How to Build Your Authority as a Freelancer (and Never Be Underbooked Again)

14 min read

Can you honestly think of anything better than getting paid to do what you’re passionate about?

I don’t know about you, but ... I’m struggling to find something.

(Other than cats in spaceships. Obvs.)

But furry cats dreaming of space aside, when you first started freelancing it was probably because you wanted to escape the 9-5 lifestyle and become independent.

Now, you may have already been great at something when you started.

Or you may have become great at something by repeatedly doing it every single day.

Whichever the case may be, it doesn’t change the fact that you’re doing what you love. You know your stuff SO well that you could spend hours talking about it, and it shows.

From how to write better emails and more engaging blog posts, to taking gorgeous shots for Instagram and creating drool-worthy sales pages, you’ve got skills. And you’re using them every single day to create amazing work for your clients.

But what if you realize that your clients have become fewer all of a sudden?

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What if you’ve hit a dry season and there’s not enough work coming in to help pay the bills?

It’s every freelancer’s worst nightmare and one that can come true more often than we’d like.

So what do you do to avoid that exhausting and soul-sucking client drought from happening?

What can you do to ensure that you get fully booked every month and that there are no gaps in between that can skyrocket your stress levels?

If you’re thinking something along the lines of “get more clients” or “pitch more”, you’re not that far off. But you’re not that close, either.

You need to become an authority and be seen as an expert in your field.

“But, how do I become an expert when I’ve just started out?”, I hear you say.

“How can I do that, when there are so many other professionals out there? What makes me any different?”, you ask.

These are great questions and make total sense.

However, it’s easy to forget these two things:

a) You already know enough (actually, you know a lot more than enough) and clients are already paying you for it.

And

b) You bring in your experiences, your perspective, and personality to the table and that, my Friend, makes all the difference.

In this post, we’re going to deal with the ways you can increase your credibility and build your authority, achieving that desirable expert status as a freelancer.

Being perceived as an expert in your niche is powerful and highly appealing to potential clients. When they see you as an authority, they automatically tend to trust you more, and instead of going after them, clients start coming to you.

It’s something about your internet aura that suddenly becomes more attractive if you like.

As a result, your chances of landing your next big project get higher, too. And that, in turn, will ensure that those dry periods we talked about earlier are a thing of the past.

Even if you’ve just started freelancing and have zero to a handful of clients.

If this sounds good to you and you’re ready to take some notes, keep on reading!

Have a Professional Website

The best place people can check you out online is your website. Sure, social media is great, but the first link I’ll click on any profile is your website link.

You may be sharing tons of greatness on your social media account and have cool graphics and all that, but if I land on your website only to be disappointed by what I see? I’ll bounce, never to return again.

And any interested potential clients will probably do the same.

That’s why you need to make sure that your website captures and wows your visitors within seconds, so they stay for a while to check out your work and see if you’re a good fit for what they’re looking for.

Having a professional website shows you know what you’re doing and the effect it has on your online presence. It also shows that you value your work enough to present yourself accordingly.

Even if you’re on a tight budget, there are still a lot of well-developed themes you can get for free or for a small price. You can always upgrade as you grow, but setting up a website that will help you win more clients instead of losing them is well worth the investment from the start.

Guest Post on Popular Blogs in Your Niche

A powerful way to increase your visibility and build your authority online is to guest blog. It helps you gain exposure while you share knowledge with an audience other than your own.

With bloggers generally leading busy lives between writing content, preparing blog images, creating social media images and promoting their content online, having a useful and well-written piece from a guest-blogger can actually be extremely helpful.

A guest post is a fantastic way to get introduced to a new audience you can engage with, giving you the perfect opportunity to answer any questions that audience may have. The post will lead traffic to your website as well as bring traffic to the blog you’ve been published on, and it will help people see you as the savvy professional that you are.

It’s a win-win scenario for everyone.

To get started, you first need to create a list or a Google Spreadsheet with all the blogs in your niche you’d like to write for. Most blogs have a dedicated section titled something along the lines of “Write for Us”. Other blogs don’t have that anywhere on their website, but if it’s a website you really want to contribute to, it’s worth getting in touch with the owner and pitching them your idea.

It also helps if you’ve been following these blogs for a while and have also contributed to some of the discussions in the comments. It’s always better to see a pitch from a somewhat familiar name rather than a total stranger.

