planning for the future

There comes a point in every freelancer’s career when you ask — “What’s next?”

My main goal when I started freelance writing was to make enough income to work from home. Nothing more and nothing less because that goal alone felt far out of reach.

After gaining a full roster of clients, I started feeling antsy about what the next step in growing my business would be. You see, in a typical 9 to 5 job there’s usually a defined ladder to climb if you’re ambitious.

For freelancers, every career choice rests squarely on our shoulders.

This can be a lot of pressure, but it’s also exhilarating to think of how many paths freelancers can take to add new income streams to the business.

For instance:

  • You can turn your freelance business into an agency and hire a team. This way you can take on more clients and bigger contracts for more income.
  • You can go the consulting or teaching route and sell consulting sessions or create evergreen products for your clients. Products like books or courses are nice and passive income streams.
  • You can go the brand influencer route and promote products and services you love to your following for affiliate or referral sales.
  • You can become a speaker and get paid to attend live events.

Doing a combination of several things as your next step is a popular and highly efficient strategy.

If you’re a freelancer who’s making a decent living from your work but also wondering what comes next in terms of growth, here are some tips to help you through.

 

Think Much, Much Bigger (Even if It Scares You Silly)

Having only one goal of keeping my client roster full each month didn’t help much when it was time to grow and evolve. I had to undergo a major mindset shift.

We as freelancers have to think of ourselves as legitimate business owners and not as independent contractors floating from gig to gig aimlessly. Otherwise, we’ll get stuck planning how we’ll get by from day to day and not about the future of our business five to ten years from now.

Freelancers should have a business plan. Here’s how to create one if you don’t have one yet.

Think about what your ideal business model is as well. If your ideal business model always was and always will be offering client services, scaling your freelance business into an agency may be the right move.

Grayson Bell of iMark Interactive is a good example of what an agency model can look like. He’s the CEO of a WordPress maintenance and support company. He and his team offer various packages of tech support to clients including monthly support, WordPress installation, a la carte services, and more.

Becoming an influencer may be a good fit if you want to transition into a business that’s less one-on-one service based.

Stephanie O’Connell turned her freelance writing hustle into a book deal, speaking opportunities, TV spots, and major brand partnerships.

It can be done! You need to open your mind up to the possibilities for it to happen.

 

Take on Yourself as a Client

I’d faithfully helped clients grow their brands over the last several years, but fallen asleep at the wheel when it came to my own brand. The blog I had been trying to grow took a backseat.

Last October, I made a commitment to giving it a proper shot by posting consistently, creating an editorial plan, learning about my audience’s needs, and mastering Pinterest for marketing. I called it my “part-time” job.

I tripled my site traffic and grew my email list from about 200 to over 2,300 subscribers in three months because of the extra effort. Mind you, my email list of 200 subscribers took me over three years to build.

I had never made passive income from the blog either except for a few cents to rub together from Google Adsense since 2013.

Now my passive income from affiliates, products, sponsorships, and advertisements fluctuates from $300 to $800 per month.

Can you imagine where my site would be if I had focused years ago? I try not to even think about it.

Here’s the thing, I know what it’s like to be super busy with client obligations.

The game changer for me is viewing work I have to do for my own brand as client work as well. I set deadlines and add the deadlines to my regular work day schedule as I would any other client.

You have to make the sacrifices to get the ball rolling to develop a personal brand.

 

Stop Cutting Corners Once and for All

I’ve always been a frugal person. I learned most things about running a business on my own. This is not the way to level up your business in a timely manner unless you’re an anomaly.

If you don’t see the value in hiring a coach remember that professional sports players have coaches and even top-level executives have coaches. Star athletes like Lebron have the talent, skills, and genetics, but they still value feedback from experts.

Hiring a coach isn’t the only way to go. I’ve attended conferences where I learned just as much from attendees as I did from speakers. Courses are also an option. I’m currently on the hunt for a good SEO course to help improve my blog’s site ranking!

I do want to add the caveat that I’m hyper vigilant of the people I fork money over to for information. You should be, too. Just know when it’s time to give up spinning your wheels and to start investing in help.

Cutting corners today may save you a few bucks, but it can also hold you back from making thousands more.

 

Final Thought

Give yourself a pat on the back if you’re frustrated by business growing pains. Having a “what’s next?” moment likely means you’ve already seen some success with your freelance business which is a feat in of itself.

Freelancers are givers by nature. We give some of our best ideas, work, and advice to our clients. Remember — it’s okay to be a little selfish to devote more time to being the visionary of your own business.

Taylor K. Gordon is a personal finance writer and founder of Tay Talks Money, a personal finance and productivity blog on hacking your way to a happier savings account. Taylor has contributed to MagnifyMoney, The Huffington Post, GoGirl Finance, Madame Noire, and The Write Life.

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