How to grow your freelance business without the expense

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Are you a freelancer working from home, on project to project, wondering how you can increase your income?  You could just increase your rates, right?

How about expanding and managing a team of freelancers… I can’t afford that I hear you say, I’d have to employ people, rent an office and what if I don’t get enough work? … well you can in other ways.

Reasons why you’d want to expand your freelance business

  • More income

The more projects you work on at the same time the more you will earn, increasing your turnover and profit.

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  • Possibility to earn whilst sick or on holiday

When you took a holiday whilst freelancing you won’t get paid.  If you have another artist working on a project whilst you are away, you will potentially still be earning

  • Excitement and new challenges

Growing a company no matter how small feels different to a job, the world is your Oyster! You decide what happens, you are in charge of marketing, project management and everything.  The thrill of what you can do, where you can take it brings new excitement.

  • The chance to grow a company or brand instead of going from project to project

When freelancing alone you are your brand but will always be a freelancer to clients.  If you expand, you are now forming more of a company and can market as one, even going ‘Ltd’. 

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Reasons why you’d NOT want to expand

  • It’s more work

You have all these projects on earning you extra income, but they don’t run themselves, you now have to make sure everything works, and keep each client happy.

  • Trusting other artists with your client work

You may have built relationships with clients over years, now someone else will be creating the project, will their quality be up to yours, one slip and you could lose a long standing client!

  • Accounting and legal reasons

Your turnover will increase and hopefully your profit.  You will definitely need a proper accounting company to look after everything.  You will need to save money for the new amount of corporation tax, personal tax, and a plethora of other tax systems.

  • Fear

It may seem daunting or you simply fear all the change. Eventually, you have to adapt from a freelancer to a company owner and that means you are in charge of everything.

Growth by collaboration

The key to expanding from a freelancer without the expense is to collaborate with others.  This allows you to take on multiple projects at the same time.  This takes work initially as you MUST use people you trust or build strong working relationships.  But once you have a small trusted team to call on, you can work on winning more projects.

Advantages of collaboration

  • You can take on more work

You found other artists you can trust and work with, now you don’t have to turn down projects because you are already booked like when you were freelancing

  • More people to brainstorm and design

Now you have the advantage of added brain power, even that the sole responsibility to come up with a fantastic idea on your own to please your client can be shared.  Someone else to brainstorm with can spark much better ideas.

  • Not as lonely

Working from home especially can get lonely, Once you start forming a network and collaborating you will be meeting and discussing the project everyday, whether in person or remotely over collaboration platforms like Skype for instance.

You can build a powerful network and team

There really is no limits on how you can keep adding people to your team, it’s good to have people with different skill-sets or if you do more of a certain type of work then get more than one person that excels in that.  For example, in a small animation studio you may need 2-3 good  motion designers.  One other very effective method is partner up with another smaller studio that already has a small team.

Financial advantages

Instead of just earning from one project you now have the potential to work on one project yourself and manage other projects whilst making a percentage of those projects on top

  • No wages to pay employees, you pay your team per project only
  • No office or studio rental charges, you all work from your own studio
  • You only pay for the equipment and software licenses you own

You don’t have to just collaborate with single individuals either, you might partner with another small studio that might already have a team of animators.

TIP:  Start small and build trust!

Final thoughts:

My biggest advice is don’t just run out and give your new projects to anyone.  Start small with one project, whilst you are working on another project to see how it goes and if you are comfortable yourself.

Don’t forget as well as working on your project you will now have to oversee the extra project dealing with the client and passing that information to your new artist. You not only need to have extra time to manage this, it’s also your responsibility to make sure that project is done as good as if you were doing it yourself!

It can be hard work and more work, but rewarding as you build something, I managed to quadruple my turnover in the first few years using the exact same strategies.

I wish you success.

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About David Mattock

David Mattock is an animator and motion designer based in the UK. After freelancing for many years, he grew through the methods described above to form a small collaborative animation company – you can see his work at fullrotation.com

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Comments

  1. David,
    I’m curious if you have explored collaborating with professionals in related fields (e.g. a copywriter like myself). That’s something I’ve been working on myself with some results.

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