Winter is Coming: How to Brace for Freelance Cold Periods
The freelance lifestyle is an attractive one. But with all of the flexibility comes the reality that work might not always be as regular as we
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For many freelancers, the dream of working for yourself is exhilarating.
The rush of finally leaving behind a boss you can’t stand, determining your own schedule and having control over which project you work—it can all be very exciting.
But far too often, freelancers who are excited to shed the weight of corporate life, far too quickly become “an island”—working alone most days and building their business entirely solo.
What most seasoned and successful freelancers have learned (and you can get ahead of the curve now by paying attention) is that you stand to benefit wildly by collaborating with others—even when you work solo.
Collaborations are a great way to skyrocket your revenue as a freelancer. And opportunities to collaborate are endless.
In this article, 14 Pro-level freelancers will share how collaborations have helped them grow their networks and skyrocket their revenue.
One of the biggest benefits of collaborating with other freelancers is that it frees you up, as a business owner, to focus on the big picture of your business instead of the daily work.
“My entire business is built through collaborations,” explains Preston Lee at Millo, a blog for freelancers. “When I first started, I did everything the business needed, but over time, I’ve built a small but powerful team of freelancers.
“This not only frees me up to find a good work-life balancer, but also helps me focus on how to grow the business sustainably, instead of getting bogged down by the daily and weekly tasks that used to clog up my calendar.”
Collaborating is a great way to keep your business moving forward even when you have a major project to take on.
Logo designer Ian Paget is in the midst redesigning his logo design website. “To help speed up the process,” he explained, “I’ve hired a freelance web designer friend to help. This saves me having to learn new skills, which makes the website better and allows me to focus my time and energy into the parts of my business that make money.”
Blogger Hao from Balance the Grind shared something similar. “Fiverr has been a great platform for me to outsource tasks. That way, I can focus on the bigger picture.”
If you find yourself constantly too busy working in your business to work on your business, then it may be time to focus on collaborations that can free you up to focus on what matters most in your business.
When you focus on collaborations in your freelance business, you’ll find you develop long-term partnerships and friendships.
Partnerships help your business grow over the long-term and friendships help keep you sane and accountable.
Entrepreneur Jake Jorgovan explained to me how important collaborations have been to his business over the years. “Collaborations are essential to my business,” he assured. “Often those relationships form into friendships and partnerships for year after year.”
Ian agrees. “After attending an event 2 years ago I made friends with a group of other freelancers … and we decided to start a mastermind group. We meet every 2 months to remain motivated and inspired, but more importantly, it’s provided some much needed accountability to ensure we all achieve our goals.”
Of course, one natural side-effect in working with other freelancers is your business can get more done and scale as a result.
“As a content creator, there is no shortage of work to be done!” podcaster Jay Clouse says.
“I have a small team of freelancers who help with illustrations, transcripts, and audio engineering for my podcast. They save me hours each week and help me to create a much stronger finished product.”
Patricia LaCroix agrees. “I work at home, and I enjoy staying small in size, but I still want to be big in profits.
“I’ve found that using freelancers saves me money on things like benefits and supplies, while giving me the space to be able to add more projects and scale up with existing clients.”
Logo designer Ben Brush scales his business up and down with each project he takes on. “ A strong network of freelancers covering a variety of skills,” he explains, “allows you to scale up and down to match the scope of every project.”
Collaborating with other freelancers also allows you to hand-off work you’re not as talented at or simply don’t enjoy doing.
“I know where I’m good at, but I’m also aware of my weak points or what I don’t like to do,” says freelancer Mania Mavridou. “So, the perfect match is someone who does better, what I do badly!”
Chelsea Baldwin has grown multiple businesses doing work she loves—but she hasn’t done it completely alone.
“The best thing I ever did for my freelance career,” she told me, “was to start reaching out to other freelancers who were my ‘competition’ to just say hi and start friendly relationships.
“Over time, some of these relationships have resulted in referrals, but a lot of them have led to partnerships and connections that have helped me expand my reach and grow my audience.”
Because “word-of-mouth” marketing continues to be one of the most common ways freelancers find new clients, collaborating with partners who can send you referrals is crucial.
Freelancer-turned-entrepreneur Clay Mosley explains: “Having strategic relationships allows you to skip the constant transactional business and skip chasing prospects left and right,” Clay says.
“If you collaborate with other people or businesses that share the same target market as your business, you can send (and receive) a constant flow of referrals.
“If you can develop five of these partnerships, you will have endless referrals.”
Rhonda Page’s entire business started as one big collaboration. “I found a Linkedin group that had a large number of people in my target audience. I contacted the group leader and asked if he would like to collaborate. He invited the group to my webinar and 900 people attended! I built a list of 900 people in one day.”
Graphic designer Auni Milne frequently collaborates with freelancers and other businesses in her community—even choosing to do pro bono work at times.
“These projects may not bring in much or any money, but they get great exposure in the community, and they help strengthen my brand and reputation.”
One way to use collaborations as a way to grow your revenue is by finding creative ways to offer clients services you may not be able to offer on your own.
“In order to provide more to my clients,” says freelancer Adam Wright, “I have a select few colleagues to work with me on services out of my expertise, and vice-versa. Having these relationships helps me expand what I can offer and also increase my workload.”
After 10 years of freelancing completely solo, Matt Olpinski harnessed the power of collaborations to build something much bigger than he could have on his own.
“I started my own web design and development company after 10 years of freelancing,” he explains.
“That growth required me to begin delegating. Now I collaborate with other freelancers on larger projects and tasks that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to handle myself!”
Auni agrees. “I also have a very good friend who is a graphic designer as well. Since her design sensibility is quite different from mine, we sometimes collaborate on projects in order to show a more contrasting set of concepts.”
As Ben Collins said, “You get so many benefits from partnerships, including inspiration, motivation, advice, exposure to a new audience and perhaps affiliate revenue.”
Ben’s right. If there’s anything you can learn from these 14 pro freelancers it’s that now is the time to level-up your collaboration game. Just because you work alone doesn’t mean you can’t constantly be networking from home.
If you’re not collaborating with fellow freelancers, sub-contractors, businesses in your community and others, you’re missing out.
There are always a million reasons not to reach out to other people. Maybe you feel too busy or too shy.
If you feel too busy to network and collaborate, you need to start freeing up some of your time by using smart invoicing, planning, and project management tools (like AND.CO).
If you’re too much of an introvert, take it slow with small moments of bravery every week. Then invest in collaborations twice or three times a week. Then every day. Bit by bit, you’ll get used to it.
Make a goal to collaborate more and soon you’ll find you’re building long-term relationships, getting referrals, staying accountable, and growing your revenue.
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