IMAGINE. traveling the world, being your own boss, and setting your own hours…

This could be and should be YOU.

I left my 9 to 5 prison called “retail management” and became a successful freelancer. I left everything behind, packed a backpack, took what little money I had in my account, and headed for Mexico. BUT I won’t get into my personal stuff here. I’m doing that in a separate blog series on Medium here. Instead I’ll focus solely on how I started and made my freelancing career a success and how you can too.

“Hard work without direction is a difficult waste of time”

– Anonymous

assessing your situation

Is it worth it for me?

When it comes to pursuing freelancing you have to ask yourself “are you willing to take risks?”.

Does the thought of the potential initial pay cut and uncertain job prospects give you anxiety?

For better or worse that is the nature of freelance work. You have to compare the pros and cons. If you have a full pipeline of clients then the limitations seem endless. On the other hand…             What if you can’t find clients? What if potential clients turn you down due to lack of experience?

Freelancing after all is competitive and clients want the best talent at the best rates. Even though lucky for us freelancers those “best rates” are still typically significantly higher than what you would see in the job market for the same role.

So if you’ve come to the conclusion that the potential rewards of higher pay rates, making your own schedule, traveling the world, and working from anywhere is worth it

and

you have decided you are willing to take on the potential risks to reap incredible rewards that can potentially come with freelancing and being an entrepreneur then keep reading…                            

Platform vs off-platform

Freelance platforms or self prospecting

When starting out on freelancing career there will be two paths you can take.

You can use a freelancing platform.

Freelance platforms help companies find and hire independent professionals for temporary job roles or special projects. These platforms offer a marketplace for businesses to browse profiles of freelancer candidates based on skills, experience, location, or other criteria.

Platforms include:

  • Upwork
  • PeoplePerHour
  • Toptal
  • Freelancer
  • Guru

(I don’t consider Fiverr a serious platform)

The benefits of a platform:

– clients and projects are compiled in one place

– filters to help narrow down clients and projects

– prospecting is essentially set up for you

– big networks and typically lots of opportunities

– can act as a mediator for freelancers and clients

*

The drawbacks of platform:

– typically lots of fees involved

– support tends to favor clients

– tough to get your first project

– no or little control over billing clients

OR

You can self prospect.

By “self prospecting” I mean prospecting which consists of identifying potential customers, aka prospects. The goal of prospecting is to develop a database of likely customers and then systematically communicate with them in the hopes of converting them from potential customer to current customer.

There are many different ways you can go about self prospecting.

I STRONGLY RECOMMEND USING A PLATFORM UNTIL YOU HAVE significant experience!

The benefits include:

– no fees

– full control over contract with client

– an absolute must when running an agency

The drawbacks include:

– using most of free time prospecting

– no support

– much less chance landing an initial client

– not much benefit for a solo freelancer

getting set up

Building a professional online presence

The first step is choosing a platform. We’ve established self prospecting is for seasoned freelancers so I’ll save that for another article.

I highly recommend Upwork to get started as it has a huge network, a broad range of clients and projects, and support.

After you’ve chose your platform its time to sign up for an account and setup a profile. It is very important to complete your profile fully. Be sure to write professionally and emphasize your strengths.

If you are like I was and don’t have a readily identifiable niche there are projects you can take on which require little experience like cold calling.

Keep in mind you may only stat off making 10-12/hr cold calling but you can increase your rates up to 30+/hr for same kinds of projects as you increase your experience.

As you go a long you may notice a trend in desirable skills in the projects that are posted. A lot of what I and many freelancers have learned is self taught. Don’t be afraid to hit up Coursea or Udemy in your free time.

A useful skill you can learn to branch out from cold calling is “lead generation”. There are tons of articles and courses on the web that can easily teach you the ins and outs of lead generation within a couple weeks.

Once you have discovered what your niche is you need to really sell yourself on your profile.    You should have a professional headshot. You should have a professional looking profile that sells clients on what you can offer them. It is a good idea to get a professional resume design too.

Once you are all set up it is then time to start bidding on projects!

                         

bidding on projects

Winning your first client

Now you will start submitting bids and cover letters to potential clients. On your chosen platform you should customize your feed filters to show only the types of contracts you wan to bid on.

After opening a project you will see the project description and you have button that will allow you to submit a proposal.

A PROPOSAL includes your cover letter, your proposed hourly or fixed rate, and answers to any additional listed questions.

