Do you have an appetite for growth, but aren’t quite sure how to boost your income? This post is for you.
When you started your business, you put in a lot of hard work. At some point, though, you achieved a certain level of success and became what many would call “established.”
If you’re at this point, you usually have one of two options: Remain where you are or pursue even more growth. If you’re happy where you are, that’s perfectly okay! After all, not everyone wants to grow year-on-year because their priorities and goals are different.
But if you’re hungry to grow and not quite sure how to get the ball rolling, then you’re in the right place. In this post, we explore ten strategies that will help you boost your income.
The good news? Implementing these strategies won’t require nearly as much effort as starting your business. Sure you’ll still need to put in some effort, but it’s just a different type of effort. One where you think about your business in a different way – a smarter way.
1. Charge Per Project (And Not Per Hour)
Charging per hour may seem ideal. You simply track the time you spend on a project and send the client an invoice for those billable hours. While charging per hour has its place and sometimes cannot be avoided, there are flaws:
- You don’t get rewarded for becoming better and faster at completing the work
- Some clients may question your hourly rates and haggle over the price
- Too much emphasis is placed on the time it takes to complete the project and not on the value
But, when you price per project, you shift focus to the value and you get rewarded for getting faster and better at your work.
Tip: If you want to explore the power of value-based pricing and how it will help you grow your business grab a free copy of “Breaking the Time Barrier.”
2. Increase Your Rates with New Prospects
Most freelancers focus on filling their pipeline with more work. There’s nothing wrong with marketing and getting more clients, and we do recommend it, but many overlook increasing their rates or don’t do it out of fear that they’ll chase prospects away.
Many also decide on a rate and then falsely believe that this is the going rate in the market and continue to charge that rate with all future clients. Sound like you? Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth and I learned this while building my business over the past two years.
When I started, I charged $50 for a blog post to get experience, but as I progressed in my career, I increased that rate to over $300 for a single blog post.
But, by how much should you increase your rates with new clients? While there’s no magic number, Ed Gandia suggests you increase it by 20% with all new clients.
And if you think this is too much, don’t. If you provide a quality service that existing customers are happy with, test the waters. We’re not saying you should rip people off, but what we are saying is that you should test your assumptions and get paid well for the services you provide.
3. Improve Your Productivity
Pick any typical project you complete for a client. Maybe it’s designing a website, writing copy or even or snapping some photos and then editing those photos with your editing software.
Regardless of the project, the chances are good that you have a rough idea of how much time it takes to complete those projects (if you don’t start tracking your time).
Now imagine you could complete those same projects in less time and still get paid the same amount. That’s the power of improved productivity. But how exactly do you boost productivity? Here are here a few ways:
- Use the 50-20-50 focus technique: Dedicate 50 min blocks of time for intense work, take a break for 20 min, and then repeat that 50 min session.
- Outsource tasks to a virtual assistant, hire contractors, or get extra staff on board so you can free up time to focus on client work and marketing
- Automate cumbersome manual processes such as your accounting and bookkeeping with cloud accounting software
4. Upsell Existing Clients
Your existing clients are the easiest people to sell to. And no, that’s not a sweeping statement – it’s backed up by some solid stats: Current customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more compared to new prospects.
So why not target these clients by upselling? I took this approach in my business. After initially offering blogging services to a client, I proposed a larger and more lucrative writing project: ebooks. And, guess what? It worked! I have since written three ebooks for them.
You too can upsell by using these three strategies:
- Provide a better version of your work. This strategy may include crafting different packages you can offer: One at a low price and another at a higher one.
- Present extra services to help clients with their workload. You could provide a turnkey service instead of a single service. For example, if you write copy, you could partner with a designer who can create infographics.
- Stay in tune with what your clients want. You may start working with a client by offering a particular service but then discover that their needs change. Adapt to those changes and give them a solution that helps them solve their problems.
5. Let Existing Clients Know About *All* Your Services
Sometimes a client approaches you for a specific project and in haste to get started you fail to mention all the services you provide.
They then continue to see you as the go-to person for that service and hire other professionals for a service they believe you don’t offer. In these instances, you’re losing money by not educating your prospects on what exactly it is that you do.
