To Succeed As A Freelancer, You Need To Get Clear On Your Offering – Here's How

in freelancing •  last year  (edited)

Freelancing is hard. It's even harder when we don't know what we want, what we offer, and how we work with our customers. The best way to set ourselves up for success is to get clear on our service offering so when we go to promote and sell ourselves we've got a foundation to fuel our confidence.

So what does it look like to get clarity on what we're selling as a freelancer? As part of Path Of The Freelancer: An Actionable Guide To Flourishing In Freelancing, the second milestone of successful freelance revolves around this topic of packaging our offering. It also comes on the heels of fully committing to the vocation of freelancing because like I said earlier, freelancing is not a cake walk.

Finding clarity begins with determining our target income, so that's where we'll start below.

Freelancing Graphic: Compensation Is Set

Step 1 - Determine Annual Income & How Many Hours You Want To Work

If you’re planning to freelance for the long term, you'll want to start by first determining what financial success looks like and it starts by identifying your target annual income.

Surprisingly, doing this will actually move you towards it much quicker than if you had operated with an alternative vague objective of "more money".

Once you’ve got a number in mind for your annual income, the second piece of the puzzle is determining how many hours per week you want to work. Twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty hours? You decide, just know the lower the number, the more income you need to make per hour (regardless of whether you charge hourly).

Now divide your annual income by 52 (weeks) and then divide by the number of hours you want to work and you’ll end up with your effective hourly rate. Let me share how the formula works out for me.

My target annual income is $136k/year (based on expenses & goals) and I want to work less than 30 hours per week on paid client projects allowing me 10-15 hours per week (40-45 total hours) working on growing my blog, building relationships and doing admin work. This gives me the margin to pour into my marriage and parenting my four kids (with one on the way). To earn my target annual income, I need to earn about $87/hour.

Now breaking down our annual income into an hourly rate doesn’t mean you need to charge hourly (although I do), but understanding our effective hourly rate is the baseline to decide what our destination looks like. If you have any amount of recurring passive income, this will also augment the effective hourly rate.

With a clear picture of what we want to financially accomplish, we'll want to explore charging by hour, by project or by value provided to the client. Each has its strengths and weaknesses, so explore and pick the one that best align with your personality, experience and objectives. You can explore a deeper dive on the differences in the book Path Of The Freelancer.

Graphic: How & What We Offer Is Defined

Step 2 - Define How & What You Offer

With the ingredients determined in our first checkpoint, we're now equipped to prepare the soup of our freelancing endeavor.

When will communicate and invoice? What problems are we equipped to solve? What solutions will we have to solve those problems?

Let me dive into the first question next.

Since I charge for my time and bill hourly, I created the batch action management (BAM) system for working with customers. They commit to ten hours which at my hourly rate of $90 means their committing $900 towards each batch of time. As the hours progress, I communicate at least two to three times along the way and when I hit the ten hour cap.

At this cap point, they can choose to continue working together and proceed with another batch or pause our project. This stopping point, along with the communication checkpoints, provides my client a steering wheel to redirect me efforts how and where needed. Usually, that doesn't happen since I'm strategically driving the project.

When it comes to the actual solution and work I provided, it's specifically geared towards digital small businesses. Simply put, I grow income, teams and business owners. Here are the solutions I specifically offer in each of these areas.

1 - How I Grow Income

2 - How I Grow Teams###

  • Leadership coaching and problem-solving
  • Managing special projects
  • Integrating technology to improve systems
  • Building & leading virtual freelance teams
  • Operation & system auditing

3 - How I Grow Business Owners###

  • Vision + strategy discovery and articulation
  • Leadership accountability + insights
  • Internal communication guidance
  • Strategic initiative idea prioritization
  • Investor presentations

Ultimately, I leveraging process optimization, technology integration, and communication automation to help grow digital small businesses.

While I'm quite clear on what I now offer, there's still room for improvement and clarification for more effective prospecting. At the same time, it's taken me four years of freelancing full time to get this amount of focus and clarity around what I do offer. So, start somewhere and iterate as you progress down the freelancing road. It'll never be perfect, but it will be something. And something is better than nothing or the perfect that never finishes.

Graphic: Our package is published

Step 3 & 4 - Publish Your Package Online & Build Your Personal Online Brand

With the hard discovery and wrestling work complete, we now want to shift our focus to publishing what it is we offer. I've created a page on my website that outlines the above offering while elaborating on the problems of my prospects, sharing testimonies from people I've worked with while also exploring the strategy we'll use to bring order to their chaos.

We'll also want to publish this information to our social media profiles include Linkedin, Facebook, Quora and here on Steemit. If you checkout my Steemit profile, you'll see the phrase "Growing Digital Small Business Income, Teams, & Owners" right below my name at the top. Any opportunity we can get to communicate what we do succinctly is critical to growing awareness, and driving interest.

graphic: our personal brand is promoted

You can also create an page, blog about your offerings and success stories, create viral graphics to get people to help promote you. The internet is a big place and there are countless locations to spread the word and post digital billboards to let potential customers know the solution you offer to their nagging problems.

Guest blogging is another opportunity to demonstrate our expertise and authority while also bringing about awareness to people and ideally target customers. Here on Steemit or Medium are places to share insights on established platforms. I've also written guest blog posts for Startup Nation, Change Your Game Be A Leader, Joomla, BrainLeaf, and other technology companies.

Interviews are another channel to help grow our name and the problems we solve. With the number of active podcasts, there are likely many you could easily guest interview on.

Once you know your target, what you offer, and you've published how you work with ideal customers online, get creative and promote your problem solving services online. While your doing it, augment it with real life meetings and networking to establish and cultivate relationships. A combination of online and offline connections is what you'll need to make a serious career out of freelancing.

If the information above has you intrigued and you'd like a deeper dive, I recommend you pick up a copy of the book from Amazon and explore additional online freelance resources at

Enjoy the complete infographic below for packaging your freelancing into a compelling offering.

infographic: Offerings In A Compelling Package by Path Of The Freelancer

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