You wanted to know so we asked...
We found 5 top Freelancer’s whose businesses turnover 6 or 7 figures annually.
And here's a summary of what they said:
There are 4 things you need to do to make money as a freelancer:
- Specialise in a specific niche
- Brand yourself
- Become an entrepreneur too
- But the thing is specialize in what?
- Brand – how?
- Productize – when?
How do you get off the hamster wheel of grabbing and hustling for the next client when you are tied into the equation of time = income.
And we know that just leads to burnout.
The freelance life can produce enough income but there is often a period of ‘trial and terror’ while you work out how to do it. So we asked the experts to tell us more. How do we increase our rates? How do we change what we do?
Philip Morgan, Freelance Writer
And now the Branding Man for Technical freelancers and entrepreneurs. (8 years)
Charging $400 - $1800/month retainer fees for positioning coaching.
“Want to stop competing against every other developer?
Positioning is the answer.
I've been there too: taking any client with a pulse and a checkbook. Competing on price, reducing estimates to win work, and relying on referrals or chance meetings at networking events to bring me business.”
Philip Morgan knows your pain and has done something about it.
“The thing that helped free me from this trap was positioning, the process of becoming clear
- Who would I help,
- What expensive problem I would solve for them, and
- How I would do so differently than others
This clarity put me in control of my business.
I was now able to speak directly to a specific type of client, which made my value proposition more convincing.
I was able to talk about painful problems they have, which made them act with more urgency when it came to hiring me.
I was talking about one specific reason to work with me, which made me far more memorable both for potential clients and for those who might refer me to their business contacts”
Philip works with small tech development shops to help them brand themselves but the process of working out who and what you are, who and what your clients are is a great one for any creative freelancer.
He has a very helpful free course The Positioning Crash Course which is a great starting point. https://pcc-landing-page.firebaseapp.com/
Best thing about being a freelancer – the change in mindset when you break free of time = income.
Alexandra Franzen, Freelance Writer
Booked six months ahead. Rate +’-$1500/day $250/hr.
Been a writer for 10 years and a freelancer for 5.
Alexandra doesn’t specialize in the kind of writing she does. She writes all kinds of content – but she has branded (positioned) herself through her website and she networks a lot. Freelancers help other freelancers so much that over 60% of the work coming in typically comes from other freelancers.
Get out there and make connections!
Her words of wisdom about the rates you charge ring true.
First of all remember to check what you need to have coming in to live comfortably. That gives you a ballpark figure for what you need to charge.
Then ask yourself....
“ What feels good in my hut? (hut = heart + gut)
At the end of the day, this is what matters.
If your hut says, “Yikes, no way, that price is way too high!” — pause and re-consider.
If your hut says, “This feels scary, but good-scary. I’m ready, I can deliver, let’s do this!” — then you’re probably right on the money.
As you’re checking in with your hut, it can be helpful to consider your “deepest intention” for the product or service that you’re releasing into the world.
Is your intention to get your guidebook into the hands of one thousand teenage girls? Is your intention to coach executives at the highest levels of leadership so that you can create a wellness revolution in corporate America?
Is your intention to provide emotional support to veterans of war and their families — and making tons of money with this particular offering isn’t really a top priority for you?
Knowing your intention can often make the “right price” feel much clearer.
And then once you’ve settled on a price, your task is to deliver your absolute best work. Behave as though you’re the best in the world, and one day, maybe you will be.
She’s made herself the Go To person for Content Strategising by being quirky, honest, connected and really caring about her clients’ success. Her whole website showcases her personality and her writing talent. Look and learn! http://www.alexandrafranzen.com/about/
Best thing about freelancing – the freedom to be yourself.
Brian Casel, Tech Freelancer
turned Specialist and Productizing Maestro. (10 years) Sold his first productized service, Restaurant Engine, for 6 figures, made another one immediately and also sells his Productize course to help other freelancers free themselves up for a happier life.
Brian describes himself now as “an entrepreneur, focused on bootstrapping online businesses that combine software with productized services”.
