How to Unlock Freelance Success on the Yellow Brick Road
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy and her friends follow the Yellow Brick Road to find what they each want the most. At the end of their journey, Dorothy and Toto get to go home. The scarecrow gets a brain, the tin man gets a heart, and the cowardly lion gets courage.
Dorothy and her friends got what they wanted because they took action. They followed the Yellow Brick Road until they did what they set out to do. As a freelancer, you too can get what you want—a stable, successful freelance business—if you take the right actions.
Follow the Yellow Brick Road to Freelance Success
I know what you’re thinking.
The Yellow Brick Road in the Wizard of Oz isn’t real. And you’re right.
But the Yellow Brick Road has come to be a symbol of the road to success and happiness. It’s also known as a course of action taken in the belief that it will lead to good things.
On my Yellow Brick Road—seven proven steps to freelance success—you won’t have to fight flying monkeys, survive deadly poppies, or fight a wicked witch. But you will need to follow the road until you reach the end.
And you will face obstacles. Just as capturing the broomstick of a wicked witch wasn’t easy for Dorothy and her friends, building a stable, successful freelance business won’t be easy for you.
But my Yellow Brick Road gives you a step-by-step course of action you can take to build your freelance business.
Seven Proven Steps to High-Paying Freelance Work
So you won’t agonize over how to find the clients you deserve or waste your time on things that don’t work—like most freelancers do.
Instead, you’ll be able to find awesome high-paying clients.
And those clients are out there. They need the help of talented freelancers.
If you follow all of the steps on my Yellow Brick Road, then you’ll have marketing tools and knowledge that will help you attract the right clients now and in the future.
Here’s a preview of the 7 steps:
If you’re ready to start following your Yellow Brick Road after reading about the steps, see 3 Ways to Build a Stable, Successful Freelance Business.
When clients hire a freelancer, they want a specialist, someone with expertise in the type of freelance work they need help with. And they’re willing to pay well for that expertise.
That’s why specializing is the fastest, easiest way to get high-paying clients.
- Are growing
- Need your freelance services
- Have professional associations that make it easy for you to find clients.
Industry specialization is a great choice for most freelancers because it lets you choose industries where:
- Clients can pay freelancers well
- There’s lots of opportunity now and in the future.
Freelancers can also specialize by industry(ies) and project or by project.
Picking your specialty(ies) takes time and effort. But if you do the work now, you’ll be able to get bigger, better freelance work—forever.
When you have a clearly-defined specialty(ies), it’s much easier to find high-paying clients.
Instead of taking whatever work comes along, you choose the clients you want to work with. Start by making a list of prospective clients (prospects).
Focus on clients that:
- Work with multiple freelancers
- Understand the value we bring them
- Can pay us what we’re worth.
These are usually large businesses and some other large organizations.
Ways to find prospects
Professional associations, through their member directories, are the easiest way to make your prospect list. Member directories usually have all of the information you need to contact the right person—or someone who knows the right person—at the company.
You can also find prospects through:
- Leading company lists
- Online directories.
Once you have your prospect list, use direct email to get high-paying clients.
Become irresistible by customizing each direct email to the client’s needs. To do this, you spend a few minutes on each prospect’s website. Use what you learn about the prospect along with what you already know about the industry and/or type of client to write an irresistible email.
Here’s what to include in your direct email:
- A compelling, client-focused subject line
- A sentence showing that you understand the organization’s needs
- 1 or 2 sentences about your most relevant experience and how this enables you to meet the client’s needs
- A link to your client-focused website (or your client-focused LinkedIn profile if you don’t have a website yet) so that the prospect can easily learn more about you
- A call to action that clearly says what will happen next (e.g., “Should we schedule a call next week to discuss this?”).
Before clients contact you, they want to check you out. And colleagues who are thinking about referring work to you want to check you out first too.
So you need a strong online presence: Your LinkedIn profile and your website.
Along with impressing clients who already know about you and check you out on LinkedIn, you can attract more clients who are looking for freelancers on LinkedIn.
And more clients are using LinkedIn to find freelancers now.
Impress and attract clients with a complete, client-focused profile.
Your complete LinkedIn profile
A complete profile helps you rank higher in search results—so more clients will find you. A complete profile has:
- Industry and location
- Profile photo
- Current position
- Two past positions
- At least 3 skills.
You also need at least 50 connections for LinkedIn to consider your profile complete.
Your client-focused LinkedIn profile
A compelling, client-focused helps persuade clients that you’re the right freelancer for them. Focus on your:
- Headline, and use the right keywords
- About section (also called the summary), especially the first 220-270 characters.
The right keywords include:
- “freelance writer” or “freelance editor” [ or “freelance xyz”]
- Key services
- Industry-specific keywords
- Client types and their audiences.
Your headline—up to 120 characters— is the most important part of your profile. Clearly say what you do and how you help your clients.
About is the second most important part of your profile. On a computer, the first 220-270 characters or so show before a person has to click “see more” (about 102-167 characters show on mobile devices). Build on your headline and offer a clear, concise, client-focused message in the first two sentences.
Clients expect freelancers to have professional websites.
