Someone from my list had asked this question when I asked: “what are you struggling with right now?”
What’s great about this question is that it’s smart.
This is the line of thinking that turns freelancers into consultants.
It's smart because a “contracting resource” is someone who’s hired out by presumably another business to fill the gaps in their own business.
For example, development shops hiring a developer to help with their overflow work.
Whereas a “solo business owner” is someone who has a specific customer that they go after and serve a specific solution towards. They may be a developer who can write PHP, but they stay to a specific kind of customer because of the service they provide.
For example, they only work with SaaS companies providing onboarding development within their application.
I had this exact question back in 2011. I had most of my client work coming by way of other agencies. I purposefully did this due to me working in agencies for close to a decade. So I understood their pain, but also knew that I didn’t have to do the sales end, which at that time I was not very comfortable doing.
In 2011 I realized that I was running a business where I had no control over the work, timelines, budgets, rates, and had left a full-time job of 1 boss, for a job that had 8.
The first thing I did was stop taking any new sub-contracting work. Sure I did work for existing clients, but any new agencies that came my way, I said no to.
I started seeking out through my network for projects that I knew I could do, which were specifically focused on ecommerce.
No longer did I want to work on employee directories, back-end applications, custom database applications on the front-end. Had no interest in doing those types of things.
So I focused solely on ecommerce, put up a simple landing page talking about it, and then had an online form to fill out.
This was the first time I started my own sales pipeline.
The second thing, and key to the success I had, was to network.
Business is all about the people, this was the time I really started to double-down on Twitter and jump into the conversations that I could help people answer some questions.
I had Bridget Willard on Live In The Feast. She’s a Twitter guru and helps her clients build their businesses using relationship marketing on Twitter. She unpacked a ton of tactics, which one of them is about creating lists and watching out for specific questions that you can answer.
I didn’t realize it then, but that’s exactly what I was doing. I would spend about 30 minutes a day on Twitter just jumping in and helping out.
It’s not fancy, but it’s the reality of business today. If it were 1950, I would’ve have been flipping through lead call lists and dialing. Except this day in age, people on social are there, complaining, telling you specifically what they are struggling with.
As a someone who is providing services, that’s a gold mine.
These 2 initial stepping stones were the genesis of my business today. Stop taking on new clients that I no longer wanted to work with. Then make a conscious effort to seek out those that I do want to work for.
Running your freelance business
More episodes in this topic:
What do you do when a crisis hits?
How to start building an email list as a freelancer?
How do you manage time wearing so many hats as a freelancer?
What software tools do you use for business? What is best?
How do you prevent, manage scope creep in your projects?
Do you schedule in time for exploring or reading articles online?
What is the best way to get income fast?
What happens if you can’t define a scope of work on a call?
What do I do first thing Monday morning?
How can I focus on my business when I’ve got a ton client work?
Do I have to be concerned with GDPR?
What are the tools and services that you use and would recommend to freelancers?
How do you have time for all that you do?
What podcasting gear do I use?
Does live chat bring you in business?
How do you followup with a lead after a proposal?
Did hiring a mentor really help you with starting up your business or your career?
What is my writing process
What is the easiest way to get a remote testimonial?
How do you determine a quality prospect?
How do you step away and actually take a vacation?
Are job boards reliable?
How to decrease the sales cycle or time to close?
How would you write a cold outreach email?
How to present different services that could potentially diminish your abilities in the minds of clients?
Should I bundle projects for clients or keep projects separate per client?
What product do you use for your business that you can’t live without?
What makes you stand out from other freelancers?
Do I drop this client?
How do I set a goal?
Do you meet leads and clients face-to-face?
How do I work “ON” my business and not “IN” my business?
What is the best structure for setting a goal?
How do you do a review of your week?
What do I say when a potential client says I’m too expensive?
What is activity based selling?
How to get more clients?
How to have a productive week?
Do you use a CRM for your business?
How do you choose the technology for your clients?
What is the structure of a weekly review?
What is the structure of a monthly review?
What are lead generation techniques to get me out of the feast and famine revenue cycle?
How do I know if I should buy a course?
What’s a polite way to tell existing clients you are raising your rates? And what is a reasonable percentage to go up?
How many email follow-ups should I send to a lead?
What do I do? I’m afraid to filter the tire kickers coming into my business because they are the only leads I have.
How to take the next step from contracting resource to solo business owner?
What do you think about Gutenberg? Schmutenberg!
How do I get better at sales?
How to overcome objections in sales?
How do I respond to an RFP?
How to respond to “I don’t need strategy, can you just do…”?
If you don’t have experience, how to you prove the quality without the education/experience?
How do you handle a client that has ghosted?
What do you ask during a sales call?
How to improve your sales process as a freelancer?
How to charge more as a freelancer?
How do you push past the imposter syndrome?
How do you segment your email list?
What to say when a client insists on adding something new?
What kind of content should I promote to potential clients?
Best of Season 3 - Get out of the comfort zone
Best of Season 3 - Building Relationships
S06 E12 - Undercharging, Targeting the Wrong Audience, and What You Should Do About It with Alex McClafferty
S03 Bonus - Tom McFarlin on Blogging, Balancing Work and Family, and Building a Business that Lasts
S09 E11 - Differentiation, Reputation, and Pivoting From the Top-Down with Peep Laja
S01 E11 - Kai Davis helping freelancers get more clients with outreach