Excerpt: What Do High-Income Freelancers Do Differently?
Last few years have completely changed my perspective of freelancing. When I started freelancing about five years back, all I wanted was to earn the same amount as my last-drawn salary.
However, a change in circumstances led me to approach freelancing with much more focus and vigor. To put it mildly, I had to cut the shit and show up every day and work with a goal in mind. And very soon my income improved dramatically. And in the process, I discovered the best-kept secret of freelancing, that it is possible to earn an excellent and above-average income through freelancing.
What do successful or high-income freelancers do differently? Below are the qualities which allowed me to grow my income from just a few hundred dollars per month to high four-figure dollar per month within a span of two years.
The good news is that you can easily imbibe these defining qualities and see your freelancing business grow many times over.
While I did learn the nitty-gritty of how to manage my business more efficiently, the mindset shift had an enormous impact. I learned the impact of these eight qualities the hard way…but you can take the easy route of reading about it in my free download: Eight Essential Qualities of High-Income Freelancers.
Here is an excerpt:
Efficient Time Management
As a freelancer, you are not just a designer or a writer or whatever is your core competency. You will be required to manage your finances, market yourself regularly, coordinate with client, and so on. All this is besides doing the actual work, which will generate revenue. It goes without saying that you will need to manage your time exceptionally well to do all this and still have time to enjoy the freelancing lifestyle.
Successful freelancers understand this very well and manage their time with discipline (the first point). They prioritize their activities in such a way that they can meet both their short term and long-term targets. I cannot overemphasis this. There are only so many hours in a day, and there is only so much you can do. So, manage your time efficiently.
Have a time-bound to-do list every day. It has to be realistic for it to be successful. For instance, if you have decided that you will finish the article in two hours, you need to try your best to finish it in the stipulated time frame. This is easier said than done and takes practice and focus on doing regularly.
The second strategy to manage your time well is to prioritize the tasks which need to be done on that particular day. Basically, this strategy acknowledges that you might not be able to meet all the items in your to-do list, but there are some tasks, like administrative tasks or urgent client requirement, which need to be completed on a priority basis. Here responding to emails from clients, work requests, critical time-bound assignments, sending invoices or tax-related work, which usually has stringent timelines, cannot be postponed. These are the tasks you should try to complete first thing, so you are free to concentrate on actual work.
Lastly, your time management should take your long-term goals into account. If my long-term goal is to finish writing the first draft of the novel in the next four months, then I do need to find time for it every day. What this essentially means is that though I might not be able to work on the novel for a day or two, I am meeting the weekly or monthly target and that the project is on track.
Let’s be realistic here. There will be days when in spite of best efforts, you will not be able to complete all the tasks on your to-do list. Don’t beat yourself up for it. It is perfectly normal. The idea is that on the whole (or overall) you should be moving forward and meeting your goals.
For me, the biggest time drainer is social media. Once I log on, I find it extremely tough to stop. My biggest tip here is not to multitask so you can focus and your entire schedule doesn’t go for a toss. It might be a good idea to switch off notifications on your social media accounts for a few hours every day. Better still, switch off WiFi, yes I do this for some time every day, so I don’t keep checking Facebook or email and waste crucial time in the process. It is tough, but it is possible, and if you want your business to grow, you will find a way of managing your time well.
You also need to create a system in place for the management of everyday administrative tasks. Any freelancer will vouch that creating an invoice, handling money and tax matters, working on a proposal and such chores are the biggest time guzzlers. I talk at length about this in my course, Managing your Freelancing Business so you are not overwhelmed by these administrative tasks and also find time to enjoy your life.
Whether the goal is income-related or not, successful freelancers realize the value of adopting a goal-oriented approach in almost everything they do. Whether it is their personal development; acquiring new clients; setting goals on a day-to-day basis, successful or six-figure freelancers are obsessed with meeting their goals.
In fact, it would not be wrong to say that a sense of achievement and self-worth of freelancers is dependent on attaining goals. There is no job promotion or a new job role to hanker for, so freelancers need to set their own goals and targets. This is the single most factor which separates an average earner and a higher earner. A successful freelancer or an entrepreneur sets his/her goals and continuously evaluates whether he/she is on track to meet them or not. More than anything else, goals help in putting everything in perspective.
While setting goals, you need to make sure that your goals are realistic, measurable, and clearly defined. Vague goals with no definite timeframe are hardly likely to inspire or motivate you. For instance, I will acquire two new content marketing clients in the next two months, or I will write for the New York Times by the end of this year are clear goals with a set timeline.
I would also encourage you to have a goal, which makes you slightly uncomfortable. For me having a goal-oriented approach was the biggest gamechanger in increasing my income many times over.
Demanding what you are worth
The general tendency of freelancers is to shy away from the money talk. They are also insecure that they might not get the assignment if they walk away from it because of low rates. This is not true of a successful or a six-figure freelancer. A successful freelancer is usually extremely aware of the value he/she brings to the table and is not scared to demand a premium.
Let me be honest here. It doesn’t come easy, and the first instinct is to take whatever the prospective client is offering without negotiating. But this is counterproductive to your goal of earning a high income. The hard fact is that you cannot (and shouldn’t) take up low-paying assignments if you want to meet your goal of increasing your income.
Initially, you might need to take on low-paying work to acquire clips and, more importantly, to gain experience, but be aware that this strategy will not work in the long term. You cannot grow beyond a point if you do not take up high paying clients. So, your mindset should be to get high-paying clients, and ultimately, you need to let go of low-paying customers.
You will know it is time to move on to bigger things when you feel that the assignments are not challenging enough. It is also time to let go of smaller clients when you have acquired a good portfolio of work samples which you can use to pitch to bigger clients.
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