Offering Complementary Services to Grow Your Freelance Business

By Liz Alton, Contributor, on May 29, 2018

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By offering packages of complementary services, you can branch into new industries and grow your business in unexpected ways. Just think of it as another way to diversify your portfolio — making you increasingly desirable to a variety of clients. As a freelance writer, I discovered early on that there’s a ceiling to how much I can earn: After all, I can only write so much, and even in the most profitable niches, like technology or healthcare, there’s a cap on client budgets.

But offering a variety of related services — from developing content strategies to creating distribution plans — has helped my clients gain more value from my work. And that means I can charge a much higher price tag. Here are some tips on how to grow your business and income by developing a menu of services that complement your freelance focus.

Think of Yourself As a Full-Stack Freelancer

Could you be a programmer/designer or a copy editor/fact checker? The team at Praxis introduced a way of thinking that I love: the full-stack freelancer. They found that these particular indys “leverage software-as-a-service and online platforms to vertically integrate a ‘full stack’ of capabilities, instead of focusing on one narrow function. This allows them to capture a much greater percentage of the value they create.”

In today’s indy marketplace, where a wide variety of clients work with freelance talent, you have the opportunity to build a business that incorporates different focuses. By offering more than one niche service, you can win over new clients — who will see your extra skills as an additional value-add.

Find Ways to Add More Value

Of course, increasing your income involves creating more value — and complementary services are a smart way to do just that. For instance, Megan wrote content for her clients’ social media channels, but felt there was limited growth potential. Eventually, she expanded into uploading content, managing social engagement and even learning analytics for reporting.

“Basically, when I offered the full package, it was possible to really scale my income,” she says. “I found that clients felt I was indispensable when I integrated more deeply into their business. Often, they’d hire me to write social and end up adding more services over time.” Whether you’re fostering deeper relationships or looking for ways to work with brands that have larger budgets, taking a value-driven approach to your work is a great place to start.

Offer Desirable Service Packages

When you offer a menu of complementary services, you can grow with your customers’ needs. For example, an app programmer who also understands how to integrate user feedback or upload new versions of the app can capture larger client deals down the line. By offering a package of additional services, you can simplify matters for your clients — while also growing your business.

Overall, focusing on end-to-end delivery makes it easier to justify larger contracts and beneficial payment arrangements, like retainers. It also helps you to forge long-term customer relationships. As your service offerings grow, you can develop different tiers of packaging that appeal to a wider range of clients.

Take What You’ve Got to a Different Industry

When Mark started out as a freelance SQL programmer, he worked primarily with large insurance companies. But he soon discovered that his expertise translated well to other healthcare companies — including organizations that specialized in medical software or healthcare devices. “This single realization is what took me from moonlighter to full-timer,” he says. As you become more familiar with your own industry, you’ll be able to identify others that would benefit from your expertise. Bringing your services to a new market can expand your options and help you create a larger portfolio of offerings.

Which Complementary Services Should You Offer?

Now that you know how you can leverage complementary services to build your business and boost your income, it’s time to discover which additional offerings you should consider. Remember: Part of defining your brand as a freelancer is determining the unique combination of services you alone can offer. Ask yourself the following types of questions:

  • Do my clients need any additional services that are similar to what I already offer?
    For example, as a writer, I may tell my clients that I’m available to source photos, upload content, proofread, write social copy or develop editorial calendars.
  • Have my clients ever specified that they want a particular task off their plates?
    If there are a few things that your clients consistently ask for, it may be worth your time and energy to develop the skill sets you would need to take on those tasks.
  • Are there services that are intrinsic to what I already offer that I could be monetizing?
    For example, many social media professionals are experts at audience development, and can turn those insights into actionable strategies.
  • Are there any growing areas or specialties that could leverage my expertise?
    If particular industries are booming, research them and determine areas where you’d be able to integrate your skills.
  • Are my competitors expanding in new areas that could represent growth streams?
    Research other freelancers in your field, and find trends you can leverage to your advantage.
  • Are there any roles in other industries that are similar to what I do?
    Your freelancing niche or expertise may translate well to another field — and that opens you up to an entirely new set of companies and clients.

Growing your business is a continuous effort. Freelancers who learn how to deliver more value in one place for their clients can craft deeper relationships, land bigger contracts and expand their professional horizons. By defining your complementary services, you can take your business to next level, while focusing on doing what you love.

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