Now before you start pitching, it’s usually best to have a couple of ideas fleshed out, so you can suggest something concrete to the blog owner, instead of being vague and waste their time, ending up getting a flat out no (if you’re lucky).

You may even have the blog post ready and leave room for some final adjustments if needed. Being prepared in advance can pay off and save you a lot of time, especially if you know you’ll need to deliver your post in a week and you tend to get stressed when working under pressure.

If you don’t want to start writing the entire piece before you know for sure it will get accepted, it helps to have at least an outline for your post. This way, you can include a summary when you pitch it so the blog owner knows exactly what to expect to get.

Create a Lead Magnet That Your Prospective Clients Will Love

When a prospective client lands on your website, what is there to grab their attention besides your portfolio and services page? Do you have any exciting freebies they can download?

If you find yourself shaking your head, perhaps it’s time you created a free opt-in offer for your website.

An opt-in offer, or lead magnet, gives prospective clients a chance to see how you tackle common problems in your field, helping them gauge whether you’d be able to solve theirs. It’s also a way to take a sneak peek into how you think and approach your work in general, getting an idea of what it’d be like to work with you.

So, your opt-in freebie is a very simple but effective way to showcase your expertise to prospects, who may not be 100% ready to hire you when they land on your website. And instead of losing them completely, your freebie can help keep them on your website longer.

All you need is to figure out which topics would be most relevant for your clients and focus on creating a short pdf document that helps them get a quick and relatively easy win, without demanding a lot of time and effort on their part.

Depending on your niche, your opt-in freebie could be, for example, a free checklist with eleven things you need to consider before designing a logo. Or, it can be a simple cheat sheet to help you edit photos on the go, a beginner’s roadmap to getting started with custom lettering, or a short guide to working with a copywriter for the first time.

Anything you’ve noticed that your clients or other people online are struggling with can inspire you to create your next freebie. Just make sure it’s easily digestible and that it addresses a pain point your potential clients have.

Once you’ve got your opt-in offer ready, you’ll need an email marketing service like MailChimp or MailerLite to add the opt-in form to your website and to deliver the freebie to your new subscriber. If you can provide enough value to pique their interest and entice them to download your opt-in offer, the next step becomes much easier. 

You can get in touch with them and ask if they enjoyed what you sent them and also find out what they’re struggling with at the moment. Use that as an opportunity to send them an email about your services, start a conversation, and make it easier for them if they still don’t feel ready to make their first move.

All of this makes you stand out as an expert in your field. You’ve taken the time to figure out what’s relevant for your client and you have something of value to offer them before they’re even ready to hire you.

The truth is, freelancers think that having great website copy or a sleek website are enough. And, sure, both are essential. Foundational, even.

But when a client lands on your page and sees a freebie that addresses one of their major questions or pain points, guess who they’ll consider more qualified for their project.

You.

Educate Your Prospective Clients

Another way you can showcase your expertise in your field is to have a blog that you regularly update with new content.

When you use it intentionally, offer value through every post, and create great content, you become a valuable source of information.

You become a beacon of valuable resources, tips and educational content not just for other bloggers and professionals in the same or similar niche, but also for prospective clients.

And if your blog is valuable to others, then probably so is your work, right?

When a client sees that your blog is jam packed with useful articles, industry insights and engaging, educational posts that they find relevant, you immediately gain bonus points of awesomeness.

They can clearly see that you’re engaged and openly share your knowledge. That you’re passionate about your work and that you keep up with what’s happening in your niche.

In fact, if they can take a look at your blog and learn something new, you’ve instantly won them. They are now convinced that you’re someone they shouldn’t miss the opportunity to work with.

Yet most of the time, having a blog is taken for granted or gets brushed over as another overused “must have” item that’s there to decorate your website.

But as a freelancer, your blog is more powerful than you can imagine.

And as soon as you realize that it holds the key to getting new clients that would otherwise not find you or even consider working with you, you begin to appreciate the value of having a blog on your website.

It’s the easiest way to position yourself as an expert through your own website. And the more people your blog posts attract with time, the more your authority will grow and the more clients will notice.

Launch an E-Course

Do you enjoy creating tutorials for your audience? If you feel comfortable putting together educational content for your blog, you can start teaching others what you know by launching your own e-course.

If you love teaching others what you know, running your own course can easily become your top choice out of all the ways you can position yourself as an expert. After all, teaching is one of the most exciting ways you can build your authority in any field, and it allows you to share more of who you are with your audience.

