4 ways to increase revenue streams, by Raubi Marie Perilli

If you’re having a difficult time reaching revenue goals for your freelance or consulting business, it’s time to take a good look at your sales strategy. You could be making mistakes that are leaving money on the table. But before we look at those mistakes, let’s look at strategies that can help increase revenue streams.

4 ways to increase revenue streams

You can increase revenue streams by increasing one or more of the following:

  • Customer base
  • Transaction size
  • Transaction frequency
  • Prices

The mistakes holding you back could be tied to missing opportunities in these areas.

By identifying and resolving the following four errors, you can begin to increase revenue streams and start hitting your income goals.

1. You aren’t attracting new clients.

More customers mean more income. So if you want to see a rise in your income, bring in new clients. You can attract new clients to your freelance or consulting business with the following strategies.

Use what you know about past clients to attract new clients. Go through your current client roster and determine how you attracted each client. For example, if they were brought in by a speaking engagement, see if you can find more opportunities with a similar audience. If they were acquired through a guest post, see if you can post on the blog again.

Produce educational content. Freelancers and consultants can find more clients by providing value to their target audience before they become clients. By producing free educational content (via blogs, webinars, in-persona seminars, etc.), you can introduce your skill set and show off your knowledge to potential clients and lead them to working with you.

Ask for referrals. Your past customers are a great resource for finding new customers. Reach out to former or current clients and let them know you are taking on new clients. Also, consider giving them a discount or incentive for referring new clients to you.

Increase Revenue Streams Podcast
You can increase revenue streams by producing educational material, like podcasts and eBooks, that will appeal to potential clients.

2. You aren’t increasing the size of sales transactions.

Another way to increase revenue streams is bringing in a larger fee for a single transaction.

Getting your clients to spend more when they do business with you will bring in more income.

 

To increase transaction size, consider doing one or more of the following.

Develop complementary products. Consider what else your customer will need while they do business with you, and provide it as a service. Upselling a complementary product or service when you have already attracted a customer is a smart way to bring in more revenue without acquiring more clients.

Create packages. Make the value of the complementary products easy to see by bundling them into packages. Also, discount products and services when they are sold in a package to give clients an additional incentive to upgrade their purchase.

Offer discounts or bonuses for reaching a certain price point. Encourage clients to spend more by rewarding them for doing so. Offer a free bonus for spending a target price point or give a percentage discount for purchasing a large volume of services or items at one time.

Read more…

Freelancers: New Year, New Rate? by Lisa Strickland

It’s that time again; the time when you break out a shiny new calendar, look back at the year that is winding down, and ask yourself the freelancer’s perennial question, “Should I raise my rates this year?”

The Freelancer’s Conundrum

When you are trying to establish your freelance business and attract new clients, you may fall into the trap of charging less than what your services are actually worth in an attempt to get a toehold in your niche. While that is understandable, it can be a recipe for freelance disaster. Seth Godin observes:

“Someone else is always willing to go a penny lower than you are, and to compete, your choices get ever more limited. The problem with the race to the bottom is that you might win. Even worse, you might come in second.”

Undervaluing your work affects your bottom line badly and creates a huge source of stress. Freelancers Union points out:

“Most people do better work when they feel that they’re properly compensated. In fact, research says feeling underpaid is the leading cause of work stress! You may actually do better work because you raised your rates.”

Fortunately, if you originally undervalued your worth to clients, that does not mean that you have to keep doing so. Rates are, after all, not set in stone.

Your inner naysayer might be whispering, “If I raise my rates, I will lose clients.” This is by far the most common misconception about increasing rates that freelancers hold. The reality is that your clients do not exist in a bubble. By and large, they understand that in the natural course of events, rates go up for services rendered over time. If they do not understand this, perhaps it is a good thing to lose their patronage.

 

Why the New Year is Perfect for New Rates

Like many things in life, changing your rates successfully requires good timing. The New Year is a perfect time to raise your rates. Why?

  • The New Year is a natural time to rethink all your business goals and objectives, including remuneration.
  • Clients are more likely to accept changes in rates at the beginning of the year, as it is also the beginning of the fiscal year for many of them.
  • Every year that passes, you increase your experience and skill level as a freelancer, which should be reflected in your pricing model.
  • Clients with whom you have built a relationship for more than a calendar year are likely to continue using your services even if you raise your rates modestly.

