A lot of people first become freelancers with the intention to “make some extra money on the side” or break into their industry, and then eventually stay when they realize that they’re establishing an incredible career (and income!) in the process.
And then something incredible happens, with successful freelancers having so much work that they have the option to either turn away clients because they’re too busy, or recruit new help, turning their “gig” into a thriving business.
Whether you want you to have a solopreneur business where you’re doing all the work or plan to scale to a full-blown agency overtime, there are five tips you should follow to quickly scale your freelancing work into a successful business.
Find Anchor Clients
Anchor clients are those who you know will consistently need work on a regular basis and can build an extremely solid foundation for your business in order to scale up going forward. For transcriptionists, this might be someone who needs six client interviews transcribed a month, and accountants may have major clients who need quarterly tax updates four times a year.
Anchor clients give you stability, and it’s always easier to work with long-term clients regularly instead of trying to manage fifty different new clients who all have different needs and expectations.
Ideally, your anchor clients should be those you love working with if at all possible; this will help you love your job.
Prioritize Retainer Work to Help Scale Your Freelancing
Retainer work typically involves stricter contracts that dictates how much work you’ll do for a specific client for a specified length of time. They’re anchor clients with even more consistent deliverables and (sometimes) firmer terms. Some retainers might require payment up front or thirty days notice before cancellation.
Retainer work, in many cases, is essential to allow freelancers to scale their business. The consistency means that you aren’t having to hunt down that portion of your income every month, giving you time to focus on finding other things, including growing your business and finding other high-value clients, too.
Outsource the Right Tasks
When it’s time and you’ve done as much as you can on your own, it’s time to start delegating. You can always find more clients, after all, and keep raising your rates. The one thing you can’t do is create more time.
Hire an assistant when you start getting too busy, who can handle things like invoicing, setting your schedule, or doing basic research for you. Bring on a transcriptionist to record key tasks, including client calls or even internal meetings.
Once you grow to a certain point, you’ll want to consider hiring on other team members who can do the work you’ve been doing so far yourself, potentially along with a manager to keep everyone in line. Look at how you can maximize your time, and if there’s someone who can step in to help, create a role for those tasks and fill it immediately.
Need help deciding when, what, and how to outsource? Check out this great guide here.
Niche Down in order to scale up
As your business grows, niching down can be particularly useful to successfully scaling. When you become well-known in a few specific industries, you turn into one of the few go-to people. This can quickly result in more business and name brand recognition, which means more people coming straight to you.
Niching down will involve a concentrated effort on your part to get work in certain sectors and to brand yourself as an expert in your chosen fields. We’ve done this at Transcript Outsourcing; even though we offer generalized transcription services, we have niche services for those in the legal, law enforcement, business, and medical industries, helping us to stand out. Interested in becoming a medical transcriptionist? Click here!
Other examples of niching include:
- The video marketers who work exclusively with B2B brands to help them tell compelling stories.
- An illustrator who works exclusively with chefs writing cookbooks.
- An accountant who works exclusively with freelancers and small businesses.
The more niche down, the more hands-on and relevant experience you have in any given field, making you even more appealing to potential clients.
Put The Right Systems in Place to Scale Your Freelancing
Systemization is going to be an important part of scaling, because as your freelance work turns into a business, there’s a lot more involved and everything can get a little crazy a lot fast.
Whenever possible, create routines and systems that you always follow. This might include having strict client contracts or terms, like requiring payment up front and always invoicing upon assignment so that you don’t have to keep up with the preferences of too many people.
You should also organize your schedule in a way that can be relatively automated. Schedule your time in blocks, and carefully put assignments into place so that you know how much time you have available. This will help you determine when you can take on more work, and what types of work you can add to the schedule.
When creating your schedule, it’s important to factor in time for things like rush projects, client issues that need addressing (including revisions of work), and business development. If you forget to schedule time for working on marketing your business, training any new freelancers you’re bringing on, or even managing client relationships, you’ll find yourself overworked and out of time. That’s the last place you want to be.
Conclusion – How to scale your freelancing
Almost any type of freelancing work that you do can give you the boost you need to launch your own business, or at least lay the groundwork for it. The gig economy, after all, is increasing, and freelancers who are successful in their field can typically earn much more than those working conventional nine to five jobs; sometimes, they can even do so while working fewer hours (though sometimes they do work many more).
When converting your freelance work into a business, remember to make any necessary changes before you’re in over your head. You don’t want to wait to hire an assistant, for example, until you’re already drowning and don’t even have time to hire someone, let alone train them. The rewards will definitely be worth it many times over.