If this sounds a little intimidating, you may want to start with a free mini-course first. Your can offer it as your irresistible opt-in offer alongside your other lead magnets on your website.

Similarly to the lead magnet we talked about previously, your mini-course needs to cover material that can easily be absorbed in a couple of days. It should also offer your students a step-by-step process to get a quick win by the end of the course.

When you’re ready, you can then take it to the next level and invest your time into creating a paid course. With both courses now listed on your website, your prospective clients are sure to check those out before they decide to get in touch with you.

Selling your own courses and teaching others what you know is probably the closest you can get to becoming an expert. It’s a no-brainer that if people trust you enough to be taught by you, that means your experience and insights are also worth paying for. Which makes it even easier to decide whether or not a client should work with you.

So, package your knowledge and expertise into a paid or free course, and show that you know what you’re talking about. If you already have enough experience to teach others, it’s just a matter of time until your prospective clients realize what they’re missing out on.

Write an Ebook

The easiest way you can do this is by putting together a valuable guide or writing something on a topic you know very well.

It can be something you offer for sale on your website as a digital download, or if you’d like to take it a step further, you can also self-publish your book on Amazon.

Today, it’s so easy to self-publish that you literally don’t have an excuse NOT to do this. The only thing you need to get started is the desire to create something valuable that will help solve a problem or fill a gap in your niche. It also helps when there’s someone who has already done it epically and can show you the ropes to get started.

The main question here, though, is this:

If you know there’s a certain pain point or something your clients struggle with on a daily basis, why not write a book about it and suggest some ways to solve this problem?

Once you’ve got your book published, you can link to it in your about page, in blog posts where it makes most sense for your readers, and in your author bio below your own blog posts or when you guest blog. You can also start promoting it on social media and add a link to your book in the description section of your profile.

It may seem like a small thing or something you’ve never taken the time to consider much. But becoming an author can help clients see you in a better light, especially if your book brings value to a topic they find interesting, along with many others.

Take Unpaid Projects to Get Testimonials

Perhaps one of the most difficult obstacles new freelancers face is not having any testimonials from clients. Yet testimonials are crucial for new clients to feel like they’re in safe and knowledgeable hands.

Sure, you may be doing stellar work, but if only you and your cat know it, what good is it to you?

The best way you can get some testimonials for your website (along with a boost of confidence) is to offer your services for free and ask for a testimonial when the work is complete.

This will not only add to your experience, but it will also set the foundation for your first connections with clients, who may later on become repeat clients or refer you to others who also need services like yours.

Even if you’ll be working for free, make sure you do a fantastic job and treat your client as you would treat any other paying client. It’s these small details when your professionalism can truly set you apart from the competition and build your reputation from an early stage.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that anything goes for this kind of volunteer work. You still need to set some rules and agree on the number of revisions the project will include, just as you would with any other project or client.

Consider following a process that explains everything from beginning to end, so everyone knows what to expect and what’s beyond the scope of the agreement.

And when you’ve completed the job and everyone’s happy with the result, make it easy for people to give you testimonials. This is something you will be using later on, so get used to making it as seamless and easy as possible for your clients.

Ask questions that will help them elaborate on what their experience has been working with you. Encourage more detailed responses instead of generic (and boring) statements that won’t impress anyone by asking open-ended questions instead of questions that can be answered with a single yes or no.

Wrapping Up

If you use these tips strategically and implement at least some of them, clients will be getting in touch with you in no time. Remember, to become a successful freelancer you only need two things: to know how you can make a difference for your clients and to be able to show them you can get the results they need.

But before you do any of that, your prospective clients need to know they’re at the right place and that you’re the expert they can reach out to. When you position yourself as one, the rest is all about impressing them with your awesome services that they will want to come back to again and again.

Once you do that, you no longer have to worry about being underbooked.

What is your go-to method to building your authority online? What has worked best for you so far? Tell me in the comments below.

Blog post image: kaboompics

Check out the rest of the Awesome Freelancer's Guide to Landing More Clients Series:
Part 1: How 7 Simple Website Tweaks Can Help You Get More Clients 
Part 2: How to Be Strategic on Social Media as a Freelancer
Part 4: Make Your Clients Fall in Love with You: How to Impress by Being Profesh 
Part 5: How to Be Intentional About Your Blog and Land Your Next Client