Once you’ve become a freelancer, your next big challenge is deciding how to grow your business.
Those first few weeks and months of earning money to show off your skill set, usually while working from home, are going to be exhilarating. But when you start needing money to pay the bills, make improvements, and buy new clothes for back to school, it’s time to get serious about expanding your business scope. But what if your business won’t grow? In this blog, we investigate reasons that are keeping your new freelance career from getting off the ground.
There’s no perfect way to grow your business
You can read all the articles, blogs, tips, tricks, hacks, and hints in the world, but there’s no perfect way to grow your business. For starters, it’s such a diverse subject manner. Being a freelance writer in Los Angeles usually means mixing it up with entertainment people from time to time. Having the same job in New York City often means working for literary houses. Your circumstances, your environment, the market there, and other features will dictate the best route to get your business heading in the right direction. However, there are a few commonalities that will inhibit you from growing your business, regardless of where you work, what your specialty is, or how many hours you’re putting in every day. Look out for these five blind spots if you want to give yourself a fighting chance of succeeding in your chosen freelance profession.
You’re Not Charging Your Clients Enough
It is tempting to try and attract clients by offering your services at a price below market value. You may even believe that you can hook clients on your great work at a low price and then slowly increase it over time to keep them around for the long term. Unfortunately, both of those positions contain logic holes that will take all the air out of your balloon as you try to grow your business. Let’s take the example of Madelyn the Graphic Artist. She decides to start taking freelance jobs in her hometown, but she knows there are dozens of other professionals doing the same thing. So she decides to become the low-hanging fruit of the industry by doing jobs for $15/hour. She gets some one-time clients this way, who know a deal when they see one, get good results, and get the job done.
Madelyn’s problem is two-fold. First, the kind of clients she’s attracting are those who aren’t interested in a long-term relationship with a quality service provider. Their primary focus is on their budget, and she represents the cheapest option. Once you have finished their job, they never think about using her service again. Second, quality customers who do want a long-term relationship will be turned off by Madelyn’s low rate. Professionals expect to pay for quality. When they see an offer that is lower than the going market rate, they will get suspicious and not want to engage with that business. Imagine you are shopping for a new car and visiting several dealerships. Most of the vehicles you’re interested in are ranging between $30,000-$40,000. If you saw a similar vehicle priced for $15,000, your immediate response would be, “What’s wrong with it?”
You Aren’t Looking Hard Enough for Work
What separates you from the top freelancers in your industry? They never stop looking for the next job, no matter how successful they currently are. Become a hunter and keep pursuing your next position, even if you’re in a long-term contract with a fantastic client; you never know when things are going to end unexpectedly. Nothing but good things happen when you keep looking for new work, including:
- You make new contacts that can be of assistance to find jobs in the future
- You learn about new avenues, websites, and ways to find employment You see cool new posts to supplement your existing projects
You Aren’t Asking for Referrals
Every once in a while, a client is going to be talking shop with a friend, remember using your services, and follow through with connecting that friend to your email, social media account, or phone number. That’s if you’re lucky. If you want referrals, you need to get over it already and ask for them. If your client is pleased with your work, take two minutes to ask them in person, on the phone, or via email to consider referring your services to other professionals in their industry. If you’re savvy, you can go as far as to offer them a discount the next time they use your business if you provide them with referral business. This way, you’re making it more of a trade – your discount for their referral – and both parties come out ahead. There are few better pieces of advice on how to grow your business better than having someone else bring you new customers.
Your Business Website Stinks (or you don’t have one!)
The days of brick-and-mortar are on the downswing. Freelancers might rent space in a studio or co-op equipment specific to their skill set from time to time, but the office you need most is online. A professional website that answers questions about your work and moves potential customers towards hiring you is essential if you plan to grow your business past the family-and-friends market. Host sites offer websites for no charge or a small fee. Plenty of them allow you to take templates, enter your information, and get the ball rolling in an hour or two. Their limitations are the same as your creativity. You can add blogs, a portfolio, videos, social-media components, or anything else the creative mind in you thinks would appeal to customers.
You Aren’t Marketing Yourself
Even with the best website in the world, customers aren’t just going to happen across it and start hiring you. It’s essential that you market yourself and your business at every chance you get. If you use freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork to find gigs, make sure your profile is 100% filled out, engaging, and memorable. If you have a page for your business on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, make sure to update them frequently, engage with people who visit your pages, and make them visually stimulating. If you use a blog or video blog on your website, fill out your entries with useful information that clients will search for and share.