Some notes on the article
Brennan Dunn, the Double your Freelancing guy wrote a great article that outlines 4 steps to starting a freelance biz. His approach is a little different in that he doesn’t encourage you to go out and sell, but rather to:
- Develop an audience
- Feed that audience great content that positions you as an authority who can solve their problems
- Develop processes to manage your work
- Get referrals from that audience
Here are some notes I wrote on each of these:
Step 1 – Find an audience
One of the best ways to grow an audience for free is through networking events in your area. It’s important to note that you’re not trying to sell these people, but rather to add them to your audience. Here’s a process to follow:
- Search Google: [your city] + networking
- Find the organizers, do some research into them and reach out (these people have a network of your audience, they’ll intro you to the people who need your skills)
- Go to the event and meet people. Don’t try to sell, show up to help
- Write a review of the event (this will put you in the organizer’s good list)
- Follow up with people you met
Following up is tough without sounding like you’re selling, which brings us to the next phase.
Step 2 – Provide great content
You don’t need to start a blog to provide great content. Instead you can just curate great articles related to your service from around the web, or recommend great books you’re reading. You can do this in the following way:
- Create a monthly newsletter by curating great content (add summaries and takeaways of everything you mention)
- Mail everyone who you think may be interested asking if they’re keen to hear from you.
- Add a call-to-action which is reply to this mail with your ‘next steps’ moving forward. This helps them self-identify their problems, and sets you up as the person who can solve these problems.
Here’s an example mail that Brennan wrote:
Stephen, I wanted to shoot you a quick note to say that I really enjoyed meeting you last night. It’s really impressive to see what you’re doing over at [company], especially around [something you learned about them]. I occasionally write and curate articles about how businesses like [company] can tap into technical trends to grow their bottom lines. If you don’t mind, I’ll email you from time to time with some information that I think you’ll really get a lot out of. (If you’re not interested, just reply and let me know.) Hope you’re off to a great start of your day. I’m about to kick start a new client project – wish me luck! -Brennan
Step 3 - Develop processes
You need to have processes in place for things like:
- Qualifying new leads
- Structuring sales meetings
- Writing proposals
- Onboarding new clients
Your processes should consist of templates and checklists that allow you to think less and get more done.
But aside from saving you time, having these processes in place shows your clients that you’ve done all this before and that you’re a professional. Processes also help you shift your mindset from freelancer to business owner. Once you’ve made this important shift, you start doing things like scheduling time into your calendar to manage business growth tasks. Things like networking, following up with people you met and writing your newsletter.
Step 4 - Get referrals
Most freelancers get referrals from past clients. If they provide a high-end service, this means their reach (referral wise) is really small. With the above process you exponentially multiply your likelihood of getting referred by connecting with a much bigger audience. People will refer others to you when they receive something of value from you.
Your regular newsletter will serve as a low-cost marketing system that acquires new audience members, conditions them, and ultimately allows this audience to either:
- Hire you or
- Refer work your way