How to Create a Successful Freelance Business by Giving Back

The way people do business is changing. More and more young professionals, like us, are becoming frustrated with the corporate way of life, and no longer buy into the lie that going to college and getting a diploma will guarantee you get a job.

And we certainly don’t believe that this pre-set path will make us happy or fulfilled. Now many of us (myself included) are choosing the path that’s a little more risky — we’re branching out on our own, carving out a career path that’s both fulfilling, fun and pays the bills.

That “sweet spot” — where your interests and passions intersect with making money to support your business — is not always easy to find.

How do you turn what you’re passionate about, into something that supports the lifestyle you want, while giving back and making the world a better place?

1. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

I can never say that phrase without laughing — and if you’ve met me in person you know why. (P.S. I’m only 5ft 2in tall!)

So, before I really get into some awesome examples of companies that are making a difference while making money, the first step is to realize is that your ideas matter!

Even if you’re a lowly freelancer like I am, your aspirations, thoughts and desires to change the world are important.

Don’t look at these examples and think that you can’t do what they do. Instead, embrace their ideas and make them your own. As you will see, even starting a blog can open people’s minds and affect them in ways you can’t imagine.

So don’t sell yourself — or your business — short. Think outside the box and you’ll find plenty of ways to make give back while funding your dreams.

Also, take notice that I said “don’t sell yourself”. You want your life and your business to speak for itself, and you can accomplish that by following these examples below.

2. Start Small and Change YOUR World

Anytime someone says “change the world” it seems like a scary and overwhelming phrase. But if you take a step back and think about it, changing the whole world starts with changing your little corner of the world first.

The people you interact with, the businesses you support, the industry you’re in, can all be changed by a simple gesture or idea.

You don’t have to go out and take-on the entire world to change your industry. Something as small as using a coupon to save money, can feed a hungry child. And that’s what Save1 is on a mission to do.

Save1.com is changing the world by changing the way people shop. Their slogan is “save money, save lives” and they are definitely fulfilling that.

When you use a coupon or deal from Save1, they receive a small commission from the store where you made your purchase. Then they give away a portion of the commission to one of the select organizations to feed hungry and malnourished children.

Basically, every time you save money, you’re feeding a hungry child. It’s a small everyday thing that most people wouldn’t think about, yet it can save the lives of many, many children.

To-date they’ve provided almost 95,000 meals while saving people like you and me thousands of dollars.

changing the world

3. Start a Movement

Back in 2006, an American traveler named Blake Mycoskie went to Argentina and found the children there never wore shoes. Upon further research he noticed that many children in developing countries actually grow up barefoot.

Because he wanted to help, he created a company called TOMS Shoes, that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes for a child in need. He calls his movement One for One.

Little known fact: TOMS is short for “Shoes for a Better Tomorrow”, but they couldn’t fit all that on the back of a shoe, so they shortened it.

Now when anyone buys TOMS shoes, they know they’re doing something good for themselves and good for someone else. That’s one of the best company models you can create — how could it not be successful?

As of October 2011, TOMS customers have given away over 2,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.

But just in case you’re wondering how to start a movement without using a product, here’s another example of how to create a worthwhile movement with a service.

Last year, Jeff Rose visited his alma mater to give a speech about investing for the future with Roth IRA’s. When he asked the students if anyone knew what a Roth IRA was, no one raised their hand.

This started to get his wheels turning and finally lead him down a path to start the Roth IRA Movement. After having over 150 bloggers join the movement and getting loads of media press, Jeff wanted to do more.

Since the Roth IRA was a one-day movement, he wanted to make a bigger impact, and that’s how he came up with the Debt Movement.

The goal of the Debt Movement is to empower people everywhere who are struggling with debt, to change their lives and their family’s legacy by taking back control.

They are working with sponsors, debt coaches and sharing community success stories, all in an effort to help people pay off $10 million of debt in 90 days.

Since the Debt Movement doesn’t cost anything to join, Jeff’s blogging business isn’t making money directly (more on this model below).

But he’s building up a reputation of creating amazing movements while enabling people to regain control of their financial lives. As a Certified Financial Planner, what reputation could be better than that?

Now that’s what I call starting a movement!

4. Give Your Best Stuff Away For Free

When I went to New Media Expo in January, one of the biggest lessons I learned was, when you give your best stuff away for free you turn your mediocre fans into super fans!

I learned this from Pat Flynn’s presentation on how to use free in your business to get more customers. In turn people will give back in any way they can — whether that’s sharing your content, your courses, your ebooks, or buying the products you recommend.

People will do crazy things for something that’s free, but free doesn’t have to mean profitless. It’s an indirect path to revenue.

You can’t just give away stuff for free and not offer something that keeps your audience coming back.

Maybe you want them to “pay” you back by building your reputation, social proof, or buy your product — whatever it is, you have to use FREE as an incentive to drive your business model. Free is not a business model!

What is the ultimate goal you want people to reach when they come across your business (or your blog or your service)? This is where you strategically give your best stuff away for free so you can accomplish the ultimate goal with your brand.

It’s the perfect intersection of being generous by giving away your stuff for free (which will make people love you), and bringing in revenue to support your business.

5. Find Your Sweet Spot

The point is, if you want your business to stand out in this crowded world of greedy and fame driven people, you have to change people lives. In return your business will flourish like no other.

And more than that, you will have found your “sweet spot” — the place where what makes you happy, also makes other people happy, and you don’t have to sell your soul to make money.

——

So how am I giving back with my biz? I’m glad you asked.

This is something I’ve been pondering for a few months now, and while I haven’t come up with quite the right model yet, I’m well on my way.

For now, I enjoy giving back to other freelancers and go-getters in the Careful Cents Club. I can help connect you with a mentor, a new client, a resource or just loads of support.

Head over the Careful Cents Club, click “join” and be part of our crazy gang!

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