Editor’s note: This is a guest post written by Kelly, Head of Content at Approveme.com.
How would you like to be earning twice as much as you do now? Of course the answer is YES!
The wonderful thing about being a freelancer is that you are in charge of your income. The more you improve your skills and refine your marketing, the more you’ll have the potential to earn.
If you’re new to freelancing and you’re not earning as much as you like, it’s 100% possible to increase your earnings. In fact, you could DOUBLE your earnings.
The truth is that doubling your income is easier than you think. In fact, there are a few small changes that could elevate your freelance business to a premium level.
Here, we’ll give you some clear, actionable steps you can take to start earning more as a freelancer. Do note, this is not an overnight hack, it’s a solid, long-term growth strategy you can use to improve your business.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Get Fully Booked
The first step to doubling your income is to book gigs at your current rate.
Then, fill up your schedule and get as many freelance jobs as you can handle at your current rate. Don’t worry about raising your rate just yet – that comes later in the next step. But before you do that, you need to create a solid foundation from which you can build.
Your goal is to book yourself week after week. This means you’ll be in a position to quote higher rates and not worry if the potential client says no.
How do you make sure you’re always booked? It’s all about marketing. As a freelancer you must also learn to be your own PR agent.
Here are some essential tips for marketing yourself and getting booked.
Focus on Your Clients, Not Yourself
What’s the most important thing about marketing your freelance services? Turn the spotlight away from yourself and focus on your clients as many freelancers make the mistake of talking about themselves in their marketing materials.
Your experience and skills are important, but what is most valuable to the client is how you can help them. To laser-focus your marketing efforts, think about who your particular skills could help. Start with these two questions:
- What problems can you solve for your clients?
- How does the service you offer benefit the client and help them achieve their goals?
This will help you figure out who you should be pitching your services to, and how you can make them want to work with you.
Finally, send targeted pitches to the people you can help with your skills. Show them you want to help them! Which brings us to the next point…
Show Your Clients You Care
Always make your clients the hero of the story and show them that you truly care about their business. Take the time to learn about your clients and use your strengths and skills to help them reach their goal, making them stand out from the rest.
One simple way to show you care? Practice active listening. Listen to what the client says they want, and then repeat it back to them to verify that you understand. It’s simple, but it’s effective.
Many freelancers copy and paste cover letters that have nothing to do with the project. It doesn’t take much time to tailor a quick custom response. It shows you’ve read the job description and understand the project.
This thoughtful, specific, custom response will stand out and will be much more likely to get a reply.
Make Working with You as Easy as Possible
Whether you’re a freelance graphic designer, content writer, web developer or other service provider, your clients hire you because they need help with the particular service you offer.
So, it’s worth thinking about how you can make working with you as easy as possible.
You’ll want to cut stress from their lives, rather than adding it. Perhaps put yourself in the shoes of your client, who is likely a busy entrepreneur with a lot on their to-do list. Handing the project to a trustworthy freelancer saves them hassle.
How can you make working with you easier? Here are some tips:
- Take the lead and guide the client through the process. Tell them upfront what the stages of the project will look like and when you’ll deliver.
- Find ways to make it easier for the client to fulfill their role and get the project started. For example, use WP E-Signature by ApproveMe.com. Your clients can sign your contract in seconds with a couple of clicks. (Right now you can grab an amazing deal on WP E-Signature as a Payoneer follower: half price on a lifetime membership!)
- Communicate throughout the project. Ask the client if anything seems unclear. It’s a lot easier (and more professional) than fixing misunderstandings down the road.
- Make sure you have all the specific information you need before you get started. Don’t be afraid to ask for the important details – as the client might not know exactly what info they should send you. You can even create an intake form with questions so they know exactly what info to send you.
- Create an outline/plan for the project before getting started on the bulk of the work. (For a graphic design project, this might be mockups/sketches. For a writing project, this could be an article outline.) This is a great way to make sure you are on the right track and avoid time-consuming adjustments later on.
- Don’t be afraid to offer helpful suggestions. This takes the burden of making decisions away from the client. Give them your expert advice and take charge!
- Deliver on (or before) the deadline to help the client stay organized and on track.
- If the client suggests any revisions to your first draft, get them done on time.
- See if there are any extras you can add to your service that will make things easier for the client. For example, uploading a blog to WordPress, or sourcing images for social media posts.
The more projects you work on, the more you’ll perfect this process. You’ll continue to make it smoother for both you and your clients. Offer a great experience, and you’ll get repeat business, testimonials and word-of-mouth referrals. All these will help you get and stay fully booked!
Step 2: Raise Your Rates
Now it’s time for the next step – which is to raise your freelance rates.
Increase Your Prices Incrementally
At this stage, keep looking for new clients, but quote them a rate of 10-20% higher than the previous gigs. Since you’re already fully booked, you can’t lose and if the new clients accept your higher price, that’s great! If they don’t, you already have plenty of clients in place.
