You may have started freelancing on the side, or maybe you started as a freelancer with the express intention of growing it into a thriving business with a steady income. Whatever it is, there are ways you can build your freelancing gig into a successful and sustainable business, achieving your goals.
You are the brand of your freelancing business. Establishing and building your brand helps represent you and your business better in the market. Also, you can connect better with your leads and clients. A strong brand presence gives you a solid standing in the said industry. Hence, you compete better with other similar businesses.
Having a business logo that is meaningful and appealing is one thing but being able to include and incorporate your unique selling points when building your brand is another. You’d want to show your clients what you can do for them and tell them your values that can help them.
It is understandable for freelancers to want to do everything to strike a jackpot somewhere somehow. Unfortunately, you may become a Jack of all trades yet master of none, and the chances of success are low. Hence, do some soul-searching; you have to know what you want, can do, and do well.
Also, ask yourself to what extent you can give yourself to your freelance business. Don’t be overly ambitious. Instead, be realistic in your approach to your freelancing business.
It is no point bulldozing people into taking up your services, especially when there is no need in the market for them. You only are setting yourself up to fail. So, do your due diligence and research to ascertain what the market needs and wants.
You can search online to find out what jobs are in demand or participate in freelancing forums to learn more. Doing it once is not enough. Keep yourself updated with the market trends as they change all the time.
So you have a business, and some clients know you, but for how long? You have to consistently put yourself out there to ensure your existing clients and others would know you better. Your visibility is crucial to ensuring your business continues to thrive and be successful.
Hence, market yourself at events and conferences. Be active in social media and participate in online forums. It’s about getting the correct exposure and connections at the right time. The people must know you still exist and are alive and kicking. Do not forget to nurture your existing clients too.
Every business is all about its customers. After all, customers are the pulse of every business. As a freelancer, you invest more time and effort to get your clients. Take note that you will have to work doubly hard to retain them. Sometimes, not so much the quantity but the quality of the clients you get determines the success of your business.
Do not treat your customers as products or merely ATMs. They are people with differing expectations, behaviors, and needs. Hence, take time to know them and build a rapport with them. Be skillful in finding out your clients' current and future needs. Not all clients know what they need, so be patient to dig it out from them via tactful conversations.
As you get to know your customers, you also need to stay abreast of your customers’ company developments. Keep in touch and follow up with them but not too often. Fix a reasonable schedule to catch up with them. You can do so face to face, or a simple email/phone call would do. You never know that such a simple gesture could land you the next gig with them.
Be proactive and look at other areas of your customer’s business that you can assist. It could start from a simple suggestion to how your customer can improve their social media posts. Before you know it, you may get the job to handle the part.
In the freelancing business, your words are gold. If you promise your client something, you must deliver; this is paramount to building trust. Obtaining trust from a client is never easy, it is hard to secure and easy to lose. Hence, do not be dodgy in your deals and always be sincere, clear, and direct.
It is always a good practice to set the right expectations from the start rather than promise the sun and the moon but under-deliver. Always follow through with your promises. Your customers will favor returning to you.
Retainer work is the goldmine for freelancers as it is work repeated on a scheduled basis which means regular payment. The consistency that retainer work brings to the table can help scale your business as it gives you a fixed income each month while you look in other areas to grow your business.
You are psychologically assured as you have consistent deliverables with an expected fixed payment. So, look for anchor clients to give you that stability you need with more repeated work.
A solid online presence is necessary if you’re serious about your freelancing business. Existing online is one matter, but your online presence is another, as it represents the standing of your business. Build your online presence to strengthen your credibility, reputation, and visibility.
Having a website is not mandatory for a freelancer, but if you want freelancing to be your only source of income and build it to become a thriving business, having a website helps heaps. When a potential client is interested in you, the client will usually look into your website first.
A professional website for your business shows that you are serious and are here to stay, not the fly-by-night business. Your website serves as your introduction and acts as your sales agent 24/7. It is not difficult to set up a website as many website builders can help you get the job done within several hours. Hence, create your website to solidify your online presence.
Blogs are an extension of your website. They are essential tools for establishing yourself as an authority in the market in your field. Also, the more authoritative blog posts you have, the higher you rank in Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). If you consistently appear high on the search rankings, your visibility increases. You will get more leads which translates to more revenue.
Your presence on social media is crucial for people to know you and your business. Leverage social media to increase engagement with your customers. Let them know you are there even though they cannot ‘see’ you. Once you create a professional and good impression, your followers will not hesitate to promote you.
While you may be happy taking on jobs to handle on your own, you have to face the possibility that soon, you may need help when your business expands. It is good to start delegating the lower-level tasks to others so that you can look for other avenues to grow your business.
Consider onboarding several team members to help take the load off you. You can even consider outsourcing simple or specialized work like email management, some administrative duties, or website development. You can hire a remote team of freelancers to keep your costs low.
For some of you, your business is a one-person show. Hence, you are fully responsible for everything in your business. You may be able to manage at the beginning, but once more contracts start rolling, the picture shifts. Soon, you will find that much of your time is spent on repetitive tasks such as invoicing, follow-up on payment, bookkeeping, contracts, and proposal writing, not forgetting tons of other administrative tasks.
Some tools can help speed things up and make your life easier. You will find them highly indispensable to making you more effective and productive for your business. So, get your tools and implement the necessary processes to take on more jobs and manage them well with no hiccups. Also, do not forget to deploy security best practices in your work. Nobody wants to do business with you remotely if you are regularly compromised.
Bonsai has many free templates (proposal, contract, invoice, agreement, quote, and others) that you can explore. These templates come in handy to help you get work done much faster. Bonsai's contract templates are vetted by experienced lawyers. Use them confidently.
Also, you can use Bonsai’s invoice generator. Everything from readying your invoice to sending it to the client, including follow-ups, is automated. You won’t have to bother about such nitty-gritty details. Hence, you get to focus more on growing your business as you should.
Once your business takes off, you may want to consider niching down to focus on a specific field in your industry to grow your brand as the go-to person in that field. You are not cutting off your leads but simply targeting your efforts on a particular segment of a larger market with similar needs that you can resolve.
You will then take a more targeted marketing approach that allows you to specialize in an area. Then, you create a stronger value proposition for your clients by increasing your credibility. Ultimately, you can scale up your business as your brand's recognition increases. More will come looking for you.
People research online when hiring freelancers to check their credibility. Recent study shows customers are willing to spend 31% more on a business with excellent reviews. So, get testimonials from your clients after a job well done and delivered. These testimonials could be the deciding factor in whether you get hired or not. Also, remember to obtain permission from your clients to use them to help improve your credibility in the market.
The freelancing community is growing; this shows that the market is ready to hire freelancers. As a freelancer, you must have asked yourself many times if you want to turn your work into a business. While the hesitance is understandable, bear in mind that it is doable, and many have successfully done it and earn as much as, if not more than their colleagues on conventional nine to five jobs.
The above eleven tips can help you convert your freelance work into a business and make it a thriving one. In the beginning, it may be challenging, but once you are over the hurdle, you will gain rewards worth many times over.