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What’s the plan for your freelancing?
Are you happy with your days? Would you like more work? Less work? More money? Bigger clients? Be honest – what would you change if you could?
For many freelancers, change is quite intimidating. Sure, we’re a brave bunch as it is – going it alone with no company to fall back on – but it’s easy to get stuck in a comfort zone. Before you know it, change doesn’t seem possible – and as for growth? Well, there are plenty of us that are just happy to cover the bills each month – so what hope do we have of growing our business?
Well, here’s the thing – if you want it, there’s never been a better time to go out and achieve it. There are 55million + freelancers in the U.S. and a very small percentage of them are shooting for the stars. That leaves the door wide open for you if you’re keen to scale your business up.
Not sure where to begin? Think about which one of these approaches would work for you:
Photo by Carl Heyerdahl
It perhaps sounds sarcastic – but I don’t mean it to. If you want to grow – one route is to simply do more work.
But there aren’t enough hours in the day, right? Well, perhaps – but if your life depended on it, could you pick up another client? Do an extra hour each evening? Get up a little earlier? Drop half a day from your paid role elsewhere? Adding 30 minutes extra work each day could add 150 hours + each year – that’s practically 4 additional working weeks.
It’s not the right answer for everyone, but in some cases, just knuckling-down and working a little bit harder is the route to growing your business.
Create a brand
Sometimes, a little extra confidence is what’s needed to bag those extra clients or bump your prices up a little – and having a brand is a good way to inspire that confidence.
A brand, complete with a logo, a simple website and a business email address sets you apart from everyone who’s communicating with clients from their Hotmail address. There’s nothing wrong with that by the way – I did it for years – but if you want people to take you a little more seriously, polish what you’re doing.
Granted, making a brand might not singlehandedly grow your business – but it’ll help with the next growth strategy…
Raise your prices
Photo by Alvaro Reyes
It might seem like a bold move – but putting your prices up is a solid way to scale your business – and actually, it can unlock the door to funding further growth strategies.
Here’s the thing – gas goes up, rent goes up, the cost of groceries goes up – but we’re often working all the hours in the day and feeling a little scared about putting our prices up.
The key to doing it confidently is making sure you’re always hitting home runs for your clients. You can’t provide a poor service and expect people to pay for it – so notch up the quality – then ask the question.
It doesn’t have to be much to make a big difference – if you charge by the hour – what impact would an extra couple of dollars have on your year? Assuming you work around 40 hours per week, it might be an additional $4,000 over the course of the year. Not a bad return for simply asking!
I have someone who does my ironing.
That might sound like a luxury – but actually, it’s helped me scale my business – because I’m really slow at ironing (and I hate doing it). So, it costs me around $40 each week for someone to iron mine and my family’s clothes – a job that would otherwise take me around 4 hours a week (not only am I bad at it – I’m slow at it too).
In that same 4 hours, I can earn more than $40 – so, as long as I’m working, it actually makes financial sense for me to have someone do the ironing while I work. By getting someone to do the ironing – I buy myself 2 extra days at my desk every month.
What would it make sense for you to subcontract? Are you awful at the admin freelancing creates? Does arranging your taxes take forever? Do you hate ironing too?! If you can subcontract it then it could buy you some significant time. Subcontracting work to other freelancers or service providers only makes sense if it free up time for you to create revenue too though – so tread carefully.
Break loose from the gig sites
Places like People Per Hour and UpWork are go-to’s for freelancers – but they’re not the only places to find work – and, in actual fact, they’re often ridiculously difficult places to find work.
Why not try breaking free and seeing what kind of clients are elsewhere? As creative people, we tend to think of our own little communities as places we’ll find work – but guess what; so does everyone else who’s hanging out there. Try thinking about where your clients hang out online – if you’re not sure, why not ask them? Facebook groups, LinkedIn communities – there’s an endless supply.
Some places won’t appreciate outright advertising of your services – but others will be happy for you to offer. Position yourself as providing a worthwhile service for your target audience and you’ll be well received.
Gig sites often take up a lot of time when it comes to finding the jobs and pitching – and then you’ll find customers are often looking for just the cheapest rate. Broaden your horizons and you’ll find different clients who are willing to pay the prices you want to charge.
Grow your network
Photo by Christian Battaglia
When it comes to scaling your business, having more clients is always an enormous help. If you don’t fancy the gig sites or social alternatives I’ve mentioned above, then why not consider doing some real-life networking.
This blog post covers some useful tips about how to make networking perform for you. When the time’s right, start talking to your network about what you can do for them – or who they might be able to put you in touch with.
Add a skill
Is there an additional skill or service you could add on to what you currently offer? If there is, why not add it? Suddenly you’ve got a range of services.
Sure, it might take some learning – but if it’s an easy up-sell to your clients then that learning could pay itself back hundreds of times over quite quickly – especially if you check out some online courses on a site like Udemy.
You might need to do a little research into what would work for you – otherwise you could end up with two entirely different skills that don’t gel together, but again, just talking to your clients and asking what else they outsource to freelancers is a good start.