TIP: It is a good idea to bid low in order to win your first project. As you successfully complete more projects you will be able to continuously raise your rate.

Submit lots of proposals to projects that fall into your niche. Remember that it is a numbers game so the more projects you submit proposals to the more likely you are to get interviews.

Again, it is a good idea to line up a lot of interviews not just because it increases your odds of getting a contract but also because a lot of times clients may only start you at 10 hours/week.

Therefore it is good practice to keep multiple clients if you want to freelance fulltime. Initially you may want to take on 3 or 4 clients but as you build relationships with clients they will gradually increase your hours. So eventually you may be working fulltime with just 1 or 2 clients.

When you are first starting out freelancing on any platform persistence is key. Submit as many proposals as you possibly can. Think of freelancing as a snowball rolling downhill. The more projects you pick up the more momentum you gain the easier things become.

                                                               

client relationships

Maintain your clients and build your pipeline

Building and maintaining client relationships is important across any industry. It is how we keep the business we have and how we continue to build our business going forward.

When it comes to freelancing on platform it is exceptionally crucial.

The strength of your client relationships ultimately determines the length of your engagement, if you get repeat business, referrals, potential references, and your profile feedback.

If you can’t keep your clients happy you will have a very tough time maintaining a full workload.

Mot importantly however is your profile feedback. If clients are constantly leaving bad feedback on your profile it will hurt your standing with the platform and your future contract prospects.

However, if you are taking care of your clients and delivering results your clients will reward you with positive feedback. This helps your standing on the platform, improves your reputation, leads to big increases in landing contracts, and will lead to you to being invited to apply for projects.

Invitations: These are sent out to from either clients or talent specialists on the platform. Only the best freelancers in their given niche are invited to apply on contracts. Being invited to project strongly increases the likelihood of receiving a contract.

Remember, taking care of your clients and ensuring that they are happy can sometimes prove more useful than the results you deliver. If a client likes you on a personal level and you have a great relationship you open yourself to so many more opportunities.

                                                               

the next steps

How far can you take your freelancing venture

You can take this entrepreneurial journey as far as you want to take it. There is no set roadmap for what you an do after you’ve established yourself as a freelancer.

The skills you learn along the way and the experience you gain becomes invaluable. The clients you work with and references and relationships you can obtain from freelancing can continue to help you throughout the entirety of your career.

For me personally, the next step was building an agency “Ulin Consulting”. An agency geared toward helping independent freelancers gain more work and higher rates.

www.ulinconsulting.com

Next, I set up this blog “Let’s CEO”.  I set up this blog as a site for entrepreneurs to share information and network.

I am currently in the middle of writing an entrepreneur themed eBook which will be advertised and sold across all of my websites.

Freelancing is a great way for prospective entrepreneurs to gain experience but I view it as only a “foot-in-the-door” opportunity for entrepreneurs. Realistically freelancing alone isn’t going to make you a millionaire. At most you may be able to turn it into a 6 figure venture but only barely.

Instead, freelancing should be thought of as ONE aspect of your money making ventures. ONE of many income streams.

                                                               

– Lance

Resources:

  1. www.upwork.com
  2. www.ulinconsulting.com
  3. www.letsceo.com
  4. www.linkedin.com
  5. www.hubspot.com

Unleash the full potential of your marketing campaigns by utilizing a comprehensive email marketing strategy!

Try our recommended products for email marketing!

ConvertKIt  »   GetResponse  »   Aweber

The pace of innovation and the number of resources available to marketers today is nothing short of incredible.

An astounding 1,876 companies across 43 different marketing categories, including SEO, social, video marketing, sales enablement, mobile analytics, and dozens more exist according to VentureBeat.

What’s more, many of the categories didn’t exist in the report just one year earlier.

But just one category continues to perform well year after year: email marketing.

WHAT IS email marketing

Email marketing is a powerful marketing channel, a form of direct marketing as well as digital marketing, that uses email to promote your business’s products or services.

It can help make your customers aware of your latest items or offers by integrating it into your marketing automation efforts.

It can also play a pivotal role in your marketing strategy with lead generation, brand awareness, building relationships or keeping customers engaged between purchases through different types of marketing emails.

the importance of email marketing

Email is a big part of our lives as professionals, individuals, and, yes, even consumers. Think about this, how many people do you know without an email address? There’s a good chance that you can count these people on one hand.

