Articles And Guides On Freelancing

Our focus at Double Your Freelancing is to help freelancers master the business behind their business.

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Whether through 4+ years of in-depth articles, premium courses, the conferences and events I host, or my podcast, my #1 goal is to help you become a more successful freelancer.

Brennan Dunn
Founder, DoubleYourFreelancing.com

Start A Freelancing Business

Just starting out or thinking about it? Here you'll learn how to adopt the right mindset to run your business and get your first few clients.

Branding and Positioning

The way you position and present yourself to your clients can make or break your chances with a prospect. Learn how to do position yourself the right way.

Marketing Your Business

Clients are the bedrock of any freelancing business. Learn how to reliably generate high-quality project leads.

Pricing Your Services

How you price and pitch yourself affects the quality of your clients and your income. Learn how to charge more and close more projects.

Writing Proposals That Win You Projects

Writing (and winning) proposals is critical to closing deals. There's no point in having lots of project leads if you don't know how to close them.

Project Management For Freelancers

Once you've sold a client on working with you, learn how to ensure that you consistently deliver great results.

Running Your Freelancing Business

All the advice and tools you need to run a profitable and sustainable freelancing business.

Work/Life Balance For Freelancers

You CAN freelance without sacrificing your sanity. Learn how to balance your life and your work.

Productizing Your Services

What if you could sell your services the same way you'd sell a product? Learn how to level-up your freelancing with productized consulting.

Community

Go behind-the-scenes at Double Your Freelancing and find out about upcoming conferences, meetups, and product launches.

Top Recently Published Articles & Guides

Cash Flow Tips For Freelancers

Like it or not, as a freelancer you shoulder the risks that come with running a business. And unlike a full-time job, there’s no guarantee of a Friday payday. Mastering cash flow — and ensuring that you can afford to pay your bills and feed your family — is critical to being a successful freelancer.

Getting Money ASAP

Because you aren’t guaranteed a steady paycheck, it’s up to you to make sure your clients play by the rules and treat you like the professional you are.

  • Make your payment terms as aggressive as possible. Just because your friends are all NET 30 doesn’t mean you need to be also. Enforce a 15 day payment policy.
  • Get serious about truant payments. If a client is late, stop work until that payment comes in the door. Don’t establish a culture of, “Oh, ok, that’s no problem.” Remember the wise words from the popular children’s tale: If you give a mouse a cookie…
  • Get paid first. Want to eliminate almost all of your cash flow nightmares? Make your clients pay you before you do any work. I often make the comparison of a gas tank: when there’s gas in the tank, I’m moving. I also make it clear that I’m a professional freelance web developer, not a bill collector. When I’m chasing around money, I’m not getting work done. And while I naturally trust the good nature of my clients, history proves that freelancers aren’t always paid on time.

Cash Flow Forecasting

The life of a freelancer, like any other business, requires budgeting. And unless a significant portion of your income is based on retainers or some other form of recurring revenue, your income will likely fluctuate. Cash flow forecasting is a way to weigh expected future income against known future expenses. Because you likely have quite a few fixed expenses — your house, cars, school tuition, and so on — aggressively saving when income is good will help you survive the inevitable slump.

My friend Thibaut runs WiseCash, an income/expense tracking app for freelancers. I highly recommend it, and it’s free to try (n.b., I use it myself.)

Create A Cash Flow Statement

More immediately than forecasting, I want to know the state of my business right now. A cash flow statement helps me do this.

You can open up your spreadsheet tool of choice, and create two summed columns: Income this month, and expenses this month. It’s easy enough to think about a beefy deposit I’m about to get (especially when I’m trying to justify, oh, buying the latest MacBook!) but it’s too easy to convince your own mind that you’re about to get a lot of money.

Revenue is separate from profit, and your profitability goes down whenever you impulse buy the latest Apple computer or decide to take a week off. When you start realizing this, and you start seeing that your revenue is one thing, and your profit is something separate — something you entirely control — you’ll begin to see the world anew.

A glimpse into the future (a cash flow forecast) along with insight into the here and now (a cash flow statement) will give you everything you need to make the decisions that affect your ultimate profitability, which will directly influence how you fare when times are rough. And when armed with payment terms that favor you as a professional, you won’t be hearing “uh, the check’s in the mail.” Rather, you’ll be growing your business and your bottom line by continuing to do great work for your clients and by being smart about your profitability and cash flow.

