It seems we already know the problem—you’re a solo freelancer wanting to upgrade your business into a studio but not sure how to make sure it stays well-funded (aka having consistent clients & steady cash flow).
For some, it’s easy to make that shift.
For others, it’s a challenge. And that challenge is valid.
A studio is a different animal. It may have the same working parts as solo freelancing but there are additional working parts you need to learn. And you know what they say, the best way to learn is by experience.
But before jumping into experience, one solid way to learn is to read, of course. Before building Moss, my content studio, I spent countless hours reading about the difference between a studio and an agency. In a nutshell, an agency is a complete package, while a studio remains very niched. Most agencies cover a lot of ground. Studios remain specific on what they do and don’t do.
Agencies are comprised of bigger teams. If we’ll look at a marketing agency, this could mean there’s a team for content marketing, another team for social media marketing, a bunch of editors, project managers, and more. Of course, the bigger the agency, the more members in those teams.
Studios are more lowkey.
Kind of like being a solo freelancer 2.0 because now, you’re working with a small team.
Maybe you have an SEO specialist, one editor, and one project manager. Maybe you’re the writer and the project manager. Studios are often small, composed of few people, and more niched. Like, if you’re a content studio, perhaps you only offer blogs and social media content. Or blogs and newsletters.
Question now is, why, even though it’s relatively small and seemingly easy to fund, why is it difficult to keep studios well-funded?
There are lots of answers here.
Maybe you’re starting from scratch, not branching out of your solo freelance business, and you haven’t found your target clients yet. This is what I did with Moss. With my solo gig, I write for SaaS brands. With Moss, I serve product-based businesses.
Maybe you struggle with focus because you’re doing two things, like writing and finding new clients. We all know outreach takes a ton of energy. Or maybe you need to up your social media game so brands could easily find you. This requires a lot of time and effort too!
What I know for sure is that when you bring in people and build a team, you have new expenses on the table. This is when you need to really study your pricing and service packaging because you have to make sure that your studio is actually making money and that it stays funded even on lean months. Because let’s be honest, in the freelancing world, some months are great, others are crickets. It happens.
If you’re terrible at numbers (like me) one of the best ways to solve this funding problem is by talking to your team. In fact, even if you’re an expert in numbers, talk to your team. Know what their expectations are. Know where they aspire to be a year or two from starting the studio with you. Hear them out—they may have bright ideas from their own experiences.
It’s also essential to study your goals, the money coming out, and the money coming in.
Study how you’re packaging your services and the rates you’re charging.
Do some industry research to know what people are charging in your target niche (especially if you’re starting from scratch). When I built Moss, I decided to serve small to medium product-based businesses in the wellness and travel industries. I later realized that charging $500 per blog post isn’t very feasible. Add to that the over aspects that our content studio covers like content strategy, SEO, and such… So, do your research.
Don’t be scared to ask people in your network.
Speaking of asking, don’t be scared to ask for help. If, say, you cannot focus on connecting with potential clients because you’re also writing or editing, consider outsourcing. Hire a new writer or editor. Or add more tasks to your current writer or editor. I get it… delegating is not easy especially when you’re so used to doing everything yourself.
The thing is, whether you like it or not, to keep the studio running, this is something you have to learn.
Growth is not easy. In business and in life. Mainly because with growth comes new experiences and new experiences mean unfamiliar roads.
But the fact that you’ve already decided you wanted this means you’re willing to walk on this unfamiliar road.
The key to making it to the next intersection, whatever that looks for you, is to keep taking another step one after the other. Even when you’re scared or unsure.
Don’t get stuck.