How much is your craft worth? More than what you’re currently charging?
Yep, we thought so too.
You hear stories about freelance writers earning six and even seven figures per year. So, how do you join this elite group?
There is no get rich quick scheme but there are some things you can change to see almost immediate gains.
In this post, we address how freelancers can make more money without working more hours.
The answer lies within five small changes you can make to the way you operate your freelance business.
1. Pricing freelance projects
The most common freelance pricing model is billing for your time in your business proposals. Your day rate or your hourly rate.
Now, there is nothing wrong with billing your time if your clients are paying you a lot of money. For example, Erin Balsa, a B2B SaaS content marketer, bills $1,000 per day.
But if you’re not making that kind of money, changing your pricing model might be an easy win.
Olly Meakings is a freelance full-stack marketer who started freelancing on £20 per hour. Today, he’s more than 10x-ed his hourly rate for freelance work. When asked how he achieved this, he says:
“Well, I just kept asking for more. Like the famous Oliver, I suppose.”
This is sound advice in itself. If a client says yes to your rates, that’s a qualification that your rate is okay. And it gives you the permission and incentive to ask for more with your next client.
Bullish freelancers will say to keep upping your rates until a client says no. In fact, Brooklin Nash, a freelance content marketer, built up his income to over $300k/year between 2019 and 2021 with this mantra.
Here’s how he did it:
– Just charge more.
“Honestly. Simple as that. It sounds simple, but any freelancer who has increased their rates can tell you it’s scary. What if they say no? What if I never get work again? It’s a difficult mental hurdle to get over. But remember: it’s just mental. It’s all in your head. Over the course of two years, I raised my rates with existing clients twice and increased my rates for new clients every time I signed a new contract. If you’re doing great work and you’ve been consistent for your clients, let me tell you: you’re worth it.”
Productising your work
But it’s not this mentality that earns Olly the most money. It’s changing his pricing model.
Rather than spending all his time on hourly work, he’s packaged what he does best into a product. On RoastMyLandingPage, Olly provides informed feedback on how businesses can improve their landing pages to earn more conversions.
Olly is not charging for time here. He is charging for the value of the product he creates. While it may take him less than an hour to roast some landing pages, his customers earn tens of thousands of pounds more by implementing his changes.
Changing your pricing strategy
Tom Hirst is a web developer turned freelance educator who changed his business model based on the pricing of his freelance projects and industries he saw a gap to thrive in. He now has the flexibility he desires to dedicate to personal projects, family, and client work.
Check out his viral thread below.
2. Finding a routine that works for you
The first half of the word “freelance” is free. So, routine isn’t something you have to nail down immediately (or ever). But finding your optimum way of working unlocks the door to productivity levels you didn’t know you could reach.
The goal here is to find autonomy in your work.
For example, a day interrupted by dropping the kids off at school could be avoided by not starting your focus time until that task is complete. One focussed hour is often better than three hours with several interruptions. Thus online assistant jobs are super helpful for small businesses to cover the logistic parts by saving time and money.
A better example is removing temptations. More specifically, changing the temptations to rewards. Try out this gamification process and tailor it to something manageable for you.
- Acknowledge the temptation
- Set it as a goal for when you complete a task
- Increase the reward as the day goes on or the task size/value increase
You don’t have to use this process, of course. It’s just one example of a routine powered by reward. Play around with your routine and track what makes you most productive.
When you complete more in a day, you can bill more clients (without working more hours).
3. Reducing admin time
Lots of freelancers cite admin time as a blocker for taking on more clients. This could be self-marketing, accounting, or any other business task.
These are important. After all, you are a business as well as an employee.
As a result of changing your pricing model and your routine, you may find you have spare time to dedicate to admin. But that doesn’t mean you have to.
There two approaches you can take to reduce admin time as a freelancer:
- Dedicate a day/time slot for admin.
- Do your admin immediately.
Option 1 is obvious. You could make Friday your admin day. Update your website, send your invoices, reach out for case studies.
Option 2 means completing those tasks as and when they crop up.
For example, when you complete a project with a client, write a testimonial for them to approve instead of just saying thanks. When you get that approval, add it to your site there and then. Don’t put it on your to-do list with your other non-billable items. Get. It. Done.
Another easy win is sending your invoice as soon as work is complete. This might mean reviewing your contract templates to say so. Most customers will be okay with this. In enterprises with lots of other businesses, it’s not so easy – but you won’t know unless you ask.
If your client doesn’t pay? Don’t spend time on time-consuming emails. Set your invoicing software to send automatic chasers when the payment date passes.
Small changes add up throughout the year. You could save weeks of admin time and turn them into billable work.
If it is your accounting that’s eating up your time, hire an accountant.
Use the formula of:
|Time spent on accounting tasks x Your Hourly Rate = Cost of accounting|
|Cost of accountant|
For example, if you spend 20 hours per year on accounting tasks and your hourly rate is $50 then your cost of accounting is $1,000 per year.
If the cost of hiring an accountant to do these tasks is less than $1,000 then it’s worth hiring an accountant. You get your 20 hours back and can fill this time with billable work.
4. Increasing billable work
When you’ve saved all that time on internal admin, what will you do with all your spare time?
There’s no right or wrong answer here.
You could opt to take every Friday off or finish at 2 PM each day. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
But if you’ve saved time and your goal is to increase your earnings, use it wisely.
- Write a book
- Create a course
- Take on a new client
- Dip into affiliate marketing
- Increase your workload with an existing client
- Start a course/qualification that can help expand your product set
5. Expanding your product set
In The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris, you learn how selling a product means you can work less by selling things. What the book doesn’t cover is what things to sell and how to find or create them.
Often, you can expand the services you offer and package them as a product. If you have the skills, why not market them?
Brooklin Nash (the freelancer earning $300k a year above), says you need to bring more to the table.
“The biggest jump in my income came when I started helping clients with earlier stages of content strategy and planning.
Instead of writing SEO articles based on an extensive brief, I ran the organic research, planned out the editorial calendar, and then executed it. Moreover, instead of turning pages of interview notes into a case study, I started running the interviews—or at least made it clear that I could run with a customer transcript and nothing else.
Last but not least, instead of writing thought leadership articles based on existing topics, I started interviewing leadership and then turned that into a laundry list of topics that could work for category education.
Clients usually outsource work to you for one of two reasons: they don’t have time for something or they don’t have the expertise for something. The first is a good place to start; the second is a great place to grow.”
If you don’t have these skills today, invest in yourself. Take the course. Read the book. Ask a peer.
£100 invested in yourself today could mean £10,000 earned a year.
How freelancers can command better rates
In summary, the changes freelancers can make to command better rates are:
- Pricing freelance projects
- Finding a routine that works for you
- Reducing admin time
- Increasing billable work
- Expanding your product set
You don’t need to make all these changes at once. In fact, it is strongly recommended you pick the one that appeals most. If you’re motivated by one more than the other, start here.
Changing how you work is hard work. Humans are the most resistant animals to change on the planet.
But when you gain momentum, there’s no stopping you 💪