Use “Carrots” To Get More Qualified Leads From Your Freelancing Website

Selling your freelancing services is an example of high-touch sales. Unlike low-touch sales (like, a $29 ebook), there’s a lot of gray area between “not a customer” and “customer.” Realizing your company exists, investigating your portfolio and work history, first contact, asking for a quote, loads of meetings, contract negotiation – these are steps that usually take place before someone converts to being customer.

Rarely is selling your services a binary operation. It’s not visitor today, customer tomorrow.

A Carrot is a tool that helps bridge that gap for you. Done right, a Carrot will 1) get you more business and 2) make closing a deal significantly easier.

What a Carrot is not:

  • A sales pitch
  • All about you
  • A waste of time

A great Carrot is no-pressure, free nugget of information that establishes yourself as an authority in a certain subject matter. At the end of reading, listening, or watching your Carrot, no one should ever think, “Wow, I got nothing out of that.”

Carrots come in all shapes and sizes. You might want to put together a 7-day email course on SEO (example). Or if you’re a Rails developer, maybe a whitepaper that can help educate a potential client about your framework of choice (example).

It could be a monthly or weekly newsletter.

Or a podcast, a series of videos on YouTube, or an MP3 download.

Carrots help you sell without making clients feel like they’re being sold to.

Anyone can promote their programming abilities on their website, but if you give something away for free to a potential client that explains how you can help increase their bottom line, you’ll:

  • Reassure them that you know what they want (more profitability)
  • Reassure them that you have what it takes (solving their problems through programming)
  • Establish a foundation in the mind of your clients about how hiring for the type of services you provide works – with you as the benchmark.

…And this is done outside of a sales meeting, which is an unnatural environment where people can’t help but put up their guard and distrust most things you say.

Finally, your Carrot needs to move someone closer toward being a customer. This could be an explicit call-to-action (“Call us today and let’s see how we can help you get more customers through a personalized SEO strategy” on the last page of your free report), or your Carrot could just be a piece of a much larger strategy.

What kind of Carrot could you create?

Creating a successful Carrot means coming to terms with who you are and what you’re selling, or what I like to call defining your Persona. A Persona is the sum of three things: a value offering, a theme, and a target. “We hand craft community-centered online stores [value offering] for green companies [target] from our off-the-grid office nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains [theme].”

Once you have defined your Persona you can reverse engineer a Carrot and begin to educate and pre-sell your target audience based on what you know will educate them.

You know your audience – the kind of client you typically work with, the kind of client your website targets. You know what they need.

I’d start small… what questions does your typical prospective client have for you? Is there something common that almost every client needs to learn about or asks about? And what do you say or do that helps educate your clients and empower them?

Get started today.

Can you package this information into something downloadable? Can you create a low pressure, completely automated way of getting this package into the hands of someone you’ve possibly never met?

I bet you can. We’re all authorities on something to somebody.

7 Ways To Get More Clients Through Your Website

1. Not all traffic is equal

I think most of us know this, or at least think we know this. An organic visitor who Googles you is not the same as someone who types in your URL directly from your business card.

So why are we showing them the same thing? Why do so many of us trump the perks of landing pages and targeting traffic, but flop when it comes to our own sites?

Here’s one thing I learned that I think is really clever:

On your business card, instead of putting http://yourcompany.com, try: http://yourcompany.com/hello – or maybe even a separate domain altogether. Imagine meeting someone at an event, giving them your card, and then they pull up your site later and see something that starts out with, “It was great meeting you! Here’s how I can help you…”

Additionally, if you get coverage, run paid ads, or put a link back to your site in the footer of your clients sites (emphasis mine!) why not get those visitors to think, “Holy crap – this guy is talking to me!” by setting up individual landing pages for each source of traffic?

2. What’s in it for me?

If you’ve read my book, you know I cover this extensively (starting on p. 81) But if you haven’t, here’s the truth:

No one cares about you (it’s harsh, but pretty accurate.)

All they want to know is, “If I hire Brennan, will I make more money than I spent?” This means tailoring your messaging around the pains that your services fix. If you design logos for a living, you help companies look more professional – you don’t create vector artwork. At least according to your clients.

