Turning Freelance into Fulltime: Moving Away From One-Time Projects
This blog continues a series of 5 posts which outline and address a very valuable lesson for any industry or any career – how to turn your freelancing into a fulltime business. If you’re currently contracting out a set of skills or have at least thought about it, this can be the critical first step toward starting your own business. I invite you to join me each week as I share the 5 most important components needed to prepare for a successful transition from freelance to fulltime.
In case you missed it, read:
Moving Away From One-Time Projects
Often freelancers are hired for a single project that is pre-defined in both scope and pay. If the project was ongoing or needed regular maintenance, that business would just hire a fulltime in-house employee instead, right? Not always. Some businesses still have the need for a fulltime employee but may lack the office space or sizeable pay to do so. This is where being able to offer a contracted service is so valuable. You can provide as much time and skill as a salaried employee, but at a much lower cost because you don’t require a workspace, benefits or consistent 40 hours a week of work. To turn a freelance business into a fulltime career, you need consistent pay or in other words, consistent work. Instead of living on a hope and prayer from one project to the next, begin building a reoccurring client list to add stability to your income.
Identify An Ongoing Need.
When you want to move away from a pay-per-project basis, sometimes you need to be one to identify an ongoing need in which you can address. Essentially, you need to put yourself in the position of that business owner. Ask, “What are their long term goals, reoccurring problems or limitations?” Once you’ve uncovered these valuable issues, look for areas in which the services you offer can align with resolving them. For example, a graphic design artist doesn’t have to wait around for the next client who needs a logo or promotional material put together – these tend to be isolated, one-time projects. With some creative thinking and researching you might discover that the client also updates their website homepage graphic on a monthly basis or regularly includes infographics in their weekly blog posts. This presents the opportunity for an ongoing contract in which you can provide these services on a reoccurring basis. No matter what your freelance business offers, there’s almost always the opportunity to become a regular contractor if you look closely.
Create Your Own Position.
Once you’ve identified a client’s ongoing need, you’ll next need to package your services in such a way that they create a valuable position that your client will want to fill – and do so by hiring you. Start organizing your ideas by writing them down. What can you offer on a regular basis? If you’re a freelance writer, this could be weekly blog posts, website content writing and formatting a monthly email newsletter. Be specific in what you’ll bring to the table and remember to include things like monthly client conference calls, unlimited email communication and projects guaranteed to be completed by a certain deadline every month. These will help to make the position look less like a freelancer and more like a real employee. By doing this, you will have essentially created a proposal in which you will need to pitch. For any freelancer, the first time you pitch to a client can be role reversal that takes some getting used to. Often you’re the one being pursued for work, now you’re the one pursuing a client for work.
Learn to Pitch.
You identified a need, you created a job proposal, now you need to pitch it – and hope you hit it out of the park. First, be sure your client is expecting a proposal for your work. If you’ve worked with them on several projects before, you can easily initiate a conversation in which you explain what you’d like to do. You want to offer them your services on a reoccurring basis to maximize their business goals. Once they’re aware of your intentions and are expecting your proposal, schedule a time to meet with them in person (if feasible) or a time you can connect for a conference call. In either scenario, email them a PDF of your proposal before your meeting so they can review what you’re offering and bring up any questions they may have at that time. This simply removes the back and forth that can often occur later. After your meeting, set a time frame for follow-up that works for both of you. This can be another call or just an email. This follow-up should confirm whether or not they are interested in hiring you as a regular contractor. During the whole pitching process, answer any phone calls or email within one business day. This sets the first standard for how responsive you would be if hired and clients will take this into consideration. Once you’re comfortable with the proposal and pitching process, you’ll be well on your way to securing more ongoing projects and this will also become a very useful skill once you take your business fulltime. Want more information? Click here to read the popular Bennis Inc Blog post, “Protecting Your Pitch.”
Think “Value Added.”
When turning one-time projects into reoccurring clients, your energy is best spent answering the question “What can I gain by hiring you on a regular basis?” Depending on your services and the situation, the possibilities are endless. Most commonly your answers will be among the following. A client will be able to focus more time on running their business by not always looking for freelancers every time a new project should arise. They will save money by using multiple services from one person. You will both develop a working relationship that will allow you to understand each other’s communication style and work together most effectively. I refer to this as “value added” or the value that is above and beyond the services in which you’re being paid to perform. If a client can understand the value you bring to the table that is at no extra charge to them – but can often become invaluable – then you are far more likely to secure them as a reoccurring client. Because there really isn’t a place to emphasize the value added services in a proposal, they’re best communicated when you’re pitching to your client. Make a strong case for yourself! Think of every client as one step toward taking your freelance business fulltime and put this passion into your proposal.
Stay tuned as the “Turning Freelance Into Fulltime” blog series continues with: Building a Client Base