If you’ve taken the leap and decided to freelance full-time, congrats! You’ve done what most people think about all the time, but aren’t brave enough to do.
Now you’re probably wondering, “How do I make the big bucks?”
And I’m going to answer that. But first, let’s get something out of the way: You are not a freelancer. You are a writer, or photographer, or videographer, or editor, or creator, or whatever craft you’ve decided to pursue. AND, you are a business owner.
It’s time you start thinking like one. You don’t need “jobs,” you need clients.
Yes, they’re different. And until you start taking yourself seriously as a badass successful business owner, others won’t either. Which means you’ll be stuck scrolling through sites like UpWork all day begging people to pay you $10 for 8 hours of work.
(Please do yourself a favor and say “goodbye” to UpWork forever.)
Act like a business owner–attract clients
If you owned and operated a successful gym you wouldn’t be on the lookout for “jobs,” would you? No. You’d be doing your best to attract quality clients that align with your vision and values.
Do the same now.
Stop asking the universe to send jobs your way. Stop telling people you’re “for hire.” Stop advertising yourself as anything other than a top-notch quality service that will positively change people’s lives. Because that’s what you are, correct?
If you want to attract high-paying clients that respect you and appreciate your work, here’s how:
1.) Know your worth.
The biggest mistake you can make is setting your rates too low–and working for less than you’re worth. If you’re providing a quality service or product, high-paying clients will be willing to pay you well (really well…). By dropping your prices you’re essentially dropping your worth–attracting the type of clients who aren’t worth your time or effort.
BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. And refuse to work with anyone who doesn’t.
2.) Understand who your ideal client is.
Business is a lot like real life–not everyone is going to like you. That’s OK! You’re not marketing to everyone (at least you shouldn’t be). Decide what you’re really good at and what you love to do (get specific), then use that to determine the types of people, brands, and businesses you want to work with and attract.
For example, I absolutely love to write content for health and wellness brands that teach people how to live invigorating, fulfilling, and healthy lives. And I especially like to work directly with CEOs and other business owners.
My ideal client: A CEO in the health and wellness space looking to educate others and improve their customer’s lives.
3.) Put the client first.
Put yourself in the shoes of your client: what are they looking for? They’re not worried about what you want–they’re concerned with what’s best for their business. And rightfully so!
Avoid “I” phrases–focus on “you’s.” Talk about how you can help them–not about what you’re really good at or how happy your past clients are. Do your research on their brand and come prepared with personalized questions and suggestions–this shows you genuinely care about them beyond wanting their money.
4.) Create a captivating online presence.
Everything is digital now, you can’t avoid it. No matter what your business is–you need a website. Fortunately, there are tons of free website creators out there: WordPress, Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace are just a few. They make it incredibly easy to hop on, add content, build a portfolio, and share that with prospective clients.
If that sounds like too much work, there are tons of talented website creators who’d love to help you. But if you think you can get away with not having a website at all…I’m sorry, you’re wrong.
5.) Talk about your craft often.
The more you talk about your business, the more people will associate you with that craft. For example, the more I talk about writing and the services I provide, the more people will think of me when they’re in need of content.
Use your social media and personal blog to help spread the message, but also talk about it in-person! Just because the world’s gone digital, doesn’t mean people don’t appreciate face-to-face contact.
PS: There’s a difference between talking about your craft and begging people to work with you/shoving it down their throats. Learn that difference. Know that difference. And don’t cross that line.
6.) Provide quality work on time, all the time.
Once you’ve snagged a few clients, make sure you’re providing them with fabulous work–preferably before their deadline. If you’re going to charge high rates (which you should) you need to continuously show people you’re worth them.
Example: As a writer, I make sure to edit my own work a few times before turning it in and I also try to get a third-party to read through it as well.
Your first draft (or photo/video/etc.) will almost never be your best. Take a few hours (or days) between edits to give your mind some space from your project–then return to it with fresh eyes and make a few tweaks.
Extra tip: Always ask for feedback!!!! And then apply that feedback.
7.) Ask for contacts and referrals.
Once you’ve formed a comfortable and mutually-beneficial relationship with your client, ask them if they know anyone who might also benefit from your services. This is the simplest way to connect with new high-paying clients–and you don’t even have to do anything (other than provide wonderful work.)
If your current client is happy with the work you’re providing them, they’ll be more than obliged to reach out to their friends and give them your contact info. If/when this happens, make sure you let them know how thankful you are–preferably with a handwritten card.
8.) Cold email.
You know what’s not fun? Cold calling. You know what’s a little easier/less awkward? Cold emailing.
This is exactly what it sounds like. Find a few brands or publications that you’d love to partner with and send them an email. Try to find the contact of an actual person–not an “firstname.lastname@example.org”
Your email should be short, to the point, and let them know the following:
- Who you are
- What you can provide them/how you can help them succeed
- A link to your portfolio or highlight reel
- A closing “thank you” and call to action–“Please feel free to check out some of my work *link* and reach out with any questions. I look forwarding to working with you. Thank you for your time.”
9.) Continue learning.
There are endless resources, both online and in print, to help you achieve your business goals. My favorites are:
- Small-business/writer’s podcasts: The Writing Coach Podcast, High-Income Business Writing, Hot Copy Podcast
- Writer’s blogs: Wording Well, Freelancer FAQs, Freelancewriting.com
- Occasionally YouTube videos
But nothing beats real-life conversations with people who have been in my shoes and worked their way to a successful business. Find a mentor! I can’t stress this enough.
10.) Take yourself seriously.
This might be the most important number on this list. If you don’t take yourself and your business seriously, no one else will–including those high-paying clients you want so badly.
Market yourself professionally. Always come prepared. Represent yourself in public and in meetings how you’d want your brand remembered. Check for spelling errors before sending emails. Watch what you post on social media. And most importantly…
CHARGE WHAT YOU’RE WORTH.
Now go get those clients!!!!