You want to bring in more clients, right?
These five steps will help you do exactly that.
There are thousands of freelancers out there, which is why you need to ensure you stand out from your competition. Creating a plan for your freelancing will not only help you grow your business, but will also help you land better-paying clients.
When I first started freelancing, I had no idea what I was doing. I started in February of 2015, but didn’t really bring in much money until August of that year. Why? Because I didn’t have a plan. I just accepted work when I found it, and then hoped I would be able to find some more.
That’s when I buckled down and started treating my freelancing like the business I wanted it to be. I came up with a plan that I was able to stick to, and it helped me to rapidly grow my business.
I’m going to share with you the steps I took, so you can skip all the stress I went through and learn how to create a business plan for your freelancing.
So, pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee, put on some comfy clothes, and get settled.
It’s time to take your business to the next level!
Step 1: Figure out what your goals are
You can choose to work with pad and paper, but I went the electronic route with this. I wanted to create a document that I could easily modify, access, and print out multiple copies of. I used Microsoft Word and Excel for my business plan, client list, and budget. I put all of the related documents into one folder on my laptop, which makes everything quick and easy to find and access when I need to.
Come up with goals for your business, as well as actionable steps you will take to reach them. It’s fine if your goal is “Quit my [insert boring 9-5 here] and freelance full-time,” but that doesn’t really give you any insight into your ultimate goal. When you’re freelancing, you need to have an idea of what you are working toward.
It’s important to have several short-term and long-term goals, as well as an actionable strategyfor how you will reach them. This ensures you continue to improve, rather than just let your skills and talents reach a plateau and stagnate.
Maybe you want to write for a big-name company or publication. Maybe you want to contract with a popular design agency. Maybe you want to move into a brick-and-mortar office and have employees under you.Whatever your ultimate goal is, you need to have a plan for how you will get there.
Step 2: Summarize your business
When someone asks what it is you do, how do you answer them?
If you find yourself hesitating and having to think of how to explain it, it’s time to create a business summary. Brainstorm a bit, and come up with just 2 to 3 sentences that really pinpoint what your freelancing business is all about. For example, I am a freelance writer who specializes in business and marketing topics. I offer professional writing services to B2B and B2C companies and publications.
Being able to summarize your business in just a few sentences will help you narrow your focus, which brings us to the next step. . .
Step 3: Figure out who your ideal client is
Having an ideal client in mind at all times is so important for all aspects of your business, from building your portfolio to improving your marketing strategy. How will you know how to market yourself if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach?
Not only does this help you focus your marketing efforts, but it also makes your workflow easier. You will know what types of jobs you want to accept, and which types of jobs you want to decline. If something falls outside the scope of your services, or doesn’t line up with your ideal client and long-term goals, you will know to turn it down. Build your brand - and business - to specifically attract your ideal client.
When I first started out back in February of last year, I accepted every single thing that came my way. I didn’t pay attention to what niche it was in, or who I was writing for. I wrote for content mill clients, and couldn’t use a vast majority of the work in my portfolio. It didn’t help further my business and, ultimately, wasn’t a good fit for me.
Knowing who you are marketing to makes your business stronger because you will create a solid client base for whom you can create expert work. These clients can then give you glowing testimonials and refer you to other clients within your niche. Business owners talk, and you want to make sure they’re (positively!) talking about YOU.
Step 4: Know your value
Value is a word that pops up a lot in the freelancing world. Why? Because it’s incredibly important.
Why would someone want to contract with you if there is no value in doing so? When you are writing your business plan, you want to make sure to write down what value you can provide to prospective clients, as well as how you will demonstrate that value. The sooner you start demonstrating your value to prospective clients, the sooner you will boost your business.
The same goes for pricing. Figure out what your work is worth and what is financially sustainable for you. Don’t sell yourself short, either. The best freelancers have a lower pricing limit they stick to, and they have no problem with standing their ground about it when talking to new clients.
Figure out how much money you want to make each month, as well as how much per hour/per piece/per word you will need in order to meet your financial goals. Don’t stray from it. Stay on top of your game, hone your skills, and demonstrate your value.
Freelancing constantly changes, and requires constant self-education in order for you to offer the best services possible to your clients.
Step 5: Figure out your niche – know it inside and out
Becoming an expert in a subject isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but that is part of what makes freelancers so valuable. We know our niche inside and out, and we stay on top of the latest trends and news updates.
Not only should you be constantly honing your skills, but you should also constantly update yourself on the latest news within your niche. Read press releases, Google Alerts, Twitter keyword searches, and more – stay on top of what is going on in your industry.
What are some ways YOU gave your freelance business a boost? Let me know in the comments below!