Tom: The following is a guest post by David Attard of DART Creations. David has been fascinated by, and has actively used, the internet since the days of 28k modems. With an extensive background in software and web development (and still very much interested in anything web related), David manages new SaaS products (such as BeeWits!) for Switch Digital after previously managing a web filtering product for an international software company. He frequently writes on several influential web design sites.
Are you one of those freelancers leaving thousands of dollars on the table because of one simple thing? As you read through this post, you might think it’s blindingly obvious. There’s one simple reason for that: it is!
Most freelancers seem to be happy to leave money on the table each month, simply because they’re not willing to go the extra mile by upselling their services, and outsourcing the additional work to other freelancers.
In this post, I’ll take a look at how to increase your revenue by upselling, then move onto five steps for finding quality freelancers. However, firstly, let’s look at the type of client you’ll want to target.
The Type of Client You Should Be Focusing On
Some clients come to you because they want you to solve a specific issue – ideally something you’re brilliant at. These clients are crucial because they’re the ones who will help you build your reputation. With these, you should be looking at increasing your revenue by changing the way you bill them to a value-based model. However, these are not the clients to focus on – you want to target the clients who come to you for convenience.
Simply put, these clients don’t have the time (or desire) to do the job themselves – sometimes even if they can do it well in-house. They’re usually looking for solutions to problems that, in general, can be easy enough to solve. However, they outsource them because they prefer to focus on their core competence.
This is where you can fit in nicely!
An Example of How I Increased My Freelance Revenue by Connecting Freelancers
The minute you recognize the client type we’ve outlined above, you should start making an effort to start upselling your other services relating to their business. However, Achtung baby! Don’t fall into the trap your client is trying to avoid – stick to the stuff you’re good at. However, as we’ll see, there’s nothing to stop you offering other freelancer’s services at a markup (or a fee for your troubles).
For example, I once had a client knew me as a writer, and loved working with me. We had a good relationship, and I also loved the client because he hardly ever asked for revisions – this made him even more profitable because the extra half hour I usually put aside for that purpose went unused.
However, the kicker was that the client was also a good writer – they just preferred to focus on their business and let me do the writing for them.
One day, while on a call about the next project, I mentioned that their company website was showing its age. They knew it, mentioned they had no time to work on it, and asked if I could help them out with it myself? I said “Sure! I’ll get back to you in a couple of days with a quote!”
Now, I’ve installed dozens of WordPress themes and customized them – but I’m not a web developer or designer. Instead, I took a detailed brief, hunted around on Envato Studio, Upwork, and Freelancer for some packages that seemed to make sense, and put a price together. Of course, I added fees for my convenience on top – around a 50% markup, in fact.
I also added a project management fee for my time, and sent the quote to the client. I included options for installing WordPress with either a simple design or a custom offering, copywriting, search engine submissions (which were outsourced), and Search Engine Optimization (which was also outsourced, but based on my own keyword recommendations).
In the meantime, the client had been quoted twice the price of my full package for the most basic of sites. We shook virtual hands, and I managed to turn the whole thing around in a couple of weeks. I actually made more money off the project than I would do in a month of writing.
In short, to get the job done, I had outsourced to some well-chosen freelancers. In addition, I stuck to what I was good at, writing some excellent copy (even if I say so myself). As a result, the client ended up with an amazing site, all based around my efforts to outsource key elements of the job.
This is all well and good, but how do you go about finding quality, reliable freelancers who match your standards? Let’s take a look!
A 5-Step Process to Finding Great Freelancers
The job I outlined had been a watershed moment for me. I still promoted myself as a copywriter (because that’s what I’m best at), while always offering to help clients with any other ancillary stuff they might need.
With that in mind, there are two options for hiring freelancers: either go for those with excellent ratings and pay through the nose, or alternatively, go through a hiring process. I often choose the latter, and here are the five steps I take to make sure the freelancers I outsource to are quality:
- Create a detailed pitch. First and foremost, you need to clearly explain what you need. Go into as much detail as you possibly can, particularly when it comes to the client’s end result. If you can mock up what you’ll require, even better! Include these in your requirements, so that everyone is on the same page.
- Promise 5-star feedback and long-term work for the ideal candidate. If there’s one way to stand out when creating a contract, it’s the promise of five-star feedback. A beginning freelancer will need as many good references as they can get, and will eagerly bend over backward to give you great results. In addition, the real promise of long-term work is something that will help boost your chances of hiring a freelancer who produces excellent results.
- Ask for examples of previous work. You should be able to recognize good work from bad by simply looking at a freelancer’s portfolio. If their body of work doesn’t hit the mark, move on. In the end, their portfolio alone may not be the be-all and end-all, but at least you’ll be able to eliminate the chaff.
- Hire at least 2 freelancers for the same job. Truth be told, if you don’t have the budget to pay for the top freelancers, you should mitigate your risk by hiring at least two freelancers to do the exact same job (if it’s cheaper). It’s simply a way of doubling your chances of success. Of course, you could potentially be throwing away one of the end results; however, if both freelancers are great, this will give you two outsourcing options to choose from in the future.
- Allow some leeway on deadlines as an additional safeguard. Even if you take all of the above precautions, it’s still possible to get low-quality work. However, by setting a due date well before the project deadline (say a couple of weeks), you’ll have another chance to save the project if things go awry. From here, you can simply repeat the process, this time hiring one (expensive) freelancer with a good track record. You may lose money, but you should be able to return a good result.
Quite simply, I learned that it’s a game of give and take (cue cheesy ‘80s melodies). Sometimes you have to accept you’re going to make less money off in order to deliver a better product if things go wrong.
Ultimately, your reputation is on the line here – so you can’t afford to let your standards slip, because your core business will suffer. After all, clients won’t see a shoddily designed website and think, “Oh, but he’s a good writer at least.” They’ll just assume your deliverables are generally shoddy.
Nowadays I run an agency, and we’ve built a project management tool to facilitate the process of working together with other people, both within the agency and with external freelancers. We have a core team of around 25 people, but will always hunt for the best freelancers if a juicy project comes our way.
In addition, I still always upsell services to my clients that we don’t necessarily have the capability of doing in-house. In these cases, I always make it clear to them that they’re getting the best turnkey solution available.
Outsourcing your work and hiring freelancers is not always plain sailing. For example, even though some of the freelancers I tried came with great reviews, their work could still disappoint. Admittedly, the first project I outsourced included an element of beginner’s luck – but as time went by, I built up a network of people I could consistently rely on. You can too!
In this post, I offered my tips on upselling your services to time-restricted clients, and outsourcing the work to suitable freelancers. Finding those freelancers is the tough part, so let’s recap the steps I take when whittling the options down:
- Create a detailed pitch.
- Promise good feedback and additional work for the ideal candidate.
- Use their portfolio as part of your hiring decision.
- Hire at least two freelancers for the same job.
- Allow some leeway to your deadlines as an additional safeguard.
Do you have any tips for finding quality freelancers? Let us know in the comments section below!
Image credit: TheAndrasBarta.