Are You in the Driver’s Seat of Your
Freelance Business?

Only a few very successful freelancers are truly in the driver’s seat of their business. They control every aspect of their business and their work — day by day and year after year.

The majority of freelancers don’t work this way. They spend their entire careers in the passenger seat. They are reactive. They allow their clients and other external factors to do the driving.

How about you? Read through these five key differentiators, and then determine whether you are in the driver’s seat of your own freelance business, or not.

Differentiator #1 – Drivers have a 5-year plan, at least.

Freelancers who are in the driver’s seat know where they are going. They also know what it will take to get them to their destination. They know the roads they will have to take, and the waypoints along the trip.

If you don’t know where you are headed — if you don’t have a long-term plan — you can hardly claim to be in the driver’s seat.

(Unless you’re out for a joy ride, with no particular destination in mind. But, if that is the case, you don’t really have a business.)

Differentiator #2 – Drivers choose their clients, and their projects.

Top freelancers know which types of clients are best to work with and pay the highest fees. These are the clients they approach, capture, and work with. They don’t waste valuable time on multiple, low-value engagements.

These freelancers behave less like typical freelancers, and more like small consulting companies or boutique advertising agencies. They go for the best clients.

You can take the same approach, behaving more like an up-and-coming company than an individual for hire.

Differentiator #3 – Drivers increase their value.

Smart freelancers know there is always more to learn. And, they are never shy to invest in their own education. They spend money to improve their core skills, and to add more skills their clients will find valuable.

The key here is to increase your perceived value in the eyes of prospective clients. The higher your perceived value in the client’s eyes, the higher the fees you can charge.

Differentiator #4 – Drivers don’t bill for their time, they bill for their value.

Smart freelancers don’t have hourly rates. They don’t write their estimates based on the time they will spend on an assignment. Instead, they estimate and bill based on the value of the work they produce.

A three-page online article might take you the same time to write as a three-page sales page. But, the sales page is worth ten times as much to the client. So, why charge the same amount for both?

Differentiator #5 – Drivers maximize their income from every job they do.

Ambitious freelancers seek to increase the scope of every project they take on. They don’t just listen to what the client asks, but also make recommendations that deliver great value to the client, and more dollars to themselves.

As an example, when asked to rewrite a website home page, the driver might ask something like, “Would you like me to review your second-level pages at the same time? If the home page is changing, it would probably make sense to change some of those second-level pages, too.”

In other words, freelancers in the driver’s seat are proactive, seeking out new opportunities, and expanding on current projects.

In summary …

Most freelancers are totally passive, grateful for the work their clients give them, and getting by on the fees they are offered.

But, as soon as you claim your rightful place in the driver’s seat, everything changes.

You take control and start taking action to get better clients, work smarter, and make more money.

Are you ready to get in the driver’s seat?

[Ed. Note: Nick Usborne has been a copywriter for 30 years now, 11 of which he’s dedicated solely to online copy. He is also the author of Copywriting 2.0: Your Complete Guide to Writing Web Copy that Converts (formerly Million-Dollar Secrets for Online Copywriting), a step-by-step guide showing copywriters how to apply their skills to writing for the Web, and confidently present themselves to any company, large or small, as an expert who can transform their online presence.]

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Published: March 3, 2010

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