In the 1850s everyone and their brother went to California to dig for gold. Except for Levi Strauss.
Unlike the gold diggers, Levi noticed a hidden opportunity: The miners’ pants were all getting worn down and torn during the digging.
So what did Levi do? While everyone else tripped over each other hoping to strike gold…he sold them jeans.
Most of the gold diggers went home with very little.
But Levi made a ton of money selling jeans. Even today his company still sells billions of dollars worth of jeans.
There’s a big lesson here that’s very valuable and applicable to your freelancing business:
Actively search for opportunity
You can make a lot more money if you understand what your clients need.
Not just their obvious needs, but the “hidden” needs they aren’t talking about.
The obvious needs are the ones they post about in their job description.The logo they want you to design, the blog post they want you to write, the website they want you to create for them, etc.
All of your competitors have that information too, because, like you, they read the client’s job description. (More accurately: Some of them read part of the job description.)
But what if you were a step ahead, and knew about other needs the client had?
Needs that your competitors — and maybe the clients themselves — have never even thought about?
When you do that, amazing things start to happen.
They start to trust you more.
They see you differently from your competitors. You’re more valuable.
Best of all, for every “hidden” need you discover, you also uncover a new way to make money on Upwork. (Or on Freelancer.com, or Fiverr, or whatever freelancing site you happen to use).
In this post I’ll show you 4 of these “hidden services”.
I’ve done all of these myself. But they can work for any type of freelancer.
Hidden service #1: Interviewing your clients’ customers
Let’s say a client hires you to do some writing or design (or whatever).
A good question you should be asking them is, “Why do your customers buy from you?” The better you understand their customers’ psychology, the better you can do your job.
But chances are they won’t know the answer. At least not the real answer.
For example, one of my clients builds big fancy websites for summer camps.
When I first asked him why people bought his big fancy websites, he said something like, “They want websites that have more functionality and perform better.”
But I knew that wasn’t the real answer.
No camp owner wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Damn, when will my website finally have more functionality?” It didn’t pass the sniff test.
I suggested he let me interview a few of his customers by phone so we could learn more about them. Big companies like Wells Fargo call their customers on the phone, so why shouldn’t we?
He agreed. We set up 3 phone interviews, which he paid me to do.
On those calls I asked a lot of questions. And I learned a lot of surprising insights that ended up being very valuable to my client.
For example, when I asked the customers why they bought big new fancy websites, they didn’t say anything about functionality and performance. They told me their old websites “looked outdated.”
That was an extremely valuable insight for my client. It helped him sell more websites.
And that wasn’t the only golden nugget we discovered. When I went over all my notes with my client, he thought I was some kind of genius.
Yet most freelancers don’t offer this service.
I’ve hired a lot of freelancers, and I’ve never had one offer to interview my customers for me.
They probably didn’t even know it was something they could offer.
But now you do.
As an added bonus you’ll stand out from your competitors because they won’t even think of it.
So feel free to try it.
Hidden service #2: Writing case studies
This is one of my favorites. I’ll tell you why.
All businesses need case studies.
These are customer success stories that act as testimonials — which results in more customers and more profits.
If a business doesn’t have case studies posted on their blog, they’re making a huge mistake.
And if they do have case studies, then guess what? They need more case studies.
Because you can’t have too many case studies. The more your client has, the more money they’ll make.
Check out Ramit Sethi’s Growthlab as an example. The first thing you see on the site is 16 case studies (one of them is me btw).
And that’s probably a fraction of the total number of case studies Ramit’s company produces every year. Is it a surprise they sell millions of dollars worth of products in a single week?
So when you ask your clients the magical question, “Do you have case studies posted on your blog?”, you win. Because they either have none and need some, or they have some and need more.
Either way you can write some case studies for them, and get paid a nice amount of money to do it.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But I’m not a writer.” That’s OK.
If you’re a designer or a programmer, you can still get paid to write a case study. Here’s an article that explains how.
Hidden service #3: Simple keyword research
Regardless of what services you do for your clients, they all have one thing in common: Every one of them wants to get found by more people on Google.
But chances are they have the wrong keywords on their website, which prevents them from coming up when people search.
It’s easy to figure this out.
You just go to Google’s Keyword Planner Tool, and start typing in words that are related to your client’s business. Then you’ll get a list of relevant keywords that could help them improve their search engine ranking.
(Here’s a 6 minute video from Brian Dean that shows you exactly how to do this.)
If your client’s website has the wrong keywords, let them know it’s hurting their Google ranking and keeping customers from finding them. Then ask them if they want you to do some keyword research to find the best keywords to use.
What if they’re already using good keywords?
Even in that case, there are always more keywords they could be targeting. So you can still run the idea by them and ask if they want you to come up with more good keywords to help them get found on Google.
Keyword research is easy to learn and implement, and it’s a service that 100% of clients are going to need. You lose nothing by giving it a shot, and if it works out you make extra money.
Hidden service #4: Image selection
Yes, you can get paid to pick out photos for your clients.
Look around this site and you’ll see lots of images and screenshots. Most of them weren’t found by me.
I paid someone to find, choose, and place them on the site.
A good looking image helped make this one of my most popular posts
I’ve also done this for my own clients, and charged them by the hour to do it.
Again, this is something every business needs. If you have a website, you need images.
If your clients websites have sucky images (or no images), their website will look awful. So they need someone to choose good looking pictures for them.
Pretty much every page on a website needs at least one image. Often more.
Do you think your clients want to spend their time searching for photos online? Nope.
The best thing about this is that you can get your clients free pictures from Flickr Creative Commons. They’ll love you because most of them won’t even know that resource exists.
Plus the photos there are not only free, they’re also better looking than the junky stock photos we’re all used to looking at.
Again, it doesn’t matter what type of freelancing you do.
Sure, it’s a no brainer if you’re a designer, since it’s another way you can help your clients improve the visual appeal of their site.
But it works for writers and everyone else too because all clients need this stuff.
Hidden service #5: Referrals
You’re always going to run into situations where you can’t help a client.
Maybe you’re too busy.
Maybe they’re looking for something outside your realm of expertise.
Maybe they can’t afford you right now and need someone less expensive.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t make money.
What if you knew other freelancers you could refer these clients to, in exchange for a 10% “finders fee”?
People do this all the time. I’ve done it myself. (Just like everything else in this post.)
The best way to do this is to build up a small network of freelancers.
It’s really easy because you have a great reason for connecting with them: “I want to refer clients to you!”
You can find them on Upwork, Freelancer.com, LinkedIn, or anywhere.
Check out some samples of their work. If you like it, reach out and get in touch with them.
Tell them you want to send them clients from time to time. And in exchange for any client you send them, they’ll pay you 10% of the amount they earn from that client.
It’s a great deal because you get paid a 10% fee just to make an introduction. And it’s also great for the freelancer you refer the client to, because they get a client they wouldn’t have found otherwise.
Plus they only pay you if and when they make money from that client.
Oh, and your clients will love you too because you’ll have a referral for everything they ever need.
Just be creative with the services you offer and you’d be amazed at all the hidden value you can give to clients.
What type of freelancer are you, and which of these services can you add to your business? Drop a comment below and tell me.
Keep in mind you don’t have to advertise so many services.
I only advertise copywriting. But I still offer these services to my clients because it helps them, it’s easy for me to do, and it makes me more money.
So which ones can you try? And how does that fit in with the type of work you already do? Let me know in the comments.