You are a creative (techie or writer) and you sell your talent. That’s great says Brian – BUT what if you didn’t sell your talent. You sold your products?.
What if you got so specific about who you serve and what you keep doing over and over again that you end up being The Go To person for that thing for a niche market who LOVE you AND you serve them by making a product out of what they need.
The rates you charge aren’t an issue then.
‘”Level up,” says Brian. “Become a business owner rather than a freelancer. Take what you do and turn it into a product. Find your One Thing’. The thing that you keep selling over and over again. Forget about taking on any job and being a Jack of all Trades.
Focus on your one thing – your one market, your one service (writing advertorials, doing a site revamp..’ and do it wonderfully well, for a few high paying clients, for more money than you thought possible.’ ‘Get crystal clear about who you serve and with what.
Then you can take that further by turning it into a product – a course, an ebook, a software solution – and create a price list of your most commonly provided solutions. That way you provide a DIY version for your clients. You can save the Done For You service for yourself as a high priced consultant if you want to take the work on. ’
According to Brian you have to ‘Productize’ your service to free yourself from the time = income equation.
The best thing about freelancing is becoming an entrepreneur. No more ‘wordsmithing’ for crumbs but being a Web Content Strategist bringing serious value in for your clients through your Messaging Strategy on their Home Pages. They will love you and be happy to pay you an annual retainer for your DFY consulting.
This will stabilize your income beautifully, leaving the products you’ve made such as templates for Home/About/Contact/Blog pages to bring in a steady extra income too..
Nathan Barry, Freelance developer
Idaho educated Nathan Barry is a freelance software developer turned author and teacher. 9 years as freelance designer and 5 years as a marketer/author. $300,000 in last eighteen months on digital products alone.
If you want to earn more than enough as a freelancer you have to make your side hustle work for you.
“Don’t ever believe that authors don’t make money. They can and do when they go about it right. Work out what you can teach others – then make it into a digital product”.
THE IDEA THAT AUTHORS CAN’T MAKE MONEY IS BULL****.
And no, you don’t have to be famous or have a huge online following.”
Fighting talk from Nathan but talk worth listening to when you learn that he earned $300,000 in the last 18 months from his digital product.
Best thing about freelancing?
Freedom to create and have fun with things that interest you.
Notice that there is a theme here – Philip, Brian and Nathan all found ways to get more Bucks for their ‘Bang’ of effort and each made products out of what they knew or did. This theme is repeated by our last expert, Alex.
Alex Pirouz, Freelance Journalist
Australian Freelance Journalist turned Entrepreneur. Creator of Linkfluencer, the most powerful B2B Generation Strategy according to Huff Post. 8 years and still building businesses everyday.
“If you want to be a highly paid freelancer you have to save money as well as bring in big fees. I saved $20,000 when I began by working out a system to get myself in front of the key influencers.” This turned into one of Alex’s biggest sellers.
Alex did this by working out how to use LinkedIn to establish relationships with, first, journalists, and second, potential clients. Working steadily he built his first 50 links with his targets and business boomed. Nice work, Alex!
He grew his email list from 50 to over 12,500, all from LinkedIn through partnerships and generating one-on-one leads. The sole purpose of his marketing is just getting in front of key decision makers, and LinkedIn has 360 million people. 49% of that 360 million are key decision makers, and that’s very powerful!
It was then a natural evolution to turn his Strategy into a product to boost his income from freelancing as a business consultant and journalist. What have you learnt in your time as a freelancer that others might find useful? Just because it is second nature to you now doesn’t mean others even know about it.
Here are his take away points for saving money by DIY marketing if you are targeting press and potential B2B clients.
LinkedIn Mastery in 3 steps:
1. Have a plan – how is LI part of your strategy for getting high paying clients? Get clear on your reason for using this platform.
2. Connect with the people you want to connect with. Start with media, move to potential clients. Don’t sell. Give.
3. Profit by making calls to action when they trust you.
Best thing about freelancing – building a portfolio career and becoming an entrepreneur.
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