It’s one thing to succeed as a freelancer and be able to make ends meet. It’s quite another to transform your small startup freelance business into a lucrative money-making operation.
All freelancers who want to grow their businesses face the same major challenge: there are only so many hours in the day and no one can work all of them.
Finding the time to grow your business can be tricky. But with the right approach, scaling your business can be easier than you imagine.
Use these five tactics to scale your freelance business and get to the next level.
1. Do your best work every day
According to Nielsen, research suggests that we highly value recommendations from people we know and trust.
Use this to your advantage. Work hard every day, be responsive, and be friendly. Over time, the companies and clients you work with will take note—and, sooner or later, they will be more likely to recommend your services to someone else when the appropriate opportunity arises.
This is perhaps one of the easiest ways to scale your freelance business—and it doesn’t even cost a penny or take up any time. It’s all about your attitude, which is firmly within your control.
2. Outsource to a freelancer or two
Every big business started as an idea. While it might take some time to get your freelance business off the ground, if you stick with it and work hard, you may very well end up with more work than you know what to do with before you know it.
One way to scale your business is by outsourcing work to other freelancers.
For example, if you are a freelance graphic designer, you might want to outsource your accounting tasks to a contractor or hire a freelance social media manager to help you grow your audience on social media instead of handling those responsibilities on your own. That way, you’ll be able to reclaim time you can then use to tackle your core business: design projects.
Keep in mind that while learning to delegate effectively is a fantastic skill to have, you will probably still need to take care of your most critical business tasks on your own. These are the services you’re great at that made clients want to work with you in the first place, after all.
By now, you might be thinking that this sounds great. But if you’re like a lot of freelancers, you wait on late payments from time to time. That being the case, you might be worried you won’t have the money you need to pay your own freelancers.
Don’t sweat it. There’s a simple solution: Familiarize yourself with various business funding options and you might not have a problem getting the funds you need to keep your own contractors happy and paid.
3. Consider raising your prices
When business is going well, you might feel as though there aren’t even enough hours in a week to get everything done. There’s only one of you and you can’t work nonstop for long.
When you have too much work to do—and you’ve already outsourced or delegated everything you possibly can to other freelancers—consider raising your prices.
When you raise your prices, you always risk the chance that some clients will either not be able to afford your increase or will reassess their options and determine they no longer need your services. Some clients might push back and argue to keep their current rate, so be prepared with a response.
Definitely be careful here. If you do decide to raise your prices, it’s a good idea to give clients some advance notice. For example, send an email, informing your clients that you will be raising prices at some point in the future (e.g., “starting next month”). You may want to keep certain clients at the existing rate, depending on how valuable the relationship is to you, overall.
After you’ve decided to raise your prices, charge each new client the higher rate. As you grow, increasing your prices can lead to more profit for the same amount of work.
For tips on raising your rates, Freelancers Union has some more tips.
4. Diversify for your services and offerings
Is it time to add more offerings to your portfolio?
For example, if you’re a freelance content writer, maybe you know a graphic designer who does great work. By partnering with them, you can start selling design work, too, giving the designer a slice of the revenue. At the same time, if the partnership works well, the designer can also send work your way—a win-win situation.
Depending on your line of business, you may also be able to launch an online store. Even the freelance writer might be able to come up with witty slogans and catchphrases to publish on mugs and similar office items.
5. Launch a referral program
Could you help your clients help you, with a referral program? It’s worth considering.
Scale your freelance business by making it easy for the people in your network to sell and refer on your behalf. You could do this by giving them a commission for each new client they help you land, or creating another type of reward for successful referrals.
By launching a referral bonus with the right incentives, your colleagues and friends can sell your business on your behalf—helping you scale without you so much as having to lift a finger.
From the outset, scaling your freelance business might seem like a difficult task. However, it needn’t be too complicated. For example, you could offer a coupon or discount for each successful referral.
Here’s to taking your freelance business to the next level—good luck.
Disclaimer: Fundbox and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction. Please consult a tax professional for information about tax laws and how they apply to your business.