Recently, I read a great article from the folks at Freelance Folder (a fantastic resource to bookmark if you haven’t yet). The post was called “25 Easy Ways To Fine Tune Your Freelance Business” and it contained useful tips about how to keep your business fresh and avoid becoming bogged down with bad projects or the boring “business” side of things.
Most people who read the article seemed to hone in on tip number 4: Decide on a niche.
“I started making a lot more money and got a ton of clients after I decided to put myself into two niches: working with freelancers and agencies only and only doing HTML, CSS and WordPress work,” says the author. “Find out what part of the process you really enjoy and only do that kind of work.”
It was this last statement that really seemed to resonate with readers, so I wanted to explore some ways to segment your talents and zero in on what you truly enjoy.
1. Pay Attention To What You’re Doing: This is sound advice in almost every aspect of life, but you might not realize how easy it is to stop paying attention once you’re a seasoned freelancer. If you’re not in the habit of making an editorial calendar, to-do list, or tracking your hours, give it a try. Pay attention not only to the things that MUST get done today, but to the differences between list items. Do you avoid certain items because they’re more or less creative/structured/logical than others on the list? Do you dread writing content for one type of business, but hate it for another? Do you find joy in creating the architecture of a website or fine-tuning it for usability purposes rather than designing the logo or figuring out the best color scheme? These are clues about what make you happy and successful. Note them.
2. Revise Your Elevator Pitch: I’m not sure there are any freelancers that really think their elevator pitch is winning them clients. Reassessing the short version of how you describe yourself and your professional offerings is a great way to start manifesting the type of business you really want. If you call yourself a marketer, but what you really enjoy is creating and growing online communities via social media, it’s time to revamp your pitch. If you say that you offer market research services but what you long to do all day is write grants for non-profits, it’s time to think about changing how you talk about yourself.
3. Do Some Weeding: It’s all fine and good to notice the parts of the process that you truly enjoy, and mention them in your tag line, but if you continue working projects that miss the mark, it will only heighten your frustration. Once you’ve zeroed in on the elements that make you and your clients the happiest, it’s time to start weeding out the projects that don’t belong. Most client work has a rhythm, so the next time an undesirable project is winding down, it’s time to find a way to fire that client. It doesn’t have to be dramatic or negative. In fact, if you’ve got a good rapport with the client, try to leave it open ended. If they like you, they’ll be willing to give you some time to explore other avenues of your industry. If they start to panic, try to refer them to another freelancer that can handle the job.
It’s hard to let go of work, especially since many of us fight so hard to find it in the first place. But as you zero in on what’s best for you and your business, you’ll find that the right projects appear when you need them. Fine-tuning your business is a never-ending process. Worry about being great at what you do, and the money will follow.
Image Credit: Flickr – ogimogi