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As more and more people are saying, “see ya later!” to their typical job and joining the global freelance workforce, the biggest concern (rightfully so) is their paycheck.
Can you support a family? Can you live comfortably? Can you get rich?
The simple answer is “yes” to all three. Freelancing, without a doubt, can help you earn an income to support your family and live comfortably. And making six figures (and beyond) as a freelancer isn’t out of reach.
We interviewed 12 freelancers who make six figures and are ready to share their best advice so you can, too. Let’s dive in and learn from the pros:
After having her first daughter in 2013, Morgan decided to create her own online business. Opening up her first Etsy store quickly had her on track to earn $100k in her first 12 months! Starting with just a simple idea of baby headbands, Morgan has since grown her business tremendously. Her success at freelancing has led her to produce courses and educational tools to help others.
Morgan’s best advice for beginner freelancers: become a master of one service — and don’t try to do everything.
“FOCUS. Don’t try and be in all the places, all at once— you’re going to spread yourself too thin and be mediocre at most (if not all) of them,” she says.
“Start small and focused— ONE type of product/service, ONE marketing channel, ONE target customer— get confident in how you’re showing up for those, and THEN (and only then!) add in additional products/services and marketing channels. It’s much easier (+ quicker!) to grow your solopreneur business to six figures if you aren’t trying to juggle multiple marketing messages for multiple products/services on multiple channels. Keep it simple, master what you have, and THEN diversify from there.”
After realizing he was “unemployable,” Clay started his own digital marketing firm in 2015. With the exponential growth, Clay decided to sell the agency four years later—it was making over $1,000,000 per year.
The advice Clay has to reach $100,000 as a solopreneur comes in the form of how you should structure your business model (the same way he’s built his latest business, Dripify). If you’re able to apply this to your freelancing business, you should highly consider it.
“Move everything into a monthly recurring revenue model and move away from one-time fees and hourly rates. Everything will stack up month over month and you’ll find yourself making over $8,333 per month pretty quickly.”
Think about it — take a $500/month service package, you sign up 3 clients in the first month, then 2 more the next month — guess what? You’re already making $2,000/month. As Clay mentioned, this can quickly add up and after a couple of years of hustling, you’ll be on your way to six figures.
Jay Clouse is the creator of Freelancing School, founder of Unreal Collective, host of the Creative Elements podcast, and author for LinkedIn Learning & Lynda.com. Jay brings a ton of credibility and experience to the table.
Jay has found a passion for helping others become their own boss as a freelancer.
As a solo freelancer, one mantra Jay lived by was, “make hay while the sun shines.” What exactly does that mean? Jay explains:
“You may be familiar with feast and famine cycles in your business, so when things are going well and you seem to have more opportunity than time, find a way to rise to the occasion. It may be acutely painful for a short while, but it gets you to the goal much faster when you ride the wave.”
In other words, take the opportunities when they come — because you don’t know when the next one will.
Eduard Klein is using his 3+ decades of experience to help other digital businesses thrive. You might think it took him a while to reach six figures, but Eduard came out of the gates and achieved this income threshold just in his first year as a freelancer.
“The year when I graduated high school, I made $100k as a freelancer and raised it up to $1.4M/year as a solopreneur,” shared Eduard. “Be brave to raise the prices. Increase the level of value you deliver to your customers and keep increasing your prices simultaneously.”
It’s an important reminder: always raise your rates. The longer you are a freelancer, the more experience and value you bring — therefore, your clients should in turn be paying more for it. Don’t undervalue yourself!
Nick Loper had his first taste of entrepreneurship back in his Boy Scout days when he sold candy to his fellow scouts at Summer camp. Everything he has learned since then has led him to create an entire community around running a side hustle at Side Hustle Nation.
One of Nick’s most valuable pieces of advice he can give to reaching six figures is to repurpose your work in various ways.
“Think of how you can get paid multiple times for work you do once. Carve out even just a small portion of your week to dedicate to this speculative — but time-leveraged — income stream,” Nick says.
