If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you have never done.
~ Thomas Jefferson
“I want to get it right, this time round”, is probably what most of us tell ourselves in 2016. But if you don’t think and act differently, your freelance career in 2016 may as well be a clone of 2015.
And I don’t mean your 2015 was bad. I simply believe in improving and hitting new milestones as time advances and I would like to infect you with this belief as well.
Ready to roll? Let’s dive right in.
Well, freelancing is dynamic and yesterday’s hot ideas may be tomorrow’s joke. Keywords change because people’s needs change. People’s needs change because the only constant thing in life is change.
So, what should you do to catch up with the ever changing freelance career?
How to Supercharge Your Freelance Career in 2016
Switch from one-off clients to retainer-based clients
A huge percentage of freelancers are used to getting paid for tasks they touch on once. If you’re lucky, the client may send repeat work maybe weekly or monthly.
However, for the most part, most clients send work once and pay you to do it then disappear. So, you this becomes not only frustrating but also unpredictable, especially after you poured your heart and soul into marketing and pitching to land new clients.
Fortunately, you can turn this around and bill clients monthly to offer freelance services to them. In other words, you earn recurring revenue by offering your freelance services whether it’s copywriting, transcription, proofreading or website maintenance.
This is exactly the same model used by companies like Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, Apple, GoTv, TheTimes of London, Jet and many others. In fact, the economy is becoming a subscription economy.
So, how does this work?
A client pays you to complete work for a specified number of hours a month. In other words, a client buys Y hours; you work Y hours.
For example, if your hourly charge is $25 and it takes you an hour to write a 500-word article and you agree to work for a total of 20 hours a month, then you will earn $1000 a month from that client.
As you can see, the payment is pegged on hours worked rather than the quantity of articles done although in some cases clients may require that you cover a certain quantity within the agreed hours.
When you have such an arrangement in place, you’ll be guaranteed of revenue every month unless the client suggests he no longer needs the service. But if you continue to deliver high value, you are likely to work with clients for a long time.
You may want to offer a discount to attract more customers at first but once you’re sure your business delivers world-class value, you don’t need to offer discounts.
How do you get started?
For Current Clients
The simplest way to start is with your current clients. You can send them an email that’s as simple as this:
Dear (‘insert name of client’),
For the time we’ve been working, I know you have work that needs to be completed each month, and I am sure there’s even more coming your way.
What if I helped you do all of this while letting you save time and money in the process?
Interested? Please hit the reply button so we can talk more about it.
That’s more like the nuts of bolts of crafting such an email. But remember you’ll need to convince your clients by using reasons such as:
You’ll save them the time needed to look for new freelancers, pay for each project separately and to prepare each task separately. That’s the importance of billing them just once.
You’ll do more work for them and so they can get up all the projects they’d shelved
For New Clients
To acquire new clients, you can use two methods:
Method #1: Use current clients
Email all of your current clients and let them know what you’re doing and that you’d appreciate if they informed a friend. Promise them a discount (maybe one article free or a discounted cost-kind of thing) if they refer a new client to you.
- Create a page on your site that talks about the service
- Create a compelling copy and publish it on the page. Let the copy talk about the benefits and let it counter possible objections.
- Add testimonials to the page. They don’t have to be retainer based. Just testimonials talking about your excellent service, how working with you is great etcetera.
- Include a call to action where potential clients need to click somewhere for more details.
- Retainers are a bit scary for clients so ensure the first step is a pain-free one.
- Don’t include prices. You may need to negotiate differently with different clients
Read widely and wildly
Good readers make great writers. As the saying goes, if you want to hide something from a fool, put it in a book.
Why should you read more than before?
Reading pushes the boundaries of your thinking.
It makes you smart.
It widens your vocabulary list.
It keeps you informed.
It makes you learn a new writing style and want to practice it.
It makes you write better.
It turns you into an idea machine.
So, what should you read about? You can read just about anything, from the paper the butcher ties around your meat to free ebooks from Free-ebooks.net.
There are literally endless materials online to read. I would suggest you identify the topics you’re interested in and find the leading blogs that publish content on the same.
Using BuzzSummo, you can find the most popular content in any niche and know the top influencers in the same niche. You can also use Alltop to find blogs dedicated to a certain topic you may be interested in.
