One of the things about freelancing that’s both helpful and harmful, is that once you get the business going, it pretty much runs itself. Once you’ve gone over that first hump of finding those first few clients, if you provide great service and work, you often don’t even need to advertise or look for clients much.
While this is great and allows you to focus on working instead of doing the boring business stuff, it can also be harmful if you continue to let the business run itself for a long length of time. You could end up working on projects you hate, with clients you despise, twenty four hours and seven days a week.
How to Improve Your Freelancing Business
Now I may not know you personally, but I’m pretty sure you didn’t start freelancing so you could hate yourself and everything you do, did you? Just like a car, your business needs a bit of maintenance and fine tuning every once in awhile to keep it running smoothly and going in the direction you’re aiming for.
Here are 25 ways you can fine-tune your business, most of which don’t take much extra work at all!
- Raise your rates to match your experience. If you know you’re doing great work, charge for it. Aim for three digits.
- Move away from trouble clients. Stop taking their work, even if you “need” them to survive. There are other clients out there that will treat you better and pay you more for it too.
- Take a business day. Assess where your freelance business is going and where it should be going. Take steps to correct your course if you’re off.
- Decide on a niche. I started making a lot more money and got a ton of clients after I decided to put myself into two niches: working with freelancers and agencies only and only doing HTML, CSS and WordPress work. Find out what part of the process you really enjoy and only do that kind of work.
- Partner with others. After you’ve niched yourself, you’ll still have some clients that don’t understand that you only design and don’t code, or you only code and don’t design. Partner with some freelancers so you guys can pass each other the work you don’t do.
- Check the moolah. Every couple of months you should stop working and check out how much money you’ve made in the year so far. It can be a great motivator – either you’ve made more money than you thought you would and you keep on working, or you’re making less than you wanted so you work harder. Better to find out now than to wait till the end of the year when you can’t do anything about it.
- Get out. Watch someone else run their business. Are there things they do better that you? Are there new things you can teach them?
- Keep it zen. I have to listen to music to concentrate properly when coding. But above that, I can’t have the TV, talk radio, kids, friends or any other distraction around. If you work in a hectic area, remove yourself to someplace quieter.
- Find a vantage point. What makes you different from the other millions of freelancers out there? Everyone promises to have great communication skills and to turn in work on time, but do they actually do that? You won’t believe how many clients are ecstatic with me just because I answer my emails within 24 hours!
- Read, read, read! A lot of the successful ideas I’ve come up with were due to me reading a ton of business books and listening to podcasts.
- Make the first move. When was the last time you asked that favorite client of yours how their kids were doing? Make the first communication with the client you haven’t spoken to in awhile.
- Consider co-working. If you work better with people around you, consider renting a co-working office space in the city. The rent you spend might actually make you more money.
- Open source it. Start an open source project or something fun that’s related to what you do work-wise. It gives you more experience and shows you’re willing to spend time in the community.
- Go over your wording. When was the last time you checked, or even read, the wording in your contracts and estimates? Go over them to make sure there’s nothing that needs to be changed or updated.
- Learn from your mistakes. Was a client able to get one over on you? How could you have prevented that? Make sure you update policies or the way you work to make sure you never make the same mistakes twice.
Easy Fine Tuning Tips from the Community
When I shared this article idea on Twitter and Facebook, I got a lot of helpful tips from everyone, so I’d thought I’d share their knowledge:
- @lbregister Make Set Hours for yourself and track that time.
- @rob_e_bowen Listen to your critics, not just your fans. Their input = invaluable, even if you have to sift through it to find the good.
- @ThomasDesign Evaluate how each task can be done more efficiently. Then, repeat until twice the amount is being completed in a day.
- @hellodeibu Have a solid contract and a full understanding of the value of your own work. Those two will lead you to higher quality clients.
- @rarescosma Basically: maximize the exposure, minimize the niche, stay up to date with the tech & tools + push the envelope projects.
- @nathanielks Know when to farm work out.
- @qraftsdesign Tip: In the end, work is not everything. People (social life) are always more important and that’s also the place to stay connected to the world and to get fresh energy for new projects.
- @AFDIT Use free SASs – like Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn for networking/marketing. Also, smile when meeting people.
- @JasonAGross Keep the paperwork straight. Scope, cost, deadlines, and goals should all be defined before a project starts.
- @LadyCarni Great tip for fine tuning your business–never stop learning. Continuing to refine your skills is key.
What are your tips for easily improving your business?
Image by philentropist