Outsource What You Don’t Love and Don’t Feel Bad About It

Outsource What You Don’t Love and Don’t Feel Bad About It

John Doherty, founder of EditorNinja and Credo, sat down with Harlow co-founder, Samantha Anderl, to discuss the ins and outs of outsourcing to grow your freelance business.

If you’re ready to scale and outsource the aspects of your freelance business that you don’t love – without feeling bad about it – this discussion is for you.

Catch up on the conversation here:

 

Stay in touch with John on Threads, Twitter, and LinkedIn!
And follow along with EditorNinja on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram!

Freelance Interview Series – Investing In Your Freelance Business

Freelance Interview Series – Investing In Your Freelance Business

Rochi Zalani is a freelance writer who helps SaaS companies grow their business through long-form content. She has worked with well-known brands like Zapier, Buffer, and more.

Here’s her take on why and how you should be investing in your freelance business.

"As a freelancer, time is money, and you want to use it wisely."

Why should freelancers prioritize investing in their business?

For me, it came down to efficiency. I was using 12+ software tools to manage my business — which resulted in a lot of admin management and context-switching.

As a freelancer, time is money, and you want to use it wisely. It’s more than worth it to invest in courses that help you improve your skills, software (like Harlow!) that decreases your mental load, and even a virtual assistant to take some tasks off your to-do list. The return on investment is huge.

How has the way you’ve invested in your business shifted as it’s grown?

In the beginning, I stuck to free tools. That often meant going the extra mile to research good software/courses with a free version and trying many different platforms to find the one that fit my needs best. It was a lot of work, but at the time, my top priority was keeping my expenses to a minimum.

As my business has grown, my needs have evolved. I’ve devoted a budget to business expenses like software and courses that help me scale and optimize my processes or improve my skills. And I use it as I see fit. Some expenses are recurring (like my Harlow subscription), while others are one-off (like courses).

When do you recommend small business owners begin investing in their businesses?

Ideally, as soon as you get your business off the ground. Migrating to a new tool later on can be a huge hassle. And, as they say, you have to spend (at least a little) money to make money.

You don’t have to start with multiple paid tools, but you do have to start somewhere. This could mean:
– Taking reputable courses that round out your resume
– Devoting one day every month to learning a new software or platform
– Trying the business tools other freelancers in your community use and love

You could be stuck in grunt-working methods for years, trying to cobble together a bunch of free tools. Or, you could invest in the right ones early on and watch them scale with you.

Talk to us about the tools you invest in for your business and why you chose them.

Software-wise, I used to invest in a time-tracker tool, an invoicing software, and a project management platform. Harlow has replaced all of these for me now. It has been one of the best investments I’ve made because it simplifies my admin work by leaps and bounds. I can keep track of invoices, deadlines, and time all under one tab. It’s become a tradition for me to open Harlow every morning and see what I have in store for the day.

Apart from Harlow, I still rely on Trello a little bit for client work. And I use Notion to keep track of email templates, interesting examples in my industry, and other valuable info. For scheduling my social media posts, I use Buffer. I also use Grammarly and Hemingway Editor to ensure correct grammar and easy-to-read sentences.

(Out of all the tools above, I only use the paid versions of Harlow and Grammarly.)

In 2023, I also bought Marijana Kay’s project planner and data vault. The former is immensely helpful for capacity planning and tracking my income. The latter is useful for finding the latest studies on various topics in my industry.

I’ve also invested in many free and paid writing-related courses over the years — like Steph Smith’s Doing Content Right (paid) and Tommy Walker’s The Cutting Room (free). I vet any course I do thoroughly — primarily relying on reviews and ensuring it’s taught by industry experts who have walked the walk. These courses help me stay sharp, relevant, and skilled in the economy. No one has ever “learned it all.”

For solopreneurs who want to begin investing in their businesses but don’t have much extra income, where do you recommend they start?

Find the free tools and free trials and experiment with them. They might get only 50–75% of the job done, but they will still help you become more efficient.

You might have to test many before finding one that fits your needs. I tried around five different social media scheduling tools before deciding Buffer is the best of them all. Notion has a bit of a learning curve — meaning it took some time before I could get the most out of it.

I began investing by snooping around in other freelancers’ workflows, and I’d suggest you do the same. Ask your community which tools they love, and you’ll have a solid list to work from.

If you haven’t picked up any courses in a while, I recommend dedicating two hours of your weekend (or Fridays) to learning. Again, you don’t have to find paid courses. There are free YouTube lessons and valuable articles for nearly every topic. You just might have to do the extra legwork of needling together many different sources of information.

And keep in mind: Time is money too. You might decide that the time you’re devoting to researching and jerry-rigging free tools would be better spent on client work. This is why investing in paid tools can be better than free tools if they help you optimize your workflow. They save you time, which is a valuable commodity in our industry — and that’s more than worth it in the long run.

Office Hours: Building Relationships Methodically

Office Hours: Building Relationships Methodically

Freelance web developer, designer, and founder of Freelance GPS, Tim Noetzel, joined the Harlow team for an Office Hours session all about relationship building.

They discussed why small business owners should prioritize community building, the importance of nurturing your network, being your own biggest fan, and much more.

Catch up on the conversation here:

 

Stay in touch with Tim on his website and Twitter!

 

Freelance Interview Series – Pitching to Find Work

Freelance Interview Series – Pitching to Find Work

Lizzie Davey has been a freelance content writer and strategist for 10 years. During this time, she’s worked with 50+ brands in the ecommerce and tech world, including Shopify, CoSchedule, and Hotjar. Alongside her writing business, she creates workshops, resources, and courses for freelancers and content writers at Freelance Magic and Copy Revival.

"Brands won’t know you exist and are open to work if you don’t put yourself in front of them!"

Guide us through your process for pitching a new client.

My pitching process has changed a LOT over the years. It used to be a bit more of a hit and hope activity, whereas now I’m much more strategic about it.

This is the pattern I follow each time I pitch:

  • Find a brand I want to work with
  • Check that they work with freelancers (by checking their blog, social media presence, and whether they’ve had any recent funding)
  • Identify the right contact via LinkedIn to find their first name
  • Engage with the contact if they have no idea who I am
  • Send a short, personalized message either via LinkedIn or email
  • Follow up one week later if I don’t get a reply

Where have you had the most success pitching new clients?

LinkedIn has been a fantastic resource for finding clients to pitch. People are often thinking about work when they’re active there, so there’s not so much of a context switch, plus there are plenty of ways you can find brands to pitch. This might include using the LinkedIn search function to look for open freelance roles, searching for brands in my niche, or using hashtags to find call-outs for freelancers.

How do you build your list of potential new clients to pitch to?

I use a mix of good old Google, LinkedIn, and Crunchbase to find brands that are in my niche, are open to working with freelancers, and that have a good amount of funding behind them (so they can afford me!).

Each time I come across a client I’m interested in working with, I jot down their details. This includes the point of contact, any key notes, any previous connection I’ve had with the brand, the date I send the first pitch, and any follow up that is necessary.

Do you have any email templates for pitching that you could share?

I shared some pitching templates for different scenarios in a past newsletter edition here – including pitching new potential prospects!

What advice would you give new(ish) freelancers who are intimidated by pitching?

Pitching has been a part of business for centuries. Content leads and hiring managers expect to receive pitches.

I try to come at it from a curious angle, kind of like I’m experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. That makes the rejection easier to handle because it’s not personal, it’s just another data point. And finally, brands won’t know you exist, and are open to work, if you don’t put yourself in front of them!