As a freelancer navigating the world of lowball offers and underbidding competitors, you may find yourself doing a great deal of work and wishing it added up to more cash in your hip-pocket. The good news: it is possible to start making more money without taking on more assignments or working longer hours.
Yes, you most likely become better at what you do, gradually over time, and the projects you’re working on now will eventually bear fruit in the form of referrals and feedback (but we’re not talking about that). There are positive steps you can begin taking now that will make a difference now.
These 5 tips will help any freelancer generate more revenue quickly, simply, and professionally.
1. Get real about time
Although it can seem like a real hassle, it’s actually beneficial in the long run to spend a bit of time tracking your actual versus estimated time spent working. You’ll probably find out a lot about how you spend your time. Once you’ve found distractions or inefficient processes, take the time to correct them. You’ll end up streamlining your work process and becoming more profitable.
2. Don’t charge by the hour unless it makes sense
A lot of the value in your work may not be effectively measured by time. Some things are more project-based, such as web design or advertising. You may find it makes better business sense to charge based on results, not hours worked, in these cases. How results are measured will depend on your particular skill set, but some examples are web traffic, responses, leads or sales.
When you’re determining pricing based on results, take into account the amount of work you put in and the time it takes to generate the result. It’s easy to under price your own work out of modesty, but take an honest look at the quality of your work and compare it to competitors. Some people are more comfortable charging a base fee plus a commission based on results.
That being said, sometimes hourly compensation is appropriate, depending on what you do and how you do it. Just make sure you are getting what you deserve.
3. Raise your rates
It really is that simple – charge more for what you do. Of course, it can be difficult to let clients know when your rates are changing. However, if you thoroughly research the matter and have concrete reasoning for the price increase, they’ll more than likely understand. After all, your clients chose you because they want to work with you.
Once you’ve drafted a new pricing strategy, it’s often wise to raise your fees in a series of small changes. A considerable hike might cause some clients to think twice about continuing service. However, outlining a concrete plan and letting your customers know gives them a sense of security, as long as you state solid reasons for the change. Be sure to explain specifically how rates will change in the future when you talk with new clients as well, in the interest of transparency.
When it comes down to it, to justify raising your rates you must show you offer significant value that the client can’t find elsewhere at a comparable price. However you or your company does this, it’s helpful to give clients additional value at the same time your rate increases. If a client is particularly hesitant once you’ve explained your new fees, it never hurts to offer them a little something extra, such as a discount for a few months while they think it over.
4. Build credibility
This is huge. When a potential client decides to do an internet search for your name, what will they find? It’s possible to manage your online presence in a way that shows off your best aspects.
If you don’t already have a professional website, the time is now to build one. Use it as a place to highlight your past accomplishments and display customer testimonials as well as provide information about what your company offers. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask a client to write a testimonial for you. When thinking about who to ask, consider their status in your niche community. Social media monitoring services are available that can help you identify key influencers in your field.
Social networking sites provide a variety of ways to interact with potential and current customers. Maintaining a polished profile on Facebook, Linked-in or Twitter, for example, can be an easy way to advertise specials and make connections. Be sure your interactions project a positive image of professionalism and caring customer service.
You may choose to make speeches or have articles published, which are excellent ways to show off your expertise in your field. You can also register with expert databases such as expertclick.com or authorsandexperts.com. Help a Reporter is another useful site to investigate. When a journalist is looking for an expert to quote in your field, they’ll be able to find you.
Blogging can also introduce you to a whole new audience – including other bloggers interested in similar topics. By leaving comments on other blogs, linking to them, or mentioning them in your own blog posts, you’re making a connection with a potential customer.
Attending industry trade shows is another way to make a name for yourself and get acquainted with associates. With the right approach, a trade show can result in plenty of sales and connections.
The payoff of all this effort is twofold. In addition to getting your name out there and building prominence in your field, you can list any of these activities on your resume. The names of clients you’ve built positive relationships with who are willing to act as references also helps boost your image. These seemingly small changes can add up to justify a higher rate, as you add perceived value to your business.
5. Do what you’ve been putting off
Everyone has one thing you’ve been meaning to get around to for some time, but always postpones. Whether it’s a new product idea, a logo redesign, or overhauling the budget, make a concrete commitment to complete the task.
Schedule a specific time to work the project and stick to it. The really intimidating tasks that often get pushed to the back burner can often help boost your company’s worth or credibility.
Too often, freelance workers charge less than they’re worth because they aren’t aware of these ways to increase perceived value. You know you work hard – it’s time you got the pay you deserve. Obviously most of these recommendations will take effort, but it’s helpful to think about it as a redirection of energy you’re already spending.
Most freelancers are overworked and overstressed; whether they are getting paid to make up for it is another thing entirely. Becoming more productive and focused does take a period of adjustment, but once you start implementing good practices, you’ll find that you really aren’t any more busy than you were before.
Whether you choose to use implement a single idea from this list or every one of them, it should help your business and bank balance grow.