 

How to Set Your Freelance Rates Appropriately

Once you decide to raise your rates, you can rely on several factors to help you to price your services appropriately. The first thing to remember is that pricing is fluid. For freelancers, the going rate for a project is determined by multiple factors such as skill level required, experience, value to the client, geographic location, and more.

Do not neglect to also factor in the rate of inflation in your area. Freelancers who forget about inflation find their profit margins dwindling year over year. At some point, working for the same rates over time leads to significant financial loss.

The Guardian reports: “The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) recommends taking your equivalent earnings as an employee and adding a third, which accounts for the added costs that arise as a freelancer.”

The Freelancers Union gives the following guidelines to help you set your rates:

  • Even if you do not plan to charge an hourly rate per se, determine how much time it actually takes you to complete a project on average. For your own purposes, set an hourly rate that you will use as a baseline when giving clients a project rate. In general, you can determine a ballpark hourly rate by adding annual profit, annual expenses, and annual salary, then dividing by billable hours.
  • Account for any supplies and other expenses, including overhead, that will be incurred in the completion of the project.
  • Build in a specific target profit range for each project.

Read more…

From Google AdWords to online reviews: How to choose the right business marketing channel, by John Jantsch

 

Google AdWords. Online reviews. Display ads. Social media. Content and push marketing … With so many outreach channels — online and off — to choose from, how does a business owner prioritize limited resources for marketing their business? Your tactics are going to differ based on what you offer, and how you make most of your sales.

Service providers should consider Google AdWords

If your company provides a service that people commonly search for, you’ll do best with well-placed Google AdWords or Bing Search buys. These businesses are the same ones that historically have gotten a lot of value from advertising in the Yellow Pages: lawyers, doctors, accountants, locksmiths, hair salons, plumbers, and other service providers.

The commonality between all of these companies is that the customer already wants to buy their service when they start looking, so they’re competing to be the provider that gets picked.

This tactic, called pull marketing, targets someone who is already in the buying process and attempts to reel them in.

Google AdWords, Bing Search, or Yelp Promoted advertising is useful for service providers because these online ads help you stand out from the crowd. They’re even more effective on mobile because it’s harder to distinguish between a paid placement and an organic search result on the smaller screen.

Read more…

8 Social Media Lessons You Can Learn From The Pros, by Mary Stribley

          

There are lessons to be learned from the best companies on social media 

If you’re reading this, can I assume you’re struggling on social media?

That’s fine, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. But what do you actually need to do to grow your followers, improve your engagement and increase sales on social media?

In this article, we won’t tell you what to do. We’ll show you. By featuring what companies like Nike and Spotify are doing on social, you’ll start to see what’s required to improve your presence on social.

Important — Free Templates

In the article title we allude to there being free templates in this article. And there are tons. Any image that has the “Edit this design in Canva” caption on the right-side of it can be clicked on. Like this one:

When you click on a Canva template, it’ll open up in your Canva account. From there, you can customize the design with your own words, colors and images, and then download or share it. Not a Canva user? Signup here.

Why is this important?

Because to turn the lessons in this article into gold, you need to do what they suggest. If you want to apply one of the lessons right away, click on one of the Canva templates, customize it, and use it in your next social post.

01. Keep Things Visual

If there’s one tool that should be at the top of every social media strategy it’s visual content. Social media is becoming only more and more visually-based – with the plethora of content out there, we need striking visuals to cut through the noise and grab our attention.

A brand that champions all things visual content is Buffer. Not a status update or Tweet goes by without a custom graphic accompanying it, and their engagement numbers prove it.

Check out what a typical tweet from Buffer looks like:

Read more…

 

 

LLC vs. Inc. Which Is Better for Your Business? by Jane Haskins, Esq.

jane_haskins

New business owners often get conflicting advice about whether to set up a limited liability company or a corporation.

Both are formed by filing paperwork with the state, and both help to protect owners from liability if the business is sued or runs into financial trouble. There are, however, differences in the way LLCs and corporations are managed and taxed.

Inc. vs. LLC: Liability Protection

The owners of both LLCs and corporations are protected from personal liability for business debts or lawsuits. This means that if the business is sued or faces collection action from creditors, your personal assets—such as your house, your car, and your personal bank accounts—are safe. You may, however, lose the money that you have invested in the business.

