A lot of time and effort goes into creating an online service-based business, especially if you’re working alone.
What do you do when you want to take your online service-based business to the next level?
I ask myself this question daily. As a full-time freelance writer, my business journey is filled with new daily discoveries. I have to push hard and find creative ways to increase my earning potential everyday.
The past few months have taught me four valuable lessons about building a successful online service-based business as a freelancer. They are lessons I wish someone had taught me before I embarked on this journey full-time.
That’s why I’m sharing these crucial lessons with you so that you can adequately position your online freelancing business for success.
1. A Client Sourcing and Retention Strategy is Crucial
Researchers believe that “freelancers could represent 80 percent of the global workforce by 2030.” This means that there will be billions of people to compete against in the online space over the next ten years. Making your mark, therefore, requires you to stand out rather than blend in. You need to stand out like a purple cow.
I’m gradually learning how to achieve this purple cow effect. Three strategies have been working well for me so far.
Using Personal Branding to Get UpWork Clients
UpWork is the freelancing platform I have used from as far back as when it was two separate companies (Elance and oDesk). I have built a solid reputation on the platform through strategic emphasis on my personal brand. You can learn my strategy by completing this Udemy course.
Trust me, it works! I’ve been getting a steady stream of clients via UpWork because of how effectively I use this strategy. You can view my UpWork profile by clicking here.
Posting Strategically on LinkedIn
There are two things I have realized about LinkedIn over the past few months as I’ve become a more active user.
- People respond to stunning images with captions that help them learn more about you as a person. Followers want to connect with who you are, not just what you can offer as a freelancer.
- Hashtags really do work. I’m starting to see my posts being discovered by potential clients because of these hashtags.
- Posting one or two good posts weekly is better than posting low quality posts daily.
Slowly Building a YouTube Channel
Anyone who is close to me knows that I hate filming videos. Therefore, the idea of consistently posting videos on a YouTube channel is actually scary to me. Several questions flood my mind:
- Will anyone care about what I have to say?
- Is what I’m saying making sense?
- How do I promote these videos to reach a wider audience?
The thing is that my audience grows (even if it’s only by one subscriber) each time I post a video and people actually comment. Chances are that if I keep posting, I’ll reach someone who could become a potential client. In fact, I know at least one freelancer who has gotten clients through his YouTube videos.
This strategy will be most effective if you focus moreso on posting high-quality content rather than building a subscriber list so that you can monetize the channel. That would be great but the ultimate aim is to boost your clientele. You can view the CEM Writing Services YouTube channel by clicking here.
2. Prepare to Bleed Money if You Don’t Manage It Well
This is one of the lessons I have been learning the hard way. I have been pursuing online freelance writing full-time since September 2019 and the financial uncertainty of this decision has been challenging. The pressure became particularly unbearable between June and August of 2020 while I was trying to balance a dip in clientele because of the coronavirus with completing the final semester of my Msc in Corporate Finance degree.
There were many instances where I just couldn’t focus because I was so worried that I was spending a lot of time doing schoolwork and, therefore, not earning any money since I wasn’t actively seeking clients. The experience taught me the value of budgeting to keep my financial goals in check despite the pressure I’m facing. It also taught me the importance of sticking to a saving strategy so that I can be on strong footing financially.
Do you want to learn a freelancer-friendly budgeting strategy? Check out this video.
You can get the budgeting template mentioned in the video by clicking here.
3. Business Registration Gives Your Business New Life
It’s important to register your business and file taxes, especially if you’re self-employed. This reality became glaringly obvious to me recently when I went to the National Housing Trust (NHT) to learn more about how I could access a loan to build a house.
The NHT is the Jamaican government’s way of helping as many Jamaicans as possible own a home. All working Jamaicans are required to contribute 2% of their taxable income to the NHT scheme, even if they don’t use the NHT loan facility to build a house. Phased NHT refunds are available for those who choose not to access the loan facility.
A self-employed person must have filed the SO4A tax forms for the past three quarters in order to be eligible for an NHT loan. Thankfully, I registered my business in 2018 and started earning enough locally in 2019 to begin filing taxes in 2019. Other freelancers who have not registered their businesses wouldn’t be able to file taxes and, therefore, wouldn’t be able to tap into this opportunity.
You may not be Jamaican but a similar principle applies regardless of where you’re located in the world. Any self-employed person should have a registered business to access loans. Register your business and file your taxes; it works to your advantage in the long-term.
4. There are Clients Who Will Pay What You Ask
Pricing is sometimes a touchy topic with freelancers, especially if you use freelancing platforms such as UpWork. Long-term success that creates a sustainable business occurs when you focus on targeting the right clients rather than competing on price. There are clients who will pay you what you’re asking if you can authentically demonstrate your worth.
Here are some tips that’ll help you effectively demonstrate your worth.
- Create a website that is regularly updated with fresh content.
- Regularly update your portfolio so that clients can get a strong sense of your current work.
- Post meaningful content on your social media pages so that your followers can view you as a thought leader.
Growth of your online service-based freelancing business depends on your ability to be a purple cow. There are millions of people who do what you do. You have to distinguish yourself from the crowd by working on your personal brand, registering your business and focusing on clients who will pay what you ask. It’ also important for you to effectively manage your money so that your cash flow increases and you can invest more in your business.
It’s time to take your business to the next level. Let’s get that money! Are there any lessons that you’ve learnt as an online freelancer that I didn’t mention here? Feel free to leave a comment and let us know.