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Freelancing Guide: Five Proven Steps to 5K Months

As a freelancer, creative, or consultant, knowing exactly what to do to make consistent income can be a serious challenge. No one wants to deal with the feast or famine cycle of having a great month and then bringing in no money. You want consistency so you’re able to have a steady income that you’re able to increase over time.

In this post, we’re going to introduce you to something I call Freelancer Foundations (or the Service Business Boss Success Map). It’s the exact framework we use with our clients to help them double their revenue and get to consistent income month over month.

Here are five proven steps to help you get to 5k months (or if you’re already there, even 10k months!).

Step One: Find Clients (Marketing)

As a freelancer or service provider, everything you do comes down to being able to find clients. After all, no clients mean no money, and that’s really not good when you’re running a business.

Finding clients needs to be your number one focus if you’re going to consistently make money as a freelancer or creative. It’s really important you don’t get too precious or ego-driven when you’re just starting out. (Trust me, I’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.

So where do clients come from? Well, 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 (Sales)

Now that you’ve found some potential clients, you need to be able to book them. 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. You’re not in the business of offering anything and everything to potential 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 a proposal 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 (Service)

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 the Success Map is handling your money. Now, you’re probably wondering how managing 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.

Want to go more in-depth? Read this mega post on being successful with a services business, and then sign up for the free course below!

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Maggie Patterson Abou the Author

I’m Maggie Patterson (she/her), and services businesses are my business.

I have 20+ years of experience with client services, am a consultant for agency owners, creatives, and consultants, and vocal advocate for humane business practices rooted in empathy, respect, and trust.

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