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 Twitter, Facebook, 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.