Building a freelance business always feels like a bit of an expedition into the unknown. Knowing what the right steps are depends on a lot of factors, including your own personal goals and the stage that your business is at. As your business grows, there usually comes a point where there are more work opportunities than there is time to do them, and it’s time to start thinking about how to scale your freelance business. Before making a decision, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of your two main options as a freelancer: the DIY approach, and the hiring employees approach.

The Do-It-Yourself Approach

When you first start out freelancing, you’ll likely take on the DIY model of working. In this situation, you wear all of the hats in your own business. You handle everything from marketing and branding, finding jobs, getting the work done, communicating with clients, building relationships, delivering the finished product and collecting payments. This can keep things simple and overhead down as you start on your journey into freelancing. You have complete control over all aspects of the work, so you can ensure that quality is high and your brand is crafted exactly as you like. You can also work from almost anywhere with an Internet connection, whether it’s from home, a cafe, or on a trip. As long as you keep clients happy and paperwork organized, your only responsibility is to yourself, giving you the freedom that caused you to start freelancing in the first place.

However, the drawback to doing everything yourself, is that you can only make money while you are actually working. While you can set your own schedule and control your workflow, you still need to log hours to make a living. If you want to make more money, you need to personally take on more jobs, and that can get overwhelming. It can even be frustrating if you have more job offers than you can handle, and have to turn down great opportunities. At this point, you may want to be able to scale your freelance business in order to continue to grow. After all, you don’t want to hit a ceiling if there is potential to succeed on an even better level.

The Hiring Approach

Hiring people to work under you can be the perfect way to scale your freelance business. Having a team of the right people working for you frees you from the limits of being a one-person operation, limited by the 24 hours in a day.

Not only can you now accept a greater volume of work once you have employees to assign things to, but you can also branch out in your business’s specialties. Your new hires will bring their own sets of skills to the table, allowing you to offer even more specific and expert services. This model also allows you to focus more on growing your client list, as well as strengthening relationships with individual clients, rather than getting lost in the details of the individual jobs.

Hiring people does bring with it new challenges though. You will have a responsibility to your employees, and suddenly new pressures to find enough work to keep everyone busy. You may need to set up a physical office and deal with the legal aspects, such as new tax situations, benefits and licensing.

DIY and hiring are two different approaches to the freelance path, and before making the choice between one or the other, it’s important to consider what phase your freelance business is in, as well as what your goals are as a freelancer.



Melissa Cooper

Melissa Cooper

J. Melissa Cooper is an expert in the human resources field, with over a decade of experience and a Masters of Science in Human Resource Management from New York University, as well as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) designation. She started her own business as a one-woman shop in 2009. Five years later she was managing 400 freelancers.

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