A compelling, client-focused website shows clients that you’re the right choice for them and colleagues that you’re a professional who will do a great job if they refer work to you. Done right, your website will:
- Impress clients and colleagues by showing them you understand client needs
- Highlight your expertise, skills, and work (usually through samples)
- Show that you’re a professional who is running a business.
Your awesome freelance website
Like your direct emails, LinkedIn profile, and all freelance marketing, your website needs to focus on how you help clients meet their needs. An awesome freelance website has:
- Content that’s compelling, clear, and client-focused
- Design that’s amazing (visually engaging, clear, and easy to navigate).
Your content needs to quickly convey:
- What you do (your services)
- Who you do it for (your target clients)
- How what you do benefits clients.
Who you know—a.k.a. your network—can be more important than anything else in getting high-paying clients and building a steady, high-income freelance business.
Building a trusting, strategic network will help you:
- Get more referrals
- Meet more clients
- Get practical advice and support from other freelancers.
Be strategic and get to know people
Be strategic about how and where you spend most of your networking time. Focus on the people and places that will be most useful to you. Other freelancers are a key part of your strategic network. And professional associations are the best places to meet the right people.
Nothing beats in-person networking for building trusting relationships and a strategic network. With the right attitude, networking can be easier and less stressful for you. Networking is about getting to know people, NOT “selling yourself.” And when you to give more than you take, or help people without expecting anything in return, networking becomes much easier. And it works better!
Up to 90% of the time, clients aren’t ready to hire a freelancer when you first contact or meet them. But many of these clients will need a freelancer within the next 12 months or so.
Many freelancers miss getting high-paying clients because they rarely or never follow up with clients who’ve expressed interest in their services but haven’t hired them.
By following up, you ensure that you’ll be first in line when the client does need a freelancer. Being first in line means that the client thinks of you—and not another freelancer—at that moment.
Be helpful, relevant, and persistent
Like networking, follow up isn’t about “selling yourself.” Most of the time, your follow up should focus on sharing relevant content or commenting on something about the client or your contact person.
There’s a lot of great free content online that you can share, including:
- Industry updates
- Free tools.
Once or twice a year—as part of your overall follow up—you can send interested clients a friendly reminder that you’re available for freelance work.
How to Follow Your Yellow Brick Road
You can’t just click your heels together, repeat, “I want to succeed as a freelancer,” and wake up with the high-paying clients you deserve. But my Yellow Brick Road gives you a proven process for building a stable, successful freelance business.
Dorothy and her friends had to work hard to complete their journey. You will too.
But if you work hard now, you’ll set yourself up for freelance success.
You’ll have the right marketing tools to get the high-paying clients you deserve. And you’ll know what to do when you need to actively find new clients and make more money.
So won’t end up desperate like so many freelancers. And you won’t be worried about your future most of the time.
If you’re ready to start your journey down the Yellow Brick Road, here are 3 ways to do this.
#1. The free way
You can learn how to unlock freelance success using The Ultimate Guide to the Freelance Success You Deserve.
My free guide gives you a good overview of the seven steps and links to:
- Mighty Marketer blog posts
- Free checklists, templates, and other tools.
There’s just one problem. You’ll have to do it all on your own.
#2. The easier way
Or you can get the fundamentals in one place: 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing: Get the clients you deserve. My book covers the 7 steps in more detail than this guide and includes bonus content: free checklists, templates, and other tools.
So this will be a little easier than putting everything together on your own using free Mighty Marketer content.
Still, there won’t be anyone to remind you to do the work, or to hold you accountable for making progress.
If you’re highly motivated and can commit to following the 7-step process on your own, then my book is a good choice for you. You should also read Mighty Marketer blog posts for examples of how freelancers are implementing the 7 steps and for more info on some of the steps.
What freelancers say about 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing
Personally, I like learning from books. I’ve bought (and still buy) lots of books to learn how to run my freelance business better.
If you’re thinking about buying 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing: Get the clients you deserve, read what freelancers say about it.
You can get my book on Amazon.
#3. The easiest way
But the easiest way to get the high-paying clients you deserve and build a stable, successful freelance business is to take my 7-week online course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.
Finding the Freelance Clients You DeserveA proven way to build a stable, successful freelance business.
7-week Winter session starts February 3rd
An online course is more engaging and more interactive than reading a book. The online courses I’ve taken have made it easier for me to learn about complex subjects. It’s also easier to build skills—like marketing—in a course.
Motivation, interactive content, and accountability
In my online course, you get:
- Motivational content and tools to help you develop the mindset for freelance success
- Regular reminders when it’s time to start each module
- Video lessons to watch (along with transcripts of each module)
- Assignments that guide you through developing your marketing
- Handouts with templates, checklists, examples, and more.
Personal coaching based on your business
If you take the coaching version of my online course, you’ll get personal guidance and support from me, based on your business goals and challenges. I review your marketing and key course assignments. And of course, you can ask me all of your questions about marketing.
And I’ll hold you accountable for doing the work—in a nice way.
My students tell me that coaching helps them build their confidence and succeed faster.
The course is also available as self-study. This is best if you’re an experienced freelancer who is doing okay but you know you could be doing better.
What freelancers say about Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve
Want to know more? Here are some case studies about how Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve is helping freelancers make more money.