Happy New Year! Welcome to a special New Year's episode where we will discuss 5 things that you can do to boost your freelancing income in 2018. The suggested five changes were inspired by past interviews conducted on this podcast, as well as a few of Matt's own mistakes and triumphs. These are things that have consistently been seen to create a significant impact on the businesses of the guests on this podcast, the students of Freelance Start and, of course, of Matt himself.
Matt shares with us:
Freelance Business Change #1 - Only Work With 3-10 Clients
This first rule is a game-changer. A minimum of three clients is enough to keep you busy and in charge of your profits, and a maximum of ten protects you from pulling yourself in too many directions for too many clients.
You really, really, really, really don’t want to have less than 3 clients. And that’s for the simple reason that if you only have one or two, it’s really difficult to have any autonomy over your freelance business.
As a freelancer, you are your own boss. You have the power to decide which clients you'd like to work with and how many you'd like to take on. But having less than three will mean you have to rely on just those few clients to build your business, and that’s almost impossible. You want to use your time wisely to focus on the clients that really matter. A majority of a freelancer’s income comes from a few big clients, and you want to dedicate your time to attracting and building a relationship with those important clients.
Freelance Business Change #2 - Use One Approach When Attracting Clients
You can’t find those important clients if you keep bouncing around different inbound strategies. If you’ve listened to the interviews on this show, then you know that these successful freelancers repeat the same processes over and over again in order to attract their ideal clients.
The real secret isn’t the strategy that you choose to find clients, it’s the consistency of execution.
The trick is picking an approach that resonates with you. You want to use a strategy that you enjoy, otherwise, it’s going to be really difficult to stick with it. Freelancers aren’t at a loss for strategies. There are so many different approaches to attracting clients. You must find one that inspires you, and then figure out 3-5 daily actions that you can take to maintain this approach. Your client outreach is important to your success. In this episode, we will break down ways to stay on top of your daily actions so you can work on building the ideal client base for your business.
Freelance Business Change #3 - Spend More Time Promoting Yourself
We all know that client work pays the bills, but self-promotion will be the thing that supports your freelance career for the long-term. A lot of freelancers are trapped in what I like to call the “Feast-or-Famine” cycle. That’s when you either have too many clients to keep track of or you have absolutely no clients and are struggling to find work. We all bounce back and forth in this cycle until we figure a way out. And the way out is promoting yourself.
Consistently successful freelancers spend 30-50% of their time working on their business.
You can get a steady stream of leads if you consistently promote yourself across social media. Don’t be afraid to ask past clients to give you a reference, and don’t hesitate to brag a little bit about what you’ve accomplished this past year. Use your inbound client approach to boost your business.
Freelance Business Change #4 - Start Hiring and Outsourcing Work
If you think you don’t have the time to self-promote, consider hiring out. Hire someone who works for less than your hourly rate to help you out with the jobs you don’t enjoy doing. For example, Matt has someone to do his bookkeeping so he can spend more time writing and recording his podcast and running his agency.
As you delegate more and more things and start realizing that this does in fact raise your income, it’s starts getting easier and easier to get comfortable with it.
You don’t want to have someone else do everything for you, though. This is your business after all. You can’t hire someone else to do your sales or complete complex client work. You need to be the one dealing with clients one-on-one in order to build an effective client relationship. You can’t connect and build a relationship with your clients if you’re relying on someone else to do it for you. Rather, delegate other work to an assistant so you can spend time building those important connections with your clients.
If you don’t know where to start in the hiring process, I recommend hiring a Virtual Assistant. This person works off-site to manage anything you may need help with, whether it’s checking emails or organizing appointments. Hiring an assistant can teach you which tasks are better delegated to others and gives you practice teaching and training someone else the ins and outs of your business.
Freelance Business Change #5 - Assume Something Will Go Wrong
Finally, this last thing we will discuss is one of the more important items. It’s also the toughest one to learn. Matt just re-learned it this past year. He didn’t account for the very tiny details that could wrong during his progress this year. It’s important to schedule extra time to cushion any hiccups that will inevitably come your way.
In the process of trying to accomplish these big ambitious goals...I didn’t leave nearly enough slack for all of the unplanned business and personal challenges that inevitably crept up throughout the year.
Building a little wiggle room into your schedule will stop you from going into crisis mode. You can’t anticipate what exactly will go wrong, but you can assume that something will happen to slow you down and make you miss a deadline. While most clients are understanding, you don’t want to be the freelancer that’s always having something come up. Rather, anticipate a problem or two and give yourself extra time up front so you don’t have to ask for it later.
Don't forget to take the time to sit down and plan a strategy for your business this year. Remember, these are practiced and proven techniques that have been used in all different kinds of freelancing businesses. It's a new year to begin planning for a new income goal, and all you have to do is accept a new challenge and a new change!
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