The “Secret” to Becoming an Expert Freelancer with a Jam-Packed Roster of Clients

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Spreading ourselves too thin is something us freelancers are guilty of 99.9999% of the time (stat not completely accurate).

We think that by having a finger in every pie we’re more likely to get work because the more people we appeal to the wider we can throw our net.

Becoming an expert freelancer

Freelancers carry out a whole range of services. Source.

I was so guilty of this back in 2014 when I first started freelancing.

At that point my services page was like an extra-long scroll packed full of everything I could ever possibly do for a client.

I’m talking marketing services, social media management, blog post writing, copywriting, brochure writing, and anything that involved words. I didn’t want to back myself into a corner by only offering a few things because I was terrified of turning prospects off.

Don’t Be a “Yes” Person

So for the first two years of my career I did anything and everything.

I was a jack-of-all-trades; the “can-do” gal who would literally do anything for money (as long as it involved words of the written variety, which eliminated the more dubious tasks that might have just popped into your mind).

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I had a hard time saying no because I thought that one “no” would open the floodgates to all the no’s which would leave my client roster dry and rusty. Little did I know that by saying “yes” to everything I was doing myself a disservice.

Not least because I absolutely hated things like social media management and writing brochures.

You see, the great thing about being a freelancer is you can pick and choose your own projects. Sure, I was picking and choosing my own projects (a.k.a. everything that came my way), but it wasn’t long until I became burnt out.

Mornings were no longer a source of joy because I could set my own schedule.

Instead they marked the start of hours and hours of doing things I just didn’t want to do. But I did them anyway because, well, that’s what us freelancers do.

It’s Easy to Get Sucked into Projects You Hate With a Fiery Passion

I know that we all have to do things we don’t want to sometimes.

Like with any job, freelancing has its downsides, and I didn’t have my head so far in the clouds that I couldn’t see this.

But after two years of dull as dishwater projects? Yeah, that can really take its toll on you.

So two years into freelancing, I realised I had two options left:

  • Quit freelancing
  • Quit doing the projects I didn’t enjoy

It sounds like a no-brainer, right?

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Me thinking about whether to quit freelancing or not…

Of course I didn’t want to quit freelancing (partly because there were still a few people I need to prove myself to, and partly because I just couldn’t face the failure of having to go back and work for someone else).

But, in actual fact, quitting freelancing seemed like the easier option.

It felt like quitting doing the projects I didn’t enjoy would also spell the end of my freelance career because they made up a large portion of my income.

I wanted to do this, though. I wanted to freelance.

Which meant my only option was Plan B.

Cue the panic and then cue the sheer sense of calm I felt when I deleted ALL the other services I offered from my website apart from long-form content and email marketing as part of my mission of becoming an expert freelancer.

It’s a surreal feeling deleting anything, but it was also really liberating.

You wanna know what happened?

Eliminating 99% of My Services Led to More Work and Happier Clients

Here’s what went down:

  • I deleted everything from my website that wasn’t long-form writing or email marketing related
  • I highlighted a few key pieces I’d written for past clients that was in the style I wanted to continue doing on my portfolio page
  • I added a “tagline” on the front page of my website that gave a brief overview of my specialism (long-form content writer)
  • I emailed my ideal clients (the ones I was already doing the kind of work I wanted to do for) and asked if they knew anyone else who needed that kind of content
  • I started saying no to projects that didn’t fall under long-form content writing or email marketing
  • I slowly began ending contracts with clients that I no longer wanted to work with

Becoming an expert freelancer

My website now

Each step was difficult, and I had to really force myself to think of the bigger picture and what I wanted my freelancing future to look like, but I waded through them in the end. Becoming an expert freelancer seemed like a serious uphill struggle.

The hardest part for me was ending the contracts with clients I didn’t want to work with anymore.

They weren’t bad clients; I just didn’t enjoy the work.

But surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly), most of them were absolutely fine with me letting them go. They understood the direction I wanted to go in and wished me luck.

The first couple of months of my “new” freelancing life was scary. No, scrap that, it was terrifying.

It kinda felt like I was back to square one trying to pitch my services and find new clients. But slowly I began to build my client list back up one client at a time (and not just any client, but carefully selected clients that I was really excited about working with).

Becoming an Expert Freelancer: The Results

Each time I published a new long-form piece for a new client, I had something else to add to my portfolio.

After about three months I had a pretty decent looking portfolio of long-form pieces that began attracting prospects on their own.

Two new clients in those first three months had seen my pieces on the blogs of other clients and wanted in on the action.

And, because I’d started writing for a specific kind of client (SaaS marketing clients to be precise), I was becoming known for creating content in that niche.

Soon, clients were referring other SaaS companies they knew to me, while others were stumbling upon content I’d created for others and getting in touch for similar content.

Because I wasn’t spreading myself too thin and I was focusing on one thing and doing it really well, I quickly began to get traction in the SaaS world.

It wasn’t long before I didn’t have to reach out to prospects anymore, and instead had people finding me of my own accord.

Here’s why I think that happened:

  • I was consistently publishing content in the SaaS sphere for other clients so I was getting my name out there
  • I was only writing content in one industry, so I began to know it and the brands that populated it very well
  • My tagline on my website and the fact that I mentioned I was a SaaS writer a lot on my site meant my SEO rankings improved

becoming an expert freelancer

Becoming an Expert Freelancer Means You Can Charge More

But the best part?

Well, the best part apart from getting to do work I loved with clients I loved? Definitely being able to charge more.

When I was spreading myself too thin, I felt like I couldn’t demand a higher pay rate because I wasn’t particularly good at all the things. I didn’t have enough proof that I was worth a higher price point, so I kept my rates low in the hopes that I would attract more prospects that way.

When I started focusing on doing one thing, I could demand more money because I was getting my name out there as an expert and because I had proof in the form of an ever-growing portfolio.

In the two years since I scrapped all my other services and focused solely on long-form content, my prices have increased by 800%.

Seriously.

This means I can most definitely say no to any projects I’m feeling less-than-enamoured by, but it also means I can spend more time on the projects I love and do a better job for my clients.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Tell me: if you could be an expert in anything, what would it be and why? But, more importantly, how are you going to get there?

Want more clients?

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