The solution is to show your cards at the beginning of the relationship by letting the client know that while you can help them with [insert service], you also offer other services.
It also pays to remind clients during the year about what you offer, especially if you’ve updated your list of services to remain relevant in the market.
6. Ruthlessly Evaluate and Update Your Services
Regardless of your industry, markets and customer needs can and do change. You need to ask yourself:
- Am I staying current and adding services that would generate more revenue?
- Am I staying on top of new trends and techniques to remain current and relevant?
Sometimes clients may be tempted to work with another professional because those professionals are helping clients stay ahead of trends. But, if you become the go-to person for that and update your services, you’ll never have to worry about losing those clients.
Tip: The best way to stay relevant is to build relationships with clients to understand how their challenges evolve. You could, for example, send your client a survey once a year to understand their problems.
7. Awaken Dormant Clients
Do you have any current clients for whom you’ve done a few projects in the past, but have now fallen off the radar? If you take the right approach, you can re-engage these clients to boost your income.
Here are a few ways:
- Send a friendly email checking in to ask if they need help and if there are projects on the horizon
- Provide a couple of ideas that can help their business. I recently did this with a client who currently provides me with occasional work. While I’ve yet to hear back from her, I know that this tactic may bear fruit in the future.
- Start a newsletter and ask if they want to join the list. Newsletters are a fantastic way to nurture leads
8. Nurture Leads
It’s also common to reach out to prospects only to find that:
- The timing is poor
- They can’t fit you into their budget
- They have everything sorted in-house
I know that I’ve had this often with clients who ask me to reach out to them in the future as things may change. I invariably do this and in some instances use the same tactics listed in the previous section.
While this works, there is also a better way: nurturing leads by starting a newsletter. Sending an email once a month with some content ideas, and just generally reminding them you’re still alive and providing your services, keeps you top-of-mind. So, when clients do eventually decide to bring someone on board, chances are good you’ll be the first person they think of.
9. Ask for Referrals
A recent study shows that 85% of small businesses get customers through word-of-mouth which is 26% higher than the next method – search engines. Referrals are an incredibly powerful way to grow your business.
Just think about: If someone loves your work and refers you to a contact, that contact has a higher chance of converting simply because the referral comes from a credible source.
While you can expect to get some referrals without asking, you can – and should – make a habit of actively asking for them. I know what you may be thinking: But won’t that come off as desperate? The short answer is no.
If you do it correctly, by methodically asking once in a while, clients will understand. After all, you have a business to run. Also, it boils down to how you ask. Approach it the wrong way, and you may indeed come across as desperate.
I usually send an email every quarter asking for a referral. I also focus on only my best clients – the ones I have a good relationship with.
If you need help asking for referrals, read this article by Entrepreneur titled 25 Ways to Ask for a Referral Without Looking Desperate.
10. Get Clients on Retainers
Retainers are a great way to generate recurring income each month. While you can push for retainer agreements with all prospects, rather focus on quick wins by reaching out to people you’ve worked with before and who are on the fence about hiring you.
Those clients may have tight budgets, and retainers provide great perceived value. For example, you could propose a slight discount if a client decides to go for an all-inclusive monthly package vs. a single service. Sure, some freelancers will argue that offering a discount is a “no-no,” but if you’ve done the numbers and found it to be a beneficial arrangement, then why not provide one?
Tip: If you do decide to pitch a retainer to a client, set-up a recurring invoice schedule using cloud accounting software like FreshBooks so that the invoice goes out like clockwork each month, without you lifting a finger.
By setting a regular schedule for invoice, you also get clients into the habit of paying you on a set schedule, which prevents let payment.
If you’re an established business owner who’s comfortable with where you are, that’s okay. But, if you’re looking to take your business to the next level, then these ten strategies will help you get there.
You don’t have to implement these strategies all at once. In fact, we recommend that you only pick a few and focus on those, before moving on to others. Dedicate a small part of your time each day to see how you can optimize these strategies. It doesn’t have to be hours upon hours of work – 15 min a day will work.
Over time that 15 min will add up. That’s 1hr 15 min in a working week, 5 hours a month and 150 hours a year (give or take). Before you know it, those small changes add up to massive changes down the line.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today.