A while back, when I first began my journey as an entrepreneur (cool story about that here,) I was struggling to fill my schedule with paying clients. Like any entrepreneur, I had this massive plan to max out my 30-40 hours per week working for clients, then hire someone on, fill their hours, then hire another on, fill their hours, and continue doing this until eventually, I became a millionaire. Well, if you've been in this game for longer than a few months, you'll realize that it doesn't always work like that.
During the first 6 months, I couldn't fill my schedule with even 30 hours of work for the life of me. In fact, it got to the point where I was submitting 3-5 proposals per day and bringing in new weekly clients, but was still struggling to reach the 40-hour week @ my $40 per hour rate. It was like beating a dead horse--exhausting and useless. So, as I sat back and looked at my options, I realized a few things:
It was immediately apparent that I had been exhausting my energy and time into bringing on only new clients, when the true money and least-stressful work was in having less new clients and more recurring long-term clients. *Basically, I was too focused on bringing in new clients, that I neglected the ones we currently had. To test this theory, one of my team members and I put together a new service package: VIP Day. For VIP Day, I would spend a full 6-hour day with a client for $300 (it actually raised my earnings by $10 per hour, but was appealing to potential clients because of the one-time fee,) where I would work one-on-one with the client, evaluate their business, write a marketing plan, and begin training them & implementing the plan until the end of the day. It would serve the purpose of establishing a more personal relationship with the client during those 6 hours, in hopes of upselling them on the rest of our marketing services and establishing a long-term (recurring) relationship. VIP Day was our golden ticket. Within 1 week, I had booked several VIP Days and every one of them turned into weekly clients. I got incredible reviews and quickly filled my schedule to the point of being booked solid 2 weeks in advance within the first month of testing this idea.
Like I discussed above, having some kind of package that gives clients a decent-sized chunk of your time is essential. Why? Because it establishes a relationship. And if there's one thing I've learned about business , it's that it's all about relationships. You could be the best web designer in the world, but if a potential client doesn't like you (for whatever reason,) they will never have you design their website. Create a package that will give your clients a good amount of time, make it a one-time fee (typically, first-time clients don't like hourly because they don't trust you yet,) and make sure it has potential to lead to more work.
Create a content VIP package that will cost $300, where they'll get to spend an hour brainstorming a content marketing strategy with you, followed by a content plan that will have 20-30 titles of articles that would greatly improve their blog, and spend the rest of the day writing articles from the list. The brainstorm session will position you as an expert writer with content-marketing knowledge & build a more personal relationship, the content-plan will create a roadmap of potential future business for you, and the writing will showcase your skill for the job. Remember, the goal is to build a relationship first, make them not feel obligated to anything, display exceptional skill, then the recurring work will roll in. I used to tell VIP clients, "There is NO obligation to VIP day. If, for some reason, you aren't happy with VIP day, you can at least walk away with a great marketing plan and direction for your business." They loved the no obligation part up front, but once I show-cased my knowledge and skill, they hired me indefinitely.
Create a design VIP package that will cost $300, where they'll also spend an hour reviewing their site with you, followed by you writing a web design plan (cheesy, I know) that shows the top 10 pages on their site that could be heavily improved (include how they could be improved) and spend the rest of the day knocking out the design on those pages. Similar to the writer's VIP package, this will put you at $50 per hour, let you showcase your skill and open the doors for tons of potential work.
Regardless of what industry or skill you have, booking yourself solid is a matter of having an exceptional product/service and presenting it in a way that builds relationships. Roughly 80% of Flight Media's income is from clients that have been with us for at least 2-3 months. We nurture those relationships, get exceptional results, get TONS of referrals, and have clients fighting to get on our weekly schedule. How are you booking your time?