My first 10K month didn’t happen in my first year of business. On the contrary, in my first year as a full-time freelancer, I ended up back at a corporate job. Not because freelancing isn’t sustainable, but because I didn’t have the information, tools, and guidance I needed to give it a fair shot. And because winging it can only get you so far.
At the time, I didn’t have a niche, business processes, sales goals, or a fancy website. I said ‘yes’ to almost any opportunity possible, and ran in circles trying to figure out how to become successful.
But once I had access to a mentor and business coach? Well, it was a game-changer, to say the least. I started charging my worth, landing dream clients, setting better boundaries in my business, hit my first 10K month, and eventually passed that coveted six-figure mark in annual revenue.
Was it as straightforward as I’m making it seem? Absolutely not. If you spend any time online, you’ve probably come across six-figure earners preaching that to be successful all you have to do is scale and grow. As if there’s a button somewhere that you just tap once you’ve decided you’re ready to level up your freelance business.
The path to getting here, at least for me, was packed with many doubtful turns, adjustments, and late-night Googling. And that’s exactly what I want to save you from. So, while there’s no magic bullet solution for hitting your first 10K month, here are some of the biggest shifts and tips that worked for me:
1. Find a profitable niche
I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. But achieving your first 10K month starts with positioning yourself as an expert in a profitable niche.
And if you’re thinking…
How can I decide on a niche when I can’t even decide what to eat for lunch?
I promise I was there too!
Time and time again, I’ve seen highly-skilled freelancers avoid finding a niche in hopes of offering “more” to a wide variety of clients in hopes of boosting their income. The irony? It usually results in the opposite.
Let’s say you want to invest in a new camera but you need some guidance on what to buy. Big Box stores carry lots of different brands, and due to that, most of their employees might not have used or learned about all of the products they sell. In comparison, a camera-specific store sells nothing but cameras and their employees have a wealth of experience and training related to their products. Where would you rather go?
The problem with being a “jack of all trades” is that even if you’re great at delivering several different services, you likely won’t be viewed as an expert in any. This also makes it difficult to price your services at a premium.
It’s okay to test out the waters when you’re first getting started. But to scale your business, you really need to narrow in on what your best skills are and what there’s current demand for. I’m not going to lie, I’ve done my fair share of one-off projects and random assignments. But I niched down into HR and SaaS content marketing because it was my sweet spot. These clients have an urgent need for my services and value high-quality work. Plus, my background and experience with these topics means I can dive in with little back and forth – a win-win!
Here are a few tips to get that process started:
- Research about the top in-demand freelance skills
- Define your target audience and what common problems they face
- Determine how you can provide a solution through your niche
The most important thing to remember is that having a niche isn’t your end-all-be-all. It’s just a strategic way to build a solid foundation for your freelance biz. Your niche will likely change over time, and that’s okay!
2. Streamline your services
Once you’ve done the deep-dive research and inner work of picking a profitable niche, it’s time to tune in to your high-value services.
For the majority of my time as a freelancer, I custom-tailored services to best fit my clients’ needs. Recently, I decided to completely overhaul my packages and narrow them down to a core four. Do you have to do the same? Maybe not immediately, but eventually you might find that it’s time-consuming and costly to completely customize each package based on the client.
Regardless, it’s important to have an understanding of which services your clients are most interested in, and then figure out if that’s reflected in the prices that you’re charging. It took me longer than I’d like to admit to realize that some of my most time-consuming client projects actually paid me the least – and sometimes, were filled with tasks I didn’t enjoy at all.
If you’re experiencing this issue, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
The combination of demand, passion, and value is what you should always aim for when streamlining your services and scaling your business.
Does this mean that you can’t take on projects every now and then that aren’t listed in bold on your website? Not at all. The beauty of being a freelancer is that you are in charge of the work you choose to do.
3. Set sales goals
So, you’ve figured out the direction you’re heading with your niche. You’ve streamlined your services, and you feel confident that you’ll be able to secure the bag and take an extra week (or two, or three) off this year. But wait – not so fast!
Setting financial goals and sales goals is an important part of scaling your freelance business, and so is doing some digging on the back end.
Here are some things to consider:
- How many packages do you need to sell to hit the 10K mark?
- Is it sustainable for you to have that many clients on board at once?
- Will you need additional support to make the workload feasible?
Answering these questions will help you navigate any pricing tweaks you need to make in your packages, as well as your marketing strategy and the following:
4. Build trust and authority
What are the chances you’d try a restaurant that has no Google reviews or customer photos? Pretty slim, right? Would the chances increase if a close friend or family member vouched for how delicious the food is?
Think of your freelance business in the same way.
You need credibility. The best way to build that? Collect testimonials and reviews from former and current clients that can vouch for you and your work. Just starting out? Consider offering or exchanging your services for a testimonial that you can showcase on your website or social media.
Another way to build trust and authority is through your personal branding.
Now, I know what you might be thinking…
Well, it’s a process. You don’t need to make multiple four-figure investments all at once to cover a branding shoot, website revamp, and social media strategy. While these options are ones you should definitely consider when scaling your business, they shouldn’t run you into debt, and they don’t need to happen all at once.
Everyone has different priorities when it comes to business investments. If you already have workable content or an existing personal brand, then you might get a better ROI with a freelance business coach instead. On the flip side, levelling up your personal branding can make a huge difference in your online presence and boost your credibility.
5. Increase your prices
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Don’t discount yourself. Your ideal client will pay you what you’re worth.
Letting clients know that you’re increasing your prices can feel extremely nerve-wracking. But knowing how to raise your rates professionally and effectively can help ease some of that pressure. Personally, I recommend going over your rates at least once a year – or when you can’t keep up with demand.
After years of freelancing, I’ve learned that clients are willing to make investments in quality work. More often than not, a slight price increase won’t stop them from working with you. It’s usually a lot easier for clients to agree to a price increase with someone they trust and value than it is to find a new service provider.
The road to your first 10K month
Freelancing isn’t a race, it’s a marathon.
I know it can get overwhelming to scroll through the “I made six figures in six months!” kind of stories, but remember – only you know what’s really best for you. It’s okay to take things at your own pace and scale in a way that not only feels good but is sustainable for your workload and workflow. Hitting your first 10K month isn’t the only way to be a successful freelancer. Only you can define what success looks like to you.
Now if you need extra guidance and support during your freelancing journey…
You’ve come to the right place! I’ve created tons of tools and resources to help you launch and grow your freelance business. Case in point: my freelance rate calculator.
Just click the button below to access the resource and calculate your rate!