We’ve been talking with WordPress freelancers, taking stock of how far they’ve come.
“With so many freelancers in the market currently and many more on the way, I think it’s important for freelancers to stand out.”
Our conversation covers how to make your freelance business more sustainable.
What was your greatest success as a freelancer?
Transitioning my business to a productized service. When I started freelancing while also working full time, I billed hourly. It went on that way for years, in fact since 2003. In 2010, I left my full-time position altogether and struck out on my own, but my method was much the same. I would bill hourly, and once I started a project (or two or five) my sales process would seriously fall off. This was until the projects got completed. Then I would have to ramp up sales again—spend time chasing new work, writing proposals and finally landing another project.
That feast or famine process sort of worked when it was just me. Things changed when I wanted to plan a family. I never wanted to have my family suffer in the famine part of that cycle. So I began looking at my freelance business from a different perspective, one of a recurring model.
The concept of being able to have a recurring income by selling a specific service appealed to me right away. Having to go through the process of pivoting my business wasn’t easy. But it was rewarding coming out on the other end of it.
Now I have a predictable income. I know exactly who I market to, what problem that market has and what solution I bring to the table. This has streamlined my current clients and the sales process I have for my business.
I actually have spoken about my journey on WP Dev Table podcast, at WordCamp NYC and the WordPress NYC meetup. It’s great having conversations with other freelancers who are thinking about taking the same path. I’ve posted my slides at productize.rezzz.com.
What was your greatest failure as a freelancer, and what did you learn from it?
I created an educational product called WP Field Guides. It was to educate people on the best practices of WordPress and targeted to businesses wanting to build and grow their own WordPress site.
Yet after many, many hours of writing the ebooks, posts, setting up the website and publishing content, it failed.
I learned several things:
- To research a market before putting any time into a product.
- My target market was potential clients who didn’t have the budget for my services. I wanted to create a product that I could down-sell to them rather than lose them altogether. But that market really just wants to have it done for them.
- It opened my eyes to another potential product that would cater to them more effectively.
Looking ahead, where do you need to grow as a freelancer?
I would like to continue building a community around freelancers where I can help other freelancers build a sustainable business. With so many freelancers in the market currently and many more on the way, I think it’s important for freelancers to stand out. In order to stand out, it’s a matter of professionalism, business and market. Most freelancers address two of those, but not all three.