Most of us freelancers decided to take a hike from traditional employment so we could have more freedom in our lives. I’ll be the first to admit that some aspects of typical employment are far easier than freelancing. For one, you just need to find one job and that’s it, you’re all set. For a successful freelance business, there’s an ongoing need to get new clients.
When I first started my freelance business, I had two clients. How does that become a thriving business so in-demand that I sometimes need to turn down projects? It’s all a matter of building that client base one by one. Start with these key strategies.
Publish Branded Blogs
If you’re not familiar with content marketers, our deal is publishing content that focuses on informing our audience, not “selling” to them. It’s all about building a personal brand and establishing yourself as an expert so that when clients are ready to buy, they know who to seek out: that trusted professional who’s given them so much handy advice in the past.
This is a great way to build your freelance business. Aim for a blog post on your site every week or so. In the meantime, try to publish guest blogs on other sites as well, especially reliable and popular sites. It can take legwork to get in touch with various sites and arrange a guest post, but it gives you great publicity and positions you as an expert in the field.
Build Your Network
Networking is one of the most successful ways to find freelance clients. Start small by connecting with a few people on LinkedIn and joining some freelance groups or networking groups online.
Ideally, you want to make connections with your dream clients so you’ll be there when they need your services. Any connection can be helpful, though, because anyone could know someone who needs your expertise.
Remember, true networking is about building relationships, not just introducing yourself and then asking for a favor. Play the long game and develop a genuine rapport with colleagues and associates.
Get Active on Social Media
Social media is a tremendous tool for building a freelance career. It has the same value as blog posts: spreading your name and sharing your expertise as a knowledgeable professional. A word of warning, though: create dedicated social media profiles for your freelance brand – don’t just use your personal profiles. No one wants a freelance client to see the embarrassing childhood pics their aunts will inevitably post and tag them in.
Balance Your Time
Freelancers make money by doing client work. If that’s all you’re doing full time, though, that work will dry up one day and you won’t have laid any type of foundation with your network or target audience, so finding new clients could take weeks.
Instead, it’s critical to maintain a balance between doing paid client work and business development. It takes time management, discipline, and usually some type of tool like an organized task manager, but it’s a recipe for continued income today and for years to come.
Get on Camera
I know, some of us are shy on camera, but if you can muster the courage, it’s a game-changer to grow your freelance business. Video is increasingly popular, with Cisco even predicting that before long, video will make up 82% of all web traffic.
As with your blogs and social media posts, take a content marketing approach in those brand-building videos. Share insights into your area of expertise, answer common questions, demo a skill or two, and from time to time, just post fun videos of your workspace or other relationship-building content. Each potential client who sees your videos will get a sense of your keen skills and your personality as well.
Don’t Forget About Existing Clients
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It says that 80% of your revenue will come from 20% of your clients. You’d be shocked by how often that’s true. You might have dozens or hundreds of clients across a freelance career, but a small number will become long term repeat customers.
Beyond repeat business, existing clients are also terrific sources of referrals. If you give them strong work and a great experience, they’ll be telling their friends and sending even more revenue your way.
So how do you take advantage of these possibilities? Keep clients happy and find ways to keep them engaged and nurture those relationships, like email newsletters and occasional friendly chats.
Consider Quality Over Quantity
In freelancing, you’re trading your time and skills for cash. The problem is that you only have so much time. So when your schedule is maxed out, how do you grow your business? Or are you just stuck?
The key isn’t just looking for more clients, it’s looking for clients who can pay higher prices. The more experience you gain, the more your time and skills are worth, whether you’re a web designer, event planner, illustrator, or what have you. Make sure you’re charging appropriately and your income should keep climbing at a steady rate.
Growing Your Business as a Freelancer
Freelancing can be incredibly rewarding, from deciding what type of work you want to do to making your own schedule, and best of all, watching the growth of a business you’ve built from scratch. The tips above can help you keep your freelance business on the rise year after year.