7 Things Amazon Does That Freelancers Need to Know About

Freelancers can learn a lot from AmazonIn about 60 seconds, I bought something on Amazon that I couldn’t find during a 3-hour trip to a mall. What I was looking for was basic—thermal underwear for my husband.

And it was November in New Jersey. So department stores and sporting good stores should have had plenty of thermal underwear in stock. But all I could find was low-quality thermal underwear and deluxe thermal underwear designed and priced for outdoor activities. I was looking for something in the middle, high-quality thermal underwear to add an extra layer of warmth.

So I went home and got online. After clicking my Amazon bookmark and doing a simple search for “thermal underwear for men,” I found exactly what I wanted—at a great price. I clicked once to place my order. And the next day, the thermal underwear arrived on my doorstep.

Best Practices for Business Success

You might think there’s not much for freelancers to learn from the world’s largest e-commerce retailer. After all, freelancers offer services, not products.

Well, you’d be wrong.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, launched the company in 1994 at the age of 30. He quit his Wall Street job and started selling books out of his garage in Bellevue, Wash. Today, you can find just about anything you want or need on Amazon. And Amazon is one of the most valuable public companies in the world.

Bezos spearheaded best practices that are just as applicable to freelancers and our clients as they are to Amazon and its customers.

1. Put Customers and Clients First

From the start, Amazon put its customers first. Understanding and responding to customer needs enabled the company to grow quickly.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful,” says Bezos.

Word of mouth, or referrals, is powerful for freelancers too. When we do great work for our clients, they refer us to other clients. And they give us repeat business.

We also need to understand client needs. And we need to focus on those needs in our marketing (e.g., LinkedIn profile and website) and our work.

2. Make it Easy Like Amazon Does

Shopping on Amazon is super easy. The website’s search engine quickly finds what you’re looking for, offering you related products to consider too. Check-out is fast and easy, especially if you use 1-click ordering. I’ve never had a tech problem ordering anything from Amazon.

If I see something I want to buy in a catalog or on another website, then I see if Amazon has it. And it usually does. So instead of creating a new account, paying for shipping, and waiting weeks for the delivery, I can buy it easily and get it quickly on Amazon.

Clients want to work with freelancers who make their lives easier. When we deliver high-quality work on time and on budget, we help clients meet their deadlines. We help them look good to their bosses, and in some cases, to their clients too.

3. Be Dependable Like Amazon Is

When I order something from Amazon, I can count on it to arrive on my doorstep quickly. And I know that I won’t have to follow up to find out when it’s coming.

Freelancers need to be dependable too. Clients need us to do what we say we’ll do, when we say we’ll do it. And when we do more than expected, clients will want to work with us more. And they’re likely to refer us to colleagues who are looking for freelancers.

4. Communicate Clearly and Often Like Amazon Does

Amazon sends customers emails to confirm orders and with updates on shipping. So we’re never left wondering what happened with our order.

Good, frequent communication is one of the keys to freelance success. Clients should never have to wonder what’s happening with a project or when we’re going to turn it in.

Always notify clients promptly of problems with projects. If you’re working on a long-term project or multiple projects for the same client, send a weekly progress report. This is one of those small extra things freelancers can do build strong relationships with clients. It also help you track your progress on the project.

5. Deliver on Time Like Amazon Does

Amazon is rarely late on deliveries. If it is, then it sends an email to let you know when the delivery will arrive.

Freelancers should (almost) never be late delivering a project, unless there’s a project-related problem that’s out of your control. For example, if the client hasn’t gotten you the necessary information or a source isn’t available for an interview, you can’t complete the project on time. But you need to notify the client promptly about problems like this.

A medical emergency is a valid reason for being late, but again, let the client know about this as soon as you can. And say when you will be able to complete the project.

6. Build a Strong Brand Like Amazon Has

When that package arrives on your doorstep, you instantly know it’s from Amazon because of the logo on the package. That logo, a key part of Amazon’s brand, helps set the company apart from other online retailers. The company’s name implies that it’s big: the Amazon is the world’s largest river.

In 2019, Amazon was #4 on the Forbes’ list of the world’s most valuable brands, and #5 on the list of the most innovative companies in the world.

As freelancers, we’re not trying to build a global empire. But most successful freelancers have strong brands that give them a competitive edge in the freelance space.

The truth is that freelancers in the same field (e.g., freelance writers) are pretty similar, especially to clients. A strong brand sets you apart. Since most freelancers don’t have a brand, developing one will help you attract more and better clients.

7. Believe in Yourself Like Bezos Did

“I knew that if I failed, I would regret that, but I knew the one thing I might regret is not trying,” says Bezos in a profile on the Academy of Achievement.

Bezos was doing something that was totally new at the time. But he believed in himself.

As freelancers, we don’t have to be innovators. But we do need to be confident.

Confidence helps you deal with stress and meet challenges head on. It helps you keep going when things aren’t going well. And sometimes, things won’t go well—because freelancing isn’t easy.

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