3. Less “I/we”, more “you”

This sort of goes along with #2, but people want to know that they’re being spoken to. We spend hours and hours on our copy and designs, and too often are guilty of promoting how awesome we are instead of what they want.

4. Give them a carrot

Want to really impress someone? Want to set the stage for how someone should engage with a consultant like yourself?

Offer a free whitepaper or report that educates somebody about something that relates to their business. If you offer SEO services, what about a guide that covers the basics of SEO and how it relates to small businesses in exchange for an email address?

This will do wonders in establishing authority (your authority) and eroding any trust barriers the client might erect. If they don’t reach out to you on their own after reading your material, gently nudge them with a “I saw you downloaded my report – I’d love to answer any questions you might have about SEO” email.

Do this and the amount of qualified leads you get through your website will literally skyrocket.

5. Drop the jargon

Let’s turn the tables for a second.

If you were looking to hire a lawyer and you came across Website A and Website B (click to see both), who would you want to hire?

Website A is full of empty platitudes – baseball gloves, the Hoover Dam… it reminds me of those inspirational posters that end up in corporate breakrooms.

Website B says,
“Some lawyers claim to speak in plain every day English, but it is amazing how often they slip back into legal jargon and confuse the heck out of clients. At Approachable Lawyer, we have “no legalese” guarantee. That means that if you find anything on this website or in one of our products which you do not understand we will translate it for you without charge. Simply let me know what you don’t understand by emailing me and I will personally respond.”

Website B – shut up and take my money.

A lot of our sites are closer to A than B, unfortunately. Clients don’t usually care about open standards, clean code, WordPress, or whatever else. They do care about making more money, getting more customers, and other things that generally keep them in business.

6. Marketers have already blazed the trail

It’s hard to compare our websites with product websites (that sell ebooks or whatnot), but there are a lot more similarities than differences.

People who have marketing budgets that need to create a positive ROI have figured out for you what gets people interested and motivated to buy, and it’s time to take decades of research and apply it to your site:

  • Pain: People need to know they have a problem before they buy a solution. What pains lead people to hire people like you? And remember: some pains are false proxies, and are really just pointers to deeper, hidden pains. Does someone need a new website, or do they need more customers?
  • Solution: OK, so what does this pain look like when you flip it upside down? If you’re sopping wet and stuck in the rain, the solution is to get out of the rain (the inverse), and not an umbrella / piece of cardboard / cozy building. Which leads me to…
  • Offer: What can you provide that leads people out of the dismal world of today’s pains to a pain-free tomorrow? This is your jargon-less offer – why hiring Brennan will solve the pain they’re facing (which you’ve already shown them you sympathize with.)
  • Objections: This is where you want to respond to questions you know a lot of your prospects are asking themselves. Can she really deliver? Is she affordable? Is she someone who won’t go missing in action?
  • Testimonials: Testimonials that say “Brennan was great to work with!” are pretty much worthless, but testimonials that talk about how you’ve positively benefited a business are gold. The viewer now knows you can relate to their pains, that you know what they want tomorrow to look like, that you’re the right person for them, and that you have a track record of helping other businesses.
  • The Call To Action: This is your moment, the convincing is done and now it’s time to get someone to act. This might mean a form field to swap an email address for a free report, or it could just be a phone number or contact form (these are obviously as a must.)

Things To Try Right Now:

  • Do you include links back to your website on all of your client projects? If so, update these links to point to specialized landing pages for each of your clients. Imagine the headline: “You’ve seen what I’ve done for Company X, here’s how I can do the same for you…”
  • Tally up all the times you’ve written “we” or “I”. How can you rewrite your surrounding copy to focus on your prospective client and their needs instead of yourself?
  • Is your services page drowning in jargon? Scrap the features (Ruby, PHP, Photoshop) and tout the benefits.
  • Are your testimonials bland? Get your past clients to write a few sentences about how you’ve made their business more successful, and not just that they had a blast working with you (trust me: there are better places to spend money to be entertained than hiring consultants.)
  • Are you sympathizing with the pains your clients face? Are you painting a picture of what life could be like without those pains? If not, right this wrong.
  • Do you have a clear call to action that offers a carrot? Is it immediately obvious how someone can get in contact with you? Does it require squinting at a footer or a lot of excess clicks?

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