You’ve established a freelance career, got a handful of regular, loyal clients and found that your business is ticking along nicely. But how do you take things to the next level and increase your income? Here are six ideas to help you boost your income and enjoy greater profits as a result of your hard work.
Put your rates up
Let’s start with the glaringly obvious. Putting your rates up means that you will earn more money without expending any more time and energy. However, many freelancers are reluctant to ask their clients for more money, for fear that those clients will look elsewhere.
It can be a valid fear – a rate increase may give one or two clients cause to shop around. Nevertheless, if you’re confident that you’re providing them with a service of above average quality, then you should be pretty safe.
The cost of living goes up each year. Remember that as a freelancer you are entitled to adjust your rates to reflect that – and that your clients will be well aware that service providers of all shapes and sizes tend to increase their fees once a year. Whether you’ve established yourself as a professional human translator, a copy editor or a PR professional, you have the right to increase your rates by at least the cost of living each year.
Another obvious point, but one worth covering quickly. If you work longer hours, you can earn more money. However, working longer hours doesn’t mean giving up your social life and chaining yourself to your desk. Starting 30 minutes earlier each day and cutting down your lunch break by 30 minutes means that you can still finish work at the same time each day, but that you can bill an extra 5 hours per week. If you’re happy to finish half an hour later each day too, you can bill an extra 7.5 hours each week. For those who work 8 hour days, that’s the equivalent of working an extra day a week, but without having to give up an extra day!
It’s no coincidence that the Four Hour Work Week was such a big hit. It shows workers how to work smarter in order to cut their working hours while still making more money. One excellent tip is to outsource tasks that take up your time and that would only cost a little for someone else to do.
If you work from home, for example, and juggle earning money with completing chores, why not outsource the cleaning and ironing and spend that time completing an extra professional translation (or editing job, or whatever you do) each week? So long as you earn more in that hour than you pay to the person you’ve outsourced the task too, you end up better off.
Nor is it just household tasks that you can outsource. If you’re spending hours trying to design snazzy marketing emails or cold calling to try and get new clients, why not outsource those parts of your freelance life and instead spend that time doing the actual work that earns you money? So long as you earn more per hour than you pay those doing your other tasks, it’s a win-win situation.
Offering specialist services is a way to increase your income. You can stand out from the competition by offering services that they don’t. You can also charge more for those services, thanks to the laws of supply and demand. The less people who offer your specialism, the more you can charge – assuming of course that there is a market for the service that you are offering, which it is of course essential to check!
If you’re a professional translator, for example, why not branch out and learn how to do medical translation? You can still undertake regular translation work for your usual clients, but the medical specialism will open up additional avenues of income for you as well.
Market yourself better
Good marketing can be a key way to increase your freelance income. Brush up on your marketing tips and remember that marketing isn’t just about what you can do, it’s about what benefits you will bring to your clients. Sell them a vision that you can help them achieve and you’ll have them queuing up for your services!
Ditch your lowest paying client
This final tip requires careful thought. Getting rid of a client may seem counter-intuitive to increasing your income. However, if you’re at capacity in terms of your available working time, and have a waiting list of clients, then ditching your lowest paying client in order to take on a new client at a higher rate can make sense.
If doing so leaves you feeling racked with guilt about abandoning a loyal, long-term client, remember that you always have the option of going back to our original tip – raising your rates. If you existing client is happy to match the rate that you could earn from a new one, that’s great. If, however, the client won’t consider a rate rise and you have a new client waiting in the wings to pay you more money, it might be time to make a tough business decision.
What other approaches have you taken to increasing your freelance income? What has been the most successful strategy that you’ve implemented? Leave a comment below to share your experiences with your fellow freelancers.