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The 8 Ways Freelancers Can Make Money

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In my experience, there are eight ways that freelancers and consultants can make money. Find out what they are and how you can add them to your freelance business.

If you’re a freelancer, you’re probably familiar with the conundrum of feast or famine – where all the work comes at the same time, and then finishes at the same time, leaving you scrambling.
So today we're looking at eight ways you can bring extra revenue into your business.

First, market research.

Start by thinking "who am I solving a problem for, and what is the main problem I can solve?"

You’ll need to do some market research for this. Go and ask your ideal client "what sucks about hiring a photographer, what do you wish people understood about your copywriting needs?"

They will literally tell you the answers you need to implement in your business, and help you stand out from your competitors.

If you have never done market research, I want you to finish reading this and then call someone who falls into your ideal target market. No idea what I'm talking about? Let me know if you’d like me to speak to market research in a future blog post.

#1: Increase leads

Remember, it's your job to find your prospects, not theirs to find you. Focus on capturing traffic – how can you find new people and tell them what you do, while capturing their email address to reach out to them later?

This is the power of lead generators! Figure out ways to capture people who are interested in working with you, but are maybe not ready to pull the trigger just yet and give you money.

In saying that, traffic itself doesn't increase sales – you need to effectively capture and then convert them, which brings us to…

#2: Convert more leads into clients

Once you have captured a lead, it’s time to nurture them so that you are in the right place at the right time when they are ready to make a decision.

A good tactic here is to invite people into a low-cost, entry-level offer. A good formula is some kind of assessment with a one hour debrief – such as an audit of your social media by a marketing expert, followed by an hour conversation where you share your ideas and thoughts. After this, they enter your automated nurturing funnel until they are ready for a bigger-ticket purchase.

A lot of this comes down to process – how can you make it extremely easy to work with you? Do you have a “book a free discovery call” on your website, or do you make someone jump through seven hoops and an in-person coffee meeting?

Also remember the timeless principles of marketing:

  • Urgency – help them stop procrastinating with expiration dates, price increases, bonus or show them how they're already losing time/money/love
  • Scarcity – limited availability, waiting lists
  • Social proof – show testimonials, case studies, portfolios, press, association with other brands
  • Calls to action – one in every piece of marketing; tell people exactly what to do next

#3: Increase your prices

The main factor in what you can charge is confidence.

If you have a full slate and are drowning in work, you absolutely need to raise your rates. All you’re doing is capping your earnings and burning yourself out.

I can tell you that even if your current clients won’t pay more, someone will. Of course you need to know the market realities, but your rates shouldn’t be based on guesses or insecurities. Decide the price you want to charge first, and then build to that standard.

Every few months I do an 80/20 analysis of my workload. The Pareto Principle, as it’s known, is a great way to work out your least profitable clients. I don’t report hours to my clients, but I do still use Toggl to track my time. Then I compare that to the revenue I make from each client to work out an average hourly rate. If it’s below my ideal rate, then I need to make some decisions. One is to simply end that arrangement, which I’ve only needed to do a few times in my career.

Often, many clients instead accept a reduced workload – so that their $1,000/month gets them two blog posts instead of five, for example. This keeps them in your world but also frees up some time for you to spend on higher-paying clients.

As I said, I don’t give an hourly rate to my clients – they do not associate their contracts with me as a certain amount of time I spend on their projects. I’d encourage most freelancers to stop working by the hour for their clients.

Another way to increase your prices is to add fees, such as a rush fee for urgent jobs or adding revisions so the client has more time to make changes.

#4: Increase how much you make from each client

Increasing prices isn’t the only way to make more from your clients.

At McDonalds, you’ll notice they always ask “would you like fries with that?” It’s a classic sales tactic – the upsell. How can you increase the amount of money someone spends with you? What are your upsells?

This is why clearly defined packages are great. The caveat here is that I want you to focus on doing one thing really well first – being excellent at one thing gives you the right to grow from service 1 to service 2.

A good example of this is how web developers often offer a hosting service on top of their development work, or an additional SEO service. Copywriters may add a brand voice guideline document on top of their monthly blog retainer. A graphic designer could offer an illustration package as an add-on to their normal branding package.

Can you offer any of these?

  • maintenance
  • mentoring
  • trainings
  • analytics
  • adjustments
  • audits

More and more I’m seeing freelancers offer three tiers in their proposals:

  • Option 1 is just what they asked for
  • Option 2 is what they asked for but includes something extra
  • Option 3 is a version with stuff they didn't ask for but you know would be valuable to them

The key here is to actually add more value – you want to be a partner in your client’s success.

Get testimonials over time of people who are thrilled they were upsold, which will help make your case.

#5: Recurring billing

I personally only work on retainers these days. I focus on building long-term relationships with ongoing work; the consistent income lets me provide better value to my clients and get a really deep understanding of their business.

Onboarding clients is time-consuming, so it's inefficient to have to do this continuously.

How can you add recurring billing to your business? How about:

  • membership libraries of useful assets
  • subscriptions
  • maintenance
  • mentoring

#6: Leveraging partnerships

You want other people to sell for you – I know this sounds crazy! But leveraging partnerships where people are recommending you to clients – or bundling your services together – is a great way to grow your traffic streams and increase the number of people coming into your business.

If you are the only person who's selling your services, you're leaving money on the table.

#7: Sell other people's products

Make a list of 10 things you could sell to your client base – things that would be genuinely useful to them. If could be software, courses or a partners' services (see above). A photographer might sell photo books, a project manager might sell licences to software.

There are multiple ways to monetise this – it could be a partnership (see above), a discount code or an affiliate link.

#8: Digital Products

Think beyond physical products to create online products that can reduce the 1:1 work you need to do with a client, and allow you to bring in income that frees up your time. Consider:

  • online courses
  • membership programs
  • monetising podcasts and blogs

Basically, every freelancer or consultant I know is looking for revenue streams to add to their business. Which of these could work in your business first?



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I work with freelancers, consultants and coaches (basically: one-person service-based businesses) to move away from the hustle and create a business that gives them freedom.

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