If you have been making steady progress turning your fledgling freelance business into a truly prosperous enterprise, you may be at the point where you are ready to do what it takes to really create growth & level up.
Of course, you may also be unsure of where to begin or what to do. After all, many freelancers begin building their businesses through word of mouth, and by picking up jobs from websites that specialize in matching freelancers with clients.
It can be difficult to know what to do when it comes to expanding beyond that. Here is some good news. If you want to reach your target audience, level up & expand your business, follow these 7 action steps.
1. Identify Your Most Profitable Niche Has Been in Past Years Based on Data
Think about where you have earned the most profit in the past few years. This is probably where you want your marketing focus to begin, at least for now. There are many reasons for this. First of all, having a dedicated niche can really make you appear to be more professional.
After all, would you feel better entrusting your ‘65 Ford Mustang to a mechanic, or to a certified mechanic and muscle car specialist? Focusing on one niche allows you to give focus to your business, while still leaving room for future expansion. You can even develop your portfolio around that niche while still making inroads with other niches.
Peet’s Coffee is an example of this. Rather than focusing on beverages of all kinds, they focus on coffees and teas. Then, even within that market, they target the connoisseurs who want higher end products. As a result, they have been able to gain a loyal social media following of ‘Peetniks’.
2. Is it Time to Change Your Company Name and Incorporate?
Sometimes, the business you create is not quite the same business that you end up with.
For example, you might begin by offering a variety of services or targeting a general audience, but you ultimate focus on a single service or a more specific audience. If your business name no longer reflects what you do, you might consider changing it. For example, if you have created a web design business called “Elite Web Designs”, but are now solely focused on web design for non-profits, that name does not fit. It might help to change the name to something like “Helping Hands Web Design”.
After merging with Premier Organic Farms and taking the company in a more environmentally friendly direction, U.S. Power Systems changed their name to Premier Organic Farms Group.
Changing your name can also make your business appear more professional. Another step in the right direction might be to incorporate your business. This also adds to your credibility and professionalism. In addition to that, you cannot overlook the protections that incorporation provides to you by separating you from your company.
Finally, changing your name and incorporating can have a powerful psychological effect by legitimizing your business in your mind.
3. Upgrade Your Content Marketing Efforts
Your most inexpensive and quickest route to growth and reaching your audience will be through your content marketing efforts.
Chances are, this means that it is time for a digital marketing upgrade. The first thing that you will want to do is expand your social media presence. This might mean producing and sharing more content, becoming active on more social media platforms, or a combination of the two.
In any case, you will want to be sure that your social media contributions are relevant to your audience, and that you make them on a regular basis. You can also use various tools and platforms to really build your brand and to act as a portfolio for you.
If you work in a creative field, Pinterest can be a great option when it comes to showcasing your work. Virgin Mobile is a brand that has thrived on social media due its focus on content that creates engagement.
4. Form Symbiotic Relationships With Other Freelancers
Are there other freelancers who are not competitors, but who share a common target audience? If so, consider reaching out to them and developing a relationship with them.
You may be able to work together to find ways to expand both of your brands by piggybacking your services together, or at the very least coming to an agreement to consider one another when referral opportunities arise.For example, if you are a web designer, you could work with a content writer. You could help them assist customers who needed web design services in addition to content writing.
Likewise, if you have clients who cannot keep up with their content writing needs, you can refer them to the content writer you know. HubSpot partnered with LinkedIn with a cross branding effort when they wrote an eBook on social sales.
5. Create Your Elevator Speech
You may have seen this in old movies. An enterprising young man or woman slips onto an elevator with some VIP who is making their way to their office at the top of some skyscraper. The enterprising man or woman either wants to land a job or make a sale, so they begin making their pitch. This is when the movie usually cuts away from the elevator. A few moments later, the elevator opens, and the deal is being sealed with a handshake along with the VIP complimenting the young person’s moxie.
The above scenario might be a bit dramatic, but you never know when you will be in the presence of somebody that could use your services. Come up with a quick pitch that you can use to make that sale, or at the very least, get the potential client to take your business card. With so much marketing being done at events, such as LeWeb in Paris, it is becoming more and more important to be able to pitch your business quickly and concisely.
6. Explore New Ways to Find Clients
If you want to expand your business and reach more potential consumers, you may want to find new ways to access clients. Here are a few steps that might work for you.
- Join and become active in your local chamber of commerce
- Finding networking groups in your niche on and offline and becoming a participant and contributor
- Attending meet up groups that aren’t in your niche but are attended by potential consumers
- Finding your audience on social media and meeting them where they are
- Develop an app or tool that can be sold directly from your website or hire somebody to develop that for you
- Sponsor a local team by purchasing advertising sign space at a local baseball field.
The idea is to create both on and offline networking opportunities for yourself. When Daymond John was launching his company, FUBU, he talked business owners into allowing him to spray paint FUBU on the metal gates they would pull down at night after closing their businesses for a small fee. This got his business name out to more people.
7. Focus on Marketing Your Value Instead of Your Services
The difference between a business and a commodity is your ability to get people to focus on the value you bring to them, rather than the services that you offer them.
Let us say that you offer web security auditing to businesses that are concerned that they are vulnerable due to employees not following protocols. You could market yourself as a business that provides security-auditing services for X dollars. You will get a lot of business as long as your price is right.
However, if you switch your marketing focus to what people can get out of your services, you might find a bit more success. To continue the web security example, it might be better to market your business as one that can save a company’s reputation by recognizing and thwarting potential data breaches.
An example to consider would be businesses that sell solar panels. Their services usually include measuring your home, helping you select the solar energy system that works for your home, installing the panels, and possibly helping you to access any tax credits or discounts. However, that is not what they market.
They market to customers using the amount of money they can save by using solar energy and the positive impact on the environment. In other words, the value their products bring.
If you take these 7 steps and make an effort to truly act upon them, there is a very good chance that you can expand what might be a small freelance effort into an active and profitable business. You just need to take action.
Freelancing Course Special Offer:
For an in-depth course on freelancing, check out The Creative Class by Paul Jarvis. I highly recommend it and Just Creative readers get a $100 discount. Use code ‘JUSTCREATIVE’ at checkout.