We totally get it: when you’re a one-person team, you’re carrying a lot of weight on your shoulders. The success of your freelance business falls solely on you, and this pressure can leave you short of ideas and motivation.
The first downfall is usually getting stuck in a creative rut.
The projects come thick and fast and, overtime, you develop a complacent way of thinking. As a result, it gets harder and harder to see opportunities as they present themselves.
Second comes an unpredictability of finances.
It can be scary to invest in any growth schemes which may not pay off. Freelance work is infamously stop-start, you often need to chase your business development and — as a solo entrepreneur — if one client pulls back for some reason, that can be a serious knock to your income.
But newsflash: if you’ve always been looking outwardly for ways to grow your freelance business, you may have been missing a trick.
Growth can also come from career-changing lessons. The ones that not only benefit your business, but improve your entrepreneurial skills for the long run.
So what are you waiting for? Read on for some sure-fire ways to help your freelance business flourish — most of which you can do for free!
How to grow your freelance business in 8 easy steps
1. Know your strengths (and play to them)
1. Know your strengths (and play to them)
First and foremost, a bit of self-awareness goes a long way in business.
Taking time to analyze your successes and failures can help you to make strategic decisions that are paramount to your growth.
Begin by reviewing your processes, evaluating your performance, and making a tangible list of what’s worked well so far, and what hasn’t.
Did you reach your sales targets? Did your website get the traffic you had planned for?
Let’s say your sales were off but your website was buzzing. You can use your successful website to drive sales — think call-to-action blog entries and pop-up discounts.
Not only will this avoid failures repeating themselves, but it will also find ways to ensure your successes do.
2. Understand your value
Freelancers often undervalue themselves. It can feel like you’ve always got to compete on price, but that simply isn’t true!
Move away from charging an hourly rate for your time and instead, focus on what you're bringing to the customers' table.
Whether you’ve been operating for three years or three months, it’s important to recognize that if a customer doesn’t appreciate your value, then your time is better spent on one who does.
And, remember, your price points are an implicit communication about the level of quality you’ll deliver. If you’re costing yourself too low, to try and compete, you may actually be pushing business away!
Don’t be afraid to up your pricing. The clients who appreciate you will be happy to pay more.
3. Expand your skillset
How familiar are you with e-learning? If the answer’s not a lot, then now’s the time to dive in.
Professional and personal development can be achieved from the comfort of your home — all you have to do is spare the time.
Learn how to organize your books (we have a full article on this here), enhance your digital skills or develop a new style of project management to upskill yourself.
Once your skillset expands, so too does your ability to charge more for your service. And the more revenue you make, the more your business will grow.
4. Add more services
Once you’ve done that, this next step should be easy.
Adding to your services is a great way to become reputable in your niche, as you’re seen to be an adaptable, relevant brand that can accommodate ever-changing consumer demands.
If you’re a content marketing specialist, try adding keyword research or content planning to your package, or if you’re a PR agency, offer social media support.
You could also consider grouping these services into an affordable bundle that new and recurring clients will have a hard time refusing.
5. Focus on free marketing
Marketing your freelance business is the key to generating new leads and building a positive reputation — two critical parts of growth. And if you can do it yourself for free, what’s not to love?
Consider setting aside an hour a day to actively maintain your social media profiles, blogging and commenting, or setting up a direct mail campaign on free-to-use platforms like MailChimp.
Remember, customers are inundated with marketing material 24/7, so start thinking outside the box — why should they engage with your marketing material? What’s in it for them?
6. Build strong relationships
Long-term success is not just about winning new clients.
While modern technology means the whole world is at our fingertips, it’s still important to think locally and build strong bonds with those you already work with.
What about taking that old client out for lunch to see how else you might be able to help them?
Not only will this mean they are more likely to return to you and recommend your services, but it will provide you with a support network to encourage your personal and professional growth.
7. Network, network, network!
As a freelancer, you may think that meeting other business people over a chat and a cup of coffee isn’t really necessary, but — seriously — what have you got to lose?
Networking both online and offline is one of the most crucial parts of growing any business, as it allows you to present your brand in relevant circles and get to know those who may be the gateway to your next big break.
8. Stop wasting time on inefficient workflows
When you first started freelancing, it didn’t really matter how long the admin side took you. But now that you’re growing, you want to cut back on any unnecessary effort — as this time could be much better spent elsewhere.
The places to focus on: marketing automation and invoice chasing. With a few quick changes, you’ll save yourself hours of work each week.
Social media managers, like HootSuite and Sendible, allow you to plan all your marketing for the week or month ahead — no more daily log-ins to keep active! And Perfect Invoice takes all the stress out of missed payments; by automatically flagging any invoices that become overdue, you don’t need to check in each day.
Spend your newfound time in any of the seven tips above, and you’ll be growing in no time!