A few weeks ago a coaching student told me she needs to earn more income from freelancing in 2020.
“The money we saved for a new roof on our house went on home care for husband’s parents. We’re in debt.”
If she can’t increase her income, she’ll have to take a full-time job and freelance on the side. That presents more challenges.
I surprised her when I suggested that by doing a few things differently, she can double her income in 2020.
Earn more: choose your own freelance income
We’re living in a golden age for writers and other creative folk: we have many more opportunities today. But we need to be proactive, to make make the most of our opportunities.
I suggested to my student that what she earned was up to her. In effect, she could choose her own income as a freelancer.
She stared at me for a moment. Then she smiled. “I never thought of looking at it that way.”
Let’s look at how you can increase your income next year too.
1. Start small. Aim to make one tiny change a week
As the saying goes, if you keep doing what you always do, you’ll get what you always get.
To increase your freelance income substantially, you need to change what you do. But — no one likes change. Moreover, change brings stress to disrupt your writing.
Paradoxically, you can create big change in tiny increments. Change one small thing a week.
2. What needs to change? Brainstorm solutions
Start by making a list of what needs to change.
Then, brainstorm solutions. Some solutions will be obvious. My student knew she was spending time on tasks which someone else could do. She hired a virtual assistant to manage marketing and bookkeeping chores.
She also decided she needed to revise her writing services agreement. And her rates. “I’ve got two Oliver Twist clients,” she said. “They’re always asking for more. And I haven’t revised what I charge in three years.”
Perhaps you have clients who continually ask for more too. That’s fine, if you’re charging them for the extra time. If not, revise your services agreement to state that any items not listed in the project brief will be charged at your usual hourly rate.
3. Find ways to increase your productivity
Writing often takes more time than we estimate.
Can you find ways to increase your productivity?
One way to write more is to avoid writing and editing simultaneously. Writing and editing are two different mind states. Yesterday morning, I realized if I kept on dithering, I’d miss two deadlines. My “I’ll never get this done” panic eclipsed my creativity.
Luckily, I had a couple of projects to edit, so I gave in. I stopped trying to force creativity, and edited the projects.
When it’s time to write, relax. Let yourself write. Writing is discovery; it’s not typing. Accept what you write, when you write it. Fix it tomorrow when you edit.
Try voice recognition software. Accept that you’ll need to slow down to speed up — learning to get comfortable with dictation takes time.
4. Be innovative: fire some clients, then find new clients
Don’t start hyperventilating yet. If you’ve been freelancing for more than a few months, you have deadbeat clients.
- Change their mind about project briefs after you’ve invested many hours of work. Then won’t pay a kill fee.
- Micro-manage each project. Their business problems become yours. You spend (unpaid) hours on the phone with them.
- Slow-pay you. And call you to argue about an item on an invoice for a project you completed four months ago.
- Refuse to pay you a deposit: “don’t you trust me?!” Then slow-pay or even no-pay you. A month later, they expect you to drop everything to work on their new project…
Fire them. If you don’t, your deadbeats will ensure that you won’t meet your income goals for 2020.
New clients are out there — and others can find them for you.
Get new clients the easy way: let others find them for you
Here’s how to get new clients without spending hours each week hunting for them. Let others do it.
Get in touch with agencies, such as design, marketing, web development, and management agencies. They all have clients who will need a freelance writer sooner or later.
Offer to pay your agency contacts a straight “finders” fee for new clients they send you, or a percentage of the first couple of agreements.
Freelancing can be your best career move
Love freelancing, but wish you could earn more? You can have the career you’ve always wanted: choose your income in 2020.