4 Things Freelancers Can Do to Make Yourself More Valuable

make yourself more valuableI’m so excited to welcome a post from Carrie Smith today! Carrie was the person who inspired me to pursue blogging full time. She is an awesome writer and a huge inspiration to tons of aspiring entrepreneurs out there. I hope you enjoy her post today!

As a freelance writer I often face a lot of competition — from very smart and talented freelancers.

Are you in a similar position?

In order to make our services more valuable, and stand out from the crowd, we have to think more creatively about what we offer.

What’s the best way to do that? Create add-on services to your portfolio that are in the same vein of what you already offer. Here are four simple strategies you can start implementing today.

1. Update Your Current Skills Based on Popular Requests

As solopreneurs, we often see lots of requests for help in and outside of our current skillset. However, we do come across clients who ask for other related services on a frequent basis.

Think about a freelance designer who not only has to work with Photoshop, but also has to create ebook covers and designs for product launches. They probably even have to know the technical aspects of a squeeze pages as well as the design layout.

Take a minute to ponder what the most popular type of requests that land in your inbox and consider adding them to your list of services. If you have a lot of clients inquiring about the same type of thing, you could pull in some additional money by updating your skills and expanding your portfolio.

2. Take Online Courses or Classes

It’s important to stay on top of industry changes and increase your skills by getting certifications related to your field of expertise.

When potential clients see that you invest time (and a little bit of money) to increasing your knowledge and staying up-to-date, they’ll be much more likely to work with you. And often pay the higher price tag associated with that.

This is also a smart way to set yourself apart from the vast freelancing community, which gives you a better chance of landing more jobs and higher-paying clients.

3. Offer Unique or Out-of-the Box Services

What are some of the main services you could offer right now? Besides looking over your most popular requests, there are quite a few al a carte, add-on services you can offer too.

As a freelance writer, for example, you can offer some editing services, research or SEO help, or even more out-of-the box ideas like newsletter writing and scheduling.

The point is to make yourself and your skills more valuable by offering unique services that not everyone is doing, so you can ultimately charge more money, while becoming the go-to resource.

4. Add Rare Services to Your Portfolio

You never know what your clients will need in addition to the services you already offer. Why not add your rarest or most unique skills to your portfolio?

For example, I have a knack for having a ton of ideas for blog posts and ebook topics; I just don’t always have time to write them. An unusual service that I offer (I call it Content Idea Generation) is coming up with ideas and placements for guest posts and product campaigns for other bloggers and businesses.

They can then hire other writers, or even me, to write those topics weeks or months in advance. This is a key strategy for new websites or product launches.

Not every client will be interested in this, but some of them might if they’re offered the chance. And many of them will be willing to pay a bit more for the added value you provide.

What’s one add-on service you can start highlighting to make your portfolio stand out?

Carrie Smith is a solopreneur on a mission to help solo business owners tackle their big, hairy financial mountain. In May 2013 she quit her full-time accounting job to pursue entrepreneurship and blogging. You can download her free guide or find more of her writing on CarefulCents.com, then connect with her on Twitter @carefulcents.

5 Changes You Can Make in Yourself to Make a Difference in Others

With the population skyrocketing to over seven billion people, the idea of truly making a difference in the lives of others can seem daunting and unrealistic. But there are small, day-to-day changes you can make in yourself and in your behavior that will positively impact those around you. Even the smallest interaction with someone else might affect that person’s day, so focus on being a favorable influence by changing your own behaviors.

Become A Better Listener

Remember learning about active listening in grade school? No matter how old you are, the key to listening to someone else is to focus on what he or she is saying, and let everything else—thoughts, external stimuli, opinions—go until later. One of the greatest ways you can help others is to truly listen to what they are saying. That means paying your full attention. Don’t fiddle with your phone, glance around the room, or interrupt with your own stories. You can go a step further and show that you are engaged by asking appropriate questions, or ensuring you heard correctly by repeating bits of the story back. Pay attention to your own listening habits, and make someone else happy by truly hearing her.

Communicate Openly

Hand-in-hand with listening well is communication. Make yourself an open, approachable communicator, and you’ll see the difference it makes in other people who need to talk to you. If you’re known as someone who listens well, presents ideas in a clear manner, and doesn’t judge or get defensive during hard conversations, other people will feel better around you and will be more likely to open up an honest connection. You can learn to deliver criticism or hard news in an approachable way that people will receive more easily. Along with learning what to say, pay attention to how you say it. Let go of angry words, rough gesticulations, and a harsh tone of voice.

Love Your Career

If you want to make a difference in the lives of others, your career can be a great resource. If you love your career, that natural exuberance will come across to everyone you interact with. Many career paths focus directly on helping people, and you can see your impact each day with many individuals. Careers like those in healthcare directly impact lives in a positive way. If you’re feeling stuck and want to do more for others, making the change to a career in healthcare services or criminal justice might help you become a happier person.

Practice Compassion

Telling people to practice compassion sometimes seems like an easy, empty thing to say, while the reality of truly learning to be compassionate is more difficult. But in a world that’s full of judgments and exclusivity, compassion is a main component in making a difference in others and in ourselves. Think about a time you’ve experienced compassion from someone else, like when you went to a close friend or family member with a problem, and that person listened closely and gave you empathy and support. Compassion alleviates stress and anxiety, both in the person receiving it and in the person giving it.

Understand Differences

We all run up against people who have extremely different opinions or circumstances, and sometimes it can be hard to find common ground with these individuals. But arguing or judging won’t make you any happier, and it won’t impact that other person in a positive way, either.

Though it can be very hard to tolerate opinions you strongly disagree with, remember that everyone comes from a unique place. One opinion is not worth more or less than another, nor do those differing opinions have to negate each other. You don’t have to agree with someone to respect his or her right to hold a certain opinion. Taking the time to gain a true understanding of another person, instead of making an instantaneous judgment, will have a positive effect on you both.

While it might not seem like much, being a good listener, a compassionate communicator, and an understanding person can have a tremendous impact on those around you. Instead of leaving others frustrated or down, you’ll leave them feeling valued. So make some small changes in yourself, and see the beneficial difference it makes in others.