Businesses have to change with the times. When a freelance business stays on the same path without fitting into the needs of the day, other freelancers are more than willing to step in and do the work in your place. Sometimes, your business just gets tired and needs a fresh look. It needs to be regenerated.
A great example of a freelancer that’s always regenerating is the Doctor. You know Who. His freelance business doesn’t have the goal of making money. Instead, he measures success by defeating the baddies and saving the day throughout all time and space. It’s timey wimey. That’s not typical of your standard freelance business (if this describes your freelance business then please contact me).
A freelance business is like a knackered TARDIS – it can take you anywhere, but not always in the direction you intended. It’s also bigger on the inside. On the surface a freelance business is the primary thing that you do to make money. The end product is what people see. Sometimes changes need to be made on the surface; sometimes changes need to be made behind the scenes.
For example, if you’re a freelance writer, then your writing is what most people see. However, in reality a freelance business is bigger on the inside. There’s more to a freelance business than what most see. They don’t see the other activities you have to do, like accounting, marketing, saving the universe, or fighting on the fields of Trenzalore.
How to Know When It’s Time to Regenerate
So how do you know it’s time to make those changes? Let’s go over a few things to look for:
Interest in Your Content Dwindles
You have fewer and fewer shares on social media. You have fewer comments than you used to. Your traffic has dropped. Clients take longer than ever to get back to you and they don’t always have good news when they do. You create 13 episodes per season and occasionally skip a season.
You Have Fewer Contacts
Maybe your network is moving on. Companions come and go. What do you see happening to your friends in your network? Are they moving on to other things? Are they going out of business or retiring? Are you replacing them when you lose contact?
You Have Fewer Clients and They’re Not as Interested as They Used to Be
This is a large universe. There’s always someone to help if you know where to look. Pay attention to what your clients are doing. Are they increasing their traffic? Are they staying on top of the game? Maybe you should consider new clientele. Be careful though… never burn a bridge. Even if you change your look, your previous clients should still recognize you.
You Have More Boring Days Than Interesting Days
We can’t all skip the boring days. Sometimes we have to take each day in their proper order. We tend to lose interest if we do the same thing day in and day out. Maybe your business needs a new goal or a new service. Maybe you can expand your brand. You can make changes and still stay on the same path.
Your Clients Are Moving To Your Competitors
Your competitor’s brand looks more professional and you want to have that same level of professionalism and respect.
You Spend More Time Doing Secondary Work than Your Primary Work
Your TARDIS takes you where you need to go instead of where you want to go. For example, if you’re primary work is writing and you spend more of your time consulting or teaching classes, then your business has switched gears. Are you enjoying it? Are you okay with it? If so, then don’t just set back and let it happen on its own. Take charge of the situation and shape it into what you want it to be. If you’re doing more consulting and you like that, then maybe you should place that sign on your door. Consider your business name and URL though. Don’t focus on one thing and call it another. You might need to rebrand.
Your Website Doesn’t Look Current
Everyone else’s website looks more interesting than yours. If your website looks the same as it did in 2005 it’s time for a new look. We’re on our fourth Doctor since then, and don’t get me started on companions! Update the look of your site. Make it responsive. Add new content often enough (even if it’s just 13 times per year) that your potential clients remember your name and know that you’re still in business.
Your Logo Has Looked the Same for the Past 20 Years and It Shows Its Age
Some logos are timeless. Others are not. Even a hat and scarf from the 60’s can be redrawn to look like a modern design. Remember – you’re just regenerating. This doesn’t mean it has to be completely new. Even the TARDIS looks different on the outside from one Doctor to another. Small changes that aren’t so obvious can still make a design seem fresh.
Clients Want to Know That You Can Lead Them in the Direction They Want to Go
They will follow a leader that acts like a leader. It makes them feel safe. They won’t think of you as a leader if they think you’re outdated and irrelevant.
Four Ways to Regenerate Your Brand Without Getting Exterminated
- Refresh your brand – you keep your brand identity, but everything gets a fresh new look. New website, new logo, new message, new clientele, new networks, new ideas, new challenges.
- Expand your brand – this takes you into new territory, new lands, and lets you explore new planets. You branch out into complementary services. For example, if you build websites, it’s not hard to see yourself as a consultant.
- Rebrand – your brand changes in order to follow your new direction. If you used to do one thing and have changed gears and followed a new direction, your brand might need to be updated to match. For example, if you started out as a writer and you’ve become a designer, a URL for a writer doesn’t exactly tell your potential clients about your brand and services.
- Sub-branding – you create a companion brand that lives in the same dimension and space as your primary brand. This is similar to expanding your brand, except the new sub-brand has a life of its own.
Things to Keep in Mind During Your Regeneration Process
Just be careful not to get exterminated during the regeneration process. It’s hard to come back from that (although…shh..spoilers).
Be careful in your experimenting. Know where you want to go and go there on purpose rather than just hitting buttons and moving levers at random until something cool happens.
Remember your Eye of Harmony. Don’t forget the purpose of your freelance business. Go back to the center and build on the correct foundation.
There’s no such thing as physic paper. Don’t just hand out a blank piece of paper that you’ve written your name on. Use actual business cards. Spend some time with the design. Just like your logo and website, update your business cards to look like they were made this century and so they reflect what you do.
Changing your look is easier than changing your name. You can have a new you, a new focus, and a new site, but if your business name and URL changes, then you’re probably not regenerating your business – you’re probably starting over. Sometimes that’s what’s needed. Is your name still appropriate? If it still fits, then you’re probably better off keeping it. That’s what clients know you by and they know how to find you.
Make sure everyone gets the joke. If you use a phrase to turn heads, make sure it makes sense to your audience and isn’t offensive to anyone else. For example, in the UK a screwdriver is called a spanner. When they called the Doctor’s sonic device a Sonic Screwdriver they chose the word screwdriver because it sounds funny to U.K. ears (I have to admit… the word spanner makes me giggle). That joke is lost on us in the U.S. Calling it a spanner wouldn’t help here either because that’s what we expect. Fortunately, even though the joke is lost on us it isn’t offensive in any way. Now if Tony Stark called it a Sonic Spanner…
Update your portfolio. If the latest work in your portfolio is several years old, there’s a chance that you’ve learned a few new tricks and are doing better work now (if not, then we need to have a different conversation). Plus, your potential clients want to know what you’ve done lately. They don’t want to feel like they’re taking a risk because you haven’t worked in several years.
If your freelance business has been dormant for a long time is it possible to bring it back. You have to come back with a vengeance and prove that you really mean it and that you’re going to stick around for a while before anyone will be willing to invest in you. It’s especially helpful if you can use a bigger budget with better effects.
You don’t need to change everything. Focus on the most important needs first. Then, if there’s enough time and budget, consider other changes. Don’t change something just for the sake of change. You don’t have to do it all at once.
Don’t forget your companions. They’re there to help.
Make a plan before you start. Make sure it’s where you want to take your business into the future. This way you don’t have to change every time you turn around and your clients have time to get used to the newly regenerated you.
Don’t fix what ain’t broke. That’s how Kaled’s became Daleks.
Keep an eye on and measure your success. Makes sure you know what’s working and what’s not.
A Parting Question…
How about you? Are you considering regenerating your freelance business? Have you already regenerated? Do you have any tips to share? I’d like to hear about it in the comments below!
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