With millions losing their jobs worldwide due to the pandemic, freelancing has spiked significantly this year. Other people have quit their jobs and turned to the gig economy for work, with many seeing the potential for high earning. The industry was already expected to make up 80% of the world’s workforce by 2030. That figure has undoubtedly sped up now. If you’re new to freelancing or you need to lean into it more now, you’re not alone.
It can be fulfilling, but you can end up on the hamster wheel.
CNBC reports that 90% of freelancers can’t take a vacation.
Dissecting that statistic further, freelancers don’t have a choice. Most make just what they need to stay afloat.
Why is this?
Adding clients is not the problem. More clients mean more time needed to meet deliverables.
The problem is your freelance rates. If you can improve your revenue per client, you can take on significantly less work while earning the same or more.
To do that, you need to be strategic in the way you price and sell your services. For starters, look at your existing client base. Can you cut your clients in half while doubling your rates? Sounds a bit scary? That’s what it will take. Here are some steps to get more money in your pocket and more time on your hands.
1. Turn your services into a package
If you’re a freelance writer or editor, you may have a per word or article rate. Look at your pricing model and come up with a custom package to offer your clients. Packaging your freelance service is a great way to grow your monthly income, improving your efficiency. More importantly, packaging sets you apart from other freelancers who compete on price. You’ll be competing on value. Consider an entry tier, middle tier, and upper-tier offering to cater to your client’s budget and needs.
Let’s say for every client, you can write five articles monthly.
- The entry tier could be two articles, priced slightly above your regular rates.
- The middle tier could be five articles — with revisions — priced at the rate you desire.
- The top tier could be seven or more articles — with extra revisions and uploading — at a significantly higher rate.
In the book Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It), author William Poundstone writes that by anchoring your product offering next to a more expensive one attracts more customers to it.
In other words, don’t hesitate to charge more!
Yes, some clients will want the expensive option. In that case, price the top tier well enough so you can hire quality help while you work on what you do best — the writing.
2. Learn complementary skills to increase your rates
Skills pay the bills.
You can earn significantly more if you can add a skill that works seamlessly with your current offering.
For example, if you learn SEO, you can help your client create content and improve their rankings. Skills like funnel building, Google Ads, or e-com store designs can bring in more revenue per client.
Dilbert creator Scott Adams often advocates for people to become a “double or triple threat.” On Tim Ferriss’ podcast and subsequent book Tools of Titans, he expands more on this concept:
I always advise young people to become good public speakers (top 25%). Anyone can do it with practice. If you add that talent to any other, suddenly you’re the boss of the people who have only one skill.
Or get a degree in business on top of your engineering degree, law degree, medical degree, science degree, or whatever. Suddenly, you’re in charge, or maybe you’re starting your own company using your combined knowledge.
The concept is the same. If you combine your skill of medical writing with SEO, you can be a sought out SEO for plastic surgeons. If you combine your existing web design skills with public speaking, you can design websites for public speakers and coaches that convert.
The possibilities are endless.
As you learn the basics, ask your existing customers if they’ll be interested in the service. You get paid to learn and can use them as testimonials in the future.
3. Position yourself as a Subject Matter Expert
If you’re someone people know, like, trust, they’ll have no problem paying a higher rate.
That’s the power of content.
By creating content and sharing on sites like Linkedin, Facebook, or Instagram, you can display your freelancing knowledge and ability to serve your ideal client. Here are some ways you can leverage content in your favor:
- Post article samples on LinkedIn, Medium, and Quora.
- Use video to demonstrate your process on LinkedIn, YouTube, or Instagram.
- Start a podcast using an app like Anchor and distribute audio clips on your platform of choice. You can even invite your ideal customers on your podcast for an interview, which can turn into consistent work.
There’s no wrong way to approach content. As long as you start and provide value, people will reach out to you for your services. Being an expert allows you to earn more for the same work.
4. Convert existing clients to a long-term agreement
Do you already have an existing client base?
How about arranging a retainer?
After working with your clients for a short period, offer a set price so you will keep them top of mind for your services.
Retainers recoup precious time for both client and freelancer. You can plan your time to work on the client deliverables with a stable check. Your client, on the other hand, won’t spend time looking for a new freelancer.
Retainers also work well for copywriters who charge different rates for different projects. The client could simply outline the request, and the copywriter could get started.
I usually bring up the idea of a retainer if the client is increasing the workload or starts asking about other services. It’s a great leverage point, and I can also temper expectations if I’m feeling scope creep.
A simple segue into retainer could be:
I’m enjoying working with you, and I’m stoked we’re seeing [engagement/traffic/revenue]
Would you consider a retainer?
I have other clients that I work with, but I want to keep you at the front of the queue.
We can do [deliverable] every month on a [6 month/12 month] retainer.
Care to talk about it some more?”
Make your retainer time-bound and give the client — and yourself — an easy opt-out. Retainers can recoup you the time spent prospecting or applying for jobs. You can also negotiate your rates at this point.
If the retainers are a no-go, consider selling them the next level tier of your packages.
Most freelancers don’t think about the next step in their freelancing journey. They just jump in headfirst with no experience, and no idea what to do next. While freelancing is a fantastic and lucrative way of earning a living, you need to find ways to earn back your time. That’s the only way you will be able to spend time with your family, pursue hobbies, and take vacations.
The best way to do that is to position yourself and your services to earn more, which in turn allows you to work less. You may lose some clients along the way, but this opens you up to the right client that’s willing to pay for your packages. Keep learning, teaching through content, and positioning your services well.
That up-front work will pay off tenfold.