One of the things that really frustrated me in my freelancing journey was not knowing what to do next—what actions to take to move my business forward. So, I regularly scour through a sea of information, picking up golden nuggets to guide my way.

Sure enough, I was able to get some action items here and there—some from books, and some from blogs—and I’ve compiled some of my favorites for you here!

The great thing about this list is that you can dedicate some time over the weekend to get them done. Who doesn’t love making the most out of their weekends, right?!

Now, depending on where you’re at in your freelancing journey, some action items may be irrelevant, so simply pick whichever applies to you.

Here we go!

1. Create a professional email

First things first, having a professional email is essential to your… um, professional image.

Ideally, your email should be in a “first name, last name” basis.

For example, or You don’t have to use Gmail, although I highly recommend it!

Use your professional email for everything—your business card, your social media accounts, your professional networking accounts, your task and project management applications, and your communication channels (e.g., Skype, Slack).

This way you’ll receive all business correspondence and notifications in one place!

2. Create your client persona

I remember volunteering to privately coach some people in my circle, and the first thing I asked them to do is to build a client persona.

I asked them straight to their face who their client is, and they could not come up with an answer, so I gave them a few days to come up with one.

A few days passed and I didn’t hear back from any of them. I even had to keep following up to get their answers.

I guess they didn’t see the importance of building a client persona. Or maybe they’re just not interested in getting clients. Idk.

I bet some of them are still wondering why they’re not getting any business…

You see, having a client persona is essential in any business because it provides clarity—clarity in your messaging, clarity in your service offering, and clarity in your pitch.

It will give you a sense of direction!

Ohh, and building a client persona is not just filling up demographic and geographic information about your target clients. It involves research and a lot of thought and effort.

Unfortunately, many freelancers (and even businesses) want to skip the research part, perhaps because it’s too boring.

If you don’t have a client persona, you’re running your business with blindfolds on!

Create yours this weekend.

Like, seriously.

Do it!

3. Formulate your unique selling proposition (USP)

Once you’ve built a client persona, crafting an effective unique selling point (USP) becomes super easy!

Taking the time to really think about your USP can help you not only gain a sense of direction in your business, but it can also help you clarify how you communicate with your prospects.

From the name itself, your USP should be something that’s—excuse the redundancy—“uniquely valuable about the service offering that sets you apart from your competition”.

In fact, if you craft it effectively, you can make your competition irrelevant. 

For freelancing services, a really simple formula that I use is:

“I help {industry} + {benefit} using/by/through {powerful adjective} {service offering}.” 

For example: “I help tech startups increase their leads using data-based growth hacking strategies.”

Don’t overcomplicate or overanalyze it. Keep it simple! 

It’s important that you focus on one benefit in your USP. Highlight the one benefit you feel is the most impactful to your clients’ business.

Sometimes, it’s tempting to mention all the problems you can solve in your USP, but unfortunately, doing this can dilute your message, confuse your prospective customers, and generally, weaken your positioning. 

So, focus on just ONE! 

And yes, if you get really down and dirty with crafting a USP, it takes way more than this simple formula.

It involves thorough research of your market and a deep understanding of their pains, struggles, and frustrations (circling back to building a client persona).

But don’t worry—the great thing about USPs is that you can switch it up every once in a while.

If you feel that your current USP is not resonating with your market, update it. Sometimes, changing just a single word makes all the difference.

Once you’ve crafted your USP, put it on your social media profiles (if you use it for client acquisition), your professional networking accounts, your freelancing profile, or your website.

4. Create your elevator pitch

An elevator pitch is a brief (20 to 30 seconds worth of reading; no longer than an elevator ride) persuasive script that you can use to spark interest in your business.

Just like your USP, it needs to explain what makes you or your service unique, except that’s it’s a bit more elaborate.

If you’re able to come up with a good USP (from number 3), creating your elevator pitch will be much easier.

I like to think of elevator pitches as the “how” in your service offering. If your USP tells your prospective clients the benefits of your service, your elevator pitch tells them how.

