by Susan Reoch
25 March 2022
We all want the silver bullet.
You know, that one big thing or decision that vanquishes all your freelancer business challenges, self-doubt, and wasted time.
Do this one course and clients will be slamming down 5-figures to work with you with more conviction than The Rock.
Download this one software and suddenly your processes and systems will purr along with Tesla-smoothness.
Three years in and multiple 6-figures later, I still haven’t found the silver bullet that makes it all easy to grow your freelance business. Sorry! What I can look back on is a series of seemingly little decisions and investments that built real momentum, though.
Some costs are financial, some are time and effort, but all have been totally worth it.
Let’s start with the free stuff (yay!)
I started my business by telling everyone I knew that I was starting a business. My first big retainer clients were through referrals. The best part is it costs nothing more than a cup of coffee to talk to a friend about your business. I still do this to this day. Although I have expanded to share what I do with my new biz friends on Linkedin and Instagram.
So straight up, the business cards I excitedly ordered were a total waste of time and money. But the postcards I tacked onto the order as an afterthought are still paying dividends.
Almost anyone I work with gets a personalised postcard from me—podcast hosts, clients, friends that peer-review my stuff. I love writing and sending them (yup, I’m old-school) and most people share them on social—together with my brand colours and a tag.
Like many new freelancers, I started keeping track of all my invoices and expenses in an Excel spreadsheet. I was still in that “well, I can always go back to a day job” mindset. My invoices were PDFed word documents, which took me at least 30 minutes a pop.
It was time to call the experts.
I had a 2-hour session with Bec from Straight Up Bookkeeping to help me sort out my books and get me set up in Xero—she now offers this same guidance in a course format. Sending out an invoice takes 2 minutes and more importantly, it’s easy for anyone anywhere in the world to pay me!
From the moment I started my freelance business, I had a dream of creating an online course. I’d seen first hand the impact UX writing had had on brands I’d worked with and my career. I wanted to share that with others and make some of that sweet passive income everyone’s always talking about (ah, I was so naive—more on this later).
One piece of advice I kept hearing from people who were where I wanted to be: “start an email list”.
I’ve sent an email out every week for the past 2 years. My list isn’t huge, sitting around 700 people. But I’ve made over 100 sales so far, not to mention the countless connections and conversations with people from all over the world.
In 2020, I signed several big website clients and suddenly had no time. I decided to outsource everything humanly possible to the paid versions of the tools I used. This includes Google Workspace, Office 365, Otter.ai, Canva, Zoom, Acuity, WordPress, ThriveCart… I’m sure I’m forgetting some.
These tools save me time in running my business, meaning I can spend more time making money.
So far I hadn’t really invested much in courses. With an 8 year career in copywriting and UX, everything seemed too beginner-y. I know, I know, ego-much?
Brain Camp gave me a whole new perspective on launch copywriting and how our buying-brains work. But another huge benefit was getting to know Kirsty and my fellow campers. Group coaching programs can be a great way to grow your network.
After Brain Camp, I was itching to join a similar program that would have the same close-knit group of legends.
I’d long been a fan of Laura Belgray’s. And always dreamed of joining her Shrimp Club Mastermind. And again I had watched other business owners (not just copywriters) go on to achieve BIG things during and afterwards. I decided to back myself and apply for the dream mastermind.
I got in. And it’s been epic—I’ll probably write a whole blog post about it one day. Every person in the group inspires me to work harder and go after what I want (and figure out what I want, which is the hardest bit). Laura has made me a better writer. My emails get more opens and replies. My last 2 launches have been huge successes, which brings me to…
Shrimp Club was also great timing for the launch of my new group program UX to Profit. I got so much help and support from Laura and my fellow Shrimpers many of whom are expert launchers themselves.
This program didn’t really cost me much in terms of financial costs—I decided to use my existing tech stack rather than invest in a course platform—but it did cost me in time. Putting together a syllabus, coursework, worksheets, slides, bonuses, holding space for the group, and getting over my mindset gremlins took up most evenings for a good half a year. (See point about “passive income” naivete above)
But it’s by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my professional life. I love sharing my 10 years of experience and knowledge with other clever copywriters (and designers) and watching them run with it. It’s really true what they say, don’t wait until you feel ready. Just go for it.
Because I was burning the candle at both ends when I created UX to Profit, I decided to outsource the design of the sales page. I paid an awesome web designer Emily King at EMJ Web Design to design and build my sales page.
I also now have a web designer I trust who knows my brand and can jump into my site whenever I need it. The peace of mind that gives me is next level.
And so my lovely freelancer, that’s where I’m up to in my journey so far. When I look back over the last 3 years, I realise the best investments were in the 3Cs:
I bake these into everything I offer because I figure if that’s what helps me grow in my business, it’s how I can best serve others.
Entrepreneurship is a journey made up of lots of little steps, some of them sideways, some backwards. There’s no shortcut or silver bullet but you’ll probably look back on what you’ve built in a few years and think, “Wow, I’ve done something extraordinary.”
And that makes the blood, sweat, and 2 am tears all worth it.
What investments and decisions have you made to grow your freelance business? The stuff that’s made the biggest difference, looking back? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!