There is nothing better than taking control of your own finances and building your own business. Freelancing is a fantastic way to start. After all, all you need is a creative talent, a bit of time and the right marketing.
If you’re looking to start freelancing, you may want to focus on building a side-hustle first, alongside your normal employment. This gives you a sense of security and allows you to build confidence in your business at your own pace.
Similarly, if you’ve been in the freelance game for a long time, you may be tired of putting in forty hours (or more) into your business. This constant work may not be delivering the output you want or achieving the growth you expect. Consequently, your freelance business may leave you tired, drained and burnt out. Maybe you’re looking for more free time while gaining more profit (and honestly, that is achievable!).
So, how do you make a profitable part-time freelance business?
Set Your Working Hours
When beginning a freelance hustle, it can feel all-consuming. The motivation for success can mean you spend every available moment checking emails, delivering work and looking for expansion. Not only is this a sure-fire way to head to burn-out quickly, but it will mean you’ll fall out of love with what you’re doing. No matter how much you love your side-hustle, when it becomes all-consuming, this love will quickly fade. You need a break; you need time to yourself, you need fun.
Remember, all work and no play….
So, the best thing you can do is to set specific working hours and be strict with them.
If you’re moving your freelance business from full to part-time, this can feel impossible. So, break it down into small goals. For example, start with Friday afternoons off, then look at finishing by 2 pm every day. Eventually, get to the point that you want your business to be at.
Whether you’re just getting started or want to cut down – get rid of assignments you don’t like. Think of this as the Marie Kondo to your work, if a project doesn’t give you joy, then get rid of it. Similarly, if phone calls and customer queries take up your time and get you down, then outsource this role to another freelancer.
Begin your business or refresh your business with a new rule: The Last Email Rule. This will be a time when you conduct your last email check. After that time (which you should set the alarm for), close down, walk away and do something you love.
Get Really Focused
As a new freelancer or a person who struggles to say no, it can be so easy to take on every job. Lots of clients out there want a lot for less, and it is easy to get into the mindset that all income is good income. But is that true? Do you have jobs that you have to cram in just before the deadline? Are there jobs that you keep putting off until you really have to do it? Maybe there are some tasks that you really procrastinate over?
All of these are red flags. These should be the projects you part with or find someone else to do on your behalf. The only way you’ll maximise your profit while working fewer hours is by getting focused on the jobs that you’re good at, enjoy doing and can do quickly.
So, with every project that comes your way, ask yourself; ‘will this get me closer to my six-figure business goal?’. If the answer is yes, take it on. If the answer is no, or you’re not sure, then these are the projects to decline.
What about the other business activities?
It is not just client-based work that can get you to a six-figure side hustle. There are other business activities you may want to consider. But, with all of them, whether that is writing a book, weekly podcasts or launching a new product or service, you really need to ask yourself, whether they’ll get you to your next goal.
If they will, make time for them. If they won’t, leave them for a while. You may find a way to use these ideas later when you have more time or work out how to maximise your profit from them.
In short, stay minutely focused on your goals and find the best ways to get the projects that will get you towards your six-figure business. Will it move your forward, keep your business static, or worse, make your business fall behind?
Grow, Don’t Expand
So often, it seems like expansion is the only way to grow the business. More services, more products, more choice means your growing and establishing your market share? Well, actually for a freelance side-hustle, the more you offer means there’s more confusion for your clients. What’s more, if you provide so many different things, how can you prove that you’re the best person for every job?
You may find it more profitable to shrink down your services/products/offers to just two or three things. These will be the things that you like to do, can do quickly and can make a considerable profit on.
If you already have a stripped back offering, consider what extras you include into your service that your customers don’t really appreciate. So often, we cram more into a package to give it bells and whistles. However, customers are usually only coming to you for one or two features and are not interested in your added extras. Furthermore, these added extras can take up more of your time without giving you or the client any additional benefit.
So, look at what you do. Know for sure what your clients actually want from you and get benefit from and make sure your services are the most fulfilling and profitable for you.
With a more refined product offering, you’re able to manage your time more carefully. You’ll have a good estimate of how long each project will take you. From there, you’ll work out what you should charge each client in order to reach your annual income goal in the time you’re willing to work.
Consider Going Niche
Another way you can shrink your services while growing your income is by focusing your services to a specific customer or niche. This will be an industry you are interested in and know really well and consequently; clients will pay more for your expertise.
The benefit of this is the results will be better for your clients, and you’ll have less background research to do.
Create A Minimum Fee
When working with new clients, there is quite a bit of admin, back and forth, and background research to ensure you know exactly what your client wants. All of these takes time and eats into your profit. If the first job is low cost and the client doesn’t choose to have ongoing work, then it rarely makes economic sense.
With this in mind, it is vital to set a minimum fee for work. This way, you can be sure that the correspondence and research you undertake for the project will be well worth your time. Consider how much a one-time project actually costs you and ensure that you create a fee that covers these costs.
Then, it is important to consider the cost of retainer packages. If everyone chose your lowest cost retainer, would you achieve your six-figure goal? If not, it may be time to up your lowest fees.
With retainer packages, it is well worth ensuring some reliability for your business, and you can do this with long-term contracts. Instead of going for one-off jobs and monthly contracts, opt for quarterly or annual contracts. This will help to keep a steady income pipeline, allowing you to focus on strategies that will improve your business growth.
There are lots of tools available that can help to instil a contract system, such as GoCardless which uses a direct debit system for collecting reoccurring payments. This makes it easier for clients to continue working with you and makes it harder for them to cancel their contract too.
When To Raise Your Rates
As soon as you get too busy that you have to work over your set freelancing time, it is time to raise your rates again. Yes, some clients may choose to go elsewhere, but you’ll be earning more for every hour of work that you do. It’s a win-win, more money, less time!
So, with these practical steps, you’ll have a plan for setting up your first freelance business and avoid making the mistakes many freelancers make. If you’re a freelancer looking to find the passion in your work again through higher profit and fewer hours worked, then these top tips are a great way to set you on the right path.
So get started today by creating your six-figure side-hustle!
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