Written by Mat Casner

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Ep. 22. How to Grow and Scale Your Freelance Business


Freelance CEO podcast
The Freelance CEO Podcast with Mat Casner
Ep. 22. How to Grow and Scale Your Freelance Business

Ep. 22. How to Grow and Scale Your Freelance Business

Today, I wanna talk about how we can earn additional income, more income than the simply Trading time for dollars. Guys, I can tell you that as a young freelancer, I knew what I could do well, and I served my clients with those skills to the best of my ability. But probably where I got myself into a little bit of trouble is I was too concerned about staying in my lane and only doing what the client asked me to do.

I was afraid to deviate from the path or to offer additional services because I didn’t want to jeopardize the relationship that I had with my clients. And it was a sense of fear that was holding me back. But I can tell you that over time, I have learned that I was really missing out on some great opportunities to not just make additional revenue, but to really set myself up and set my business up with a foundation that would continue to provide income into my business month after month, year over year. So what I’m gonna share with you today are just quite simply some lessons that I’ve learned about how I have been able to grow and scale my own business. So I’m gonna share a few of those tips with you today. The first tip is find a niche. This is gonna sound maybe a little cliche, but I think it’s important that we understand who our target customer is.

Understanding the Niche You Serve

Now, I’m a freelancer, and one of the things that I love is the variety of the work that I do. However, I think that it’s important for us to understand who is it that we serve, okay? And now that may be a broad target, or it may be a narrow target. You may be in a, a super defined niche where you’re just working with one specific vertical.

Maybe it’s dentists or maybe it’s dog groomers, or whatever the niche might be. Or you may be more of a general practitioner where you offer, let’s say, web or print design services to a more general market. However, what I think we need to do is we need to understand who our ideal client is, because I really believe that the riches are in the niches, and that the more that we can become laser focused on who our perfect client is, we can understand them, we can understand the problems that they have, and know how to provide even better, more effective solutions for them. So by becoming niche down in some area, I feel that allows us to be able to really develop our skills, develop our services in such a way that we really are offering a tailored solution to our customers.

Because guys, at the very end, it’s all about helping our clients solve the problem. It’s in their business. And the better we understand our client, and the better we understand their problem, then the better we can provide an effective solution and get them results. So guys, I think it’s important that as a, as a designer, we understand who our target customer is.

Now, if you don’t know who that is, I would look at it from the standpoint, what are the, the problems that you can solve in your business, and what potential customer has those problems? And start to go from there. I have a complete training on developing your customer avatar. We’ll talk about that sometime later. But I think it’s important for you to understand who your target customer is and be able to understand the problems that you can solve for that customer.

Offering Complimentary Services

So know your niche and become an expert in your customer. That’s perfect for you. Okay? Number two, I think it’s important that we find complimentary services that we can offer, that we can help to strengthen our relationship with clients long term. Now, I mentioned earlier that I had this issue. I had this block in my brain that was keeping me kind of in my lane.

When a client would hire me for a job, I would simply give them a quote or an estimate, you know, for that project. And then I would get to work on that project, and I would find myself at the end of the project, you know, missing out on quite literally a significant piece of work. And I’ll give you an example.

When I was working for a company and I was doing some branding collateral work for them, and I was creating some, you know, business cards, I was creating some mailers, I was creating some brochures that they were using as part of their marketing, and I was developing a great relationship with this client. And every time I would get down to the end of the project, the client was approving the work that I had done. They would always send me a, an email that says, okay, Matt, Hey, thanks for the great work. Can you email these files to our printer so we can have them printed? Now I know how to get things printed. I’ve been printing things for 30 years, and yet I was afraid to step into that piece of the business because I didn’t want to offend,

I didn’t wanna jeopardize the work that I was providing my, my client. But guys, I took a chance, and the next time I got a chance to bid a piece of print design work for this client, I simply said this to them when they asked for my bid, I said, would you be okay if I provided you a bid for printing as well, guys, their response literally shocked me. Now, you guys are probably gonna laugh because you’re like, why would you laugh? But my client literally responded to me as like, you can do printing too. They, they were almost like shocked that I had that service that I could offer to them, and they were almost eager for me to submit a price.

