It’s normal to hit plateaus in all areas of life, freelancing included. But what do you do when you can’t seem to push through the plateau you somehow managed to hit in your freelancing business?
How do you get that extra client or break that income plateau you’ve seemed to hit?
Stop what you’re doing and get clear on where you’re going
The first crucial step when you feel you’re standing still is to stop and gain an overview of your situation.
Before you can move in any direction you need two things:
- A goal or a destination
- A plan to get there
Usually, when we feel stuck, it’s because we are uncertain about our goal. We’re working towards something that’s blurry and unclear.
What’s your goal and why?
You need a clear and precise goal that’s meaningful to you. Your goal needs to be more attractive to you than your current situation is.
The difference between taking action is the pain we associate with it. If the pain of changing is worse than the pain of staying put, we usually stay put. If the pain of staying put is worse than the pain of changing, we usually make a change.
It’s simple. If you can make a good living now, what’s the point of working extra hard to double that income? You need to wire your brain to believe that your current status is worse than it is and that your goal is the only way out.
Find the factor your goal is built upon
When you know what you want to achieve, you need to figure out what that goal is built upon. What you’re looking for is the one thing, that has the biggest impact on your goal.
Forgetting clients that is usually exposure. Without exposure, there are no clients to be made.
It doesn’t matter if you have twenty fantastic testimonials or if you have a great lead magnet, blog, website etc. None of these things will get you clients if you don’t have any exposure.
On the other hand, if you have some exposure you can get clients even without testimonials, a website etc.
- Work backward from your goal and find the one task that your result is dependent upon.
Process is what will lead you to your goal
So many of us count on motivation to get us to our goal – Motivation is nothing but wanting the goal. You need a progress to take you there.
How many times have we been waiting for motivation to arrive in order for us to start changing our life?
How far has motivation really gotten you in the past? It can definitely be a kick-starter, but motivation will never take you to your goal. Motivation is just a feeling of wanting to achieve, gain or do something. It can make you start, but it’ll come and go in waves. Sometimes you’ll feel it, sometimes you won’t.
You can’t rely on your motivation to bring you to your goal. For that purpose, you need a system – a consistent process.
This holds true for doubling your income as well for losing weight, running a marathon etc.
Motivation is like buying running shoes because you want to start running and get fit. But when the shoes arrive there’s no motivation so you’ll wait till the next time you’ll feel motivated.
A process is going out for just a little run every day, no matter what shoes you have or how you feel.
The key to creating a process that you’ll actually follow through with
The biggest enemy of the process is procrastination.
Procrastination usually happens when we set the barrier to high or haven’t defined what we need to do properly.
In order for you to success and follow break through your plateau, you need to be very precise in describing what needs to be done and you need to set the success barrier low enough.
Let’s say your goal is to gain more exposure by emailing potential clients.
To make a process out of this task let’s first make it more specific and then lower the barrier of entry.
Making it specific
Writing “Email potential clients” on your to-do list will most likely result in procrastination cause it’s not clear where to start or what things you need to go through before it’s done.
So break it even more down and be very precise:
- Find a potential client on LinkedIn.
- Find an email for this client.
- Paste the proposal template into a new email in Gmail.
- Adjust the proposal to fit the client’s needs.
- Paste in the client’s email address.
- Send the email.
- Note when the email was send out.
This one task is now broken down into very simple and precise tasks that are easily managed.
Lowering the barrier of entry
If I told you to write a book it would be a very daunting task. But what if I asked you to write 100 words a day? It has just become a lot easier.
If you give yourself a goal of emailing 10 people a day, the chances that you’ll fail is huge.
Often it’ll be more beneficial to give yourself a goal of just emailing one potential client.
The lower the barrier of entry is, the easier it is to get going and feel successful. The beauty is that someday you’ll end up sending 15 emails, other days you’ll only send 1 email, but that’s okay cause that was the goal.
If your goal was to write 10 and you didn’t manage that, you’d feel like a failure and that would make it even harder to get started the next day.
- Create a process that you can follow through on every day. Remember that detailed, simple tasks and a low barrier to entry are key!
Track your progress and reevaluate
As a freelancer, you will have many tasks that need to be taken care of. But no matter how busy you might be, you must never forget to track what you’re actually doing to grow your business.
Usually, when freelancers feel stuck, it’s because they believe they are doing a lot of things to grow their business. When in reality they work on nonessential things that don’t directly impact the growth of their business.
If you want to move the needle you should only work on things that actually move the needle. All the fancy things can come later when you reached a point you’re satisfied with.
If I asked you how many emails you send to potential clients over the last month, what would you estimate?
How sure are you about that number?
In my experience, freelancers who don’t track what they do usually estimate their efforts to be far greater than it really is.
So how do you make sure you stay on track? You track your output.
You need a tracking schedule to make sure you actually do, what you need to do.
Having an excel spreadsheet with raw data makes it impossible for your mind to lie to you. It’s the only place you can see your true output.
This is what you should track
What you need to track is, everything you control, that correlates to your goal. Meaning that by doing this or these things, you’ll end up changing your outcome. Some freelancers will only have one factor that makes sense to track, while others might have more.
It wouldn’t make sense to measure the number of clients you have, cause you can’t control whether they want to work with you. But you can control what leads up to a client contacting you, the number of emails you send out.
If you use emails to get clients, it would be smart of you to take note of the number of emails you send out by the end of every day. It could be in a fancy excel spreadsheet like I do or on a piece of paper. The only thing that matters is, that you keep a track of what you’re doing.
If what you’re doing isn’t producing the wished result, then try to double the work your doing. Instead of sending out one daily mail, send out two.
I’d also recommend that you do a weekly business meeting with yourself. Doing this could reveal whether you’re on the right way or not.
It’s your time
- What’s one plateau you have seemed to hit?
- What the one thing you can change that will move you closest to your goal?
- What will you commit to doing every day, to break through your plateau?
Let me know in the comment section below and let’s help each other break through.