If you want to achieve freedom and a digital nomad lifestyle, the quickest route is to build your location independent freelance business. In this post I’ll tell you how to do it right, to replace your income as quickly as possible.
If you’re chasing the location independent, self-employed lifestyle that gives you freedom, then a business or job that allows you to work remotely is a must.
While selling books, courses and information on the internet is generally seen as the holy grail, it is not an easy thing to do. The average blogger takes about 4 years before they turn a profit.
It might be well worth it in the end. However, that’s 4 years of uncertainty, of working without any immediate reward, fitting it around a day job, and potentially having to stick it out working for a corporation that might be making your life miserable.
Meanwhile being an online marketer is a high skillset and costs money (on traffic) that you might not have when starting out.
If you want to shortcut the route to your freedom, and get yourself set up with a secure online income, and the ability to move to your dream country or travel the world if you so desire, then a location independent freelance business is for you.
Freelancing Done Right
When done right, freelancing will pay you well. No need to whore yourself out on Fiverr for below minimum wage. With just a little insight into the market and some skills you probably already have, you can get set up and start earning money in next to no time.
The mistake most people make when they think of starting a freelance business is treating it like they’re starting from scratch. You don’t need to start from scratch. Below I’ll lay out a good, better, and best scenario for you to get started in a freelance business.
None of these involve you competing with every single other freelancer in the world for your gig. That is the downside of the freelance websites, and the whole freelance market. It’s very easy to see somewhere like Upwork as the place to be, because it has the most potential clients, but you also have the most competitors.
It’s a good place to find clients if you have nowhere better to find clients, but it’s going to require you standing out from the crowd, which I’ll tell you how to do below.
Let’s get into the good, better, and best freelance business for you to create, and then how to launch it and get clients in the door.
Good: A Skill/Topic You Already Know
Don’t start from nothing, use the skills and knowledge you already have.
I guarantee you are better than most people at a certain skill. You don’t need to be world class, you just need to be better than average.
It could be writing, marketing, web design, graphic design, video editing, SEO. There will be something you have mastered as a hobby, side-project or part of your regular job that has value to small business owners.
If you’ve never been a small business owner, let me lay out how that life looks. You will generally start a business on your own, with maybe a partner or two, maybe an employee or two.
This leaves you wearing the hat of product creator, salesman, marketer, accountant, customer service, systems and organisation, web designer, content creator, and everything else you can think of.
You might be naturally good at, and enjoy, a few of these tasks. Or you might see them as critical to your business and want to handle them yourself.
For every other task, you would prefer someone else do it. That means you either hire employees, or outsource to freelancers. For anything that is not regular and customer facing, it is much easier to hire freelancers. Saving all the logistical, financial, and legal headaches that employees bring.
So what can you do that a small business owner might find valuable?
Look at all the skills you have, the things you enjoy doing, find easy, etc. Write down a list of your top 10 skills, and then look at which will have most value to someone else. Which would someone be most willing to pay you to do for them?
When you’re at an advanced level you will be surprised how little some people know about the topic at hand. Especially when you look at offline businesses, there are millions of (generally older) business owners who don’t know how to set up a basic website, send email marketing broadcasts, do even basic photoshop, or any other task you might find second nature.
These are the people who need your service – much more so than people running online businesses who probably have most of the skills already.
Better: Something You Have Experience & Credibility In
If you’ve done anything in a related field or industry before, that is a competitive advantage that will help you stand out from the generic freelancer.
I started my freelance business as a writer in the fitness industry. I’m a decent writer and know that most gym owners and Personal Trainers are not good writers, don’t like writing, it takes them for ever, they don’t have time, etc. etc.
I’d published an Amazon best-selling fitness book, and been featured in various national and international media publications, so my credentials as a writer in the fitness space were strong.
Combined with many years’ experience working as a Personal Trainer, with all the qualifications that come with it, this makes me stand head and shoulders above anybody else in the freelance market wanting to get gigs writing in fitness.
When you can stand out head and shoulders above any generic freelancer you can easily charge more for your services, and you will be able to pick up all of the potential clients who are looking for the best freelancer, rather than the cheapest.
These will generally be the best clients. They give you the least hassle, pay on time and often want repeat work.
If you don’t already have experience or credibility then you will need to build it in more traditional freelancer means – by doing jobs (possibly for low pay initially) to build up ratings and reviews.
Best: Something You Already Have a Network Of Potential Clients In
Been in an industry before and networked a lot? If you have a rolodex of people in a specific industry, that is a well of untapped potential for a freelance business.
If you’re well known and liked, even the people who have no need or interest in your freelance service could be a great source of referrals. You could incentivise them if need be, so you’re not just tapping your own network, but the network of anyone else you can get your hands on too.
Maybe you know people, or even better have done business with other people who offer services to the same industry. If you’re non-competitive they can promote you to their network as well. This is even better because they will have a list of qualified leads or buyer who are interested in buying services from them.