So, being a print broker, I was able to create a custom design bid for my client, and I was also able to give them a separate bid for printing. Now, guys, I can tell you that printing can be a very, very lucrative way to make additional revenue. And I was already invested in the client and able to do their print work, but I was able to add an additional large chunk of change to the estimate because I was able to add this additional service. Now, when I submitted the price to the, the customer, their response to me was awesome. They were like, Matt, we can’t believe that you’re gonna be able to take care of this project for us start to finish.

We, we would love just to work with you and not have to worry with, you know, following things up with the printer. You’re the person who designed the piece. You’re the person who knows the piece the best. We would love it for you to just kind of manage this process end to end. And guys, for me, I was like, this is just like icing on the cake because the labor that I had spent in the design work was now, I was able to capitalize on that and make an additional percentage on top of the design for just really a few extra hours worth of work. And I learned very quickly that being able to find this complimentary service that my customer needed provided me with an entirely new stream of revenue.

So for me, it was not only just maybe some fearful thinking that was holding me back, but once I asked the question and made the offer to them, it was almost like I was doing them a favor. It was almost like I was taking work off of their plate, and in effect, I was, because now they only have one vendor to deal with for the design process instead of two.

So finding complimentary services can be a way for you to be able to offer additional service, additional services, which helps to strengthen the long-term relationship that you have with your client being the expert. They wanna work with you because you do good work, and you’ll keep them as a customer for a longer period of time. Which guys, I’ve always said it’s easier to serve an existing customer than to go out and find a brand new one.

Develop Recurring Revenue from Your Products and Services

So finding complimentary services is step number two. Number three, develop products and services that will allow you to earn income every month. What are the services that you offer that you can manage for your client? Now, I’ve been in web development for a long, long time since the late nineties, which is, gosh it seems like eons now. But I remember when I was getting into doing some web development and talking with clients, it was almost like I was speaking a foreign language to them. And there were so many things that my client didn’t understand. With registering domain names and setting up security certificates and web hosting and web development. I mean, there were just so many aspects of that development that my clients really didn’t know.

Okay, well, there were a couple of services that I found that I could offer to my clients that I could manage for them and take off their plate. Two very easy ones were domain registration and web hosting. I was able to set up some corporate accounts and be able to have a reseller type of a relationship with web hosting companies and with domain registrars.

And I was able to upsell and cross-sell some long-term management services to my clients. So I could go out and I could register a domain for my client for X number of dollars per year, and then I could sell them a, a domain management service where I would handle all their DNS. I would handle those changes, and I would charge an X percent per year, which was well above what I was paying per, per domain name. Okay? I would do the same thing with web hosting. I would find a, I found web hosting companies that I could resell, and I would get the services for X dollars, and then I would mark it up and I would sell it to my customers. Well, the beautiful thing about that is, is that I was able to create invoices on a monthly or annual basis and set them just to automatically go out every year. So I was building this, this stream of recurring revenue that was coming into my business month after month, year after year. And if you start to work and you start to build clients into your business before long, that becomes a pretty good chunk of change.

Okay? So for me, being able to find services and products that I could offer to my clients long term to save them time and money and offer them the benefit of having someone who knows what’s going on, be able to manage those services for them. Again, help solve a client problem, takes the responsibility off their plate, and you get to do the work and get paid.

So just to recap here, know your niche, okay? And know your customer and be able to solve the problems effectively for them. Number two, find complimentary services that you can offer your clients that strengthen your long-term client relationship and develop products and services that will allow you to earn income every month. So just in summary, again, remember, you’re the boss.

You’re the expert. Find a niche. Start thinking about your customer and the problems that you can solve for them effectively. Number two, find complimentary services that you can offer your clients. Number three, develop products and services that will allow you to earn income month after month. Guys, that’s how you start to think like a business owner and how you start to grow and scale your business.

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