Freelancing isn’t rocket science.
I’m the worst employee in history. I never did anything I was told. I’m also the worst business owner in history. I made good money and then forgot about taxes. Now all I’ll be doing for the rest of this year is paying taxes.
Yet I figured out freelancing.
Let me explain what to do and the lessons I learned, cause anybody can do it.
Less clients. High prices.
I don’t understand the p*rnstar fantasy of taking on every client.
Having lots of clients is a nightmare. It’s like having lots of boyfriends/girlfriends. You can’t manage them all. You end up cheating on a few or accidentally ghosting them.
Just don’t do it.
The best way to make money as a freelancer is to charge high prices so most clients never want to work with you.
Prices are a filter.
High prices get rid of the hagglers and the bargain hunters. I do the same with my online academy. If a potential customer starts asking for discounts or talking about refund policies it’s a huge, red, flashing neon warning sign.
I get the hell outta there.
“Sorry sir, this isn’t for you.” *Runs fast in the other direction*
All you need is two freelancing clients a month paying you $5k each and you never have to work an assembly line, 8-hour workday again.
Don’t Take On Sh*tty Clients
I hinted at it in the previous point.
But this is so bloody important we’re gonna hit it again. Even if the client pays you well, if they treat you like garbage it’s time to say goodbye to their ass.
A friend of mine is a single mother. She does some freelance work to pay the bills and recover from the dire financial situation her stupid ex-husband left her in before he had his way with every woman in the office.
Right now she’s got a sh*tty client. They bark at her. They hand out orders the way Hitler did. They show zero appreciation. They pay her invoices late all the time and never say sorry.
They do a 360 on decisions they make. She’s always chasing her tale as if she’s their pet dog. I told her loudly and proudly, “Just quit amigo.”
One week later she found a new client that pays twice as much and knows how to say thank you and please.
You think good clients don’t exist. But they do. You just gotta get the bad ones out of the way to make room for them.
No up-sh*t-creek marketplaces
You know the ones. Up yours work. Free this. 5 bucks that.
These platforms are modern slavery. Imagine having your computer screen recorded while you work. That’s what these hellholes do, dontcha know.
The only thing I see successful freelancers do is use freelance marketplaces as a way to get leads. They advertise one common service there. Then they upsell to the real dollars off-platform. Now that’s smart.
Mine social media apps for gold
Social media is a damn sexy place to find clients.
The problem is most people don’t know how. They send DMs like “Hi” and expect to get a reply and a $10,000 gig. Not. Gonna. Happen.
The best place to get freelance clients is LinkedIn. Who cares if you don’t like the cringy ‘woke’ posts. The point is people are there to do business. You’re not catching someone in their bikini at a Sunday afternoon yoga session like you are on Insta-glam.
The key is to understand the psychology of each social media platform. Insta-glam is to show off. LinkedIn is a place to be incredibly professional. Twitter is a place to become smarter and talk at the bar.
Nail the platform psychology, nail a honeypot of new clients.
Portfolio of content. Proof of work.
Your aim should be to create a portfolio of content while you build a freelancing career.
Proof of work gets you more work.
If you’ve never done anything online and have 5.5 Twitter followers you’re going nowhere, fast.
Build in public. Document your freelancing business. What’s happening for your clients? What’s it like to be a freelancer? What tools do you use? Tell us some personal stories, too.
This stuff is dead simple. The longer you do it the more heavy-hitter clients you attract that allow you to work less and jerk off doing whatever ya want.
This is where the sneaky magic happens
Nicolas Cole and Dickie Bush interviewed my friend Dan Koe.
He said something that struck me. Basically, he reckons all freelancing is simply the foundation of a product-based business/side hustle.
Now this is sooo cool. The awesome thing about digital products is they sell while you sleep. They’re not time-based income streams. With freelancing you’re solving a problem for a client aka “done for you.”
With digital products it’s “do it yourself” — or you can have a combination of that and done for you.
Now you’re not 100% shackled to clients.
You can be crafty with these products too. You can use them as:
- Lead magnets
- Give them away to new clients
- Or be kind AF and donate them to people in 3rd world countries who may never be able to afford to pay you for a product or freelancing
Digital products equal leverage. Leverage equals effort in … for exponential output. That’s how you get filthy rich as a freelancer.
Avoid the imposter syndrome tax
Freelancing makes me feel like an imposter.
Who am I to help this person? What the heck do I know? What if they find out I don’t know everything?
Alex Liu on twitter coined the phrase imposter syndrome tax.
When we price our work we sh*t our pants. The gap between what our work is worth and what we quote the client is the imposter tax. Alex says we should add 20% to our quotes to fight the imposter tax.
Adopt the Microsoft Mindset
Freelancer Zulie Rane wrote an interesting article about how you can’t negotiate with Microsoft. The price is the price.
Stop wasting your time with quotes. Focus on the value you provide and convincing the client you’re the one to solve it.
Experiment with free
Calm your farm. Hear me out. Occasionally a big kahuna client will land in your inbox. The money they can make you is amazing. Or the brand they represent can change your testimonial section forever.
Sometimes a clever pitch isn’t enough. You need proof-of-skill.
This is where it’s okay to do free.
Offer to do one task at no cost and be clear about what you’ll be doing, what’s included, and most of all, that this is a one-off to show how good your skills are.
Too many freelancers run from this idea and scream “pay me what I’m worth, b*tch.” That’s all fine and dandy but knowing what you’re worth is subjective without evidence. Sometimes it makes sense to show people.
Follow up like a puppy dog
Most freelancers are lazy.
They send quotes and then never follow up. Or they follow up once and that’s it. A while ago I read a sales book that said the average sale takes more than five follow-ups. If you go to the trouble to talk with and quote a lead, make sure to follow up like a puppy.
Your competition won’t.
So you’ll get the gig … and you can even up the price later.
Sell the benefits of your freelancing, not features
I used to pitch my freelancing services as a cost.
“I’ll write you articles for $200 a piece.”
No one wants money to leave their bank account for fun. So you’ll get no clients if you sell what you do like this.
Instead, sell the benefit of what you do.
For example: “I’ll write 5 blog posts every 30 days that’ll get you 4000 more visitors to your site and make you $10,000+ a month.”
Then when I quote them $1000 to do so, it’s a 10x on their investment. Only an idiot would say not to an offer like that. And most people don’t want to act like dumb-dumbs on purpose.
An ‘expense pitch’ kills sales. A logical pitch makes sales.
Stop hustling. Start selling your freelancing services in a smarter way. Then turn your freelancing services into a product and work 3x less.