Which is better? As a business owner, you will receive the same type of liability protection regardless of whether you form an LLC or corporation.

LLC vs. Corporation: Management and Profit-Sharing

Corporations have a standard and predictable management structure. Every corporation must have a board of directors that oversees the “big picture,” officers who run the business day to day, and shareholders who own stock in the company. Shareholders meet annually, and they receive company profits based on the number and type of shares they own. It’s relatively easy to add new shareholders to a corporation, or to transfer shares from one person to another.

LLCs don’t have to use any particular management structure. They can be managed by their owners (who are known as “members”) or by a group of managers. There are no required job titles, and a small member-managed LLC might be run rather informally. Each member owns a certain percentage interest in the LLC, but profits can be distributed in any way that the members agree to. However, LLC membership isn’t as easily transferred as corporate stock.

Which is better? It depends. Because corporations have a uniform management system and easy transferability of shares, investors tend to prefer corporations over LLCs. Small businesses that aren’t looking to raise outside capital often like the flexibility and relative informality of an LLC. Neither type of business has limits on the number of owners it can have.

Corporation vs. LLC: Taxes

Read more…

30 Creative Ideas for Your Holiday Email Marketing, by Ryan Pinkham

30-creative-ideas-holiday-marketing

In 2015, email marketing drove 20 percent of online holiday sales.

Do you know what you’re sending your email subscribers this holiday season?

Whether you want to drive online sales, boost year-end donations, or get shoppers into your store this holiday season, email marketing can help.

Start with the perfect holiday email template. Then, customize your message to show off your unique products, services, or mission.

1. Holiday preview sale

Give your audience the chance to beat the holiday rush — bring people into your store early with a holiday preview sale! You can encourage current customers to bring their friends, and even offer additional discounts to them for helping you spread the word about the event.

Bonus tip: When hosting a sale early in the season, make sure to offer a convenient way for new customers to sign up for your email list. Let them know you’ll be following up with more updates about holiday offers later in the season.

2. Cyber Monday offer

If there’s an e-commerce side to your business, make sure to participate in the annual online shopping event, Cyber Monday. You can send a series of emails leading up to Cyber Monday letting people know about special discounts, and send a final reminder when the big day finally arrives.

Read more…

 

How to Protect Your Business Name, by Jane Haskins, Esq.

 

jane_haskins

Your business’s name means a lot. It identifies your brand. It signifies your reputation. And it’s how your loyal customers know you.

But when a competitor sets up a business with a name that’s similar or identical to yours, your customers can become confused, you can lose business, and your reputation may suffer.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take now that will help ensure that your good name will stay that way.

Protecting Your Name in Your Home State

One of the best ways to protect your business name in your home state is to form a business entity such as a corporation or a limited liability company.

Your state’s business filing agency won’t let two business entities have the same name. In some states, business entities also can’t have names that are deceptively similar to one another. Because of this rule, incorporating or forming an LLC allows you to “claim” your name in your home state and prevent other business entities from using it.

You can check business name availability in your state by contacting the state agency that handles business filings. Many states allow you to search business names online.

If you plan to form a formal business entity but aren’t ready to do it right away, nearly all states allow you to reserve a business name. Different states allow reservations for different amounts of time.

The protection you receive when you form a business entity does have limits: your name won’t be protected outside your home state and an individual or business can still use your business name without setting up a formal business entity.

Filing a DBA or Registering a Business Name

Can you protect your business name without forming a corporation or an LLC?

Read more…

10 Key Tax Deductions for Your Small Business, by Kylie Ora Lobell

Tax Day is coming up fast, which means that you have to get your finances in order as soon as possible. If you don’t, you may forget to take some key small business tax deductions. These tax write-offs could end up saving you a lot of money if you utilize them correctly.

Although some items are clearly tax deductible, including office rent, utilities, and employee costs, others may not be so obvious when filing taxes. Aside from hiring an accountant to assist you, it pays to do research on your own as well.

Are you unsure about which small business expenses and tax write-offs you can make? Look no further. The following is a list of tax deductions that you may want to claim when doing your tax preparation this year.

