How to grow your freelance business

How to Take Your Freelance Business to the Next Level?

So you’ve been freelancing for a while now. You have a few clients that give you steady work and it’s enough to keep you financially secure. But let’s say you want more out of your freelance business than to just be able to pay the bills. How would you go about it? I’ll show you in this post that scaling your freelance business is not difficult. In fact, taking these next steps is the best decision you can make as a freelancer.

Focus on Long-Term Projects, Keep Short-Term as a Backup

If your freelance business relies on short-term projects, you won’t get very far. What you need to do is to cultivate some long-term relationships with your clients. Of course, as you probably already know from Upwork or some other freelance platform, getting a large project is not easy and it won’t just come your way whenever you need it.

So how can you start “milking” your clients for more work and more cash? By showing them that your skills and know-how are invaluable to them and their business. You can easily turn a short-term project into a long-term one by delivering high quality work to the client. Once you do, don’t hesitate to ask for more. It won’t hurt you at all to simply ask the client if they have more work for you, or if not, if they can refer you to someone who needs the skills that you offer. If the client is happy with what you’ve done for them, they won’t hesitate to help you out and send more opportunities your way.

Of course, this doesn’t mean you should completely turn your nose to short-term jobs. They still have their value in keeping the steady flow of money to your bank or PayPal account, but don’t rely on them as much as you used to. Instead, think of them more as a backup and something you can turn to if no long-term projects are coming your way.

Cultivate Strong Relations with Clients

Good relations with clients are important for your freelance business

Having strong relations with clients will be essential to the success of your freelance business. So the next step in growing your freelance career will be to build long-term ensure that your current clients are happy with your work and that they always come back to you with more projects. One of the common mistakes many freelancers make is cutting ties too quickly. Basically, what they do is they jump from one client to the next, without stopping for a moment to check if the previous client maybe has more to offer.

Unfortunately, many fail to cultivate strong relationships with clients, but if you want to grow your freelance business, you need to do this differently. For example, connect with your Upwork clients in other ways and not just via that site. Share your email address, Skype handle, even your phone number with clients (just don’t put this information in your profile since that’s against Upwork Privacy Policy). This way, the client can easily find you next time they need some work. I had a client that I worked with back in the days of Odesk (so before Odesk and Elance merged into Upwork) who reached out to me two years later with a reference to a colleague. All because he was happy with my work back then and we connected on LinkedIn.

Outsource What You Can’t Do Yourself

You may be thinking about freelancing as a one-man-game, and this approach might actually work for you, but only for a while. At some point, you’re going to learn the hard truth about this profession. No matter how good you are, you can’t do all by yourself. For instance, let’s say that you’re a freelance writer. What does this include? Of course, writing, but also other things related to it such as editing and proofreading. But it doesn’t stop there either. You also have to be a good project manager, especially if you have several clients in order to keep track of where each project is at the moment, a good negotiator when dealing with new clients, an accountant, keep track of taxes, and much more.

The paradox is that, more successful you are as a freelancer, the harder it gets. Well, only if you keep doing things the same way and keep thinking that you can do all by yourself. As your freelance business grows, you need to think about outsourcing some of your tasks. There are two ways you can do this:

  1. Outsource to someone else

One is to partner with someone to handle smaller tasks for you like bookkeeping, editing or proofreading. If a client needs you to handle his social media, find someone who can do this in your stead so you can focus on writing quality content for their website or blog. Or, if you have a lot of smaller, but easy-to-write articles, why not outsource these to someone else, while you take care of larger and more demanding assignments?

  1. Start using freelance tools

The second way is to start using some tools and apps. There are plenty of great online tools you can use and that can really help your freelance business that not using them is a crime. For every task you can think of, there is a tool. Whether you need to track time, schedule your content or social media posts, create invoices, or manage your projects better, there’s a tool for each of these and more.

