Step one: know your worth.
We’ve all have seen those silly ads on the internet boasting about making thousands of dollars while sitting in the comfort of your home. Perhaps you’ve even clicked on one or two of those links just to make sure these completely fake ads weren’t cleverly disguised real ones created to “weed out the skeptics.” (Or is that just me?)
But if you’re looking for legitimate ways to transform a writing side gig into a full-time business, we’ve got you covered. Here are five ways you can do it — without breaking your wallet or hitting the proverbial “brick wall” along the way.
The $5 Marketing Campaign
A big concern that many freelancers have when considering going full time is the cost of marketing. However, one easy solution is to tweak the five-dollars-a-day investing plan and use the proceeds to promote your growing business.
Here’s how it works: Put aside five dollars every day of the month, and at the end of the month, you will have roughly $150, which can be used to grow your brand and pay for various forms of marketing.
The best way to use this money is by putting half of it into social media marketing and the other half into search engine optimization (SEO) for your site. This will allow you to earn some traffic, create an engaged fan base on your personal blog, and expand your reach on the web.
If five dollars a day is a bit steep for you, you can create your own free marketing campaign by joining groups on social media associated with writing. From there, you can market yourself and make new client connections, which will lead to even more projects in your portfolio. Having an impressive and well-rounded portfolio will lead to — you guessed it — more projects and more revenue.
Build Your Website
From an SEO and marketing standpoint, having a web presence for your business is absolutely essential. Although hiring a developer to build a custom site can be expensive, you could opt for a DIY website builder, which allows you to build a site without knowing how to code. If that’s a bit beyond your technical abilities, try easy-to-use sites like WordPress that come with a variety of templates that you can select according to your business’s needs.
Once you have your site up and running, it’s time to create content. Whether it’s a description of what services you offer or samples of your work, be sure to focus on keywords and optimizing SEO, which will attract even more visitors to your site.
And remember, you want your site to be aesthetically pleasing and to contain good content, both of which will increase your traffic and your click-through rate. The idea is that you want someone to buy — or at least inquire about — your services before they click off of your page.
Make It Personal
Developing personal relationships — and including personal touches — when dealing with customers (or editors) can make all the difference.
For instance, personalized emails or calls during project progress can separate you from the faceless (and all too often voiceless) competitors within your market. If you are charismatic in nature, use this to your advantage to establish a rapport with clients. That way, they’ll be more likely to hire you again, since they “know” you.
If you’re looking to make the leap from freelancer to full-time entrepreneur, professionalism is key. Respond to emails in a timely manner, same as you would if they were from your boss the next office over. Respect deadlines. They exist for a reason. And you’ll get bonus points for finishing projects early.
Periodically updating a client about a project’s progress is another great way to distinguish yourself and create lasting relationships with clients.
Likewise, set up a voicemail for your business, so clients get a sense that they are dealing with an established business, even in off-peak hours. Same goes for your email signature.
Understand Your Worth
One of the biggest mistakes new business owners make is they undervalue themselves and the services they offer because they want customers so badly. Low prices may increase traffic to your site and social media accounts, and they may even help you snag those first few clients. But raising your prices later could be tricky and even cause you to lose customers.
One of the most important steps you can take as a new business is to hash out your rates. Don’t just base your fee on the amount of time it takes you to complete one assignment. Rather, you need to factor in billing hours, the time it takes you to track down payment (a necessary evil of freelancing), and even workplace necessities, like a great computer, dependable WiFi, and a notepad for list-making. Obviously, these costs can’t be tacked onto one client’s bill, but when spread out over, say, 15 annual clients, it makes more sense.