Will people actually pay for that? Deciding what freelance services to provide

“Will people even pay for that?” — I have heard myself say a million times.

What I have learned in the last few months is that YES, they will. Astoundingly, people make money providing services that I couldn’t even imagine into existence (Or that others don’t really even NEED to pay for, but don’t tell anyone).

So if you are thinking of making the next step to be an entrepreneur, start a side-hustle offering services, or just pick up a couple of bucks before the holidays, don’t worry — if you have had a job before, you have something to offer. You just have to figure out that that is.

And then you can start charging exorbitant amounts for it….kidding, not kidding. 

Here are some helpful tips for figuring out what you can offer or do as a ‘service-based’ industry professional:

1. Look at what you do now

Have you had a job before? If yes, then you have some semblance of skillset.

I was always under the impression that what I did at work was not fully a skill – does sending e-mails count? Chatting in the kitchen? But I think that is because as we progress through our careers, we become siloed and surround ourselves with people who only know like things. Unless you are in a multi-disciplinary team like a consulting firm, it’s not always straightforward that your skills are unique.

But remember, not everyone can do what you do. For example, take writing skills or even basic communication. Apparently (and let me telllll you) that is not always a given among everyone in the workplace. But even things like project management, organization, or IT troubleshooting are not things that everyone has or wants to do.

To get started, write down what you do in a typical week or on a daily basis. Is it:

  • Writing reports or briefs?
  • Putting together amazing power points?
  • Designing prints?
  • Supervising training and new hires?
  • Creating sales strategies?
  • Coding algorithms?
  • Connecting people and stakeholders?

Whatever you do, there is some area of focus that you have every day (be it marketing, accounting, design, or HR) that can be packaged to sell, and there is no need to find something new.

Nowadays, a lot of companies are bare-bone start-ups. They no longer see the need to do things themselves or figure out how to do them, when you can easily just pay someone who knows how to do it faster.  They also don’t want to invest in full-time HR, Accounting, or Marketing departments. Yes, there are arguments that this is bad because it may increase the part-time gig economy, but I think it is good because you can make a flexible career out of providing advice.

And who doesn’t enjoy telling others your opinion (that isn’t what consulting is though…or is it?)

2.  And how can you package that ‘as a service’ or ‘product’

Think focus, not niche.

So you run the social media platforms of your current company. Well there are a lot of people who have experience in social media nowadays — particularly freelancers. So be more focused: you translate complex software and technical jargon into laymen terms for business clients on social platforms. So you focus on B2B social marketing in highly technical fields (now, doesn’t that sound fancy af).

This is a focused service, and could potentially be a repeatable product down the line. And, happens to be something people actually pay for.

However, it is not a niche. A niche denotes a small, specialized service. Consulting experts warn against this in the beginning: “Don’t worry about niching down in the beginning. I didn’t You see, in the beginning, you’re still testing the waters. You think you know what industry you want to work in and what kind of clients you want to work with, but the truth is, you have no way of knowing until you start. When you get to the core of it, what every business wants is to make money or save money. If you can prove to them that the expertise you provide will help them achieve one (or both) of those things, you have a valuable and desirable service.”

3.  Then look at what companies already outsource (or potentially could but just don’t know they need it yet) 

To succeed as an entrepreneur, you must develop the ability to select and offer the right products or services to your customers in a competitive market. As the quote above emphasizes, if your service makes a company money or saves them money, you have a valuable service.

But that doesn’t mean it is any easier to package and sell.

The easiest thing to do when getting started is to do your research:

  • Look at what other small businesses offer and how they ‘package’ their services. Don’t steal it directly, but use it as inspiration. Also think about what you bring to the table is different.
  • Look at job postings for freelancers on Upwork or Indeed. Upwork is a website where employers can post ad-hoc, short-term and long-term contracting jobs. Looking at what employers are looking for — especially a critical mass — can help you determine what to offer but also what you could get paid.
  • Talk to a couple of potential clients, to see what their pain points are in terms of their business at the moment. But don’t ask for work…if anything, offer to ‘help’ at the beginning to test the waters.

4.  Relax and learn the logistics later

Don’t worry about administration of being a business. Things like:

  • Fee negotiation
  • Invoicing 
  • Contracts
  • Deliverables
  • Scopes of Work

Tips and tricks for all of these can be found online. Don’t spend your valuable time becoming an expert in being a small business (unless that is IS your business). There are enough templates, blogs, and how-to’s out there that can help you with these items. Entire companies exist to help you, just like you will exist to help others. 

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