Maybe you’re a marketer and you know a web designer who specialises in the industry you want to work. That is a perfect synergistic relationship where you can both send clients to each other.
When I started writing in fitness I already knew hundreds of people, so all I had to do was shoot off some messages and I had clients on day 1. This is a huge advantage over most people who are looking at an empty diary and wondering where on earth to start.
If you don’t have any potential clients then you should start on the freelance sites, and start networking within the industry you want to work. If you do have a network, use it!
Sell a Benefit, Not a Service
Hopefully now you have an idea of what you want to do in your freelance business. The next step is figuring out how to go about getting clients.
The first thing you need to get into your head is that nobody wants to buy your service – they just want the benefit or outcome that comes from it. Just like a cute girl you talk to doesn’t want to have an intellectual debate, she just wants to feel happy and attracted around you.
The typical client is looking to eliminate headaches from their business, or grow their business. Often both.
If you can present your services in a frame that is obvious for them to see how you are making them more money, or making their life easier, then it is a no-brainer for them.
For example; nowadays my main freelance business is Facebook ads and Email marketing for fitness companies. These are directly driving sales, so it’s immediately obvious that they pay me X amount (plus whatever the ad spend is) and they generate Y amount in new business.
As long as you’re good at what you do, they will be making profit. By hiring you, they are essentially generating free money in their business. Why would anybody not want to do that? Why would anybody you’re doing that for ever leave?
Even if you’re not directly generating income, you can still make their life easier, which has a lot of value. As a content writer, my work wasn’t directly responsible for business growth, but content marketing as a whole is. They cannot or do not want to write themselves, so I’m making their life easier. They are generating a return on investment from my work, it’s just not as easily measurable or quick to come back as marketing work.
This is a slightly harder sell, and less valuable than direct income generation, but still valuable to the business owner who wants to build up their brand and use content marketing for positioning their business.
When you’re presenting your services to a potential client, use the magic words “so that”.
I will do [my service] for you, so that you [get benefit].
I will do your online marketing, so that you get qualified leads walking through your door, credit card in hand.
I will do your web design, so that you have a professional web presence to display your brand.
I will do your SEO, so that you are being found by qualified leads in Google – the people actively searching for your service are most ready and likely to buy.
Even if the only benefit is you take away a headache and give them more time/space/energy to focus on more important business building tasks, that is still valuable. I will take care of X, so that you can focus on [building your business/servicing clients or customers].
Lock Down The Good Clients
Again, I will use a dating analogy. Freelancing is like dating. You’re going to do one gig for some clients, and they won’t need any more work – that’s your one night stand.
Other clients will be a pain in the balls, you won’t get on with them, or they will be underpaying you for the work you’re doing. They’re the bad dates and you delete their number afterwards. Forget about them and move on.
Don’t waste time with them just because they’re paying you. Spend the time you would be servicing them in finding a better client instead.
Then you have the good clients. The ones you get along with, have a natural fit with, and find easy to work with. These are the clients you add to your harem and do work for on an ongoing basis.
If you got them from a freelance site, get them off the freelance site as quickly as possible. Use email or Skype to converse, rather than messaging through the freelance platform. That way you can just send a Paypal link or however you prefer to be paid.
Even better if they want regular work, get them set up on a direct debit or other automated monthly payment.
Business owners will actually prefer to do this a lot of the time. Having to go in and sort out payment for you is hassle. They would prefer to know the cost every month, budget it into their expenses and then forget about it. Business is often about avoiding doing as many tasks as you can, so you can focus on the couple of important things that require your time and energy.
Make life easy for them, while making your life easier (no chasing people for payments or constant negotiating) and your income more secure.
Clients on recurring payments tend to work with you for longer periods. They’ve already budgeted for it, so it’s a normal business expense, rather than having to dip into their pocket and hand over cash every time you do a job. Paying for something always brings a question of whether you want to continue paying or not. Spending money always has an associated pain attached to it. Automated payments happen without them having to think about it, so they never have these questions come up unless you’re doing a sub-par job, or money gets very tight for them.
A Location Independent Freelance Business Vs Your Own Brand/Business
I’ve always struggled with balancing freelance work with building my own products and brand. I spoke about it in this post 2 years ago.
If you want your business to be an online service business, then your location independent freelance business is your long term brand/business. You can go right ahead and get as many clients on your books as possible.
For me, freelancing is a way to pay the bills while I build the business that I really want to build, and that requires balance. I have to offer a great service and do right by my clients, but also have enough energy to put into my own projects.
The key is to find a balance between income and free-time. I never have a full diary of client work, because that would leave me no time to work on my own projects. I would be earning more income in the short term, but not going towards my long term vision.
That’s something you need to decide for yourself, based on the goals you have for the medium-long term.
Make Your First $100 Online
I’ve put together a list of the best ways to start an online business and make your first $100 within a week as a freelancer.
Discover which is the best business for you to work in, based on your existing skills and knowledge. Plus how to get set up and get your first clients.
Click HERE to free gain instant access.