Q: How can I scale my freelance business?
Career Advice That Doesn't Suck!
How will you scale?
I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count over the past decade, especially when I was freelancing full time.
It’s a valid question for any freelancer. After all, when you work for yourself, you make a living trading hours of time for money.
The only way to scale a freelance business like this is to buy more time.
Since we can’t magically add more hours to each day, this usually looks like hiring others to help you take on more work. Continue down this path and suddenly you become a manager.
Some people want this, but others don’t. Many freelancers enjoy being a one-man/woman army and don’t want to spend their time managing others.
In this case, buying time using others isn’t a sustainable option.
Instead, freeing up your own time is the only other way to scale.
How exactly do you accomplish this?
Turn clients into customers and users.
You see this trend within larger companies. More and more, agencies are productizing the problems their clients face. Instead of addressing them individually, they invest time, money, and talent into creating products that can potentially solve all of these problems at once.
It’s easier to do this when you have bigger budgets available and an army of employees at your disposal, but what does this look like for individuals and freelancers?
All you have to do is look to successful freelancers like Paul Jarvis and Jessica Hische. They’ve used their knowledge, skills, and experience to create products that solve the problems of their clients.
Paul has taken almost 20 years of freelance web development experience and created his own products including a class on freelancing, training for Mailchimp, embeddable workbooks, and two podcasts. All of his products address the problems of individual freelancers and entrepreneurs.
Jessica is a lettering artist, author, and entrepreneur who has published books, sold prints, and released courses geared towards creatives who want to level up their own freelance practice.
These are just two established professionals who have successfully turned clients into customers.
When making the transition from services to products, one of the most important things to remember is to create something that people actually want. When working with a client, you are solving a problem they have. Use that same mindset when creating products and position them to the people who need them.
Here are a few ways to get started:
Gather your knowledge and write a guide or e-book. This will allow you to productize your experience at little-to-no cost. Once it’s finished, sell it online through your own website or use a service like Gumroad.
Take the previous idea and record a series of online courses that you can offer through websites like Udemy or Teachable. Each platform usually takes a small cut of every purchase for hosting your course, but it’s a small price to pay for selling your experience.
Package any customized documents or processes you’ve developed, create templates, and sell them to others in your industry. Chances are, if you found them helpful, others will, too.
If you have the technical know-how, start creating software that solves a similar need for multiple clients. Even though this can be more time-intensive in the beginning, it can have a much higher payoff in the end.
Build and sustain communities through platforms like Slack and Meetup. If correctly positioned towards a specific group, people will find value in connecting with others.
Consult others who want to learn your specific skill set. Have you established and sustained your own web development business? There are plenty of others out there who would love to learn how to do the same. Create consulting packages and position this value to those people.
These are just a few ways to get started. There are countless ways to create products and free up more of your time.
It won’t be easy, but with some creativity and diligence, you can create the type of work life you want.