It should answer the 4 Ws and 1 H:

  • Who you are
  • What you do
  • Who you do it for
  • Why you do it
  • How you do it

Also, if you’re torn about highlighting just one benefit in your USP, your elevator pitch is a great avenue for mentioning the other benefits of your services. Yay!

Here’s an example:

“I’m a digital marketing strategist who helps e-commerce businesses optimize their traffic campaigns so they can increase their sales without having to spend too much on ads.

I do this by auditing their traffic performance followed by thorough research of their target buyers. This helps me understand my clients’ market better and helps me provide more data-driven solutions like improving my clients’ website copy, improving their SEO, or updating their ads targeting.”

Once you’ve created your elevator pitch, you’ll never have to zone out whenever someone asks you, “What do you do?”

5. Create your bundles (aka packages)

One of the big mistakes I’ve made in my freelancing career is charging by the hour.

Okay, before you throw your spears at me, allow me to clarify that there is nothing wrong with charging hourly—it’s a secure way of receiving payment!

However, as you grow more and more proficient at what you do, tasks and projects will take less and less time to complete.

Something that might have taken you 10 hours to finish before may only take you 2 hours now. In this case, a per-project pay structure is better!

And to make it easy for you to do this, try setting up packages.

So, instead of charging $15/hour to do admin tasks, you may charge $500 per month instead. You may create tiers depending on the complexity of the work that needs to be done too.

Here are some examples: 

$300 per month:

  • Inbox Management
  • Calendar Management / Scheduling / Appointment Setting (up to 30 meetings, appointments, and reminders)
  • Booking Flights and Accommodations (up to 6 flights and accommodations)

$500 per month:

  • Inbox Management
  • Calendar Management
  • Calendar Management / Scheduling / Appointment Setting (up to 60 meetings, appointments, and reminders)
  • Booking Flights and Accommodations (up to 12 flights and accommodations)
  • Basic Social Media Management (2 accounts with 4 to 6 curated posts per account per week)

When you create packages like these, you shift your business from “exchanging time for money” to “exchanging results for money”.

If you can manage your client’s inbox, schedule meetings, and handle bookings effectively, should it matter how long it takes you? No.

Using packages allows you to set clear boundaries too!

Once you’ve booked 6 flights on a $300 plan (from my example above), you’re done! It’s to your discretion if you want to have your client pay extra for booking credits (you can outline something for that too).

Oh, and it doesn’t hurt to overextend (i.e., scheduling 1 extra flight beyond the allotted won’t affect your business).

6. Learn an economically valuable skill

One of the reasons why freelancers feel stuck or find it difficult to scale is because their service offering is not built around a business process.

If you’re going to build a profitable online freelancing business, you might as well learn about what a business is and how it works. It’s as simple as understanding the 5 parts of every business!

7. Get a professional photo taken

YOU are the product of your freelancing business! And let’s face it, people judge the book by its cover.

Psst! Prospects spend 20% of their time looking at your photo. #statistics

Despite this, it’s not uncommon for freelancers to use unprofessional selfies in their profiles, and this costs them a lot of business!

Why should you invest in a professional photo? Simple: trust and authority.

It’s psychology, my friends. 

To clarify, ‘investing’ in a professional photo doesn’t mean going to a studio and paying a professional photographer big bucks, although that would be really nice!

You can definitely take one at home. Just follow the simple guidelines in my Upwork Hacks below:

8. Create a client acquisition plan

Do you already have a plan outlined for how to get leads for our freelancing business?

Hmm, if not, write down the steps on how you’ll get leads for your business.

Because… no clients, no $!

Here’s a rough example:

Getting Leads through Facebook Groups:

  1. Introduce myself to Facebook groups and share briefly what I do (no selling or self-promotion).
  2. Monitor job threads or self-promotion threads and check for opportunities.
  3. Search {keywords}+”help” (e.g., copywriting help) in the group.
  4. Search {keywords}+”hiring” (e.g., bookkeeping hiring) in the group.
  5. Comment or initiate a private conversation with member/s asking for help.
  6. Probe.
  7. Give more value.
  8. Pitch.
  9. Repeat.

