Freelancing is a viable option for starting a side hustle. Once you figure out how to make more money freelancing it could even turn into a full-time gig; it did for me!
Unfortunately, many people get into freelancing and are given a lot of really bad advice about how to make more money.
In an effort to help you boost your freelancing income this year, and to help you avoid the mistakes I made, here’s how you can make more money freelancing in the coming year.
Specialize in something
If you want to make more money freelancing, you’re going to have to drop the jack of all trades bit and narrow down your niche.
Once I started focusing on career-and money-related writing and only looked for those kinds of clients, I began to make more money freelancing.
I’ve closed writing deals in an hour because my writing brand has become known for career, entrepreneurship, money, and lifestyle design. If I find something outside of those categories, I don’t even bother.
This may seem like you’re limiting yourself, but it’s actually strategic. Clients pay more for experts and specialists. This is true in the corporate world and it’s true when you’re freelancing.
Don’t quote potential clients off the bat
I’ve experimented with a lot of different ways to make more money freelancing. Here’s one of my favorite secrets: If a prospect does not ask me for my rates right away, I don’t tell them.
In fact, sometimes I put the ball in their court just to feel them out. There have been instances where I’ve been surprised by clients who wanted to pay me three times what I would have quoted!
And by the way, if a prospect gets back to me with a low ball number, I know pretty quickly not to continue wasting my time.
Get smart about job boards
Back in 2010 – 10 years ago now – I tried every giant freelance marketplace board there was. The end result was that people wanted to pay me poverty rates for my work.
At the time I thought $4 for a 500-word article was normal. After all, we all hear things like “you have to work your way up” and “you take what you can get in the beginning.” Furthermore, we’ve been told our entire lives that arts like writing don’t make any money, so when we see low rates at the beginning of our journey we assume it’s okay.
Again, this goes back to valuing ourselves. If we don’t value our work no one else will. Want to make more money freelancing? Stand up for your value each and every day.
As a side note, this isn’t to say that all writing job boards are bad. In fact, some are actually pretty good if you know where to look. For instance, I’ve gotten awesome writing deals from job boards like ProBlogger, The Freelance Writer’s Den, and FreelanceWriting.com’s Morning Coffee Newsletter. You can also use services like IFTTT to send you freelance gigs from job boards. There are some great new online marketplaces—like Fiverr—that allow you to offer your services worldwide. And don’t let the name fool you—people will pay much more than $5 if you can offer them quality services in return.
So in reality, this warning should read that not all job boards are created equal and to stop wasting time on the ones that pay peanuts.
If you’re serious about your side hustle objectives and want to make more money freelancing this year, create an action plan to:
- Refine your niche. You can’t specialize enough. The more you do, the more you can charge for your work.
- Raise your rates. Stop quoting low rates because you’re afraid the client will say no. Always negotiate.
- Look beyond job boards. They may be necessary to get your first few gigs, but tapping your network—along with referrals and repeat customers, will always pay more.