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New to freelancing? Start here.

This post is for people who want to provide professional services to businesses.

You have a skill and you want to make money with it.

I’ve been there. When I was in college I got obsessed with photography and videography. I would get up early to shoot sunrise, chase my friends around the mountains with my camera and spend late nights in the video editing room at my school. I had a ton of fun and got pretty darn good at creating content.

But here’s the thing. I had next to no idea how to make money with my camera. Even after spending the entire summer after college searching for work as a video editor. I got a couple gigs but not nearly enough. It was the worst.

So, I’m going to save you the pain of figuring it out on your own and share what I’ve learned over the past 5 years.

Here’s what I would do if I was just starting out as a freelancer:

* But first, a quick note on passion: There is nothing wrong with being passionate. In fact, you are probably skilled because you have a degree of passion for your craft. I certainly did. But put that aside and don’t let it influence decisions like what work you take on etc… We’re trying to make money after all. You do that by providing value. If your passions align with a need in the market, great. But remember, happiness at work has more to do with attitude, accomplishment and impact.

What’s your service?

First things first.

You need to figure out what service you can offer others. What can you help people with?

Chances are, you have a few useful skills. Pick one as your core service. It will make everything easier.

For example, if you are good at videography, graphic design and copywriting, pick the one that you can do with your eyes closed. It’s easier to sell a specific service than to try to be everything to everyone.

Once you have a relationship with a client, you can always offer to help them with other areas of their business. Think about how your core service helps a business that hires you. How are you helping them get what they want?

You need a target market

Once you have decided on your core service, think about who has a need for what you provide. Once again, I know it can feel counterintuitive but do not be everything to everyone.


• Industries you’re familiar with

• Companies that already hire freelancers who provide your service

• Personal connections that can give you an ‘in' to a niche

• Who has the budget to pay you

The more specific you can get the easier sales will be. It’s better to define your target market as ‘residential real estate agents in New Hampshire’ than ‘real estate’.

It’s all in the offer

Service + Target market = Offer

Some offers will be better than others. You might need to switch up your service + target market to find traction.

I cannot stress this enough, you must find a market that has a need for your service. Simple, not easy. Believe me, you’ll know when you do.

There’s no need to overcomplicate it.

I got caught up here. I didn’t even think about why businesses needed photos and videos in the first place. I just knew how to do it and wanted to work.

In other words, I didn’t understand where videography fit in the market. It took me a couple years to realize that companies need videos to market their business. That those videos are typically deployed via ads, social content, on landing pages, etc. to help move prospects through their marketing funnel (awareness, nurturing and conversion).

I spent a ton of time applying to contract video editing jobs on Indeed and UpWork with little result. In hindsight, I could have reached out to marketing agencies. Had I done that, I’m almost certain I would have been booked solid in a matter of weeks.

I challenge you to spend real time researching where the service you are offering fits into the market. Search for companies in your target market on LinkedIn and look at the people working for them. Do they employ people with your skillset?

Don’t get discouraged, this is about finding a ‘fit’.

Marketing and sales

There’s a lot to cover here.

Marketing’s job is to get leads for sales. That is generally done by putting out ads, social posts, blogs… etc. and letting customers come to you.

We are going to skip that for now and go straight to our customers instead. What most people consider sales.

That means getting on the radar of people who you want to work with and building relationships.

Here’s what I would do:

Sales process:

1. Prospecting - Get in front of your target customers and booking meetings

• Here are some effective prospecting channels for selling services

- Events - attend events where your target market will be

- Direct mail - create printed marketing collateral and mail it to your target customers. Include handwritten letters with your mailers.

- Email - Introduce yourself to people and try to build real connections (Make sure you are compliant. Talk to an attorney)

2. Qualify - Talk with your target customers to see if you are a good fit for each other

• Verify that they have a need and budget for your services

• Ask if they would like a proposal

3. Proposal - Create a slide deck covering:

• About you

• How your services can help solve their problems

• Budget

• Next steps - Scope of work, contract, starting work

4. Evaluation - Let the prospect decide if they want to work with you. Send smart follow up messages. Don’t just ping them every few days, try and move the ball forward. Show them that you have invested a little extra time into them.

