This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
I discovered freelancing while working a job in real-estate acquisitions, which I was unhappy at. I wanted a fulfilling career, and freelancing looked like a way to escape my 9-to-5 and carve out my own path to success.
I quit my job in late 2020 and started freelancing as a virtual assistant and appointment setter on Upwork and Fiverr. I experienced both financial growth and personal fulfillment in a short span of time.
Within four months, I was earning enough to cover most of my bills and felt comfortable freelancing full time. In my first full calendar year, I earned $100,000 in revenue, and in my second year, I more than doubled that number. Here’s how I did it.
I was at a crossroads at the real-estate-acquisitions company
While working my 9-to-5, I didn’t have a work-life balance and felt that my efforts went largely unrecognized by my manager and team. When a family tragedy struck, and I felt like I had to put work before being there for my loved ones, I knew I needed a way out.
Freelancing offered me the flexibility I craved. As I delved into social-media communities and online articles about freelancing, I learned about its low entry barrier and unparalleled autonomy.
Since I lacked skills in graphic design and website development, I leaned into the strengths I’d cultivated while working in real estate: cold calling, lead generation, appointment setting, and virtual assisting. When advertising these skills on freelance marketplaces, I positioned myself as an expert in sales optimization, client acquisition, and virtual assistance.
Starting out wasn’t easy, and I faced many challenges, particularly in securing a consistent stream of clients.
I decided to take a multifaceted approach, and in addition to using platforms, I recognized the power of personal connections. Conversations with friends and family not only fostered a supportive network but also often resulted in valuable referrals and business leads.
I also started cold calling. Over time, I built a reputation for delivering high-quality work, which set the stage for my business to grow.
I started hiring help 4 months in
I decided to bring on a team. Initially, I hired seven employees to tackle administrative tasks and handle cold-calling responsibilities. Then I discovered automation tools that reshaped our operational efficiency and realized a smaller, dedicated group could adeptly handle the evolving demands of the business.
By cutting the team down and harnessing the power of automation, we achieved a level of productivity that allowed us to focus on quality service while maintaining financial stability. This was pivotal in optimizing our workflow and positioned the business for sustained success.
At the end of my first year of freelancing, I generated over $100,000 in revenue. As I entered my second year of freelancing in 2022, I was determined to double my sales, so I employed some specific strategies.
Upselling and cross-selling: enhancing value for existing clients
Rather than seeing a completed project as the end of client engagement, I saw it as an opportunity to offer more services. For example, if I had initially assisted a client with cold calling and lead generation, I would explore ways to further support their sales efforts, such as offering follow-up appointment setting or refining a sales pitch.
By understanding my clients’ ongoing needs and tailoring my offerings to address them, I transitioned from being a one-time service provider to a long-term partner invested in their growth.
Niche targeting: capturing underserved markets
I identified underserved, niche clients such as real-estate agencies and graphic- and website-design firms. Then I tailored my services to cater to them. This set me apart from more generalized service providers.
For example, by crafting my services to align with the unique challenges tech startups faced — including lead-generation difficulty and client retention — I became a sought-after resource in that niche.
Premium offerings: elevating the client experience
As my reputation and client base grew, and I expanded beyond freelancing platforms onto my own website, I realized the potential to offer premium service packages. These catered to clients seeking a higher level of customization, personalization, and hands-on support.
Premium service packages could include exclusive consultation sessions, dedicated account management, in-depth market research, and comprehensive reporting. This strategy not only allowed me to command a higher price point for my services but also demonstrated my commitment to going above and beyond to meet my clients’ needs.
I tapped into a segment of clients willing to invest more for exceptional value and a heightened level of service. Doing so led directly to increased revenue.
Using these strategies, my business revenue for my second full year surpassed $200,000.