Getting Leads through Upwork:

  1. At {time}, check for latest job posts using keywords.
  2. Apply to interesting jobs or projects created within 20 minutes.
  3. In your proposal, give value and offer more value by giving away something for free (e.g., free audit, free style guide, free 5-minute transcript, free consult, etc.).
  4. Ask good questions.
  5. Offer to schedule a call.
  6. Repeat.

Depending on where your clients are, your process will vary. 

And you can just create a rough outline for this and refine it down the line. You have permission to be scrappy!

9. Create templates for customer inquiries

What questions do you anticipate your prospects will ask once they’ve engaged with you?

Something about pricing? Project duration? Internet speed? Hardware? Business details?

Whatever you can think of, write it down with their respective answers for future reference. You can even include these on your proposals, if appropriate.

10. Create an onboarding process

What happens after a client says “yes”?

You start onboarding them, silly!

Simply outline the next steps in your business relationship with your client.

Take this for example: 

  1. Send a welcome email + copy of the contract or agreement.
  2. Send an invoice for escrow or downpayment.
  3. Request admin access (or credentials) to social media accounts.
  4. Request access to marketing assets.
  5. Set up Slack account.
  6. Schedule a catch-up session ahead of time.

11. Organize your inbox

I personally use labels for organizing my inbox and just archive them—that’s my preference. But if you don’t want to spend time sorting messages (and you really don’t have to), you can just archive them.

Trust me, archiving is way better than sorting emails in folders. If you want to recover a thread in your inbox, it’s much faster to just use the search bar.

I don’t spend that much time clearing up my inboxes (yes, I have several) because I clear them up on a daily basis.

Phew! Thanks for the daily reminder, Trello.

12. Organize your files

Don’t underestimate the power of decluttering!

If you’re like me, I like to let files—screenshots and whatnot—accumulate in my desktop. So, I’m always left with a party on my desktop.

Sorting files in folders, and even getting rid of unnecessary files, has helped me easily access anything fast. Plus, it gives me peace of mind.

13. Clean up your social media accounts

A big mistake some freelancers make is that they treat social media as separate from their online freelancing business.

It’s not.

In fact, more and more clients assess a freelancer’s credibility using social media, so if your social media accounts are littered with compromising posts, perhaps it’s time to start deleting ’em.

Oh, and if you’re drunken posts and political arguments are really important to you, you may simply limit people’s visibility to your profile.

I just think it’s wasted opportunity to not maximize the power of social media for your business. #justsayin’

Numerous freelancers use it for acquiring clients, and you should too! It’s a gold mine.

14. Create your swipe files

If you love online tools as much as I do, you going to enjoy this activity!

Simply gather all the tools that you use for your business—that’s it.

15. Read non-fiction books or saved articles, or catch up on your enrolled courses

Why is it that some freelancers seem to have everything figured out?

They know how to acquire clients FAST. They know their value and can negotiate HIGH RATES. They don’t work as many hours, but still, earn exponentially MORE!

Hmm, tough question. But the answer may not be that complicated.

The top freelancers in any industry are smart freelancers!

Am I calling you dumb? Of course not!

What I’m trying to say is that what separates high-earning freelancers from average freelancers is that they avoid stagnation.

They keep learning! They consume information as fast as they can and take action.

They pay for coaches, and invest in courses or books they know will help them advance their freelance business.

They experiment and take risks! They iterate fast.

If something doesn’t work, they’ll try something else. They don’t wallow in defeat.

High-earning freelancers take the time to learn entrepreneurship, and entrepreneurs are jacks of many trades.

They understand how businesses work, and they leverage this knowledge for their own business and for their clients’ businesses.

Use the weekend as an opportunity to binge-learn! The ROI over time will be hundredfold.

Hmm, I think this is a pretty cool list of things to do over the weekend!

I’ll be adding more action items over time, so I suggest you bookmark this article. And don’t forget to share this with your freelancing friends!

Is there anything I missed? Please share any suggestions in the comments section!

AND, if you’ve enjoyed reading this, share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter!