I’ve been a freelancer since October 31, 2009. While that doesn’t make me a dinosaur in the online freelancing space, one could make the argument that I am somewhat of an old timer. A lot has changed since those early days.
Back in those days, I was barely able to fetch more than a buck or so for every hundred words I could jam out. Most of my clients didn’t speak English, nor did they care if I could either! Seriously, those were some dark days, and there’ve been a few more since those early days.
However, I came to the realisation one day that, while I had pretty decent grammatical prose and my word processor was pretty darned good at correcting my spelling mistakes, there was a lot I was doing wrong. I was taking any work I could get my hands on, and allowing those customers to set my rates for me.
Customer service was nothing more than taking an order, dishing it out, and (hoping to) get paid by people I’d never carried on a conversation with (email or otherwise). I don’t think Google profiles even existed back then, but I could be wrong.
Regardless of what sort of online freelancer you’re hoping to be, these are my top 4 tips for making big money as a freelancer. The only thing using these tips will cost you is a lot more time and perhaps taking on a few grey hairs!
1. Focus on a standout skillset that’s in demand online
Focusing on a single skillset is the only way to get started in freelancing, and will allow for a lot more freedom to complete deadlines quickly and move onto the next project. Let’s say you’re great at content writing. You don’t want to jump headfirst into firing up your own SEO business if you want to make the maximum salary possible for you in online business.
Stick with what you know, and, if you want to become an SEO genius, or Internet marketing consultant, learn those crafts in your spare time — test the waters while focusing on what you do best to make a great income.
Some experts claim that you should focus on a niche too, like “fitness writing” for writers, “local business” for SEO, etc. I say, don’t do what you don’t know, but don’t limit yourself to SEO’ing cooking sites, when your skillset obviously allows you to venture into multiple other niche areas while still delivering outstanding results.
Limiting the niche areas you work in can “limit” your income too! Just don’t step outside your comfort zone without analysing the downside: ie., delivering substandard products or results that damage your brand, or committing to projects that rob you of the one thing you need most in client work — time.
2. Establish real relationships with clients
Most online freelancers and their clients like to operate under a cloud of anonymity. At least that was how things were done when I got started back in 2009 as a freelancer. I’ll admit that I was never that kind of freelancer, and I’ll admit to “firing” more than one client who insisted on keeping things on an apathetic level.
The fact is, how can you trust people to pay an invoice when they have no personality? The same will hold true in the minds of many of the clients you deal with. Get to know them, develop a relationship (as much as they’ll allow), without crossing the line: ie., asking to see pictures of their family, being added on their personal social media profiles, or less-than-innocent flirtation, just to name a few.
3. Be publicly visible
The big problem is that it’s hard to establish credibility when you’re some faceless freelancer with a picture of an anime character in your Google and other profiles. You might be a man, woman, child, or some bot for all customers know.
You’ll find a lesser calibre of customer operating as Mr./Ms. Anonymous. They won’t trust you as much, won’t give you the juicy projects, and certainly won’t want to pay a premium for your services.
You should use as many services as possible which can help with your brand image. You can start with establishing your personal / company brand via logos, brand identity, etc. Having a physical ‘location’ other than your home address – is important for your image. For this purpose, using virtual address services can give you an edge with an office location in top business districts, legally and affordably.
4. Set high daily income goals
Set your income goals as much as you feel is reasonable for your current skillset. Heck, make them unreasonable if you want. If you’re the type who believes you can actually build your own spaceship and fly it to the moon, why limit yourself?
A hundred dollars a day to start is a great goal to start with. Once you reach that level, bump it up and find ways to generate more income such as expanding your business to include more people, including more services, or increasing the compensation you demand for services rendered.
If you just go into this thing with the hope of paying the bills, you’ll never be happy and likely won’t challenge yourself in the ways that are necessary to build a long-term business and feel truly fulfilled in what you’re doing.
Bonus tip: Forget about weekends for a while!
I won’t drone on about this one. Listen, weekends are for working stiff in the real world. The Internet doesn’t take days off and, as a freelancer, you have to cycle through projects as you get them.
If you’re considering letting a single project slide over the weekend until Monday, consider what happens Monday morning when someone needs a rush order completed that day — you start the week behind and/or might be tempted to turn down that urgent project that can most certainly lead to others down the line.
Share your own tips
Another great thing I’ve learned from working online is that, much like the real world, sharing is caring. The best way to pay for free advice is by offering useful insights of your own.
Good luck and don’t give up on your freelancing dreams!
Main Image Credit: HomeThods.com