We’ve come to a time where more and more people want to leave their day jobs. They feel drained, like wasting their lives doing stuff that doesn’t matter at all. Of course, that’s an incredibly devastating feeling! Consequently, people are seeking advice about alternative income possibilities, mostly online. The internet is full with freelancer tips nowadays, but the downside of this is the following:
Everybody is repeating the same old wisdom, giving the same old advice and suggesting the same old (and mostly unhelpful) action steps. In this article, I want to give you some fresh ideas that you will probably not find anywhere else because it goes wildly AGAINST everything people are usually sharing about making money as a freelancer.
But Dominik, why should I take any freelancer tips from you?
Look, one of the things I always tell people to do is to only take advice from those who can show results. Don’t ever listen to somebody who has his knowledge only from books, but has no real-world experience at all.
I’ve been a freelancer for all my life. I have never been employed the usual way, but worked completely on my own terms since age 18! Of course, there’s no way around learning some important rules along the way. You just have to figure out how things work if there’s no emergency exit available to you. That’s exactly how it has been for me, so I’m one of these guys who can speak from experience.
Nowadays, I’m mainly working in the event and entertainment industry. Besides various other things, I’m a DJ, and I have my own band which I also manage. However, I tried my strategies in completely different fields, too, and with great success! So I’m pretty confident that my approach really works. And I will use the exact same knowledge for my next startup project again!
Is it really possible to earn a year's worth of income working only 30 days?
It absolutely is! By now, I’m making about $1,500 on average for every day I work. How is that possible? Well, you will find out how I do it in this article. A lot of it has to do with preparation, and the rest is a simple business approach that most freelancers don’t understand. You will soon. Read on!
A few things I want to mention so you don’t have the wrong frame in your mind when you imagine this:
- These 30 days are not consecutive 30 days in the way I work. However, this is my own choice, and it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible. It would require a different approach, though.
- I don’t work normal working hours in these 30 days.
- I have a very different perspective on pricing – which will be the main takeaway for you after reading this freelancer tips article!
Get the FROM IDEA TO INCOME blueprint for free
and learn how to create freelancer ideas that make you real money!
Why Most Freelancers Don't Make (That Kind Of) Money
Before I dive into my very own freelancer tips on making money, let me quickly build a solid ground for what I’m gonna throw at you. With all these advisers online with their blogs (just like this one – but not backed with real-world experience), there is one very unhelpful overall suggestion:
The danger lies in a common phenomenon that you can observe over and over again. Such things always work best for early adopters, the ones who came up with the idea and adopted it very early on. The more people do the same thing, the less it will work out for them.
#1 Freelancer Success Tip: Understanding what's important to your customers
This is the main reason that leads people into failing freelance careers. NOBODY is talking about this from a real-world angle, until now! Here is what people usually teach:
Find out who your customers are and give them what they need most.
This statement is absolutely true, but when you read it with no former experience, it’s impossible to get the meaning. And freelance beginner’s can’t be blamed at all, because nobody lays it out in a way they can understand it BEFORE developing a business mindset.
When a struggling freelancer tries to answer this question, he will come up with answers similar to these:
- My customers want me to do good work.
- They want me to do it for as little money as possible.
- They want me to make no mistakes.
While all of these things might or might not be true, they don’t set you apart because everybody thinks that way. Doing good work is obvious, and being as inexpensive as possible is simply wrong from what I can tell.
So, what DO your customers really want?
Take a pen and paper, because what you’re about to read will enable you to charge premium prices. Of course, you have to implement this thinking process alongside my other freelancer tips, which might take a while. But it’s soooooo worth it!
Customers want the feeling that they’ve made the best decision.
They want to feel in good hands. If you can give them the feeling that they don’t need to think about anything, you have won. While everybody else is trying to get the gig by being cheaper than all of the others, you are taking a different angle. Let me explain this further.
The Only Thing Freelancers Ever Need To Understand About Money
Let me get you a quick look behind the curtain of my own life: The money topic was always a hard one for me, and I had the impression I somehow never get it right. This is the reason why I’ve committed to learning as much as possible about it during the last 10 years.
Pricing your freelancer service is scary because it incorporates the possibility of being rejected. The common notion about rejection-to-win-ratio is about 90:10. That means that for every 10 prospective customers you talk to, you’d only get one to hire you.
For me, this would be a horrible scenario. My success rate is about 40-50%. And the great thing is that my strategy for making the most expensive offer is also the one that increases this success rate drastically.