And by the way, these are the same resources you should use if you are a blogger looking for content ideas in your niche.
Learn a new skill
Don’t be satisfied with knowing one or two skills. Ideas are more perishable than a crate of tomatoes. So, keep learning new ones and put them to good use.
Why should you learn something new?
There is high competition in the freelance career and to stay ahead of the pack, you need to learn something that not so many people know about.
I remember getting hired by a client some years back to create blog posts for his site and we were a team of 5 freelancers. After about a month, he wanted someone who knows SEO to take up an additional role and we were blank.
Recently, I also landed a client with frequent content creation work but soon, he wanted to know whether I can do email newsletters. Since I have a site and write them often to my subscribers, I gladly took up the additional role.
Lately, I have noticed that most clients require freelancers who are multi-skilled. The client may want you to write posts for his blog but they may also need someone who can promote the posts on social media and even create an ebook.
Learning a new skill adds value to you and prepares you to take up any opportunity that matches what you already know. Remember, success is when preparation meets opportunity.
So, come on! Venture out a little bit and learn something you didn’t know last year.
Learn a new course. Investing in your mind is the best investment ever.
Learn how to write a sales copy.
Learn how to code.
Learn how to write a white paper
Learn how to write an email newsletter
Learn how to write a blurb
Learn how to design a website
Learn how to post content on a WordPress site
Learn how to research for popular keywords
After learning a new skill, add it to your resume/portfolio and head over to a freelance marketplace/platform to search for new clients.
Start a blog
Blogs are no longer for special experts only. If you have any service or product to offer, you better start a blog.
In 2016, most clients will hire you after checking your website to see whether you have any samples of your previous work and possibly testimonials from your previous clients.
Even if you are a newbie with no previous working experience, you can still set up a blog and publish content. These become your samples and will tell potential clients you are published and serious about your freelance career.
Just ensure your posts are informative, SEO friendly, in a specific niche and in flawless English. You can start off with a free blog like WordPress.com but if you are serious about setting up an online business, I would recommend you go for a self-hosted blog rather than a free one.
If this is something you have been procrastinating over the years, you better get started. It is a game changer. We continue to get new writing clients because of this blog so this is something that’s proved and tested.
I don’t mean to contradict my third point. Let me explain. Learning a new skill increases your value and puts you in a position to earn more since there are plenty of opportunities for you out here.
Specializing comes in when you find a client who wants someone with specific skills. For example, when applying for an editing job on a jobs board or Upwork, you don’t need to start bragging about your skills as a blog writer, copywriter, press release writer or academic writer.
While these skills are great and learning them all will help earn more, the client with the editing job needs an experienced editor so you need to talk about the number of years you’ve been editing articles for other clients as one of the reasons you are the right fit for the job. Don’t quote the other skills in this case.
So, even if you know 10 different things, when pitching clients, stick to the best one, two or three only, depending on the job requirements. You don’t want to come off as a jack of all trades when clients are looking for experts who know their freelance career.
Other than specializing in certain skills, you can also specialize in some topics (for freelance writers) so clients know you are an expert in that area. For example, I enjoy writing stuff related to blogging, WordPress, freelance writing, content marketing and SEO. I would still write on other topics (and indeed, I have hundreds of samples in other topics like law, health, insurance etc), but I flow with these topics more.
If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten
Tonny Robins once said that and so do I.
So, if you want things to be different in your freelance career this year, you need to think different and do things differently from the way did in the previous years.
Why not get started today? List down one thing among the four mentioned in this post with some actionable steps on how you will achieve it.
Don’t postpone this again because as you know procrastination is the fertilizer that makes difficulties grow in your freelance career.
Start today. Set up that blog. Start pitching new clients. Start looking for resources to learn a new skill. If you want to take your writing skills to a new level, invest in a good writing course.
Start networking with experts in your industry. Start taking action even if it’s a small one. Set up some daily, weekly and monthly goals and see what that grows into by the end of the year.
Did you try something in the past and it didn’t work? No problem. Stuff happens. It’s never late to start over again.
Did you find this post useful? Now, do me one favor. Don’t be selfish; hit the share button so your friends can benefit too.