How I grew my freelance business (without working extra hours)

Aug 18, 2020

Do you want to grow your freelancing business without working extra hours? Are you sick and tired of working ten-hour days and running through life like a zombie on autopilot?

I’m a full-time freelancer spending my days working when I want, with whoever I want to, and enjoying every aspect of the freedom that comes with it. I can travel and live wherever I want to. And I can take time out of my day to enjoy everything the world has to offer.

But my life hasn’t always looked like this.

I started my freelance career from scratch with no knowledge, industry skills, or expertise. But with a bit of hustle, I quickly grew my freelance business into a thriving and sustainable content empire.

And whether you’re just starting your freelancing journey or have a bit of skin in the game, I’m here to tell you that creating a long-term, sustainable business isn’t beyond reach.

Yes, building a profitable business does take effort, but it doesn’t have to take extra hours or consume your life. With a little practice and these handy tips, you can grow your business while keeping those nightly Netflix binges.

Let’s get started!

Prioritize Your Time

Between email, social media management, content creation, client meetings, and actually working you have thousands of tasks you are itching to get to. Unfortunately, the pipe dream of the complete to-do list is just not possible.

Like the rest of us, you’ve only got 24 hours in a day. You’re going to have to use your time wisely — but how?

Set your priorities.

The best way to use your working time is by prioritizing the tasks with a high return on investment. Your paycheck depends on clients. Recruiting clients is hard, but it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Try creating a marketing plan you can actually stick to. Remember to prioritize your skills, journey, and talents. Forget the website redesign — start creating killer content that showcases your skills.

When creating that killer website content, you don’t need to overdo it with daily posts. Instead of trying to write your own Jane Austin novel, focus on novel, engaging articles that are written for readers - not robots.

Quality content shows the world what you have to offer, and it will always win you clients. Here are some of my best tips to ensure you’re writing quality website posts:

● Prioritize using facts and expert perspectives in your post.

● Always link your sources, and be honest with your readers.

● Use images, graphs, and stories to add more meaning to your words.

● Stay professional and limit your use of adjectives.

Once you’ve got regular clients, it’s important to treat them correctly. You can start by creating a top-notch client onboarding process.

Use a business email address and send proper invoices. If you’re still tracking your income on an Excel spreadsheet it’s time to get some proper accounting software.

Professionalism is important — both for your business and to win your clients’ trust and respect.

Of course, a true professional knows how to show their clients they’re grateful. Customer loyalty programs might sound too much like “business babble,” but decreasing your client churn rate will increase your profits.

For freelancers, I recommend a digital loyalty program like Candybar.

Your business is special to you, so make it just as special for your clients, too. You don’t have to shower your clients with gifts, but a “thank you” goes a long way.

Business is inherently personal. Don’t be afraid to bring a personal touch into your work.

Delegate, Delegate, Delegate

Most freelancers run their business as a sole enterprise, which is creatively freeing but leaves you spending hours on administrative work. Tasks like scheduling posts, answering emails, and filling out invoices are important, but they’re zapping your creative energy.

Instead of relying on caffeine for an energy boost, try delegating some of your more onerous tasks. You’ve got three great options to choose from.

1. Find a business buddy.

If you work better in a team, try finding a freelancing friend. Together, you can share feedback and edit each other’s work, taking the frustration (and the legwork) out of editing. For a great motivation boost, I recommend scheduling a weekly video conference.

Trust me — it’s a game changer.

2. Hire a virtual assistant.

Part-time virtual assistants are an affordable option for many freelancers. For a comparatively small fee, you can hire an assistant to answer your emails for you, handle your invoices, project proposals, and contracts, and take over your social media accounts.

While an assistant may raise your costs short-term, a great assistant is an asset that will only bring value to your business long-term. You’ll get to ditch the inbox and practice management skills while you’re at it.

3. Invest in an employee.

If you need someone to take on some of your client work, consider hiring an employee. Motivated employees will push you to work harder, faster and better — not to mention they’ll increase the amount of client work you can take on.

Take your freelancing efforts from solo to tango, and watch your business grow.

Innovate Through Automation

By constantly exhausting yourself with minor tasks, you’re draining your creative juices dry. Not only is this wasting your precious work time, but it’s also cluttering your workday with tasks so monotonous a robot could do them.

You don’t have to be a programmer to outsource work to robots! Some of your biggest business problems can be solved through the magic of automation.

Problem: You spend too much time reaching out to new clients.

Solution: Cold email software!

If you’re spending all of your time reaching out to new clients, try cold email software! Instead of spending all your time sending our repetitive pitch emails, use software like SalesHandy to effortlessly connect with new clients.

This robot won’t just help you push ‘send’ - it will save you from writing thousands of emails that are cluttering up your creative brain power.

Problem: You’re putting too much thought into email marketing.

Solution: Email marketing software!

Stop yourself from overthinking your email marketing campaigns and invest in email automation software. Email marketing software is great for big businesses that want to run sales campaigns or nifty freelancers who want to keep their clients in the loop. You’ll get stats, tips, and scheduling options that will keep you from overthinking your outbox strategy.

Problem: You get distracted on social media.

Solution: Social media scheduling tools!

Another great way to save yourself time is to put your social media on autopilot. Manually posting to Facebook is a guaranteed way to distract yourself. Instead, get yourself a free social media marketing tool that helps you create content quickly, schedule it, and analyze the success of each post, distraction-free. Hey presto, procrastination is gone.

Problem: Clients are getting lost on your website.

Solution: Landing page software!

Instead of investing in an expensive website redesign, have landing page software do the work. These software options will guide you through making a homepage that converts leads into clients.

Problem: You’re missing customer calls.

Solution: Callback software!

If you’re constantly missing customer calls, callback software can help. When a customer can’t reach you, the software takes a message and schedules a callback with you. Callback software is very popular, with 75% of clients preferring a callback over a game of email-tag.

Stop Overworking

Finally, the best way to stop overworking is to actually switch off and stop working. If you haven’t already, set yourself dedicated workday hours. No matter how busy you get, always make sure you:

● Eat every three to four hours.

● Drink water throughout the day.

● Take a screen break every hour.

Some simple self-care will boost your productivity while making you feel great. However, for many of us, the problem is outside the office. If you’re still coming into the office tired every morning, it’s time to take a look at your sleep schedule.

Answering emails at 11 pm gives your clients that close relationship, but it’s destroying your sleep. Give yourself time to relax, and leave the email in the office. If you can’t help yourself, simply place your phone on “do not disturb” and give yourself a bedtime.

From a bud to a blossom

While there are thousands of ways to grow your freelancing business without working extra hours, the simplest solutions are the most effective.

Investing in yourself, your employees, and your work processes will seem expensive upfront, but the return on investment will be worth it. Freelancing is all about investing in yourself.

No empire was built overnight, but by mastering the art of prioritizing, delegating, and automating, you’ll reach your goals with ease.

This is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send us your blog post.

Mark Quadros

Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer who helps brands create and distribute rad content. Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc.