The Way We Work
January 5, 2012 by Stephanie Gonzaga

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
- C. S. Lewis

You began last year with a set of goals. They were short – a few words in bullet points – but they nonetheless cemented your plans, aspirations, ideas and dreams for your freelance business.

Twelve months later, your business is in motion and you are ready for the year ahead. You have several active projects, a handful of clients, busy days, and income that is twice or three times as much as it was before you became a freelancer.

What can you do to further improve your business? What did not work last year, and what would you like to work on this time around? What steps should you take to boost your income, attract more clients and win more projects?

Here are 12 great ways to start taking small but significant steps toward success.

1.  Increase your freelance rates and fees. Go beyond charging minimal rates for your knowledge, skills and experience; your experience has more value than that.

2.  Invest in professional development. Read business books, test out new strategies, buy better equipment, enroll in online courses, and develop new and marketable skills. As a result, you will be able to add to your services.

3.  Offer new or additional services. If you used to turn down requests for search engine optimized copywriting, imagine how happy clients will be when you add it to your list of services. You could also consider repackaging your current services into an affordable bundle that new and regular clients will have a hard time refusing.

4.  Take on larger long-term projects. Small projects were initially a big help for gathering feedback and building your reputation. Now, it is time to load the big guns and aim for bigger and longer projects.

5.  Market, promote and spread the word. Your freelance business should not hide behind the four walls of your oDesk profile. Market your services, promote yourself online and off, and spread the word. Some cost-effective ways to do so: business cards, blogging, and word-of-mouth referrals.

6.  Build strong relationships with existing clients. This will encourage them to either return for more business or to refer you to other people. Strive to make every project a success and your work memorable.

7.  Get creative when looking for freelance work. Look beyond your job applications on oDesk. If you have problems finding good projects to bid on, pursue social media and word-of-mouth referrals. You may be surprised to learn that you can actually find great people to work with through TwitterFacebook, and Google+.

8.  Connect with other freelancers. Working solo can get lonely sometimes. Take some time off to attend local or national conferences, major events, or small gatherings or meet-ups with other fellow freelancers. It's a great way to meet new people and to bond with freelancers of your field.

9.  Likewise, connecting with freelancers is essential if you plan to create your own team of freelancers. If your aim is bigger and more complex projects this year, having your own team of freelancers to tackle different aspects of the project is essential. You can accept projects that require services outside of your expertise, plus the job gets done in half the time.

10.  Hire freelance services. Beyond hiring freelancers to partner with (tip #9) you can also hire people to take care of work you do not want to spend too much time on. For example, virtual assistants, bookkeepers and transcriptionists are freelancers you can hire to take care of administrative tasks. You can then focus your time and energy on client and personal projects you are passionate about.

11.  Cut unnecessary costs. Monthly subscriptions, unpaid projects, excess office expenses – these extra costs may be the reason your business has not reached its full potential yet. Make a list of all the business costs you have incurred throughout the year and cut items you do not need.

12.  Give back to the community. Freelancing is much more than just finding clients and earning money. It is doing work that you are passionate about and which could help your community as well. You can create a useful app, share great tips, or contribute to a cause you believe in.

What strategies have you used to successfully grow your businesses? Share your experience in the comments section below.

 

Stephanie Gonzaga

Freelance Writer

Stephanie Gonzaga is a freelancer on oDesk who specializes in writing top-notch web content, such as product copy, articles, and blog posts for clients all over the globe. During her free time, she writes on her blog The Freelance Pinoy, a site dedicated to providing Filipino freelancers with tips, advice, and strategies to help them reach freelancing success.

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  • http://vergilsantos.blogspot.com gilsaints88

    Hi Steph,

    Thank you for insightful article. I want to be a full time freelancer. And I am also hoping to be an entrepreneur someday. To be able to do that I made a deal with my full time office-based employer that made them allow me to work from home and receive monthly "salary". But I will no longer be a regular employee with them but instead be a consultant... My mistake was to really convince them to let me work from home I said I'm willing to cut my salary to just 40% of what I am currently making! Now I'm in my second day as a work from home consultant for them with just 40% of my previous salary with them. With no benefits at all since I am just a consultant...

    My question is, when do you think should I renegotiate my rate with them? after 3 months? after 1 month?

    Thank you Steph, your response (and other response from the commenters above) will be greatly helpful.

    Gilsaints88

  • http://www.alofttech.in Azmath Ali

    How can I Contact Other freelance...in Odesk site.. Could not see freelance Engineer contact details... Plz help on this regards..

  • http://techtweets.com.bd/ ?JAKIR!

    I love Freelancing and also oDesk. Thanks Stephanie .

    • https://www.odesk.com/users/~~85f14e964d609154 Stephanie

      @JAKIR: No problem!

  • http://freelanceadvise.blogspot.com Arnel

    I happen to be one of those freelancers that wants a better feedback than money but don't go too low as people will tend to treat you differently regardless if you have exquisite skill or not. So in my opinion, you have to think twice before going low.

    • https://www.odesk.com/users/~~85f14e964d609154 Stephanie

      @Arnel: Great point, Arnel! I actually committed this mistake a few times during my early years of freelancing. If I had known that customer service, trust, and skills are what matter, I could have earned much more for my time and effort.

    • http://weirsbowski.wordpress.com herb

      Hi Stephanie, great article! to Arnel,. I agree with you, i just wished freelancers would stop bidding too low just for the sake of getting the job. What they are doing is "killing the business", if employees get used of having a great quality products for absolutely low expenses. what will happen to freelancers in the future?. there has to be a reference and limitations on bidding because nowadays $1 is just absolutely unreasonable. God!. it stresses me!

  • qpeng

    OK,
    there are some useful suggestions impressed my and, i think, also for other freelancers, for example, in order to get good feedback, it is a good practice to bid small projects first.
    in a short, this is a long working experiences summary article.

    • https://www.odesk.com/users/~~85f14e964d609154 Stephanie

      @qpeng: True, the article is ideally for freelancers who have worked for quite a while and who have gained enough experience; but that doesn't mean new freelancers can't already envision something big for themselves in the future. I'd like to think that this should give them a few ideas to look forward to. ;)

      • Shopno

        hi steph
        r u odesk clint

        • Bin Jin

          Hi, I am iOS developer.
          To be frank with you, I can do anything on iOS but I have no many jobs.
          What is the reason?
          My skype id is HandsomeMan0618.
          I want to talk with you on skype.
          Please add a contact with me at any time.

          Thanks.