5. Problem solving - If needed, negotiate on scope not price.

6. Closed won/closed lost - keep track of your won and lost deals, build relationships with people in both camps. Lost deals can become future customers.

This is a sales pipeline. Your job is to keep potential customers moving through it.

This will build your CRM. These are your relationships with current, past and lost customers. Keep track of these people and your relationships. Take notes. This is where you will make your money.

Airtable is a great tool for this whole process.

Note: Sales is about finding the right fit. You don’t want to persuade people to work with you who aren’t that interested. That is going to be uncomfortable and make delivering on your work more challenging because you’ll probably end up with a demanding client. Your job is to find people who have a need for what you offer and position yourself as the solution. Customers buy because they have a need and they trust that you will take care of it for them.

Let’s go through an example

Let’s say I am a college student who likes photography and videography. I’m always taking pictures and videos of adventures with my friends and I want to make some money with my camera. Hey, maybe I can make enough money doing this that I don’t have to go out and get a real job after I graduate.


Let’s say that I am going to provide videography services. That’s a great start, but let’s take it a step further and define my videography services as home walk through videos.

Target market:

Residential real estate agents in New Hampshire


Home walk through videos for residential real estate agents in New Hampshire.

Knowing my offer informs my sales process and will streamline my delivery.


Prospecting -

I need real estate agents in New Hampshire to know I exist and to realize that I’m an option to get their home walk through videos filmed.

So I film a walkthrough of my and a few friends homes as work samples, take a headshot and write about who I am, what I offer, how I work, my delivery timeline, pricing and the gear that I use. I package this as a website and a booklet that shows off myself, my services and links to my website for prospects to view examples of my work. Then I get my booklets printed and start mailing them out to real estate agents who I could help with a handwritten note introducing myself.

It sounds something like this:

Hi Sarah,

Congrats on your sale on Sycamore!

My name is Garrett and I am a local videographer. I create walkthrough videos. (there is a link to samples on the first page of my booklet)

Just wanted to reach out, introduce myself and get on your radar in case you ever need videos!

Happy Summer!


I would get in the habit of sending a handful of these each day. Then I would start going to the local real estate meet ups and connecting with these people in person.

Qualify -

After doing this for a few weeks I will probably start to book some meetings. During my meetings, I will ask them how they use videos in their business, how often they film home walkthroughs, what their typical turnaround time needs to be, their budget and if they would like a proposal. If they say yes, I set up another meeting to review it with them.

Proposal -

In their proposal I reiterate my background, skillset, position my walkthrough videos as a tool to support their marketing program, outline a budget and lay out clear next steps.

Evaluation -

I send them their proposal ahead of our meeting for review. Then I wait.

Problem solving -

I show up for our proposal review meeting. Hopefully everything looks good and we are ready to move forward. If not, it’s time to problem solve. Remember, negotiate on the scope, not the price. If they want a lower price, purpose fewer deliverables.

Closed won / closed lost -

If we are a fit, I add our agreed upon scope to my contract and send it over. Once I receive it back it’s time to start work.

If things don’t work out, I file their information away in the closed lost tab of my CRM and follow up with them with appropriate. Relationships lead to work.

What’s next?

From here I deliver on the work I promised and ask my client about their upcoming listings. That’s important. Existing clients are your best source of new work.

Then I continue prospecting and bring more people through my sales pipeline.

Once I have an idea of how many mailers I need to send to land a client (conversion rate), what a client is worth to me and how long my customers stick around (lifetime value) I can control my income.

For example:

• If I land one client for every twenty mailers I send

• My customers spend an average of 1k per month

• My clients use my services for an average of 12 months

Then, I I have reasonable confidence that I can maintain:

• Gross revenue of 5k per month if I send 100 mailers per year

• Gross revenue of 10k per month if I send 200 mailers per year

• Gross revenue of 15k per month if I send 300 mailers per year

• etc.

Here’s my challenge for you

I challenge you to define your service, target market and offer for yourself. Then work through the sales process for the next 12 months. Let me know how it’s going.

Email me your offer, tell me your sales plan and send me an update every month at:

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