1. Productize your Services
The typical freelancer sales pipeline looks something like this:
- A potential customer contacts you about a project
- You have meetings with them to discuss their use case
- You send them a proposal based on your ballpark estimates
- Once they accept, work begins
How it should be:
- A potential customer goes to your site and sees the services you provide
- They purchase your service from the website directly
- Work begins
Selling a service with the same methods you would use to sell a product is called productization. Productization works to benefit both the freelancer and the customer; the freelancer gets paid immediately, the work to be done is clearly defined, the friction involved with payment is removed, and the customer can easily purchase more work if they were satisfied with the service.
Productization takes a bit of creative thinking. Try offering subscription services instead of sending proposals. Hold yearly discounts to attract long-term customers. Advertise your specific services and see which ones are the most popular. All of this is meant to “hook” customers on you and your products. If you can establish trust early through low-effort subscriptions, the same customers are more likely to use you for future projects.
2. Reduce friction for your customers
Almost anything can turn off a potential customer. Nobody wants to navigate a confusing website or fill out a form that asks for too much information. You must constantly be aware of the path a customer takes to get to your service, and any obstructions to that path. That includes:
Your site is the gateway to your business. Make sure everything is driven around your “call to action” and try to keep the content easy to digest as more reading means less motivation for a customer.
Need information from a potential customer? Make it easy for them to give it to you. The more information you ask from a potential client, the more likely they are to bounce and not complete a contact form.
Giving customers a direct line to you allows them to feel like you are giving them special attention. Don’t stick with only email, but try adding your customers to a messaging platform or do online meetings instead of direct phone calls.
3. Automate the annoying bits of your business
I hate administrative work and try to automate as much of it as I can. From email marketing to invoicing, there are hundreds of tools out there which can take an edge off the less glamorous work and leave you much more time to spend on more important things, clients and growing your business. Look into setting up automated billing so you don’t have to chase down customers with unpaid invoices and schedule automatic email blasts to try and entice your mailing list with new offerings. The key thing is to figure out your biggest time sinks within your day to day workflow and try to optimize.
4. Pay attention to analytics to iterate and improve
For businesses today, those who have mastery over data carry a sharp edge over those that don’t. Where are people visiting your site from? What pages are they viewing? How long do they stay? When you make changes to your site, how does it affect their behavior? What marketing campaigns have generated the most traffic? These kinds of questions can be answered through good analytics. Being able to understand data makes it far easier to iterate on your business model, and gives you real-time feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
5. Build your brand
Everyone wants to be seen as an expert in their field. Perceived experts get the truly lucrative projects and have a much easier time starting new endeavors due to their credentials. Building your personal brand is something you should always be striving to do, and there is no silver bullet — it takes time and effort.
How do you start? Blog posts, YouTube videos, and social media to give you a strong, consistent presence. This helps you garner name recognition, but the real challenge is committing to it. Those that persevere will reap the rewards they deserve.
Freelancing is a grind, but with some changes to the way you do business you can make it much easier for yourself.
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