Lode Schoors has been a freelancer for about 10 years, and he is passionate about all things related to marketing. For 80% of his week he deals with marketing agencies and the rest he spends on Opdrachten.be with his business partner Bavo Verstraeten – who you might remember from this blog.
His role is to bring his marketing experience to the Opdrachten.be team. He helps to build something that is well structured and that has the potential to grow. His role includes defining a mature strategy, pricing model, and a marketing model that enables opdrachten.be to maximise his potential.
What are the positives that the freelance community has experienced as of recent?
I think that many things have changed over the last few years, and especially the last year. The pandemic has brought about flexibility because everyone started working from home. It is now considered as being the new normal. There is a trend in general, not only for freelancing but remote work in general, where people have accepted and embraced the new normal and took advantage of remote working.
There has been a shift in the way that freelancers are being recruited. If we look at consultancy, where there are head hunters who hunt for good resumes, they search for freelancers to match requirements for the clients. But I have realised that the model is disappearing as agencies will find the freelancer themselves and try to build a real relationship with them.
However, each industry has had a different experience with it. The bigger businesses try to contact the freelancer directly or via a platform, such as Opdrachten.be. They get into direct contact with them and that has a lot of advantages compared to a model where the third party takes commission without providing extra value.
I also see a better future for freelancers where they are moving into a more mature model where they have the power to negotiate the contracts directly with the business. And because freelancing is so diverse and offers so many options, it is great to have that flexibility within the sector.
What tips and motivations can you share for aspiring creatives?
Be honest with your clients, that is the most important advice that I can give to upcoming creatives. Tell them when you are unable to do something, point out your strong skills and abilities. When freelancers are open to their clients it creates a barrier of trust. Do not tell them that you can help them with whatever they want, tell them that you will help them with the tasks where you are adding value for their money. If their problem needs solving, offer to the client that you can help find someone to help solve the problem. A professional that will be able to solve the problem fast, efficiently and with expertise. Usually, clients respect that more than you assuring them that you are able to cover all of their needs.
It is also important for freelancers to have a network. Not just when scouting for clients, but to offer clients the correct services when they need it. Make sure that you have a strong network and try to make as many connections as you possibly can. It does not only help you, it helps your clients too. It creates trust and builds a relationship that lasts a long time.
Get yourself an accountant and a lawyer. It’s important to have your numbers under control to make sure that you are able to pay your taxes and stay within terms of law. Lawyers help with non-paying clients and ensuring that your contracts can hold up in court.
Also it is a good idea to always have a reserve fund. You should have a fallback and a backup plan. Things happen quicker than you might imagine, and having extra cash on hand is the best possible idea for you as a freelancer. It takes away the stress when your clients don’t pay on time and the bills come knocking at your door.
What do you think, in your own opinion, does the future of freelancing look like?
Freelancers have an interesting future ahead of them. There are many stories where collaborations from all over the world take place, and it has been facilitated by the use of technology and the remote work culture.
Since the start of the pandemic, people have been conscious about work-life balance and it has opened up our eyes to how we overwork ourselves. To have been able to take some time off work is something that most people appreciated.
I do believe that the freelance market is ever-growing. With Opdrachten.be we see that in the last few months the number of freelancers has been increasing.
A model I foresee that will change is that more freelancers will start creating good contracts that cover the freelancer and client if something goes wrong. I also recommend that freelancers surround themselves with a good accountant and definitely make use of insurance.
I believe that freelancing is a model that will become more prominent in the years to come. Freelancing can have a lot of risks but when a good relationship has been established between the freelancer and their clients, then solutions can easily be found.