Everyone talks about the feast or famine dilemma of freelancing. The concept is that you either have more work than you know what to do with, or you’re struggling to find clients. In fact, Freelancers Union’s “53 million” report found that finding work and income stability are the top barriers to doing more freelancing work. Conversely, earning extra money and schedule flexibility are the top drivers of freelancing. The trick is to find the balance between the two.
Although there will typically be times when you have less work and times when you have more, there are ways to make more money as a freelancer. Making more money may not be your end-goal but it allows you to make the most of the times you don’t have as much work. You can use that time to work on passion projects, plan for future business or you know, relax.
The most obvious solution to making more money is to “work more,” right? You could do that, but then you’d burn yourself out, losing out on work (and money) in the long run. You’d also lose out on the freedom and flexibility that freelancing offers. Rather than just working more, here are five ways you can make more money as a freelancer!
1) Focus on high-value jobs
With time, you’ll learn which jobs pay the most without taking the most amount of time and which take a lot of time or mental energy but don’t pay well. Sometimes this has to do with the job at hand, other times it’s due to a problematic client. To make more money, “cut the fat” and focus only on high-value jobs.
You don’t have to rely solely on your intuition to decide which jobs have a high return on your investment of time and mental energy and which don’t. Document your experience with clients as you go. Make notes on how they communicate before and during the engagement. This will help you spot patterns among the clients who will be a breeze to work with and those who won’t.
The way a job is structured impacts the value of a job as well. The job type that has the most value for you – whether hourly or fixed, one-time or ongoing – will depend on the type of work you do. With time and experience, you’ll learn which jobs make more sense as hourly, and which are better at a fixed rate. Someone who designs logos will find one-time, fixed rate jobs more valuable than a copywriter, for example. Check out this guide for choosing the best structure for each of your jobs.
2) Streamline your workflow with processes
As a freelancer, your time is money – literally. The more you create processes and streamline them, the more you can accomplish in less time. As you remove low-value jobs, it’s just as important to remove busy work. When working on projects, identify tasks that are being repeated for each and build a structure that allows you to replicate them easily and quickly. Examples include saving design templates in InDesign, creating shortcuts in your favorite programs, saving text snippets, etc.
If your actual work doesn’t have repeatable components that can be streamlined, find ways to make other areas of your life more efficient. For example, there are plenty of bots you can use to streamline administrative tasks, meetings, metrics and more. This will give you more time to spend on what Cal Newport calls “deep work” (valuable, creative work) and less on “shallow work” (busy work).
3) Start a side project or productize your services for passive income
Our friend and Peep Monika Kanokova wrote a book called My Creative (Side) Business featuring interviews with entrepreneurs who’ve all established multiple sources of income. Some have found a way to monetize their passions while freelancing, others discovered ways to productize their freelance services. They’ve all found multiple ways to make money outside of client work.
Can you leverage your skills to create a scalable product that people would want? Consider turning one of your services or a skill you have into an e-book, a physical book (like Monika did!), a tool, course, or consulting session. See how Tessa offers a 30-minute mentor session for getting started as a freelancer – something she’s an expert on. Krista who has managed many crowdfunding campaigns and worked for Tilt in the past offers a one-hour crowdfunding consulting session.
There are other side projects that can act as a source of passive income. Great examples are an illustrator or photographer uploading their work to a stock site like Creative Market or Shutterstock to be licensed. Peep Sunny had her bodega cat illustrations turned into pins for sale. You can also have your work turned into physical products like iPhone cases or shirts through sites like Society6.
4) Find more clients
You know you need to cut out the low-value jobs and focus on those where you get paid a higher rate and have a bigger impact. But how do you find them? According to Freelancers Union, 69% of freelancers said technology has made it easier to find freelance work. One approach is to find job listings on platforms like CloudPeeps, Facebook groups or other job boards. It’s important to build your brand and reputation within the community where you’re trying to land work.
You can also make yourself discoverable to the types of jobs you want to attract. That way, you’re building a pipeline of clients without as much work. For example, clients can now search and message Peeps on the CloudPeeps platform based on their needs. If they feel like a freelancer is a good fit based on their profile, they’ll send them a message, have a call, then make them an offer. But that means you need to make your profile attractive for the type of jobs you want to work on.
To make your profile stand out, focus on the value you add for clients. Include examples of your best past work with your most high-value clients. References and referrals go a long way as well. Clients want to see that you were easy to work with, that you met deadlines and produced quality work. Here are some examples (with tips!) of how experienced Peeps have optimized their profiles and service packages to attract the clients they want to work with.
5) Upsell current clients
If you feel like you have a healthy workload and love working with your clients, you don’t necessarily need to add more to your plate. Rather, work with existing clients to broaden scope or negotiate a higher rate based on the value you’re delivering. Open a dialogue with them to learn where else they could use help or where else your skills could help them grow. If you’ve already proven your value with your work and if you have a healthy working relationship, this should be an easy sell.
Similarly, if you find yourself going above and beyond every week or month, it’s time to discuss a higher budget or rate. Revisit your contract. Demonstrate to them how you’ve gone above scope and how you’re delivering additional value. Have an exact ask in mind. Make it easy for them to say yes by outlining the new scope of work, rate and budget – and how it will benefit their business.
It’s all in how you prioritize
If you want to make more money as a freelancer, you have to first determine what activities bring in the most money. Then, prioritize those activities. Like most things in life, this will be a process. You’ll learn a lot along the way. But with an optimized profile and clear focus on the type of work you want, you’ll be well on your way to making more money doing the things you enjoy the most.
Ready to get started? Login to your CloudPeeps account to give your profile a makeover and check out the jobs currently available on the platform!
*Above photo from Bench Accounting.*
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