If you want your freelance business to thrive, there are a few key points you need to remember. The key is to start small and lay a solid foundation that you will be able to build on for many years to come. It takes time and effort to build a reputation that customers trust. Proving yourself to those you work for is the best type of advertising you can have, especially in an industry where accuracy and confidentiality are key factors.
"Freelancing is all about building your own value, learning things, scaling your limits and providing your 100", Rohit Lohia of The Before Buy opines.
If you want your business to thrive, following these tips will help.
Choose a specialty and stick to it. If you prefer to work in the legal field, only solicit attorneys and paralegals. If you really like working with the healthcare industry, then choose to solicit doctors and other health professionals. While this may seem like you are turning away potential customers, the opposite is actually true.
By choosing a specific type of industry, you can hone your skills and build a solid reputation as a leader in your field. A professional will often look for the words “specializing in” when they want to hire a transcriptionist or other service. Those two words mean that you are well-versed in your field and you have experience in that area. After you become established, you can branch out into other areas.
Chane Steiner of Crediful suggests planning as a tip while turning a side hustle into a business: "Decide what type of business you're starting. Not just the structure (S-Corp, LLC, etc.) but what kind of operations you'll be doing, how you're interacting with other businesses, and what you're providing to clients".
There are only so many hours in a day. As your business starts to grow, you may need to outsource certain tasks. Hire someone to answer your phone and do your scheduling or add a transcriptionist to your payroll so that they can pick up the overflow when your dedicated clients send you large amounts of work.
The key is having the right people at your disposal when you need them. If you receive a large amount of work from a client, having a few extra hands will make the work go smoothly and allow you to relax and know things are taken care of. When you have quality help on standby, you won't feel overwhelmed and you can keep your mind on the jobs that are most important.
According to Raj Vardhman, co-founder of GoRemotely, "Once you have a steady flow of clients and realize that you can't take on all the work, it's time to make it a business. At this point, you can start to outsource your work to qualified freelancers that will get the job done on your behalf, for a commission. As you continue to grow your client base and your army of freelancers, your side gig will become a full-fledged business, as you manage operations and run the company".
Your anchor clients are your foundation. They are the ones you rely on for the bulk of your work. They provide steady work on a regular basis. These clients will also be the ones you have contracts with. Often times, they will be consistent enough with their work to be able to guarantee you so many files a month as a minimum.
In return for that volume of business, you may be able to offer them a discounted rate. Always remember that your anchor clients are the ones who have put the most trust in you by committing themselves to your business. Do what you need to do to always make them your priority.
Raj Vardhman of GoRemotely suggests building a steady network of quality clients while starting out as a freelancer: "From my experience, the key to being a successful freelancer is to try and have as many clients as possible when you are starting out. In other words, never have all your eggs in the same basket, since you never know when a client will go bankrupt or not require your services. Instead, build a steady network of quality clients that pay you well for your services. Setup your business around your best clients, but always keep an eye out for a better opportunity if it comes up".
Stacy Caprio of Stacy Caprio Inc. shares her tip regarding earning referrals through word-of-mouth marketing: "One way to turn freelancing into a successful business is to over deliver to all your current customers, so much so they start referring you until you have a full roster of customers. Word of mouth is one of the most effective and cost-effective forms of marketing because people trust referrals, and good referrals are free and built on performance and trust".
Retainer work is performed for your “anchor” clients. These clients provide you with dedicated, consistent work. In most cases, you have a contract with them with strict details that determine payment, length of time, and other specifics that pertain only to the jobs they provide you. These anchor clients are the foundation of your business so making them your first priority is a must.
As time goes on, your list of retainer or anchor clients will continue to grow. If you start to feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you are receiving from your dedicated clients, hire someone to help you manage the workload. Doing it all yourself can lead to burn-out and may even cause you to make mistakes when you feel rushed.
Take the time you need to grow your business. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes. Establish a list of dedicated, anchor clients who will help you build a strong reputation. A successful business doesn't just take off overnight. It's built one client at a time with a strong work ethic and a positive attitude.
Beth Bridges of The Networking Motivator emphasizes on building a network while moving into a freelance business: "The best way to build a network is to reach out to people and offer YOUR help. To give them YOUR encouragement and share ideas and even give them referrals if you can. Once you start making these connections and getting known as someone who gives, you'll be receiving more and more".