Remember, patience is key. Don’t double your rate overnight. Keep inching it up over time, making sure you’re always booked and as you add each new client to your schedule, you can eventually drop your lowest paying client.
You could also go back to your current clients and talk to them about increasing your rate. They may be willing to raise your fees over time, especially if you are offering them great value and they have been loving your work.
Itemize Your Quotes
When sending a fixed-price quote for a project, don’t throw out a number without any context. If you let your client know what the quote covers, they will have a better sense of the value you are offering.
For example, if you are doing a website design project, the client isn’t just paying for the final website. They’re paying you to research competitors, decide on the design, create the design, make revisions and more.
Let the client see behind the scenes. Show them what goes into your process, so that they understand the value you are offering. This will help to justify the higher prices you are charging.
Seek Bigger Clients
Once you start charging higher rates, you’ll need to seek out clients who have real money. Look for companies who understand the value of the work you do. You won’t be able to work with start-ups on a shoestring budget looking for the cheapest freelancer.
Instead, you’ll need to target larger businesses and websites. Or, you’ll need to seek out publications with bigger circulations. These larger clients have the budget to pay for high quality services and are willing to spend money if it means you’ll complete the project to their standard, on time and on budget.
Step 3: Make Sure You Get Paid
Moving forward, you should always try to gain more gigs and increase your rate at regular intervals. But all your hard work will be for nothing if you don’t have a way to make sure you get paid for every job you do.
In fact, getting paid for your freelance work can be one of the hardest parts of freelancing. It seems like every freelancer has at least one horror story. You may have had clients who evaporate into thin air after the final draft, never to be heard from again. Or, you’ve undergone a months-long saga of emailing the finance department to chase up a wayward invoice.
Getting stiffed for freelance work happens all the time. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do a great job on the project! It can be the result of unscrupulous clients, disorganized companies, confusion or miscommunication. According to research by the Freelancers Union, over 70% of freelancers have had trouble getting paid at some point in their careers. So, you’re not alone!
The more hurdles in the way, the more likely that your invoice will fall through the cracks. So, how can you make sure you get paid for the work you do, every single time?
To double your income, you’ll need to make it impossible for a client to get away with not paying you. Whether it’s accidental or on purpose, it should not be possible. That means creating a workflow that eliminates any chance you won’t get paid.
Always Have a Clear, Signed Freelance Contract
Working without a contract is like going on vacation and leaving the front door of your house wide open. Maybe nothing will happen. But why take the risk when it’s so easy to secure your property? A contract protects you and it also makes you look more professional and trustworthy to your client.
Every time you start a new project, set up a clear, detailed, signed contract with your client. The contract should outline the scope and timeline of the project. The client should have an expectation of what you are going to deliver and when you are going to deliver it.
The great news? Creating contracts is easy. With ApproveMe.com Contract Template Library, you’ll have access to over 100+ legally-binding, professional contract templates. That means that you can choose the contract that fits your project, tailor it to your needs, and send it to your client to sign. Job done!
Make the Contract Easy to Sign
Don’t expect the client to take the time to print out your contract, sign it and scan it back in. Remember back in Step 1 when we talked about making the experience of hiring you as easy as possible? Start here.
Make your client’s lives easier by offering a fast and convenient way to sign your contract electronically (such as WP E-Signature!). Any time you can cut an obstacle and save your client time and hassle, you should!
Set a Payment-in-Advance Policy
The most effective way to make sure you get paid for your freelance work is to ask for the payment in advance.
Getting paid in advance will transform your freelance career and will save you hours that you used to spend chasing up payments, and you improve your cashflow. There will be no more anxiety over whether you will get paid. You’ll know that all your clients are serious about their projects. Plus, the client will be more invested which means you’re more likely to get quicker responses to your questions and a smoother process.
When you onboard new clients, make it clear what’s expected of them. You don’t need to give a reason just explain that it’s your policy and it applies to everyone. Build trust beforehand with testimonials, case studies and examples of previous work. If they protest when you ask for payment in advance, they are not worth working with.
If you’re working on a large project, set milestones and get paid in advance for each stage. If you do, make sure to outline these milestones in your contract.
Ready to double your freelance income?
Now that you know the steps to take to build up your freelance business and double your income, what are you waiting for?
It’s important to note that doubling your freelance income won’t happen overnight. It will likely take several months, even a year, to double your earnings.
Instead, slowly raise your freelance rates while staying fully booked. You can take your time and grow and improve your business in a more sustainable way that will stick. Keep refining your funnel and offering better service, and you’ll be worth every penny of your premium rate!
Kelly is Head of Content at ApproveMe.com. After spending a decade living out of a backpack as one of those wandering vagabond “digital nomad” types, she’s finally settled in Georgia for now (the one with the Caucasus Mountains, not the one in America with the peaches.) She lives with a charming Englishman she met in New Zealand and the #1 cutest dog in the world. When she’s not writing copy, she’s nerding out at pub quizzes, making art or going for long runs in the forest while listening to 80s new wave bangers.