When you work for yourself as a freelancer, you enjoy a ton of freedom. You have the ability to set your own schedule, choose your own projects, and create your own services.
You also have the ability to pay yourself what you want. There's no boss above you denying you a raise or withholding a bonus.
On the flip side, there's no boss to give you a raise or bonus when you want to earn more money. It's just you and your knowledge and skills when you venture out on your own to freelance.
And the idea that you can pay yourself what you want comes with a caveat: obviously, you can only pay yourself as much as you earn. While you can make as much as you want in theory, the reality may be a little different.
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So how do you earn more money as a freelancer?
1. Charge More
Start with the obvious: raise your rates! As you gain more experience, expertise, and skill, you should charge more for your work to reflect the increased value you can provide. Your time becomes more valuable, and your results are likely better today than in the past when you had less experience.
It's easiest to start charging more to new clients. They don't have an anchor point of previous prices to compare to, so you're likely to get less pushback here.
Raising rates with existing clients may be a little trickier, but it's possible. Approach your client and politely explain the situation and lay out your reasons for charging more. Here's an example email script you might send:
Hi [Client Name],
I'm sending this email to let you know I'm making changes to my services. These changes will continue to provide you with [explain outcome/benefit for client].
I'm thrilled I've been able to grow and expand my experience. I've also worked hard to continue developing my skillset by [explain how -- courses, training, mentorships, programs, etc you've taken].
As a result of this growth and expansion of skill and experience, I'm updating my rates to reflect this. Starting on [a specific date], the price for [type of service you provide] will be [specific price].
If you have any questions or want to chat further about this change, please don't hesitate to let me know!
2. Delegate and Take on More Work
You might hit an income ceiling if you constantly trade your time for dollars. In other words, if your pay depends on how much time you can dedicate to a project -- whether you get paid by the hour or only you can complete the work -- you'll always be limited.
You only have so many hours in a day, and so many days in a week. Eventually, you'll max out. (And hopefully, you won't burn out from overloading yourself in an effort to make more!)
Earn more money and scale your freelance work by hiring help. In other words, outsource! Most freelancers with big workloads can benefit from hiring a part-time, virtual assistant (or VA). You can pay a VA anywhere from $8 to $30 per hour, depending on the quality of their work and the type of tasks you ask them to complete.
This allows you to better leverage your time, because you can delegate time-intensive tasks that anyone can do once they understand the process. You need to invest time upfront to train someone to help you, but once they know what to do you can reclaim hours of your time.
This also allows you to focus on skill-intensive tasks, or the work that only you can do. And when you're not bogged down by work you can delegate to your VA, you can take on more skill-intensive work -- and earn more money.
3. Turn Your Service into a Product
Take the skills, knowledge, and ability required to do your job as a freelancer performing a service, and create a product that people can buy over and over again. This is another way to get out of the exchanging-time-for-money trap that many freelancers fall into.
Just like training your VA, this will require an upfront investment of your time and maybe even some money. But once you create your product and start selling, you can earn recurring revenue that's more passive (since the work is already complete).
Not sure where to start? Consider teaching others how to do something. You could create a course or teach workshops. You can also publish how-to guides, ebooks, or other materials that people can buy over and over again.
Looking for more? There are other opportunities to earn more when you freelance. You may be able to participate in affiliate programs or revenue sharing systems. Or you could find a way to partner and collaborate with other freelancers to better leverage your time.
You're the boss here, and while that means only you are responsible for raising your pay if you want to earn more, it also means you get to make the choices. Keep your eyes and mind open to opportunities as they come along, and explore new ways of making more.