Use this 7-point plan to start getting better-paying clients today — and in the years ahead ...
How to Make More as a Freelancer
A 7-Point Blueprint
by D.R. Fideler
If you’d like to earn more or want to get better clients, here’s a plan you can use to raise your rates and get paid a professional rate for every project you take on.
1. Position yourself not as a freelancer but as a professional and as a business owner.
Freelancers are often seen as just “an extra pair of hands” to be hired at the lowest possible rate. You don’t want to be perceived that way — and you don’t want to work for anyone who thinks that way either.
For this reason, it’s best to stay away from low-paying job sites like Upwork. Instead, position yourself as a real business, and start looking for good clients who expect to pay a professional rate.
This means developing your own website, which will project a professional image, and which will include high-quality “samples” of your work — or “credibility indicators” — whatever your work might be.
In addition to making more money, you’ll also get more respect. And you’ll enjoy your work, and the companies you work for, a whole lot more.
2. Specialize — and offer strategic value.
For example, if you design websites, specialize. It will make everything much easier.
I know someone who creates websites only for psychologists.
What a brilliant idea ...
Can you imagine how much easier it is to do that than to offer a service aimed at “everyone”?
All she needs to do is get a membership directory of a psychological association and then start reaching out. When her prospects see that she makes websites for psychologists only, they automatically feel she understands their work, and they are much more likely to hire her.
When you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one.
Offer Strategic Value
If you want to make a lot more money, don’t just offer a service — offer a service that provides real strategic value to your clients, like how to increase conversions or sales. Years ago when I was a marketing copywriter, I made at least $75 an hour on all my projects, including the research. And if I was still doing that today, I’d be charging more.
In short, figure that a good marketing writer will be able to charge many times more than someone who is an editor or an article writer, because he or she is perceived as providing strategic value.
3. Develop great-quality samples.
To get great clients, you need great samples of your work, or credibility indicators, whatever that might be for your kind of work. I won’t hire anyone without seeing samples of his or her work, and I can’t imagine anyone else would either.
4. Use “direct outreach marketing.”
Determine who your ideal clients might be. These are the businesses that could pay you a professional rate within your area of specialization.
Then, reach out to the right people at these companies, and start converting them into clients.
I teach four separate ways to do this in my course, How to Get Great Clients Anywhere, with step-by-step blueprints.
5. Charge a project rate if possible, but at a professional level.
Sometimes you just have to charge an hourly rate if the scope of a project is uncertain. But it’s always better to charge a project rate, if possible.
Clients want to know what the cost will be up front, so they don’t get stuck with a bill that is much higher than they expected.
It’s also better for you to charge a project rate, because if you charge an hourly rate and get better at your work over time, you will make less and less per hour. But if you charge a project rate and get faster, you will make more per hour the faster you get.
I consider a professional rate to be at least $50 to $125 an hour (and some, like consultants or high-end professionals, can charge more). Use that to compute your project rates based on your level of experience and what other professionals charge in your market.
In the end, you want to be selling your expertise, not your time. And while you want your services to be “cost-effective,” you don’t want to compete on price. That’s what Upwork is for.
6. If you’re charging too little now, you could even double your rates by using this model.
I know someone who teaches English online and makes $10 per hour. But the school he teaches for is charging the students $30 per hour.
If he got his own students, by creating his own business and website, he could easily charge $20–25 per hour.
And even if his teaching load dropped by one-half, it would still be a step forward.
He would still make the same amount of money but have much more free time.
This sudden gift of time could then be used to build his own school, get more students, and create online courses. Then he could step away from hourly rates altogether and shape his own future, than being an underpaid employee.
At the moment, he’s chained to the $10 rate and has no free time to do anything else.
If you could double your rates and still retain half your workload, you can use the extra time it creates as a stepping stone to better things. And you can then charge every new client your higher rates.
7. Increase your marketing outreach.
Once you have steps 1 to 6 in place, if you need more clients or income, just increase your level of marketing outreach.
Of course, marketing outreach takes time, so you need to have an efficient system.
But in a couple of years you could easily be making several times what you are making now. And you could even have a real business in which trusted subcontractors are doing some or all of the work.