I’m nearing 2 YEARS full time in my business this summer… SO COOL. And in September I hit 6 years since I first started freelancing. It feels crazy. Overwhelming. Exciting. Rewarding to look back at how far I’ve come. But through all this, I always try to give back to you. I didn’t know what I was doing in the beginning or who to ask for help and that’s why I try my best to guide you.
I don’t know ALL the answers of course, but I’ve figured out a thing or two about being self-employed and I know that lots of people are more interested than ever at starting or growing their online business… which leads us to here.
The following is a list of the top 3 things you need to build a profitable freelance business in 2020…
When you go into business for yourself, it’s up to you to lead each project. Your clients look to you for direction and expertise, so DON’T LET THEM DOWN. But most of us do the opposite. We over-work, over-deliver, and just go with whatever is handed to us because we feel like we have to in order to be liked… but I’ve learned that’s not how you grow your online business.
As a creative, some of my most common feedback is: “Your process is so clear and organized and I felt like I could trust you.” You know why people say that? Because of the boundaries I set with my clients in my business. I take that leadership role from first contact of every project and they always know what to expect.
For me, boundaries look like routines and systems. It includes protocol and guidelines that improve efficiency for myself and my clients. And a fun little perk to setting boundaries, developing systems, and maximizing efficiency is that I brought in more money in Q1 this year than all of 2019.
My reaction when I realized this: Wait… what?!
I only tell you this to follow up with insight as to what worked for me so you can do the same. I credit this growth to two things: I increased sales because I perfected my brand strategy and copy techniques AND increased efficiency to deliver on those sales by setting clear boundaries.
Examples of boundaries in action: Sticking to scheduled office hours, creating space for transparent conversations, and communicating via email about anything project-related. I talk about this a lot on the blog and Instagram.
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Content is king… I’m sure you know this saying by now! But do you know WHY?
Focusing my efforts on content marketing has facilitated my sales strategy shift from cold pitching for every gig to trusting that a steady flow of inbound inquiries will keep coming as long as I post good content. I express my thoughts and expertise creatively in a way that feels rewarding and all of my content marketing even doubles as a portfolio of sorts. Often clients come to me saying things like “I want my blog to look like yours” or “I love your emails. Can you write mine?”
There’s a few reasons why content marketing works. First, is of course so people can find you. Each piece of content you create is an opportunity for a new connection. However, it’s more than that. You can present yourself as a thought leader or industry expert with strategic content, and even if people don’t buy immediately, you at least bring more potential clients into your circle. If you create content on a consistent basis, you will always be top of mind.
People will remember your content. Then when they need the solution you offer, you’ll be the first they think of.
Of course, a business needs to make sales, but have you ever sat down to outline your sales strategy? How does a lead move through the buying process? Consider all of the details like how they discover you, what draws them to your brand, what content interests them the most, when and how they connect about your services—include everything! What about closing and onboarding? How do you make things official?
Documenting a sales strategy is a great way to check in with your business because you will have a bird’s eye view of all operations. Outlining your sales funnel start to finish will help you refine as needed to convert more readers into paying clients. Identify problem areas and successful methods, then pivot as necessary until it’s seamless.
In business, I’ve learned that you don’t need to be perfect. You don’t need flashy things. You don’t need the fancy home office or the perfect Instagrammable wardrobe, you just need to be real with people. So this is me, being real with you, offering you guidance to get to where you want to be. And this is where I do most of my work these days… hanging out with my laptop in the sunroom in comfy clothes with kombucha or coffee and snacks. This is what success feels like for me. I hope you get to feel this too someday soon!
So, friends… what do you think? I think you can build a profitable freelance business if you dedicate the time and energy to do so! Want to brainstorm some ideas to start your first freelance business? I’m all ears! If you’ve already started your service-based business and are looking to grow, I’d love to support you. Here’s a quick exercise for you…
I encourage you to reflect on the above tips then ask yourself:
What work have I done to set boundaries, create content, and make sales?
Where can I improve? What spots require the most attention?
What can I do today that will make a difference in my business?
If you enjoy this exercise, share your reflections with me below! I love to hear from you.
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