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How to Guarantee Your Freelance Business Won’t Be Taken Seriously

Let me tell you a story. The other day, I needed to make a dentist's appointment. As I don't like phone calls, I did what anyone more comfortable with a keyboard would do - I went looking for an email.

Soon, I landed on a website and saw a big "Book an Appointment" button. I happily clicked, filled out the booking form, and then - crickets. For five days.

Since I'm all about giving the benefit of the doubt, I thought it might be a booking form issue. Maybe it wasn't correctly connected to an email address. Tough luck, but there is a contact page, so I'll just get an email from there and send it again.

So, I locate the email, and then - horror. Something that got me questioning my choices in dentists and their general skill:

Right then and there, I was happy they didn't reply. If that's the level of professionalism I can expect, I don't want them anywhere near my mouth.

Fun story. But what does it have to do with my freelance business?

Glad you asked. While a dentist isn't exactly a freelancer, there are a few things you can learn from this example. All of them tie into how your business looks to your clients.

Ever wondered why some freelancers seem to command respect and land high-paying gigs effortlessly while others struggle to be taken seriously? It's all about reputation, credibility, and professionalism. And here's how fast all of it goes down the drain if you don't pay attention to seemingly small details.

Only rely on social media

Having a social media presence is a great way to engage with your clients. However, treating a Facebook or Instagram account as your business website is a bad idea for multiple reasons.

First off, social media platforms are controlled and operated by a third-party. Depending only on them means giving them control over your online presence. You have no control over algorithm or policy changes that can severely impact your online visibility.

You can't create a truly unique brand identity because social media platforms offer standardized templates for all business accounts. What's more, if your preferred social media platform becomes obsolete, you're automatically losing the primary way of reaching your target audience.

Last, but not least, not having a dedicated website makes you look like you're not running a legitimate business. At least as far as 85% of people who look for a website before doing business with you are concerned.

Have a website

Just as a great website can take your business to new heights, a bad one can bury it six feet under. Your web presence plays a huge role in how your potential clients perceive you.

Your logo, color scheme, fonts, and overall visual elements should all align with your brand identity. If they look outdated or mismatched, it makes your business appear unprofessional.

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A cluttered or confusing website layout can also turn visitors away before they even get to know what services you offer. Make sure your website is clean, easy to navigate, and showcases your work effectively.

Otherwise, you're sending a message that you're not serious about your work. And if you don't take yourself seriously, neither will potential clients.

Confuse your clients

Imagine seeing a playful and casual brand voice on social media, but then landing on a website with formal and serious visuals. A lack of brand consistency can throw off potential clients. If your website says one thing and your social media says another, it creates confusion.

When your brand identity is murky, potential clients won't stick around long enough to figure out who you are and what you do. Your brand messaging needs to be crystal clear. Your website, business cards, and social media profiles should all say who you are and what value you bring to the table.

Think of it as speaking the same language across all platforms – from your logo design to the tone of voice you're using. If you want to avoid looking unprofessional, make sure that all of your content matches.

Don't have a branded email address

Using a generic email like or makes you look amateurish and untrustworthy - especially if you already have your own website domain. It shows you don't take yourself seriously and aren't willing to invest in your business.

A branded email address that includes your domain name not only looks more polished, but also helps establish credibility. It reinforces your identity as a legitimate business rather than just another freelancer operating under a generic email account.

Take ages to reply

Clients expect prompt responses to their inquiries and messages. Taking ages to reply shows disorganization and lack of professionalism. It leaves clients feeling undervalued and unimportant.

send within the first 24 hours

What's more, when you delay your responses, you risk losing out on potential projects. Timely communication shows that you are reliable and attentive to your clients' needs. Taking ages, on the other hand, shows a lack of respect for you clients' time and a lack of commitment to deliver a high-quality service.

Be late on your invoices

Late invoices are a major red flag for clients and make your freelance business appear unprofessional. When you consistently miss invoice due dates, it reflects poorly on your reliability and commitment to your work.

Soon, clients start questioning your professionalism and wonder if you are organized enough to handle their projects. At the end of the day, clients can't pay you if you don't send them an invoice. Instead of making them chase you for them, send them as soon as you complete a project.

Send out docs that look unprofessional

The way you present your documents speaks volumes about your business. Sending out docs that look unprofessional can seriously harm your reputation and credibility in the eyes of clients.

Ensure that all your documents are well-formatted and error-free. Use a consistent design and layout for a cohesive look across all materials. Pay attention to details like font choice, spacing, and alignment to create a polished appearance.

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Avoid using low-quality images that take away from the overall image of your documents. Instead, opt for high-resolution graphics that enhance the visual appeal without appearing cluttered or amateurish. The documents you send out should reflect the standards of professionalism you want clients to associate with your brand.

Overpromise and underdeliver

Every time you can't deliver what you promise, your brand reputation takes a hit. Setting unrealistic goals just to secure a project backfires sooner or later.

Clients expect honesty, transparency, and quality work. The last thing you want is for word to get out that you're unreliable and untrustworthy. Besides closing the door to future projects with existing clients, this eventually leads to difficulties landing new ones.

Final thoughts

Freelancing is a competitive field. If you aren't projecting an image of professionalism across the board, you're making it even harder on yourself.

Sort out that email address, invest some time into quality documents, and don't make clients wait for a reply for days. Your reputation is your most valuable asset, so make sure you're not ruining it.

"I'm awesome, give me the job" doesn't work

But showcasing your skills with documents that look, feel, and sound great does. Take Better Proposals for a spin - the first 14 days are free.

Patricija Šobak's profile image
Patricija Šobak puts her talent in spotting questionable grammar and shady syntax to good use by writing about various business-related topics. Besides advocating the use of the Oxford comma, she also likes coffee, dogs, and video games. People find her ability to name classic rock songs only from the intro both shocking and impressive.