1. Furniture

Did you buy furniture for your office this year? If so, it’s tax deductible, and you can claim your chairs, desks, and couches as small business expenses. You’re able to either write off the full amount, or use the seven-year depreciation method. While you have the option of deducting the entire cost in the year in which you put the items in service, depreciation may be more favorable if you expect your tax bracket to rise in the future.

2. Home Office

If your home office is your primary place of business, or it is where you meet with clients and customers, you can deduct certain home office expenses. To figure out how much your tax deduction will be, measure your home office and divide by the total square footage of your home. This percentage determines the amount of your mortgage or rent, utilities, and expenses related to your home office that you can claim.

3. Travel Costs

If you’re traveling for work, chances are, you can take deductions for taxes on all of your costs. This includes airplane and train tickets, baggage fees, hotels, Wi-Fi access, business use of your car, etc. If you eat out while traveling, only 50 percent is deductible.

Read more…

How to Be Your Own Boss, by Roberta Codemo

Who wouldn’t want to be working in their pajamas, setting their own hours, and being their own boss? It sounds like the perfect world.

The reality, however, is very different. Before you walk into your current boss’s office and hand in your resignation, ask yourself if you have what it takes to start your own business and be your own boss.

Discipline

Making the transition from a regular job with a steady paycheck to being your own boss takes more than the requisite leap of faith.

Do you have the discipline to handle the demands of running a business startup on your own? In the beginning, you’ll be putting in a lot of 12- to 14-hour workdays to get your business off the ground.

It takes hard work, dedication, and commitment to start a business and make it successful. If you’re not sure, you can experiment with the idea by taking on some consulting or freelance work as a side gig before fully committing to becoming your own boss.

Support

You’ll want to be sure you have a strong support system in place. During the first few months, especially, you’re going to be making a lot of important decisions.

If you don’t have a support network in place, look for a business mentor to help you so you won’t have to go it alone. Identify a business mentor who has been down the same road you’re on and who can offer you advice and guidance when the going gets rough.

A Business Plan

The popular saying, “Failing to plan is planning to fail,” is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, who knew a thing or two about entrepreneurship.

While some might argue against drafting a formal business plan, having one in place serves as a guide for your business and helps you articulate your vision and where you see your business going in the next five or more years.

A good business plan lays out your objectives, strategies, and long-term goals, as well as ways to achieve them, and helps hold you accountable.

Read more…

 

So why does video improve search engine optimization (SEO)? by Trevor Croft

7efed5_7b81fc1308cd40baa984db79a709e5d0~mv2

If you’re in the business of promoting business, either your own or a client’s, you’ve probably heard that video on the website boosts search engine optimization (SEO). Trevor Croft Media says video boosts SEO to advertise its videos. If you’re like me, though, you want to know why.

As of 2014, video made-up 64 percent of all Internet traffic, and that percentage is anticipated to grow.  Pages with media-rich content, including video content, have at least the potential to rank higher in searches with Google and other search engines.  Because more people watch videos than read text, and because file names and metadata can influence SEO, inclusion of video on your web pages may help in the SEO department.

Social shares

Excellent videos will be shared over social media by those who watch them. Whether the video is entertaining, amusing, informative, or a combination of all of those, if it’s done well, people will share it and, in doing so, generate links back to your website.  More backlinks equal a higher ranking in Google and other search engines.

The video also tells these search engines that the page contains quality content. High-quality content will boost the page’s ranking in search results.

Some sources say hosting the video on the same service where the website is hosted is better than linking to video uploaded to YouTube™ or Vimeo™.  And some sources disagree.  So far as backlinking resulting from sharing is concerned, it makes some intuitive sense to have web page and video come from the same place. Because Trevor Croft Media’s Internet service provider requires videos to be uploaded to either YouTube or Vimeo, however, I will show you below the steps we took to make the best of this situation. For backlinking, one important thing is to include your website URL in YouTube’s metadata fields.

Metadata

Because Trevor Croft Media’s Internet service provider does not allow native hosting of video, we take advantage of video metadata, which is a good idea regardless of where your videos are. Utilize it to the fullest extent you can to provide search engines with relevant information about the video contents and your website.  Be sure that the metadata for the video matches the keywords for the web page.  Here’s where you create metadata for your video files:

7efed5_bdca037ac0e844c29670ef95317e498d~mv2

Read more…