Freelancing is all about being free to do whatever you want, right? Well… sort of. Here’s how to become a successful freelancer.
As freelancers, we need to be the ones to tell ourselves what to do. Without a plan and structure—without an effective system—there’s no way to have sustained success in your freelance career.
If you’re like a lot of freelancers, there’s a fair amount of wishing and hoping involved in your search for clients. Many people employ trial and error to experiment with “marketing tactics,” and experience various levels of progress.
This is an ineffective way to run your business, and it won’t lead to success.
You only have a business when you have a system for running it.
That’s why we teach the most effective “secret” to sustained, predictable success:
- Creating a system.
- Implementing it.
- Running it continually.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not talking about a highly advanced plan using complicated technology.
Instead, we have found that success happens when you take a series of steps on a regular basis.
You might have a system for networking, where you spend an hour every Thursday morning sending out a useful article to five prospects.
Perhaps every Tuesday, you commit to sending five new pitch emails to potential clients, and follow up on the five you sent last week.
You need a system for bookkeeping, too. Maybe that means you’ll look at your Excel doc for 15 minutes each morning, making sure you’ve sent all your invoices, sent receipts for payments, and set aside an appropriate amount for taxes.
None of these things will blow your mind. But what does blow my mind, is how few freelancers commit to following through with these systems regularly.
Without intentionally implementing systems for your business, you can’t expect success.
This goes for each part of your business. If you don’t have a system for finding clients, you won’t find clients. (They don’t just fall from the sky!)
Here are the essential parts of your business you need systems for:
- Prospecting: When and how will you reach out to, and follow up with, potential clients?
- Networking: How will you grow your professional circle (in-person or virtually)?
- Working: What is your system for completing projects for your clients?
- Billing: How will you send invoices and track payments?
- Income: How will you manage your earnings and plan for tax time?
- Re-pitching: In what ways will you reach out to previous clients to work with them again?
Does the idea of systems feel “too constraining” to you?
I hope not, because being disciplined with systems is ultimately what leads to your freedom and success.
For example, when you have a system in place for following up with prior clients, you only need about an hour a week to do that. Then you’re done! The alternative is highly inefficient: running around trying to unearth old contact info on those occasions it occurs to you to reach back out.
Having a system means you can get those big, important things done much faster. It means giving yourself the freedom to grow your business and find success.
Your talent and skill can get your business started. But your systems are going to keep you moving forward.
Your turn! What systems do you have in place for your business? Or what systems are you now going to implement? Let us know in the comments below!