So, your freelance career finally has lift off. You’ve got a couple of clients under your belt…your portfolio is getting fatter….you’re feeling increasingly confident about your abilities and career choice. And best of all, you like what you do. But there’s one thing missing: the big bucks. How can you get the money to really flow? There’s no shortage of answers. For starters, here are five ways to start raking in more cash.
#1. Increase Your Rates
It’s obvious, isn’t it? Increase your rates and you’ll make more money. We know this and yet we freelancers are notoriously timid about raising our rates. We’re afraid any increase will drive away existing clients and turn off prospective ones. While these are valid concerns, if you put too much stock into them, you’re not going to last long as a freelancer. A freelance career is not sustainable unless you’re being paid what your time is truly worth.
To assess the true value of your time, do your research. Find out what the going rate is for work like yours as performed by freelancers of a comparable skill level. If your rates are lower than your peers, you can feel confident that there’s room for an increase without your business drying up. Talk honestly and confidently to existing clients about an impending rate increase, explaining the reasons behind the increase and remembering to discreetly remind them of any value you’ve added to their business. With new clients, there’s no need to explain anything – but you might want to spend more time soliciting clients with deeper pockets.
#2. Keep Meticulous Time Records
Since becoming a freelancer, I’ll bet the old adage “time equals money” has never seemed more packed with vitality and truth. As a freelancer, every minute counts. That’s why you need to closely monitor how you’re spending your time: your habits might be causing you to leak money. Whether or not you bill by the hour or per-project, get into the habit of writing down everything you do in a day, making particular note of how much time you spend on individual assignments. (You can use apps such as Chrometa or iTimeSheet to make it easier.) Keeping a close eye on your time will help you to avoid undercharging per-hour clients, ordetermine a more accurate rate for per-project clients. Just think: if you forget to bill 15 minutes of work everyday, if your hourly rate is $40, you’re losing $50 per week, or $200 a month!
#3. Think Passive Income
When you sell your service, whether it be writing an article or designing a website, you only get paid for that work once. But if you sell a product, you can get paid for that product again and again without having to put in more work or time. Why not supplement your freelance income by creating and selling a product that relates to your talents and would appeal to your target clients? Consider writing an e-Book or a workbook, creating a Premium WordPress theme or an instruction video,or selling stock photography. Although you’ll likely need to invest many hours upfront, the payoff can be huge later on.
#4. Teach Your Skills
Even if you still feel wet behind the ears in your freelance career, there are people out there who are greener than you. And they want to learn the skills that you have. Considering offer your services as a teacher or consultant. Start talking up this aspect of your business with friends and family, and at networking events or social functions. Approach a local community college with ideas for a class, or you can even offer a special online class through your own website.
#5. Develop a Strong Marketing Plan
When freelancers hear the word “marketing”, many of us either sigh or wince. Do we have to? Of course we do. A freelance business is like any other: without a regular marketing push, it’s likely to stall and flounder. While the feast and famine periods of freelancing are inevitable, if you are not on top of your marketing, your famine periods will be much longer than necessary, costing you ample dough. Take a few hours to develop a marketing plan to be carried out over the next 12 months. Your plan should include your income goals, strategies you intend to implement for achieving those goals (e.g., direct mail, cold-calling, email prospecting, etc.), and a timeline for executing those strategies.You’ll be surprised at the difference a little marketing can make to your bottom line.