When successful writers start thinking about scaling their businesses, the first (and sometimes only) strategy they consider is bringing in other freelancers to work under them.
These freelancers could include a virtual assistant or a writer to assist with projects. This is certainly a valid way to scale. But it can also add a significant layer of complexity to your business.
Fortunately, bringing in contractors is just one way to scale. It’s not the only way.
So what are your other options?
You can also scale by making shifts in other areas of your business. These shifts typically revolve around the following strategies:
- Repeat business
- High-profit packages
- Consulting engagements
- Retainer agreements
All four of these options enable you to achieve a similar result as that of scaling through the efforts of others. They essentially allow you to increase what you’re earning for every hour you put into your business.
In other words, these shifts can help you increase your internal hourly rate by a significant factor. Let’s go through them in more detail.
1. Repeat Business
Strategically fostering repeat business with future, current and dormant clients is perhaps the easiest way to scale your business.
You can do this by suggesting complementary and add-on projects to your clients. You can also ask for introductions to their colleagues and counterparts within their organization.
For instance, say you’re writing bylined articles for a client. With some probing, you might find they also need a good web copywriter—something you could also do for them.
Or maybe you’re currently working with a company’s marketing director. But you don’t realize that the PR director of the same company needs a writer for press releases, articles and other miscellaneous projects.
You won’t know unless you ask!
A focus on repeat business should also apply when assessing potential clients. By deliberately going after prospects that can give you repeating work—and saying “no” to prospects that have limited or one-time writing needs—you’ll be able to build a select group of long-term repeat clients over time.
And the more work you do for these clients, the more efficient you’ll become. As a result, you can keep your fees steady while freeing up time to take on other projects. Which translates into a higher and higher internal hourly rate … and more money in your pocket.
2. High-Profit Packages
We live in a commoditized society. When there are few differentiators among writing services, buyers will prioritize price when comparing options. And when buyers use price as the main variable in a hiring decision, they reduce things down to the simplest unit of measure: hourly rates.
Hourly rate is the great equalizer. It enables buyers to compare everyone by using the same unit of measure.
That’s a losing game for freelancers. But one way to remove yourself from the game is to bundle (or “productize”) your services.
For instance, rather than offering a case study deliverable for $1,300, you could offer a case study package—perhaps with a small discount. The package could include the case study AND surrounding services for a higher fee.
These surrounding services could include things like strategy calls, interviews, design, press releases, etc.
The first benefit of this “package” approach is that it will boost your profit. The second benefit is that it makes it difficult for prospective clients to compare your pricing with everyone else’s.
3. Consulting Engagements
Another strategy you can use to scale your business is consulting.
Unfortunately, many consultants and freelancers fall into the trap of offering consulting services by the hour. This can create all kinds of problems.
For starters, it allows the client to see how much you’re making an hour. And when you need to charge, for example, $125 an hour to cover your costs and make a fair living, that hourly rate will sound high to some clients.
Rather than selling your time, it’s better to put together a package that includes one or more deliverables … and quote a flat fee for the engagement.
I know that sounds scary. But if you take the time to describe a detailed scope of work and the actual deliverables included—and if you’re precise about the number of calls, meetings and consultations the package includes—you’ll have the controls you need to make it work for both parties.
4. Retainer Agreements
A retainer agreement, in its most basic form, is simply an agreement whereby a client pays you a fixed sum of money every month to retain your services.
Traditionally, it allows the client to “reserve you” for a fixed amount of time or for a certain amount of work every month.
As a freelance writer, you need to modify this arrangement so that you’re not getting dragged back into the hourly model. Instead, you offer to complete a specific list of projects for a flat fee over a set period of time.
Clients like this arrangement because you’re guaranteeing that their work will get done in a timely fashion. It also makes the monthly fee amount predictable. You’ll like this arrangement because it adds predictability and stability to your income.
Plus, the recurring nature of the work gives you the opportunity to get more efficient at delivering quality work every month.
Scaling Your Business Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated
If you’ve been hesitating to scale your business because you don’t want the added complexity of hiring contractors, recognize that this isn’t your only option.
In fact, there are many other ways to scale your business by increasing your internal hourly rate. And I suggest you try these strategies first, before adding contractors into the mix.
By the way … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:
1. Grab a free copy of my training class for writers who are new to freelancing.
It’s called “The 3 Magic Levers: How to Get Your Writing Business Off the Ground and Land Your First Paying Client.” — Click Here
2. Download a free copy of my book for ESTABLISHED writers/copywriters.
You’ll discover how to quickly and predictably reawaken dead leads, generate new client opportunities and convert not-yet-ready prospects into freelance writing clients. — Click Here
3. Join our “Get Better Clients Academy”
You’ll get a personalized action plan based on where you are today in your business. Plus all the tools, scripts, checklists, cheat sheets and templates you’ll need to escape feast-or-famine … grow your income … and land clients who love and respect you. — Click Here
4. Get your website DONE!
If you’ve been struggling to get your website done … or if you’re not happy with what you’ve got today… let my team and me build you a beautiful website for your writing business. We’ll do all the hard work! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org … put “WEBSITE” in the subject line … and I’ll reply with the details.