Freelancing – Your First Six Months

I love anticipation. It’s one of my favorite parts of traveling. There’s nothing like the hope and energy of starting out on a great journey – or even a small one, depending. 

Think about starting college, a new job, getting to spend time with someone you rarely see, or an actual epic journey. It’s exhilarating. A blank canvas. All that anticipation is thrilling. 

That flame can carry you a long way.

But if that flame gets snuffed out? In any of the many ways that happens? It can be devastating.

That’s why early wins are so critical to your business success. Once you get a few on the board, your hope is partnered with success. Now you know: you can do this. Game on!

The wins that matter most

There are two kinds of early business wins. Windfalls and milestones.

Windfalls are more common. It’s when someone a few rungs up the ladder from you passes a project your way. Or when someone reaches out because a mutual friend says you might be able to help.

Great when it happens, but it wasn’t by design, it’s not intentionally repeatable, and it’s not how a business is built. You can’t rely on random events.

Your business needs to be driven on predictability, not luck. 

A successful business is a set of systems that reliably acquire good-fit clients and deliver services at a profit.

So yes, windfalls are great, but not what you need.

The wins that matter most when you start are system wins. These are the early milestones every business has to achieve to stay standing. 

The quicker you get those wins on the board, the more likely you are to be in business in five years – having achieved your financial and creative goals.

Here are the early system wins that matter above all else…

  • Landing good-fit clients using a system
  • Delivering a service profitably using a process
  • Managing and exiting a project with a very happy client
  • Organizing your time and your projects so you’re not surprised, or stressed 
  • Establishing your online presence and ‘planting your stake in the ground’

How long will this take?

Six months.

You can do all of this in six months. Some people take a bit longer. But a lot of people take years. And this is the biggest takeaway I have for you today…

You can put your head down and knock this out in a few months. Or you can poke and prod, spend a lot of time and money on new courses and then poke and prod some more. We all are guilty of that (hands up from me, too). We all avoid the things we know we should do. 

Ironically, a big part of the problem are those windfall clients. They take the pressure off and we postpone working on our business (instead of in it, doing client work) to another day. 

Eventually, you realize windfall clients won’t get you where you need to go. They’ll keep you stuck where you are.

When you realize that?

Good time to roll up your sleeves and start the work.

Will it take you six months?

That’s up to you. But if you’re ready, here’s the best advice I can give you to make this as fast and profitable as possible…

The first draft is all you need

To be good at client acquisition, client management, or making a profit, you need something to improve upon first. 

Too many freelancers think their first client-acquisition efforts need to be good. And that’s because of (sorry – rant coming up) all those damn courses telling you how easy it is. 

Like hell it is. 

It’s simple but it is not easy. It takes work and it’s a skill.

If getting clients were easy, everyone would be a rich freelancer. 

(That’s a good thing by the way. You do not want to be in an industry where everything is easy. Barriers to success are why you’ll get paid more.)

Your first goal is to set up the simplest systems you can manage and see how they perform.

You need that first draft to improve on. The quicker you get one out into the wild to test, the quicker you can grow.

Do that, hit those five milestones as quickly as possible, and something magical will happen.

You’ll have a business. Now comes the fun part.

Businesses grow when they improve their systems

If you have a lead-generation system that can attract one client, you can attract a second. That’s why having a system matters so much. It’s a process that works on an input and output basis. You do X and you get Y.

I love how formulaic it is – that part feels like a game to me. Speaking of which…

Systems can be improved and their leverage can be remarkable. Here’s an example.

Say you charge $10k on a project and 10% ($1k) is your profit. If you make your process 10% more efficient across the board (time and cost of delivery), that translates into a $2k profit! (Not suggesting those margins, just for the sake of easy math…)

That’s a 100% profit bump through a 10% efficiency improvement. 

But that can only happen if you have a process to make better. 

Having a crappy process is more profitable than having no process at all. 

That’s your role as a business owner. Set up systems and make them better.


Start the clock

Those six months start when you commit to those system goals. They end when you do the work. 

That’s a huge freedom and a responsibility, and if you’re ready, I’ll walk you through the steps. 

Starting next week, I’m getting into the nitty gritty of building and running your freelance business. But there’s something else I have planned for you.

The success of any business depends on the skills and decisions of the owner. So, to help you build a successful freelance business, I need to transform you into a business person. 

That’s the real work. That’s what will set you free. 

This was originally sent as an issue of my weekly newsletter, The Breakthrough Beat.
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And so you know I can walk the walk…

Are you ready for clients who bring you interesting projects and higher fees? A bank balance that means you don’t have to worry about what happens in the next 12 months?  

Then know this…

Getting there isn’t luck. It’s the result of deliberate steps that follow well-proven paths to success.  

I know those steps and I know those paths, and I’m going to show you both, starting today.

As long as your business is client-based, your success – and the size of your bank account – is tied directly to the quality of clients you attract.

Hi, I’m Amy Posner…

  • I’ve coached hundreds of creative freelancers to success
  • I’ve built six businesses, all highly profitable
  • I’ve owned and run a micro and a full creative agency
  • As a freelancer, I’ve had multiple $200k+ years
  • My businesses have sailed through the worst economic shocks the last 30 years could throw at them

And now I’m going to share everything I know with you about building a resilient and rewarding business that delivers on the full promise of your talent.

LEarn more about working together  →

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