Top 8 Tips for Building a Successful Freelance Business

A reader from Florida recently asked my advice on how to build a successful freelance writing venture. Since the strategies of business success apply no matter what field you’re in, these eight lessons I’ve learned as an entrepreneur can apply to any business.

1. Select a niche. While some entrepreneurs prefer to be generalists, specialists generally make more money and have an easier time attracting clients. There’s also a strange-but-true phenomenon that happens when you don’t try to be all things to all people. By narrowing your focus, you often widen your customer base. While I specialize in agriculture and business, I’ve also attracted clients in real estate, retirement living, health and wellness, and other industries.

2. Work hard. Best-selling author Stephen King noted that talent is a dreadfully cheap commodity, and hard work separates the successful people from the talented ones. Work early, work late, and do what it takes to build your business, especially in the early years. If that means setting the alarm for 5 a.m., continuing to work after everyone else has gone to bed, or spending a weekend finishing interviews and writing copy, I do it.

3. Create a useful Web site (or update your existing site). What other marketing tool will work for you 24/7, help you connect with prospects around the globe, and not break the bank? Once you invest in a site, don’t neglect it. Search engines–and potential clients–will take note of updated, relevant information. My blog and Twitter feed help me easily update my site daily and weekly.

4. Find trusted advisors. Every entrepreneur can benefit from a good banker, attorney, insurance agent, accountant, and financial advisor. These folks can help you grow your business and take it to the next level. I couldn’t be where I am today without my lender and my CPA.

5. Be unique. Lots of companies I work with claim they want to be bold and innovative, but then they shy away from speaking with their distinctive voice in their marketing materials. Don’t be afraid to stand out from the herd. As fashion icon Coco Chanel noted, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”

6. Follow up. Success as an entrepreneur depends on regular contact with clients and prospects. That means making phone calls, sending e-mails, following up when you don’t hear back in a reasonable amount of time, and returning messages promptly. If you can add value to your target audience’s business, your efforts will be noticed–and appreciated.

7. Keep learning. Your ability to learn faster than your competition is your only sustainable competitive advantage, according to business strategist Arie De Gues. I wholeheartedly agree. From reading books and blogs to taking classes, I know it pays to sharpen your writing skills, business knowledge, and marketing savvy.

8. Enjoy the journey. If you’re like me, you chose to be an entrepreneur to make a contribution to the world, use your talents, and fulfill a dream. In good times and challenging times, always remember what led you to this business, and be grateful for the opportunity to pursue your goals.

Now I want to hear from you. If you’re an entrepreneur, what strategies for success have paid off for you?

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