When freelancing, a strong portfolio, a confident hourly rate and strong networking skills are some of the ways you can push your career to the next level.

Venturing out into the world of self-employment can be a challenge, but there are ways to give you an upper hand and put yourself into consideration for some of the top opportunities.

In full-time work, you will have grown accustomed to working as part of a team and concentrating on a select number of responsibilities, but freelancing calls for people to become flexible, all-round employees.

With this in mind, here are five ways to upskill and apply new ways of thinking to make sure you maximise your business opportunities.

1. Create a spectacular portfolio

Many people make a simple mistake when freelancing by not updating their portfolio to feature their best work.

Potential clients want to see truly outstanding projects in a specialist’s portfolio, so it’s vital you only include your best work.

Of course, how you show off your work will depend on your sector. Professionals in the digital sector are likely to use LinkedIn, but there’s no reason why those in more practical industries (construction, engineering) can’t showcase their experience through a personal website.

2. Freelancing is all about networking!

As well as performing to a high level, freelancers also need to be able to market themselves successfully, which means networking with likeminded professionals.

There are plenty of ways to do this. Search online for the latest freelancer networking events, which give specialists a chance to meet up with other experts, collaborate and share new ideas.

3. Know your worth

Although it can be easy to let clients dictate your prices, doing so could mean you massively undervalue your efforts.

In order to make the most money possible when freelancing, it’s important to set a rate you know will help you to make a profit. This way, you will come across as confident, professional, proactive and potentially increase your earnings!

4. Keep in contact with all of your leads

Quite often, clients come in with potential offers and then disappear, leaving freelancers unsure over whether a deal can be finalised or not.

To stop this from happening, it is advisable to regularly keep in touch with leads and try to build a working relationship with them. By doing this, they are more likely to respond and, even if they do not keep in touch, they may remember your name and consider you for work in the future.

5. Find your target audience

Over time, you may find that you have a certain demographic you are interested in working for. Whatever it may be – whether it is large technology businesses in the north-west, or NHS trusts in the south – research companies that fall under your target audience and market your brand to them.

Perhaps create monthly lists of organisations you want to target and contact them to show off your expertise and explain you are available for projects. While you may not receive a response initially, you could find yourself gaining plenty of work down the line.