
Freelancing can be very rewarding – but only if you work hard and you sell yourself correctly. Although the competition is increasing, your work history will speak for you. Make sure you work with integrity, diligence, and discipline.