Now, let’s find out how to be high-priced and still have people choose your service above all others.
The relativity of pricing
You have to understand that every pricing strategy automatically conveys an impression of value. When you compare web design agencies because you want to have a new web site built, imagine this scenario:
One agency offers to build your website for $1.000. Another one has contacted you blindly via email and offers to set up your website in 1 day for $100. And the last one states to build custom website projects for every need, starting at $30.000.
You immediately have an idea about who you trust and what you can expect from their work. Be aware that THIS DOESN’T NECESSARILY REFLECT THE REALITY. The most expensive offer could lead to the worst result. I want you to become aware of the power of expectation! Of course, you would choose the most expensive offer if you were starting a business and had $5,000,000 in venture capital.
Here’s what you should take away from this example:
There is a market for every price level. You just should determine in which field you want to play. And then do the things to cater to that market – which is very simple in case you might think “oh, but I can’t work with the most profitable clients because I’m not a huge company myself”.
Maximizing your efforts with project-based pricing
Another key aspect of my freelancer tips for making great money is to NEVER EVER think in terms of hourly rates. NEVER do that! Here is why:
When you think about working hours, you don’t focus on what your customer needs. You don’t see the big picture because you’re thinking about single tasks. And – even more important – the cost will always be the main deciding factor.
The alternative way to do this, and the way I do it ever since I learned about it, is to charge fees for a project. For example, if you offer to build a website, you wouldn’t go with “ok this is $70/hr, and the price will depend on how long it takes me to complete the task.” You would rather say “this website will be $10,000. In this fee, X, Y, and Z are included.
Is this freelancer tip actually working?
Well, if you believe in what I say, then YES. It works for me and for all my fellow freelancers who stand out from the masses. It actually works better than charging hourly!
When you can tell people upfront about what they have to pay, they can plan with that. They will feel calm and be able to sleep at night. And this is essential for them to feel in good hands with you. This, in turn, is a key aspect of making your competition irrelevant.
The risk appears to be on your side. And in some cases, it really turns out less than ideal for you. But so what? It doesn’t matter if your hourly rate will be a little less than what you would have charged. Why?
BECAUSE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE GOTTEN THE JOB IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!
…or at least not the complete project. You also don’t want your customer to always have the clock ticking in his mind. That will be a stressful way of working for you! So give yourself and your customer the ease of mind that comes with project-based pricing.
All Freelancer Tips About Pricing Become Irrelevant
This is exactly where you come full-circle. It doesn’t matter who your customers are or how big they are. It is only important that you can give them the trust that they are in good hands when choosing you. And be sure that probably none of your inexpensive colleagues is taking this approach.
Don't try to be the cheapest if you want to make money as a freelancer.
This will not only make the difference between always grinding (and actually only replace your day job with another cage you’ve built for yourself) and making a GREAT income freelancing.
Some of the main customers for my cover band and DJ job are couples who plan their wedding and mid-sized companies about to throw an anniversary party or something similar. These are by far not my only customers, but they make a great portion of my earnings.
You should know that there are countless bands and DJs offering the same (on the surface) services I offer, but for free or very cheap. We’re talking $500 for a 6-people band for a night. That would be $80 per person, including fuel. And believe me, I’ve done these jobs, too. There is just no way I would do them today once I know how to do it differently.
So while there is this sell-out competition all over the place, how do I manage to still get paid $1,500 – $1,800 dollars as a DJ, and up to $6.000 for my band? You guessed it:
I give people the confidence that I am their best choice!
…and then I also meet and exceed these expectations, of course!
So What's The Difference That Makes This Possible?
It’s actually pretty easy. I focus on the following things:
- Maintaining a great reputation (more on that later)
- Building expert status
- Thinking about how I can do more for my customers than they would expect and than any other freelancer would deliver
By the way, if your business journey is still rather new, head over to our article on 15 ways to find your first client as a freelancer.
My best freelancer tips: building expert status
Expert status means you know what you are talking about and other people see that. Your goal is that whenever your future customers think about your field of operation, they immediately also think “oh I should ask [your-name], she probably knows how to do that!”
And how exactly can you achieve that? By following these 2 steps:
- Ask your prospects about their goals. What do they want to achieve with the project you are involved in.
- Then, give them suggestions based on your experience (or at the beginning on your general knowledge) about how they could achieve these goals in the best way. Don’t try to advertise your service here. You are already selling them by building trust and showing that you see the big picture.
