How I 3X’D My Income In One Year
If you’re a freelancer, I bet you’re spending a lot of time marketing and looking for new clients. For years, client acquisition was a major priority for me. Often, I would panic when I didn’t have steady revenue coming in — causing me to be reactive, rather than proactive. I would cold-call people, lower my rates, and I even went as far as creating a landing page for a prospect to earn their business — which never worked! I was losing sight of the #1 most important aspect of doing business; which is providing a ridiculous amount of value to the clients I already had.
Value has a different meaning for different individuals. Some see a “lower price” as value, and others view “speed and execution” as value. But the truth of the matter is that value begins on a relationship level. When clients feel like a freelancer is authentic and even empathetic, it builds trust and forms a genuine bond between the client and contractor. Freelancers need to take on a B2P (Business to People) attitude. We need to be as loyal and dedicated to the company as the CEO or owner. We need to be creative, forward-thinking machines. I go the extra mile in assisting C-suite executives and owners with mundane tasks when possible — showing them that I’m much more than a web developer. I’m an asset.
When we take pride in our work and invest the kind of energy that we’d devote to our own brand — to another’s, we reap benefits on almost every level. Client loyalty is where it begins (or ends).
2007 to 2017: A Slow Start
When I began in 2007, I was building cheap websites. Like most web developers, we focused all our attention on visuals in those days. It was about adding bright colors, grunge textures, flash elements, drop-shadows, and crazy fonts. We also weren’t giving much thought to mobile — if any at all. Times have changed. A majority of businesses have realized that simple sells. A clear message, intuitive navigation, high-resolution visuals, and a solid service, product, or reputation is about all you need to grow an online business. Well, there’s that thing called: marketing, but that’s another discussion.
As each year passed, I took on larger projects with bigger budgets. It felt good to earn more, and to be honest, I felt proud. Getting paid $3,000 for a website feels good, but the problem is that most of these jobs are a one-and-done deal. Being that it can take anywhere from 30 to 45 days to successfully build and launch a decent-sized website, it’s difficult to scale. A single freelancer is only able to handle two (maybe three) projects at once. And most jobs don’t pay $3,000.
Near the middle of 2017, I began to see another side to freelancing. A side I kept hearing about from some of my top influencers. Business moguls such as Jay Abraham suggested that business owners spend a majority of their time providing tremendous value to the clients they already had in their network. All BS aside, as soon as I began to apply this single principle, things began to change — quickly!
The Game Changer
My narrow-minded thinking kept me stuck in a place where I couldn’t scale (or earn consistent revenue). Paydays were always on a different day of the month, and half the time, clients evaded paying, simply because they were the wrong clients. They took little pride in their business, so my efforts weren’t being noticed or appreciated. As a freelancer, it’s crucial that you learn when to say “no.” Sure, taking on the “one-and-done” gigs is part of the game, but if you ever want to grow your freelancing business into that (six-figure) entity you’ve always dreamed of, you’ll need to deliver so much value to clients that they won’t ever want to get rid of you!
It sounds easy enough, but it’s actually quite difficult. Many moons need to align before you come across a client that will consider a monthly retainer.
I’m going to come right out of the gate by saying that a freelancer only needs one or two monthly retainer agreements to change everything. For instance, if you have two clients that are paying you $1,000/mo, you’re sitting in a much nicer place. The feeling of receiving actual paychecks from your top clients each month instills a tremendous sense of pride and pleasure. You’ll experience a new level of purpose in your work. You’ll find yourself improving your skill set, as well as fine-tuning the talents you already have. At the end of each day, you’ll lie your head on your pillow and smile — because your business has gained momentum and you are valued.
It’s difficult to know which actions are contributing to my bottom line the most, but what I do know is that my recent increase in revenue is a combination of added value and self-confidence. Be assertive and proactive in all you do. Be patient and empathetic with clients. Take the time to see things from their perspective when communicating. Practice a forward-thinking mindset. Go beyond the job at hand, and discover areas in which you can serve your clients beyond the launch date. And most importantly, provide so much value that it exhausts you. Leave nothing on the table. Never stop thinking of ways to help your clients.
Do these things, and you might 3X your income as well.