Deciding The Next Step In Your Freelance Business

If you’re just starting out as a freelancer, you’ll probably be so busy with just trying to keep up with the day to day activities of your business, and trying to get it off the ground. But what if you’ve been in business for awhile and have a steady stream of clients? What now?

Being in business is a lot of work and it’s something you just can’t shut off at 5 p.m. when you leave your office everyday. It’s actually quite common to go to your office at 9 a.m on a Monday and come out two months later. That being said, we can fall into the trap of day-to-day. While it is important to focus most of your time on day-to-day, you also need to think about where you want to go. Do you want to continue servicing clients for the rest of your business life? Or are you only hoping to get a steady enough stream of business so you can do something else?

Assess Your Problems

If you’ve been a subscriber to my blog for awhile, you’ve probably noticed several changes around here. The first was that I was guest posting on several blogs. While this was fun and increased my traffic exponentially, it led to the decrease in the number and quality of full length posts here. I found myself coming up with great ideas for posts and then trying to decide if I should write it on another blog to gain more exposure, or if I should leave it here. An article posted here will never do as well as the same one posted on another blog.

However, I didn’t feel that this was right, as I’ve spent a lot of time building this blog and it wasn’t fair to my subscribers, so I decided to step back from all my guest roles, except for FreelanceFolder, and schedule in a full day to brainstorm and write articles each week.

Assess Your Goals

As freelancers, we tend to move from one area to another in our career. Some developers become designers, some designers become developers, others become writers, etc, etc. We should never, ever stop learning and also never turn down an opportunity to learn something you find interesting.

So I’ve been thinking, what is it that I really want to do? Sure I love my clients, I can now pick and choose which clients I want and not have to worry about terrible projects, clients or rates. But is this what I want to do for forever? Not exactly.

I’ve been doing a lot, I mean a lot, of research in the past weeks. I’ve read over 4 books, listened to around 20 podcasts and read several blogs on software development. I’m talking web, iPhone and iPad apps here. I’ve never ever cared about software development, but for some reason it’s become an itch. And itches should be scratch!

Since beginning the work on Codesnipp.it, the idea of building and owning several apps have been VERY appealing to me. So much so, that I’ve purchased an iPhone dev book and plan to starting building some apps in Cocoa once we get the beta up for Codesnipp.it. I have several ideas already on lots of great apps I’d like to build, that sync with it’s web version.

So what is it you really want to do? How can you begin moving your business to accomplish this? I’ve started already by taking less work and trying to build some relationships with my key clients to insure incoming work. I’ve also started several affiliate programs around here, so I can try to make even a few dollars on the side while working on my own projects.

Realize that it’s no cake walk

If you decide you want to start doing something else, or build something else, realize it’s going to take a LOT of time. Which means no South Park, American Idol or PS3 in the evenings. The evenings are meant for you to continue working – but only on the “new” stuff, the personal projects, the stuff that makes the nerd inside you giddy and gleeful. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours and yes, I’m super tired. But how many hours did Bill Gates and Steve Jobs work to get to where they are? Do you think the guys at @37signals only worked a couple hours a day and then got famous? I don’t think so.

Start off small

Get some books on that new thing you want to learn. Download some podcasts, blog posts or anything else you can get your hands off. Start off by listing somethings you want to do with this new “something”. Make sure it’s something that can make you as much, or more, money than you’re making now. If you want to start building apps, try to come up with several ideas you could build off of.

What I’ve been checking out

Here are a few of the new stuff I’ve been checking out, including links to the item’s I’ve reviewed.

Books:

Podcasts:

  • 37signals – highly recommend!
  • Boagworld
  • The Dev Show
  • The Pipeline – another awesome one
  • Think Vitamin Radio
  • Freelance Radio

Where are you?

Where’s your business? Are you happy doing what you’re doing now, or do you want to branch off into something else? What is it?

Image by timlewisnm