The freelancer market, to me, is one of the most fascinating industries, and it’s a rapidly growing
Platforms like Upwork, Toptal and Fiverr can be great ways to get customers as a freelancer, but the problem I’ve noticed is that it’s becoming more and more competitive. These platforms are great for exposure, but what can happen is that it positions a lot of freelancers as commodities. The problem with being positioned as a commodity is that you usually have to drop your prices way down to win business.
I’m not saying to not use these platforms, I’m saying that freelancers should leverage a similar approach to building their business as that of an established business-to-business (B2B) company.
I’ve founded and been involved in several large B2B companies. But after I sold my B2B company, I started consulting with entrepreneurs who sold their products and services to businesses, and I stumbled upon an interesting idea.
Freelancers and B2B companies are much the same. B2B means a business selling to another business and a freelancer sells their services, most of the time, to a business. So, I realized that every freelancer should not look at what they do as a hobby. Instead, they should look at it as a B2B company.
Shortly after having this epiphany and seeing how big the freelancer market was, I decided to advise freelancers to help them turn their skills into powerful B2B companies. The results have been incredible, and people who started out as freelancers have built real businesses.
Here are four tips that every freelancer should implement to get on their way to becoming a B2B powerhouse.
1. Position Yourself As A Savant
Good freelancers typically have one amazing skill that they specialize in and that they could help the masses with. But just like an established B2B company, they need to build credibility and build a name for themselves.
The way that any freelancer can get started with this is to first create a website, or funnel, for their business -- one that looks professional and has a live chat feature. The next thing a freelancer should do to build positioning is to focus on creating one valuable blog post per week that talks about the service you provide and how you specialize in a particular industry. Take, for example, a Google AdWords freelancer who specializes in helping restaurants get more customers.
2. Learn One Industry Inside And Out
One way to do this is to focus on serving a specific industry that you can specialize in. Businesses like to work with advisors who can not only solve their problem but also deeply understand their industry. For example, with our own company, we specialize in the restaurant industry, which allows us to focus on a blue ocean or market with little competition.
3. Give The Players Your Service For Free
This next tip is simple but huge for any entrepreneur selling to a business. When you’re starting out, give your service away for free to the “players” in the industry you’re focused on. I’ve used this strategy, as have countless other B2B entrepreneurs.
Your leveraging risk reversal when you solve a large company’s problem for free. Plus, you’re getting your dream customer’s logo on your website to strengthen that positioning that I mentioned earlier. If you can focus on doing great work for a top player in your industry, the other clients will be cake for you to acquire.
4. Focus On Multiple Business Marketing Channels
A lot of people say to focus on one marketing channel, like Facebook or Google Ads. But my approach has always been totally different. As freelancers or entrepreneurs selling to businesses, we need to focus on marketing where our customers hang out. And I have found that many business clients spend a lot of their time on email, LinkedIn and in Facebook groups.
Instead of relying on ad platforms, keep your eyes open for problems you can solve for clients and reach out to them directly via email or on LinkedIn or Facebook. As long as your messaging is personalized and you address a real problem that they need to solve, your pipeline will explode.
The freelance market and the B2B market share a lot in common. If freelancers start modeling what successful B2B companies do, their chances of success are likely to increase. By expanding outside of platforms, freelancers can scale their businesses rapidly and build long-term relationships with clients.