I have been in the freelancing business for quite a while and have worked with dozens of freelancers from around the world. There are millions of freelancers outside the U.S. willing to learn about the industry, but they can’t afford to enroll in my course. I realized I can still reach them by making YouTube videos, which are free to watch. Today, we’re going to discuss one of the most common questions asked by freelancers everywhere. The question is… How can I grow a successful freelancing business?
Invest in Yourself
I like to use the acronym ABP, which stands for “always be prospecting”. Prospecting is free; investing in yourself doesn’t mean you have to spend money. Take advantage of having an online presence by creating accounts on LinkedIn, Upwork, Freelancer, or other job-hunting platforms.
Set aside an hour each day looking for new clients. There is always a possibility of a dry spell in the future, so always be prospecting. As a marketer, I noticed that many jobs are open during the fourth quarter because a lot of companies are planning their marketing strategy for the following year. But whatever time of the year it is, make it a habit to look for new clients at least one hour every day.
Master the Tools
Master freelancing tools that you can use in your trade. As a marketer, one of the tools I’m using is SEMRush. This tool helps me a lot because it condenses my five to six hours of SEO work to only 20-30 minutes. I’m not promoting SEMRush over other SEO tools, but what I mean is, if you know how to use a tool that can help clients, highlight it in your profile. If you don’t have one, it’s time to invest in a tool that can make your job faster and easier.
Utilize the Benefits of Being a Freelancer
One of the biggest benefits of freelancing is that you have the freedom to work on your own terms. Most clients will allow you to work at your own schedule and pace, provided you deliver quality work on time. This freedom can open up opportunities to take up a hobby or spend time with your kids. But beware of procrastination- it’s your biggest enemy! When you delay doing what you need to do, you are wasting time and money. Do your work first, spend some time prospecting, then shut down your PC and enjoy your life.
I say enjoy your life because that’s the reason why you’re working to begin with. I have a friend whose philosophy is, every minute you’re not working; you’re losing money. He has all his employees work more than 60 hours a week. I told him to go easier on them because too much workload can burn them out. I was right. He had a high employee turnover ratio.
What can we learn from his story? You do the job for the money, but you stay with clients who value work-life balance. Make sure that when you become an employer, you respect your team’s time to rest. Let them have a life after work. As long as they know their work output and deadline, everything will be great. Learning proper micromanagement is very important to keep a long-term contractor happily working with you.
Don’t Rely on Freelance Platforms
People ask me how I’m doing business and prospecting. My answer is, I don’t rely on one platform. If you do rely on one platform, you’re missing a lot of other opportunities. Don’t be lazy and get stuck relying on one source for your prospecting. There are many networking companies on the internet. Sign-up and start applying for jobs.
Here is an article that goes more in detail about finding freelance jobs.
Make it Official
Every successful freelance business must have an LLC or Inc. to be official. Getting an LLC is a great way to protect your assets and all the things you’ve worked hard for. I had a friend who was so lazy in getting an LLC, that when luck went against her, she was sued. Since she didn’t get any insurance, all her assets were put at risk of being confiscated by the bank.
Do yourself a favor by making your job official. If/when something goes wrong, your assets will be protected.
Monitor your Reputation
High-paying clients will investigate your reputation online. If your company has too many one-star reviews, that’s a red flag for prospects.
If you receive bad feedback, try to mitigate it as soon as possible. Do whatever you can to remove it because it can destroy your reputation. If it means refunding your client’s money, do it, unless it’s a major project.
To get positive feedback, don’t oversell or overpromise your services, and don’t take on work that you can’t do.
Know your Numbers
Do you know what CAC, LTV, and Profit Margin mean? If not, you’re missing out on potential revenue. For your sake, here are some terms you need to know:
CAC = Customer Acquisition Cost. How much does it cost you to acquire a customer? If you use Upwork, maybe its zero, unless you sign-up for a premium account. Let’s say you have a premium account which costs $10, and you only get one client, your CAC is $10 (10/1=10).
LTV = Lifetime Value of a Customer. How much does the customer provide you on an average in terms of revenue? You don’t want to spend $1000 worth of marketing if your LTV is only $500 because it means you’re losing $500 per customer.
There are other terms defined online that you can research to understand how they affect your business. Some of these terms include Profit Margin, Net Profit, and Revenue.
Growing a successful freelance business is not easy. If you follow the advice I have laid out for you, eventually you will take on more clients, charge what you want, and enjoy life more.