But what can you repurpose or create? Nick elaborates on this:
“Maybe it’s a do-it-yourself guide for people who can’t afford your service. Maybe it’s YouTube content answering common client questions. Maybe it’s a newsletter curating the best content in your niche. All of these have the unique advantage of being able to serve multiple people from a single effort, which is often an important key to scaling to six-figures and beyond.”
Bobby Macey has made quite the name for himself and his business. One of the biggest struggles of freelancing is finding clients, and this is exactly what Bobby focuses on in his six-figure pro tip, with a bit of an unconventional method to doing so:
“For me, the biggest thing was not shying away from posting online about my journey. In a very non-salesy way, I would post about my self-employment journey on social media and people started to self-select and send me more business. When you are constantly top of mind to others, they often become intrigued by what you’re doing like never before. I’m not talking about posting every day saying you’re a developer, writer, or designer. SHOW your work and share insights about what you’re working on. That’s how you sell yourself without having to be salesy.”
At his core, Matt Olpinski is a UI/UX designer and web developer. After years of full-time freelancing, Matt utilized all of his expertise to not only start his own company, but to also teach thousands of freelancers how they can find the path that works for them.
His advice? “Find ways to work with clients on an ongoing basis. For example, setting up a renewable long-term commitment with one or more clients can help you generate more income with less effort while minimizing your downtime.”
Things like monthly retainers, or a 6-month contract for marketing services, are ways you can help boost your income for the foreseeable future. Remember, it takes much less effort to gain work from a current client, than it does to find a new one.
Jimmy Rose is all about efficiency. If you’re able to be more efficient, more productive, you can automate your processes and be able to take on more work. What can more work do for you? Help you reach six-figs.
Jimmy’s love for automation has him helping other solopreneurs do the same.
“Invest in things that make you more efficient. I see a lot of people trying to find the cheapest software solutions, or avoiding hiring a virtual assistant. I thought the same way until I was at the point of burnout. I’d try to create DIY solutions to everything or use sub-optimal tools because they were cheaper. One day I kind of snapped and decided to spend money on anything that could give me back some time (within reason). That included a lot of software and a virtual assistant. It not only gave me loads of time back but also headspace to think about the bigger picture instead of always being stuck in the weeds. Without this, I don’t think I’d ever have cleared the $100k mark.”
Karl Hughes has taken his years of experience building software engineering teams to start draft.dev which helps companies create authentic technical content.
“Spend half, no more than half, your time on execution, and the rest on growth (marketing, sales, etc.). Your goal should be to get more business than you can handle so you can raise your prices and dump the clients who don’t pay as well or are harder to work with.”
With this pro tip, Karl emphasizes the importance of growing your clientele in both size and profit. Having 5 really high-paying clients you love to work with, will certainly be a lot more profitable than 20 time-sucking, low-paying clients you don’t enjoy.
Starting his freelancing journey at just 15 years old, Leo Bassam quickly realized there was a lack in productivity and management apps catered to freelancers. With a mission to support the growing freelance community, Plutio was created.
Leo’s pro freelancing tip to reaching six figures relies on good client relationships, and always staying top of mind.
“Most of the time our clients have their own clients, with their own businesses with similar needs for the service you offer. Build good relationships with your clients and ensure you stay in touch, this way the chances of them referring others to you are high and so the chances of getting more work with the least hassle possible.”
Justine is a business coach for creative entrepreneurs and freelancers. When it comes down to it, she explains, success starts with the right mindset.
“Work on your mindset first. If you have a belief that you can’t make money from your creative talents, or you’re ‘bad’ at money and business, you won’t be able to confidently ask for (and get) the rates you need to cross the 6-figure mark.
“Secondly, put yourself in rooms where entrepreneurs who are already achieving what you want to achieve are gathering. This is unlikely to be a free Facebook group, but more likely conferences, coaching programs, or masterminds.
“You may have to invest to be in these groups because they’re curated, but it’s the best investment you’ll make in your future self and business.”
Ready to make six figures?
We hope these tips and insight help you on your freelancing path. Although reaching $100k may be a nice goal, as long as you are enjoying what you are doing and able to live comfortably that’s what matters most. No two paths are the same and everyone’s version of what success looks like is unique to each individual.
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