How To Make More Money As A Freelancer
If you've been freelancing for a while, or maybe you're just starting out, you've asked yourself this question. How can I make more money?
Nobody likes seeing a clear month looming in their calendar (unless you're booked to Tahiti) or that uncomfortable feeling of not knowing how you're going to pay for X, Y or Z.
So, today I want to tell you about 5 easy strategies that you can start doing right now to make more money in your freelance gig.
1. Slog your little heart out
Most freelancers will have some sort of financial planner of their income and expenses. I just use an Excel spreadsheet. In it, I have monthly income targets so I can measure how I'm tracking each month.
The slogging strategy involves assessing your target and then doing what it takes to meet it.
One successful freelance writer I know says that she just keeps pitching ideas to editors until she reaches her monthly financial goal. She has a second spreadsheet of all her pitches and ideas and what's been sent to whom. And she uses that to recycle ideas and work her contacts until she’s commissioned for a specific amount of work.
Wow. That’s a big effort.
And not for the faint hearted. But if you think you can tackle it, here's what you’ll need for the slogging strategy -
A supremely well-organised spreadsheet of your ideas, pitches, LOI (letters of introduction), and contacts
A network of semi-regular corporate clients or editors
OR contact details for reliably potential work
A thick skin and determined nature!
2. Dish up a snazzy new offer
The second way of making more money as a freelancer is to add another string to your bow. Offer a new product or service that complements your existing work. Like business portrait photography or SEO research or LinkedIn profiles.
Then follow your usual methods for getting clients and make a big deal about it.
If you’re thinking, “I don’t know what to offer”, don’t worry. Use a bit of lateral thought. You don’t need to pluck a new offering out of thin air. Instead, consider something in your current services that can be re-packaged as a stand alone service.
For example, if you're a photographer, maybe you can start offering a headshot package for small businesses. or if you're a finance copywriter, introduce a LinkedIn profile service.
What you’ll need for the snazzy strategy -
• A stand alone product or service
• An existing network of potential clients
• OR knowledge of where to find them
RELATED POST: Dream Big: How To Scale Your Freelance Business
3. Change your mindset
I didn’t make much money last year. In fact, my income was less than half of the previous year.
And I know why. It’s because I did so much volunteering and pro bono work in Laos. I loved doing it and it's so easy to get caught up in that stuff in a developing country where there's so much need. Like with my Spay A Stray Cat campaign that was literally right outside my front gate.
But the fact remains that if I, or you, want to make more money, other unpaid stuff needs to take a back seat. Now that I’m back in Canberra and there’s no half starved kitties on my doorstep, it’s easier for me. I’m also no longer writing my Eat Drink Laos blog or managing 3 other Facebook pages.
So, I have more and focus for work and building my business.
What you'll need for the mindset strategy -
• Clarity about how you work and spend your time
• Another outlet for your free work that also takes less time
4. Dig up your exes
Ex-clients that is! Past clients are a great resource so you definitely don’t want to lose touch with them. Repeat work is one of the golden factors of client relationships.
I try to get back in touch with my former clients every 6 months of so, to see how they’re doing. I always ask if they need any help with their website, content or social media. Unless you’ve done a terrible job - in which case you wouldn’t want to stay in touch anyway! But if they’ve worked with you before, they’re so much more likely to rehire you rather than hunt around for someone new.
Former clients are also great for pitching your snazzy new services to.
“Hey X, just want to let you know that I’m now offering X. It would be really helpful if you wanted to... I’m offering a special discount to my past clients, so let me know if you’re interested.”
And, former clients are also awesome for referring you onto their networks. Just ask them if they know anyone who needs your services. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool.
What you need for the exes strategy -
• Organised contact details
• A cheery, can do attitude
5. Bump up your prices
Finally, one sure fire way to make more money is to charge more! Most freelancers, and not just newbies, struggle with the age old question of “what to charge?”
Can I tell you something? The very first website I built for a client I charged $250. Yep, 250 big ones. That included a in-person brief, full site, image sourcing, domain migration, the whole kit and caboodle. Even the client thought I was way under-charging! And of course I was! But it was my first client and at the time I felt that the experience and the reference meant more than the money.
These days, I charge a lot more than that. Yay. I’m still getting great experience and references but I’m also charging for my time and expertise.
My fees are still less than the average web designer’s, from what I’ve gleaned from other people’s sites. Quite a lot less in some cases. But I don’t care too much about what other people charge. I know that I offer a much more detailed and personal service than most other designers. I want to be available to my clients because I care about them.
I’ve increased my prices bit by bit over the years in line with my level of comfort and experience. But I also test the waters. Belinda Weaver from the Hot Copy Podcast (great show), talked about this. She said that she puts a figure out there and if the client accepts it, then she knows she’s in the right ballpark. If they don't, then maybe she's gone a bit high.
It's always a bit of tightrope. And it depends on other factors like the industry, business type, and your experience.
Raising your prices can mean more money coming through the door but it may also mean a lower volume of clients. Consider how much time you have to actually work. If, like me, you’re a working mum doing the school run everyday, you’re time poor. So, you’re got to make those hours count and earn the money you deserve.
What you need for the price lift strategy -
• A very good understanding of what you do and what it's worth
• A reliable time tracking tool (I use Toggl)
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What do you think? How have you made more money in your business?
About the author: Lilani Goonesena is a freelance communications specialist for small businesses and organisations, based in Canberra. She works on Squarerspace web design, SEO content and digital marketing strategy. She writes an awesome newsletter on digital marketing, social media, blogging, web design and "all that online stuff".