Start Networking to Grow Your Freelance Business

Build up your freelance business network

Working on Upwork, or another freelance platform like it, is a good way to earn some income for an individual freelancer. But to grow your freelance business, you need to find some new avenues of reaching potential clients. I already mentioned LinkedIn as a great social media site for professionals and business-oriented so you should, if you don’t already have one, create a profile there and start building your network.

But LinkedIn is just one way to network with potential clients and other people in the freelance market. Other social media sites, like Twitter, are also a great way to expand your network, so be sure to find out who the influentials are and start following them. Facebook groups, Google+ communities, even online forums and Reddit can all be invaluable to your network, so go out, find some that have a decent amount of people in them and offer good discussions and join them.

One word of caution before you start networking. This shouldn’t be a one-way relationship where you join a forum, a Facebook group or just follow someone on Twitter, without giving anything in return. You need to bring something to the table, not just take from it, so be a constructive part of the conversation and offer help to others where you can.

Tim Groot, made a great infographic over at Medium.com on how to network as a freelancer, so be sure to visit the link for some valuable tips by Tim.

Rethink Where You are Now

Finally, if you want to grow your freelance business, you need to stop for a moment and look at where you are right now. Think what else can you offer to potential clients, whether that is a new skill, more time or something else. Also, try to evaluate your main weaknesses and eliminate those, as well as areas where you can improve. If you can’t do this audit yourself, find someone whose opinion you trust. Sometimes, they will be able to point out your strengths and weaknesses to you much better. Of course, don’t forget to keep an eye on the feedback your clients send you. Which areas of your work are they satisfied with and which they’re not?

While you’re here, you should also start reviewing your freelance rate. As your freelance business becomes bigger, your rate also needs to follow. You need to ensure that you are charging appropriately what you bring to your current and future clients. Don’t be afraid to increase your rate, even if that means losing some clients. This only means that they don’t appreciate your value and is a good indicator to move on from them. Don’t worry, most clients will be happy to review rates with you, as long as they’re happy with your contribution to their business.

If you’re not sure where to start with your rates, here’s an infographic by CreativeLive that can help you out.

Finally, don’t forget to grow yourself as a freelancer and to learn some new skills. Take every free moment to read some books, join online webinars or take e-learning classes and expand your skill set. The more you can offer to the table, the better seat you’ll be offered.

What other ways to grow your freelance business can you recommend? Give us your suggestions in the comments below.

Vladimir Covic
covic.v1ad@gmail.com
39 Comments
  • Stefan Teodosić
    Posted at 10:09h, 18 June Reply

    Growing your skills is the most important feature. For writers, like we are, reading is essential. I’d like to have more time to take additional courses in English, but so far the reading is all I can afford with the time given 🙂

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:19h, 18 June Reply

      I completely agree. Reading opens up a whole new world.

  • Vikas Rastogi
    Posted at 13:18h, 18 May Reply

    Please keep sharing these types of articles. Thank you very much

  • Rafe
    Posted at 13:33h, 03 May Reply

    Great article!! keep up good work and be candle of guide for others.

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 15:43h, 03 May Reply

      Thank you Rafe.

  • Victoria Lola
    Posted at 09:52h, 03 May Reply

    I totally agree with all you’ve shared….building relationships with client; also getting feedback. I love that you mentioned outsourcing and networking….these are really really important
    I also agree with you on rethink where you are – pointing your weakness and dealing with it….dealing with our weakness can make us better in numerous ways. Thanks, I’ll be sharing this 🙂

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:25h, 03 May Reply

      You’re welcome Victoria. Glad you liked the post.

  • piyush maloo
    Posted at 09:08h, 03 May Reply

    a very great guide for freelancer’s like me well said

  • Nicole - Miss Sparkle
    Posted at 11:29h, 02 May Reply

    Outsourcing and delegating seem to be my problem – I try to get everything done myself… These are great tips!

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 12:20h, 02 May Reply

      Yeah, I did that myself when I started out freelancing, but then I found that I can manage my time better. Outsourcing and using online tools is a good way to do this.

