As a freelancer, you are your business—so you can be forgiven for thinking that you’ll need to wait until cloning is a thing in order to grow.
In fact, there are three key avenues you can go down if you’re focused on growing your freelance business.
- Grow your client base
- Charge your clients more
- Keep your clients coming back
In this article, we’ll look at how you can excel at all three.
1. Grow your client base
New freelancers starting out with a mind to making a name for themselves might start with the question: how can I score my first client?
In fact your first question should be: how do I draw in my first 10 clients?
In many cases when we think big from the outset, the brighter attitude that we take in will result in a more promising yield.
Make yourself heard
To grow your client base, think about how you can reach your target market and how you plan to present yourself to them. Start with some of the following:
- Consider which social media platforms your potential clients are on and how you can provide value to them on those platforms. This doesn’t mean simply posting about your own work or what you can do for them. Post content that teaches them something that they need to know; let them see your value before you begin to sell to them.
- Leverage word of mouth by sending an introductory email to your existing contacts to let them know you’re freelancing and available for work.
- Reach out to your contemporaries and competition by joining relevant business groups and networks. Become involved in the wider community by offering advice and helping others to network in the same way that you are. Remember, you need to give as much as you take from the community to become a valued member.
Engage in collaborations
While it’s easy to always view our competitors as foes rather than friends, alliances can be beneficial to business and often present fruitful opportunities.
Entrepreneur Josh Steimle explains how after moving to Hong Kong, rather than working against the competition he decided to start contacting them, only to find that they had more than enough business for themselves and were happy to work with him to share the workload.
Those that see the possible opportunities in every relationship are the most likely to succeed.
2. Increase your rates
Continuing with the spirit of thinking big and not settling for less than your true potential, the next question that you should be asking yourself is: how can I make my clients pay ten times as much as they currently do?
Confidence in yourself
Your own feelings about your service will determine the nature of the business relationships you enter, and the perceptions that your clients will have of your business will be based on the way you represent it.
Enthusiasm is infectious, so allow this to pass to everyone you meet in your working day, and see how this changes your own attitudes as well as those of others.
Price based on your value
While checking the rates that your competitors charge may be considered useful market research, letting this determine the course of your business can be a hindrance to your progression, depending on the service or product you provide.
Research shows that looking to your competitor’s pricing is not necessarily useful for businesses that focus on quality more than quantity, and very often the quality is what will set different companies apart.
Above all else, it’s vital for freelancers to deliver the highest quality work. This value is what clients will remember—not the number on your invoice.
When you’re in a position where you can prove to your clients what you are worth to them, then you can have more control over the rates you charge.
One way of proving your value to your clients is to show how much money you can make for them through the work that you do. A value-based pricing model can make it clear that even if your rates are high, the potential return for your client is much higher.
3. Keep your clients coming back
Once you have attracted the right clients at the right rate, the next question you’ll be asking is: how do I keep my clients coming back?
Client retention is something that is of paramount importance for freelancers, as it means ongoing business from a trusted and reliable relationship. It also reduces your time spent on searching for, outreaching to, and pitching to new clients. A recent study showed that while a 1% increase in customer acquisition will increase a company’s bottom line by 3.3%, increasing your retention rate by 1% will make a 7% improvement to your bottom line.
Send clients useful emails
So, what can be done to make your clients steady and long-lasting? One way is to contact your clients with emails that are of use to them, and base these messages on what you already know about the client through their experience with you.
Instead of showing all of the things you can do for them, try to anticipate their needs and offer specific services at the right times. Showing that you can understand your client and respond accordingly will always keep you in their good books.
Quality customer service
Ensure that your client always receives great customer service. This means all business needs should be dealt with efficiently and politely. Clients don’t like to feel like they’re out of the loop on their own projects, so send them updates on your progress while you’re working on something for them and be sure to answer any questions that they have in a friendly manner.
It’s a good idea to get to know your client a little on a personal level, so you can send a well-timed birthday message or a relevant holiday gift. This will help you to build a meaningful relationship and remain top of mind for them whenever they need your services again.
Reward your clients for their loyalty, and always thanks them for their business. If you provide them with the value they are looking for then they should have no reason to leave, but gratitude always goes a long way to ensuring that clients know you’re interested in working for them again.
Combining all three
A successful, growing freelance business will take into account each of these three pillars of growth. If you consistently get seen amongst your target audience so you can draw in new clients; regularly think about increasing your rates; and ensure you keep your clients coming back, you’ll be on the right track towards a healthy freelance business.
This article was brought to you by Kaizenera, which offers remote training, workshops and a support structure that can help to put you on the right track when you’re starting out as a freelancer.