I’m not going to lie: the freelancing lifestyle can be really hard. It’s almost always a constant hustle. Clients come and go, but grocery bills are forever.
When I was freelancing my biggest challenge was how to get more work when freelancing. I’d often forget to pitch for new clients and then I would have a client finish their project with me and I’d be stressed, short on money and would often take lower paying projects that were not in line with the work I wanted to do.
Over time I developed a system that really worked for me and ensured I had a continuous flow of freelancing clients, less stress and a more substantial bank balance.
The biggest change I made to get more work when freelancing:
I realised quite quickly I had a problem. I often felt depressed when searching for new freelance writing jobs on Upwork because so many of were paying so little for a lot of work. I felt depressed and got to a point where I couldn’t force myself to scroll through Upwork anymore. I did not want to compete with writers from other countries able to bid at $3 per 500 word post. It made me feel sad and really affected my outlook on my work. I decided to outsource this part of the job to my virtual assistant. This was the first time outsourcing changed my life. I gave her a list of requirements and every week she would send me a curated list of jobs I could apply for that were within the pay rage and topics I was interested in.
This changed everything for me because I was only looking through a list of projects that I felt were paying well enough. It ensured that I was feeling happy about the income I could make if I landed some of the jobs and I wasn’t being weighed down by the clients offering unliveable wages.
While this one change was the one that made the most difference to my income, it wasn’t the only change that I made which propelled my freelancing business. Here are some other small changes I made to make more money while freelancing:
I realised I had to hustle
With freelancing, clients are often less reliable than traditional employers. They’ve probably never met you in person, might never have spoken to you on the phone and so to them you’re just an email address. That makes it very likely you will experience some clients who send ample work your way and then suddenly decide they’re changing directions and no longer want to work with you. This is another reason outsourcing the Upwork search process to my virtual assistant was so helpful. It meant I had a constant stream of jobs I was being reminded to pitch. Every week I was pitching, even when I had ample work. If I was really busy, I would just be fussier about the projects I would take on, but I was always finding new clients and often increasing my rates.
Diversity is extremely important in freelancing
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket when you’re freelancing. Have a few clients, ideally with pretty even workloads. This worked well for me for two main reasons. Firstly, it meant that I had a good variety in my work, ensuring I didn’t get bored or burned out. Secondly, it meant if I had an unreliable client or finished a project with a client, I would still have other work I could rely on to pay the bills. When freelancers have a rough patch with work, often they’ll take on low paying work which takes up a lot of time and really affects their self worth. This is a dangerous and slippery slope when you’re working for yourself, so set yourself up well from the beginning.
Look for beefy clients
When I first started freelancing online I took small, scrappy jobs in order to build up my reputation and portfolio. But as soon as I had some momentum in my work, I intentionally set out to find clients that were looking for ongoing collaborations and would provide me with a decent bulk of work – say around 10 hours a week. I found there were a number of clients who had projects they wanted completed as fast as possible and were quite happy for me to choose how many hours I wanted to work each week. This was amazing for me because I was completely in control of my income and had as much work as I wanted.
Focus your energy on finding clients that are ongoing, have a decent amount of work available and even try to negotiate a retainer if you are looking to offer package deals. A job that pays $150 for one post might seem like a great deal, but if you’re going through the application process only to be offered one post, it’s not nearly as valuable to me as a client who only pays $50 per post, but has a list of 200 they want you to write over the course of the next 6 months. Focus on decent clients that are going to help you fill up your bank account!
Getting more work when freelancing is one of the biggest struggles, but I hope with these tips you will be able to get more freelancing work.
Interested in freelancing, but not yet working online? Read my post on how to get started working online to get the ball rolling.