  • Prachi- Bachelor of Roaming
    Posted at 10:02h, 02 May Reply

    Nice post! It’ll help me a lot since I’m trying to get projects/clients as a freelancer. Thank you for sharing these tips! 🙂

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:11h, 02 May Reply

      You’re welcome Prachi. Glad this post was useful to you.

  • ramesh
    Posted at 09:09h, 02 May Reply

    good article for someone who is looking out on being a freelancer…i m one of them 🙂 …your first point is a helper for me.thx

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 09:33h, 02 May Reply

      You’re welcome Ramesh. Glad this is helpful.

  • Rafe
    Posted at 09:03h, 02 May Reply

    I am working on same grounds. thanks for sharing

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 09:32h, 02 May Reply

      You’re welcome Rafe.

  • Onyinyechi
    Posted at 08:25h, 02 May Reply

    Very nice tips. I agree, networking is essential. It is also beneficial to outsource. Will be saving this post.

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 08:38h, 02 May Reply

      Definitely, Onyinyechi. Unfortunately, these are two freelancing essentials that many neglect.

  • Shweta
    Posted at 08:18h, 02 May Reply

    Very useful tips ..Thanks for sharing

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 08:37h, 02 May Reply

      You’re welcome Shweta.

  • Abhinav
    Posted at 08:15h, 02 May Reply

    Wow Vladimir, great post for many like me… Info in the post like the rate, tools, and a few infographics… great stuff. Thank you for sharing

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 08:36h, 02 May Reply

      You’re welcome Abhinav, thanks for the comment.

  • Lisa Peele @ Wonderling
    Posted at 08:04h, 02 May Reply

    Great tips. I think you have it right with the building relationships. I am learning that nurturing the relationships you have will give you so much benefit.

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 08:36h, 02 May Reply

      You’re absolutely right Lisa. Why cut ties with a good client just because you finished his or her project? Keep the relationship going as this can benefit both of you.

  • Musings of a tired mummy...zzz...
    Posted at 11:26h, 01 May Reply

    Networking is essential for bloggers to find support and clients! I think having ambition and purpose keeps you focused. Great advice, thanks for sharing!

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 11:35h, 01 May Reply

      You’re welcome!

  • Saurabh Tiwari
    Posted at 11:21h, 01 May Reply

    Thank you for sharing excellent tips regarding freelance career.
    Bookmarked this one to share with any and all freelance writers who cross my path.

  • Neil Copping
    Posted at 10:47h, 01 May Reply

    Great article! I totally agree that networking and having a strong action plan are key to developing any business. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:51h, 01 May Reply

      You’re welcome Neil. Networking with other people makes us all better, including freelancers.

  • Dayna Remus
    Posted at 10:46h, 01 May Reply

    Really helpful. Thank you.

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:50h, 01 May Reply

      You’re welcome Dayna.

  • Thomas
    Posted at 10:35h, 01 May Reply

    Amazing tips, this can be helpful thanks for sharing! 😀

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 10:39h, 01 May Reply

      You’re welcome Thomas. Thanks for commenting.

  • Tanyi Melvis Bechemnyo
    Posted at 23:45h, 30 April Reply

    Well written article. Many people don’t even know how the importance of outsourcing. Thanks for sharing!

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 07:19h, 01 May Reply

      Yes, that’s right Tanyi. Flying solo will only get you so far.

  • pj
    Posted at 21:34h, 30 April Reply

    Great ideas and how to work for what you want. Thank you for sharing.
    http://www.thequeenofstyle.com

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 21:40h, 30 April Reply

      You’re welcome pj, thanks for the comment.

  • silvia
    Posted at 16:20h, 30 April Reply

    Great tips here, I especially agree on the importance of continuously growing your skills. The world is so fast-paced at the moment, and if you don’t bring what’s needed to your client, someone else surely will. Keep up the good work!

    • Vladimir
      Posted at 16:45h, 30 April Reply

      Thank you for the comment Silvia. You can’t relax as a freelancer for one moment.

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