Whether it’s working when you want to or not having to wear pants, the number of people freelancing has skyrocketed.
We know there are a ton of you freelancers in our community, looking to grow your business. So we called up our old friend, Brennan Dunn, founder of Right Message & Double Your Freelancing, to chat about strategies that you can use to fire up your freelancing business. During our interview, we talked about marketing your business, pricing your business, and scaling your freelance career. So put on your bathing suit because we are about to dive in!
Get the freelance ball rolling
If you’re currently working a 9-5, the biggest questions you have are “how do I make the transition from a full-time job to full-time freelancer?” and “who keeps stealing my pens?” While Brennan can’t tell you who’s stealing your pens, he can help you make the transition to full-time freelancer.
His advice (surprisingly) leans towards a more conservative approach. Why? Because #adulting. If you have a 9-5, there’s a good chance you have responsibilities like rent/mortgage, a family, or a car payment. (I mean, why else would you willingly spend your time doing something you don’t like?) Even though it would be great to grab your belongings and head straight for the door, that’s not what you should do.
Brennan advises new freelancers to start networking within your own community. Things like the Chamber of Commerce and local meetups from Meetup.com are a great way to immerse yourself in the local community before quitting your job. Networking will allow you to get to know people in different fields so you can expand your own professional network. The caveat here is that you shouldn’t go into these network events with the idea that you are going to walk out with new clients. Instead, you should learn who the players are in your local community. Even if you plan to run a digital business, Brennan says there is great value in having a strong local professional network.
How to leave your 9-5
When you’re finally ready to make a break for it and leave the 9-5 behind, Brennan offers up a great piece of advice: try to get your current full-time employer to become your first client. This allows you to still have some steady income while giving you more time to pursue new clients.
If you’re wondering how on earth you should approach this tricky situation, Brennan recommends letting your employer know that you’re interested in becoming a freelancer but that you’d like to continue working with them on a contractor basis. Because you’ve already proven yourself capable, your employer is more likely to be open to this new working relationship at least until they find a replacement for you (which if you’re lucky, could take several months).
One path that you may want to avoid is using online freelancing job boards. Brennan argues that jobs found on these boards are commoditized and you’ll have to compete with people who have less expensive rates than you. It’s important to know your worth and seek work and clients that recognize it.
Grow your freelance business
You should always have work in the pipeline. One of the biggest mistakes that freelancers make is waiting until a current project is finished to find a new client. Brennan recommends that you should always be doing outreach and scheduling clients to ensure you don’t ever go weeks or months without work (unless you really enjoy not knowing when your next paycheck is coming).
He warns that not having a pipeline of customers may force you to do things that you don’t want to, like, working with bad clients or taking lower-paying jobs.
As mentioned before, networking with local business people will help to grow your business. Now, if the thought of attending networking events to grow your business scares the bejesus out of you, don’t worry…we got you. I asked Brennan how introverts can get over the fear of attending networking events and his answer was pure gold. He says to change your mindset from that of “I’m selling to these people” to “my services help people and I want to help these people.”
By changing the way you think about networking events, you’ll have an easier time approaching people to talk about your business. And again, you shouldn’t attend these events with the hopes of scoring a new client because that won’t be the case most of the time. What you are trying to do is build of network of people who will refer you to their friends or colleagues should they need the services you offer.
Use content marketing to build your brand
Brennan is no stranger to content. In fact, he admits that he has been very successful in growing his freelancing career using content marketing strategies like lead magnets, courses, & ebooks.
Brennan uses the example of a marketing automation talk that he gave at a conference to a crowd of five hundred. After the talk, instead of awkwardly saying something like “hire me,” he gave the audience the opportunity to download a guide from his website. This did two things: it gave the audience member even more valuable information and it gave Brennan their email address, which allowed him to continue to market to them via email or Facebook ads.
Know your worth
Brennan has a unique perspective on how you should price your services. He believes in pricing your services based on value instead of commoditizing them into a certain dollar amount per hour.
When working with a new client, you should work to understand their needs and discuss the impact that your work will have on their company. For example, if you’re discussing Facebook Ad management with a client, and this new channel stands to bring them $50k in revenue, you should base your fee structure on the total value that the service would bring. Instead of say, $100/hour.
Another tip that Brennan uses with his clients is to offer a few different packages at different price points — this will allow the customer to select a fee structure that they’re comfortable with and also identifies what the deliverables are for the job.
Now that you’ve learned how to leave your 9-5, scale your freelancing career, how to price your services, we invite you to tune into the webinar. Click Here to watch the entire interview, plus hear Brennan take audience questions at the end. There are lots of nuggets of freelancer wisdom in there!