According to Radicati Group, more than half of the world’s population uses email as of 2019. And this number is expected to increase up to more than 4.3 billion by 2023.

Data from Pew Research also shows that 92% of adults in the United States use email. And, 61% of these email users are checking and sending emails on an average day. This presents a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to reach their target market, no matter what their audience looks like.

By adding email marketing to their list of digital marketing strategy, businesses can improve their reach and visibility. Thus, allowing them to engage and convert more leads consistently.

Not only does email marketing allow you to take advantage of the prospect of reaching a large group of people… …but this medium can also offer benefits that other digital marketing tactics can’t provide.

Email marketing allows you to personalize your messaging and tailor messages based on customer actions. You can also segment your audiences to ensure that the right leads are getting the most impactful information at the most effective times.

Perhaps one of the greatest reasons why email marketing is so important is that your competitors are using it. In fact, Marketing Land reports that of the 1.45 million emails sent per month, 1.38 million of these emails are sent by U.S. companies.

Here’s another interesting figure, 85% of Gen Z say that they prefer to use email over other modes of communication. And this percentage will definitely grow once they start having jobs. This means that if you want to remain competitive in the digital marketplace, you need to start using email marketing to reach your audience.

history of email marketing

(infographic)

how it works

Sign up for an email marketing tool

Email marketing is a process can be fully automated with the help of a good email marketing tool. If you try to use your personal account to email hundreds of people and manually keep track of the results won’t work, so your first step is to select which platform to use.
An email marketing platform will help you to:
Create an email list Add users to your list using a number of methods
Send emails to your audience
Provide you with reports on how many people open your emails and interact with them
Provide you with different options to segment your audience based on specified criteria
Create retargeting audiences on Facebook based on your email list
Automate various email marketing tasks such as sending a welcome email to your subscribers
Make sales directly from an email message
Create email funnels to redirect users to pages/products/actions you want them to take
The most popular email marketing tools to consider are:
Hint: I’m using ConvertKit for the last 10 years for all my email marketing needs. It’s a complete platform with great features and it’s a leader in email marketing software.

Create an email marketing strategy

As with any type of digital marketing campaign, the first thing to do is to create a strategy.

Having an email marketing strategy in place before running any campaigns will help you to:

Decide how email marketing will be used in conjunction with the other online marketing campaigns you’ll be running Decide which email marketing platform to use and figure out your monthly costs

Decide on the strategies to use to grow your email list

Decide when to use automation and what kind of messages to send and when

Have the right reporting mechanisms in place to measure the effectiveness of your email campaigns

Build your email lists

For email marketing to work, you need to have a BIG list of active subscribers so the most important task in your strategy should be how to grow your email list.

As mentioned above, it’s not only a matter of adding random people to your list but people who manually registered to receive your emails.

Growing and maintaining an email list is tricky but with the right approach and tools, it can a valuable asset for your business.

The best ways to increase your email subscribers are:

Publish great content on your site – if your content is not what users want, whatever technique you use, it won’t help you get more subscribers.

If, on the other hand, your content provides value to users, your email list will grow faster.

Give them incentives – Free eBooks, trial offers, and other ‘gifts’ are great incentives to offer to users in return for their email address.

Make it easy to subscribe – Having the position of your signup buttons in places that users can easily spot (on both desktop and mobile), will make a difference to the number of people that can sign up for your emails.

Automate your tasks

Email marketing automation is a strategy that sees marketers send triggered or timed promotional emails to subscribers on their mailing list. It enables online marketers to send out personalized messages to both prospects and customers on a schedule or when specific conditions are met.

One of the biggest benefits of email marketing is that it’s a process that can be fully automated.

When we refer to email marketing automation, we mean sending targeted emails to your users based on the actions they take when they receive your emails or actions they perform on your site.

The most common email automation tasks are:

Welcome emails – Sending a welcome email to users as soon as they subscribe to your list

Email campaigns – Sending them a series of emails (replicating a sales funnel)

Abandon cart emails – Sending emails to website visitors that added a product to their shopping cart but did not checkout

Cross-selling / Upselling – Suggest products to customers based on their purchase history

Review/Feedback forms – requesting feedback/reviews from customers X days after they made a purchase

A final word on email marketing

Monitor and improve performance with A/B testing.

Clean up and maintain your email lists.

Email is used by 50% of the world’s population.

Resources: 

ConvertKIt  »   GetResponse  »   Aweber

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