Becoming a Successful Freelance Project Manager
Freelance has tons of advantages: from avoiding long-distance commuting to setting your own hours. Even so being a freelance project manager is definitely not the easiest career path to follow.
Yes, you get to work wherever and whenever you want, choose the conditions you like and be your own boss. But all these great perks usually come along with endless challenges. So if you consider stepping into the shoes of a freelance project manager, here is some advice on how to tackle them.
1. Find Your Job-Hunting Strategy
Once you decide to go freelance, the main puzzle to solve is how to get the first clients. Here are a few ways to obtain the assignments you want and find some potential job opportunities: Turn to a staffing agency that cater to the industry you are interested in.Build up your online presence. Use social networks to represent a unique personal brand and find new opportunities.Do not ignore little assignments at the first step. Once you put a couple of successful projects in your resume, it will be easier to land big tasks.
2. Build A Portfolio
If you want to be taken seriously, always back up your statements with a decent portfolio. Proven working experience is a must in such fields like project management.
It shows your future employer not only how long you have worked in the field, but also how you deal with short-term and long-standing projects, what your core skills are and personality is.
However, a portfolio doesn’t have to stick to paid work only. And it doesn’t even need to be limited to those few times you worked for actual employers. If you had outstanding projects in school or in a training course, use them as well. And don’t forget to include tiny projects you do for fun in your free time — they might interest a recruiter, too.
3. Get Certified
Certifications are an effective way to keep yourself valuable on the job market. It shows that you are willing to learn new things and brings a significant advantage in terms of median salary. For instance, PMP certified practitioners, according to Project Management Institute recent survey, have 23% higher wages than those without a certification.
Additional skills in a narrow and specialized field are also a big advantage for a project manager. So if you have always wanted to get an MS in Taxation or a CPA license, it would be a tremendous plus! As the founder of Cpaexamguy.com Jason Galaif says, “A valuable accreditation always makes a difference when choosing between two equally skilled candidates.”
Indeed, who knows what will be important for your next recruiter?
4. Expand Your Network
A candidate with little experience and no reputation has fewer chances to get the attention of the best employers. It doesn’t mean your career is doomed! But it is always much easier to start freelancing when you know how to self-promote.
Hence, always try to expand your network: attend various meetings and conferences, follow the industry leaders on social media, join project management communities. Do not be afraid to show your work when it’s relevant, and always demonstrate self-confidence — even though you don’t feel that way.
5. Be Straightforward and Precise
The absence of a clear communication protocol is one of the common project management mistakes. It has already ruined hundreds of collaborations so be careful and try to maintain an open dialogue across all aspects of a project.
Be transparent about your ideas, ask questions if needed, inform the stakeholders about your progress. A short wrap-up report or weekly status update is not a big deal. But it can save you some headaches later, and show you as a confident and reliable professional.
6. Set Up Your Schedule
When you’re just starting out, you want to be available to the client 24/7. It sets unreasonable expectations for your working hours and later results in phone calls at 11 pm demanding work to be sent over immediately.
Hence, if you are not planning to work late nights, early mornings, and weekends, set clear and consistent working hours from the very beginning. Any experienced project manager will tell you that stressful late-night sessions aren’t the best way to win over clients.
7. Centralize Your Projects & Communication
When you’re a freelancer and working remote, keeping track of your projects via pen and paper just won’t cut it. When you’re not organized and start to fall behind, even the smallest tasks can feel like big obstacles. Stay on track and on time by using a free project management solution like PI#team™ to centralize your tasks, project documents, and easily collaborate with your team or clients.
Becoming a successful freelance project manager is not so easy. Doesn’t matter whether you’re just starting out or re-entering the industry on your own terms. But if you find the appropriate strategy, promote yourself and keep on learning, you will unquestionably become a progressive specialist with creative, out-of-the-box thinking.
It doesn’t mean you have to read a pile of books every week and get all the possible certifications.
Remember: Even such simple things as reading a project management blog or being active in social media can put you on the right track to a dream job.
Eliza Medley is a blogger and marketing specialist. She is passionate about education, writing, traveling, and marketing. Contact @Eliza_Medley via Twitter.