Episode 108: Freelancer Foundations 101
We’ve all heard the saying that a house is nothing without its foundation, and the same goes for our businesses. But what does that really even mean? In this episode, we’re diving into the five components of a strong foundation for your business as a freelancer, creative, or consultant.
“You must have a strong foundation.”
Yes, we agree, but what does that really mean? And if you’re running a service business as a freelancer, creative, or consultant, how does that differ from other businesses?
We asked ourselves these same questions for years, and after testing things out for ourselves and with hundreds of our clients, it’s safe to say we’ve cracked the code on building a solid business foundation.
Now, before you turn this off because you think: “Oh, I’ve so got this. I don’t need foundations,” I want you to get real with yourself. Do you? Do you have at least $5K coming in consistently month after month? What about 10K? These foundational elements are designed to get you to consistent 5K months and beyond.
Our favorite side effects of having a strong foundation in our business:
Maggie: Peace of mind. Being in business is hard enough but then add in the stress and uncertainty of things like “where is the next client coming from” or “how much is this gonna cost?” and it’s easy to end up running back to a 9-to-5. Plus, with the overwhelm of ALL the things you could do, having a foundation like this gives me a clear container so I’m not going in circles.
Brit: Well, as the person who handles the money day to day, it’s super grounding to know that the money is handled and that even when there are tight cash flow weeks, we’re consistently bringing in new clients and continuing to wow current ones. In a weird way, having a strong foundation gives me an unshakeable faith in our business.
STEP ONE: FIND CLIENTS
- As a freelancer or service provider, everything you do comes down to being able to find clients. No clients mean no money.
- Finding clients needs to be your number one focus if you’re going to consistently make money as a freelancer or creative.
- Don’t get too precious or ego-driven when you’re just starting out. (We’ve seen many a talented person have to go get a J-O-B because they’re so wrapped up in their ego.)
- Be open to clients that may not be your dream client but are willing to pay you as you build up your experience and your reputation.
- Even if you’ve been in the industry for years, freelancing is a different game, and in a lot of ways, you’re starting over.
- Skip the fancy online marketing stuff and get down to business with referrals and other, faster ways.
- You can check out this post to get some specific ideas to get going with finding clients.
STEP TWO: BOOK CLIENTS
- Booking clients really comes down to handling three things which we call the three Ps: packages, pricing, and proposals.
- Packages mean you have a clear idea of exactly what you offer and the value you bring to your clients.
- Be specific, and get clear on what you offer; people hire experts — not people who offer everything and the kitchen sink.
- Pricing is one of the most powerful tools you have as a freelancer, so be sure you’re smart with your pricing.
- Do NOT charge too little or it’s going to be very challenging to get to your $5k goal.
- Proposals are often ignored, but your proposals matter more than you realize, so spend time creating one that totally kicks ass.
- Let that proposal sell you as a solution to a problem instead of just providing a document with a scope of work and a price.
STEP THREE: WOW CLIENTS
- Once you have clients in the door, you need to keep them happy! So many times people do great up until this point, and then they drop the ball.
- You want your clients to spend more money with you and love the work you’re doing.
- You want them to refer you and provide testimonials, so you need to show up and wow them.
- If you’re not sure how this happens, a great onboarding process is where it all starts.
- From there, ensuring solid project management and ongoing communication as you work together is critical.
- Never ever make assumptions, and communicate constantly so there are no surprises.
STEP FOUR: PRODUCTIVITY — PLAN FOR PROFIT
- You may be thinking that you GOT this when it comes to productivity. But do you really?
- If there’s one thing that separates a would-be freelancer from a total boss, it’s their productivity habits. And trust me, even if you think you have this handled, this is an area where there’s ALWAYS room for improvement.
- Consider your goal setting at the quarterly level, how you manage your months, what you to do plan your weeks, and how you stick to the plan each day.
- If you’re not sure where to begin, start with your days, (as that’s often where we’re not making great decisions), and we can easily start to form better habits. (Checking your inbox all day long and hanging out on FB…I’m looking at you!)
STEP FIVE: MONEY — MANAGE YOUR MONEY
- The last part of Freelancer Foundations is handling your money.
- Now, you’re probably wondering how managing your money helps you make more of it.
- Here’s the deal: what you manage will grow. What you ignore and shove into a shoebox isn’t going to do you any favors.
- You need to make sure you have baseline money management systems for your business — like basic bookkeeping and a budget — as both of these will help you make better business decisions. Most of all, it will help to keep more money in your pocket.
- Creating consistent income doesn’t matter if you’re not actually keeping that money, so spend some time getting your money managed, as it’s a major part of your ability to grow to $5k, $10k, or even bigger months.
Getting to a consistent monthly income that you can build on and grow over time starts with handling the basics, so follow these five steps to build your foundation as a freelancer. If you’re not sure where to start, or if you don’t have as many clients as you’d like, focus on finding and booking clients, then shift into the other steps.