I have this philosophy on what you should invest in when you get started with your freelance business. The three big investments that I think you should spend your money (and/or time) on are branding, your website, and strategy. I took a break to share some boss babes with you and handing out library cards to The Freelance Library.
This week I’ll talk about how to invest in strategy without breaking the bank.
To be fair. You can spend a ton of money on strategy. Or you can go the super DIY route and do something like find actual business friends. But making friends as an adult is hard. And finding biz ladies who have time to socialize when they have full-time jobs – even harder. However, you cannot go it alone.
I know a lot of bosses (i.e. 23% of the ladies from my boss ladies post last month) who believe that connecting people led directly to them leveling up in their businesses.
I promise this works. Without talking to people, I wouldn’t have a blog. Or The Freelance Library. Or even be a Freelance Mentor. And while I love the other parts of my business – I feel like I’m really pouring into people in the exact way that I want to through these mediums.
To beat it over your head a little bit more, the most important thing in your business is talking to real live people. Talking to customers is extremely important but having someone to unpack those customers thoughts with – is straw to gold business sense.
How to invest in strategy by hunting for biz besties
Did I say making friends as an adult is hard? Umm, yes! But how do you find friends in a particular niche?
Go to where they are. And then ask them on a business date.
I know that you’ve heard that action is really hot in Facebook groups. And while you can use them to reply to daily posts, ask a random question, etc. – you need to take your connection outside of the group to make it worthwhile. Ask people for a coffee chat. If you all live the same city – awesome make a Tuesday morning coffee/tea/other drinkable substance date. Live elsewhere? Make that coffee virtual! And make it really easy by setting up your availability on a scheduling service like Acuity or Calendly. It may feel cheesy to say – ‘hey, click this link and schedule a meeting on my super impersonal looking calendar,’ but it also says, ‘hey, I know you’re a busy person and respect your time too much to spend days replying back and forth to emails.’
If you haven’t heard of meetup.com, get to know it. The site is a hub for IRL (in real life) connections. There are groups based on topics on just about everything from being a woman in tech, aspiring knitter, or Star Wars fan – you can find a home in your city just by searching on meetup.com. After you get connected with the groups you can attend one or two super scary networking mixers and then – ask them to coffee. Solo aetworking events are not things that most normal humans enjoy in real life – so don’t do it for longer than you have to. Go to said event → find a friend → ask them to coffee → become BFFs and never go solo to a networking event again.
When you embrace the world of freelance and being a creative – you sometimes think that means LinkedIn is shut off for you. Umm, no people who work for themselves still like networking with one another and other professionals still in the corporate world. If you’re interested in being a social media marketer – find one in your area who you can chat with. My favorite thing to do on LinkedIn is look up people from my alma mater. I went to a school full of school pride (as many American universities are – especially when they have historically prolific football teams) who are always willing to help a fellow alum out. When I was job-hunting, I made ins at companies entirely based on my alma mater. So, the next time you are researching people to reach out to – narrow your search down a little bit with your alma mater.
Sidenote: Please don’t check my LinkedIn profile. I’ve given up on ever again writing a resume (joy of working for yourself) so my profile doesn’t necessarily express who I am. However, if I ever find myself in a new city, this is so getting an overhaul so I can look up my University of Miami peeps!
How to invest in strategy by joining a mastermind
If you have never heard of a mastermind, it’s when like minded souls gather round a (possibly virtual) table and chat business goals and give one another support.
Nevica Vazquez says it a little more elegantly here:
A group of people who get together on a regular basis to offer support, feedback, and new ideas, that will help you progress from where you currently are.
Umm, sign me up please!
The great thing about a mastermind – you can still find a group that is free.99 if you start your own. If you have some bosses in mind – maybe some ladies that you have mined from your Facebook groups, meetup events, or Linkedin 😉 – contact them and let them know you need support and want to offer some to them as well. Nevica has a checklist (linked in her blog post) for advice on how to organize everything as you get started.
I’m currently accidentally in a mastermind group. In January, I enrolled in a coaching program that came along with bi-weekly group calls. Welp, there was a typo that said weekly calls and my coach decided to honor those. And we bonded so much! So much that now that the program is over, we’re working through Powersheets together to keep ourselves focused on goals that we set up (and often exceeded) over the six-months we had together. I attribute so much of my recent success to just having them to talk too and 100% endorse you finding a group like this.
How to invest in strategy by going for broke and hiring a coach
Okay. This is the big one. The thing that you do when you’re over making baby steps and want to make giant leaps. Like Long Jump at the Olympics leaps. And I’m talking about center of the podium leaps – not the ones where the announcers tell your story because it’s really interesting while fully assuming you’re never going to amount to a medal. I’m talking jaw dropping, I-can’t-believe-you-did-this-in-only-six-months success.
Coaches do not often come cheap and they often expect a lot of your time. Do not be afraid to give it to them. Put in the work, do the assignments, do the hard scary things and watch your growth.
I strongly suggest (politely) Internet stalking them first. Check them out on social, figure out their story, join their email lists, hit reply and respond to a question. Get to know them (as much as possible) to make sure you both meld in a business relationship and then take the leap and give them your money.
Coaches are for people who want to grow a lot in a little bit of time and take some pressure off of their business somewhere – whether it’s finances, time actively spent working, branding, or any other strategy.
Which of these ways speak to you the most? Drop your comment below!