September 22, 2021

How to grow your work as a freelancer

Written by Martin Baxter

This is the start of a new series here on the Dinghy knowledgebase where we address the different goals that you might have for your freelancing business, and look at ways to help you get there. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day, but it’s so important to take time to look at the wider direction of your freelancing business. What are your long-term strategic goals? To help you get your head around the big picture stuff, this new series will take a look at some of the most common goals that freelancers have for their businesses and rundown some tips to help you get there.

This week we’re focusing on growth – growing your freelance business and turnover by increasing the number of clients you have or the amount of work you are doing. Freelancing can sometimes be a bit “feast or famine”, especially when you are first starting out. Growing your business is one way to try and ensure there is more consistency in the amount of work coming in (it’s not failsafe, but it helps). You may also want to grow your business if it started as a side-hustle to another job, but you’re now looking to try to freelance as your main income. Even established freelancers can find themselves wanting to grow – for example, if you started off freelancing part-time around young children, you might wish to take on extra work once they start school full-time. You may be looking to support a new goal like saving for a house, or your partner might be quitting their job to retrain or study. Whatever the reason behind it, growth is good! Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand you can wave to get more work in. However, there are a few tricks you can try…read on for Dinghy’s guide to growing.

Engage with your current clients – do they have more work?

One of the simplest and easiest ways to grow your work is to take on additional projects for your existing clients. This has loads of advantages, for you and the client. You already know their business, services and product, brand, audience and tone, needs, website structure – or whatever else is relevant to your role. You don’t need a lot of time to get up to speed with all that, which means you can work more quickly on their projects. You’re already on their systems and know how to get your invoices in, and that they pay reliably and on time. You’ve developed a relationship with them, so you can anticipate what they might need.

If things are going well with a client and you have extra availability that you’d like to fill, there’s no harm in asking them if you can help with any other projects they’re working on. If you’re a portfolio freelancer with multiple skills, make sure you highlight that as well as doing your existing work, you could also support them with other things. You can even pitch ideas to your client if there are things that you think they could be doing better or other ways that you can support them. If you’re a copywriter, you might be able to come up with some ideas for extra content they might want to publish. If you’re a social media manager, you might be able to introduce them to a new platform you think they should get on. If you’re a developer, you might be able to recommend they try a new way of connecting with customers in their app.

Try to win back old clients

It is far, far easier to win business from clients who you’ve worked with before than it is to hunt down “cold” brand new ones. So if you’re looking to grow your work, old clients should be high on your priority list. Perhaps you lost work during the COVID lockdowns, but with things almost back to full reopening your client may once again be in a position to bring in some freelancers. Even if they’re not, a little check in to keep them warm between jobs and let them know what you’ve been up to can’t do any harm. That way, when there is a new freelance opportunity that meets your skills, you’ll be the first person they think of. There’s a guide on this on our blog for anyone who’s interested in turning old clients back into new business.

Consider your freelancer brand

Before you start spending money on advertising or a lot of your precious time pitching for jobs, make sure you have your branding spot-on. Clients – especially new ones – will be more likely to hire you if your company comes across as professional, competent and it’s clear who you are and what you do. We’ve got more tips for making sure you’re giving off the right marketing messages in our article on how to brand yourself as a freelancer.

Collate customer feedback

When a client hires a freelancer – whether it’s a copywriter, a web designer or a project manager – they are placing a huge amount of trust in you. That’s especially true when work is arranged and carried out remotely, as much of it is in the freelance world, and especially post-COVID. So to get clients to pull the trigger and take you on, you need to build that trust. Having honest (and hopefully glowing) testimonials from real customers is a key way in which you can prove that you’re up to the job. Seeing your skills and attributes laid out in the words of other people offers additional assurance to potential clients that you know what you’re doing and that their money will be well spent engaging your services. Snippet quotes from happy customers are a great way to attract attention on social media too.

Focus on getting more referrals

In the category of “easy wins for growing your business”, they don’t come much better than referrals. Having a new customer get in touch because you were recommended by someone else is one of the most joyful moments in freelancing. Usually they’ll have heard about you from one of your other clients, but other businesses and freelancers can also pass on referrals too. If you have a strong network of freelancer friends, they may link contacts up with you when they’re full or need cover for things like holiday or parental leave. It’s a low-effort and lucrative way to grow your business, and best of all there are things you can do to increase the likelihood of getting referrals – check out some of our tips on our blog.

Shout about your availability

If you are open to work, let people know! Shout out on your socials, send out an email blast, advertise it on your website – then start getting the jobs booked in. LinkedIn can be a great place to start as it’s full of connections who are looking for the right talent to come along.

Get properly insured

New growth means additional risk, so make sure you’re not wading into all that new business unprotected. Freelancer business insurance from Dinghy is there to reassure you and all your clients that if something goes wrong, everyone is covered. It shows that you’re a safe pair of hands, and all our policies are designed to fit in with freelance life – that means they’re flexible, low-hassle, and with no hidden surprises like admin or credit fees. Get your quick quote on our website today, and get ready to grow!

About Martin Baxter

Read more blog posts by Martin Baxter


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