Let me illustrate this for you
For example, when I get together (on phone, in a bar, via Skype, etc.) with a couple planning their wedding, I first talk to them and ask a few questions. Usually, the questions naturally develop once you get started. Here are some that come up often:
- Tell me about your day. What have you planned so far? The better I understand how you see your wedding day in your mind, the better suggestions I can make about the perfectly fitting entertainment.
- What style do you expect your wedding to be? Classy, casual, theme party, etc.?
- Did you think of the important transitional timeframes so the room’s atmosphere will always feel comfortable and not turn into a black hole?
Usually, your customers only thought about what they want you to do. As a result, they will welcome your thoughts and advice, which positions you as an expert. Now, think about your competition that only talks about price and how long it will take them to finish the project. Do you think they have the same chances you have? Of course not!
My best freelancer tips: doing more than people expect
The idea from above leads us immediately into this area. There’s a certain amount of overlap. Be aware that by offering advice and talking about the overall project goal (whatever it might be), you’ve already shown more initiative than your competitors.
You’ve laid the groundwork for securing the gig, no matter the price of your and your competitors’ offers. Now, you can even expand on that and think about further assistance. What other needs did your questions reveal? What is important to this customer?
If you focus all your planning on these insights, you will make an irresistible offer, because you deliver exactly what’s REALLY important to your customer.
This is the moment when you make your irresistible offer, completely detached from pricing wars and competition. You have now positioned yourself as the one who is the absolute best choice.
Freelancer Pro Tip: Reviews & Testimonials
One of the not-so-secret but still most valuable freelancer tips is to collect reviews. I’ve already mentioned that one of the most important success factors of my strategy is building expert status. Testimonials of former customers are great to achieve just that, even in a passive way.
Think of buying a book on Amazon. You read reviews that former buyers have written. Then you decide if you want to buy the book. At no time in this process, you need to call Amazon and ask for further guidance. This is because you have enough information to make a solid decision yourself.
Use this effect for your own freelance business!
The last one of my freelancer tips for this article is to use testimonials and reviews for your own freelance business. Much like in the Amazon example from above, it enables you to passively build your expert status. Moreover, people trust a lot more in 3rd party reviews than in what you tell them.
The more reviews I collected for my own services in any field I’ve ever gotten involved in, the more gigs I could land. It’s just the way business works in this decade. Thus, make sure you collect testimonials from as many customers as possible.
You can do this by setting up a GooglyMyBusiness account, for example. It’s free, and it also strengthens your online presence with Google. Facebook reviews are another great option if you have an active Facebook page. Just get started with one of these (or both), and you’ll be set up for success!
Freelancer Tips - Final Words
Let’s wrap this article up by revisiting the key takeaways. Everything I’ve laid out here has made a major impact on my freelance business endeavors. It’s tested, it’s proven, and it works with real-world people!
When you want to make money as a freelancer – real money, not the bare minimum like I did for years – then focus on these things:
- Position yourself as an expert by asking questions and making suggestions based on the answers you get.
- Give your customers the feeling that they are in good hands with you! This way, after talking to you, they will have the impression that nobody else can meet their needs as holistically as you can.
- Do more than your customers would expect. Give advice for free, give feedback if appropriate, make helpful suggestions, etc.
- Your pricing strategy affects which customers you attract, NOT how many jobs you land. On top of that, when you land higher-priced gigs, you don’t need that many jobs anyway, do you? I need about 25 jobs a year to have the year paid. Then I can choose how I want to spend the remaining time.
- Don’t calculate an hourly fee. Implement project-based pricing.
- Collect reviews and testimonials.
Were these freelancer tips helpful to you?
I would love to hear your thoughts on my freelancer tips in this article. They have made all the difference between financial struggle and ease of mind in my life. The greatest thing for me would be to see that they make a difference in your life, as well.
Write a comment and tell me how you think about this. Also, let me know if there’s anything more I can do for you! Whenever I can, I’m happy to help and give advice! After all, we’re on the same journey.
Oh, and one last note: I see so many people searching success or financial freedom without being willing to put in the work. That’s not how you achieve any form of financial or general success. You have to put in the work, and when you do, then the door to success is wide open for you!
Get the FROM IDEA TO INCOME blueprint for free
and learn how to create freelancer ideas that make you real money!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I get a commission when you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please refer to my full disclaimer for more info.