Growing your business and finding new clients is often the most challenging part of being a freelancer. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. It’s possible to break out of the feast or famine cycle and build a steady revenue stream.
Growing your freelance business leads to more money, better clients to work with, and consistently engaging projects. To get there, you may need to create a plan and take intentional steps. By understanding some of the ways that successful freelancers have built sustainable businesses, you’ll be able to take steps to reach your business goals.
Below are 15 strategies that you can use to grow your business.
5 ways to get more business through marketing
To grow a freelance business, you need to be comfortable with marketing and embrace self-promotion. Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to market your business. Check out these five ways freelancers can market their services.
1. Network with potential clients
Creating connections through networking serves an essential function in growing your freelance business. It’s vital to get exposure for your services and to introduce yourself to potential clients. The more visibility you have with potential clients, the more likely they’ll work with you in the future. Market yourself in your community, at conferences, local events, and connect with people online.
Don’t forget about your existing connections. Tell your friends, family, and professional network about the services you offer as a freelancer. These people will be motivated to help you grow your business and introduce you to your next client.
2. Engage in community discussions
Being actively engaged in community discussions is a great way to showcase your experience and grow your business. Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook Groups, and Twitter make it easy to join or start conversations in your industry or your local community. To position yourself as an expert, you can talk about your services, answer questions, and demonstrate how you solve problems. You can become the go-to person for your area of expertise and have people coming to you when they need help.
3. Effectively use freelancer platforms
Freelance platforms are the perfect place to find more clients. As the world’s work marketplace, Upwork has hundreds of thousands of clients actively looking for freelancers. Upwork is a great place for freelancers to grow their business. Freelancers can search for projects, receive interview invitations, start conversations with potential clients, and apply for projects directly on the site.
4. Advertise your services
The saying, “you have to spend money to make money,” isn’t always true. But sometimes spending money makes growing a business easier and faster. There are many different ways to pay to get your business in front of potential clients. Effective advertising strategies can be built around a single channel or a mix of many advertising channels. You’ll have to identify what’s going to be most effective for your business.
5. Cold contact potential clients
Reaching out to potential clients that you don’t know can be intimidating. People rarely enjoy trying to start a conversation with a stranger. Yet, thousands of companies are getting new clients every day using this marketing strategy. If you can get over this initial hesitation, there’s excellent growth potential through cold calling and cold emailing.
5 ways to grow your business by improving your skills
Leveling up your skills can open the door to more opportunities. By focusing on these areas for self-improvement, you may be able to increase your freelancing income.
6. Invest in professional development
Freelancers are hired for their skills and knowledge. By improving your hard skills and soft skills, you create more opportunities for your business to grow. There are many ways to invest time in your professional development:
- Read about your industry
- Test new strategies
- Attend conferences or workshops
- Watch a webinar presentation
- Enroll in a class or online course
- Spend time intentionally practicing weaknesses
- Join professional associations or groups
- Find a mentor
7. Build your brand
A strong brand is the key to growing your business. Your brand creates the first impression and tells potential clients who you are and what you do. Clients will look at your website, freelancer profile, portfolio, testimonials, and client reputation to learn about your brand. Spend time reviewing and optimizing your brand to showcase your company’s value and how you help clients.
8. Choose a niche
A niche is a segment of a larger market with similar needs or problems that your business can serve. Limiting your focus to a smaller group helps create more focused marketing materials and allows you to offer specialized services. Catering to a smaller niche creates a specific value proposition for your business and increases credibility within that group of potential clients.
9. Get your systems and processes in place
Freelancers are responsible for all aspects of their business. While they may seem small individually, the time spent on invoicing, project management, contracts, bookkeeping, and other administrative tasks adds up. By developing efficient processes and systems for each of these tasks, you can be more effective and use more of your time on billable activities that grow your business.
10. Practice your pitch and improve your selling skills
If your business isn’t closing 100% of prospective clients, there’s room for improvement in your business pitch. Freelancers often don’t know the effectiveness of their business pitch and proposals. Start by tracking how many proposals you send out, how many interviews you get, and how many projects you win. Once you have this information, you can identify the steps in your client acquisition process that need to improve.
- Do you need to rewrite your proposals?
- Do you need to practice your interview or presentation skills?
- Do you need to improve your negotiation skills?
5 ways to expand your business using your existing client relationships
Your existing business clients are important. These are the people that are already using and paying for your services. If you can find ways to strengthen your relationships with your current clients, your business will continue to grow.
11. Do excellent work
Excellent work is rewarded. Typically, that reward is more work. Thankfully, when you’re trying to grow a business, that’s what you want. If you focus on exceeding client expectations, then the opportunity to do more work for a client can arise now or in the future.
12. Ask for customer referrals
Data from the Wharton School of Business show that referred customers are more profitable, more loyal, and less expensive to acquire. The first step to getting referrals is to provide excellent work for your clients. Once you’ve done that, it’ll be easier to identify your satisfied clients, who are the ones most likely to refer your business to others. The next step is to ask those clients if they know any other individuals or companies that could benefit from your services. If they know a potential client, you can ask for an introduction or for them to recommend your business as a solution.
13. Increase your rates
If you want to grow your business, it may be time to review your rates. Raising your rates can be an effective way to earn more without increasing your workload or finding new clients. Finding the right price for your services can require a bit of testing. Start by asking yourself a few questions.
- Are you priced appropriately for your experience and the skills you offer?
- How does your price compare to your competitors?
- How will your existing clients perceive a rate increase?
14. Offer new or additional services
If you used to turn down requests for services outside of your primary offering, imagine how happy clients will be when you expand your list of offerings. You could also consider restructuring your service into a bundle that creates a recurring revenue stream.
15. Develop ongoing or long-term partnerships
Long-term and ongoing projects are excellent building blocks for growing a sustainable business. This type of client partnership provides a consistent source of revenue each month. These engagements enable you to plan for and allocate a set number of hours without having to spend additional non-billable time trying to secure a project with a prospective client.
These are just a few ways to grow your business through marketing, improve your skills, and leverage your existing client relationships. Upwork can be a great tool to find jobs and grow your reputation as a reliable and capable independent professional.