The Fastest Way to Increase Your Freelancing Income (by 66% or More)

 


M

ost people think that the best way to increase their freelancing income is to market their services as hard as they can.

Never stop pitching, am I right?

As long as you can force yourself to eat that frog, and do the uncomfortable thing; selling to strangers, enough, you’ll finally hit your desired income levels.

But what if I told you freelancing success doesn’t have to look like that? Much less frog-eating required.

You could start making more money faster by focusing more on other areas, because:

New customer acquisition isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

At least, that’s not where the real money showed up for me.

Focus on Your Existing Customers

On average, businesses get 5 to 25 times the ROI of acquisition by focusing on customer retention (and expansion) instead.

Not convinced yet?

What do all the latest $1b+ unicorns have in common? No, it’s not the same marketing strategy.

They’re not using the same “little-known tricks” to acquire and onboard more than every competitor.

It’s their focus on revenue retention and expansion.

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Many of them have net revenue retention of 140%, or more, which is incredible.

By focusing on expansion, you can grow even when you lose customers

To see just how powerful this is, let’s imagine a fictitious company, Super SaaS Inc.

Let’s say it ended last year with 100 customers paying it a total of $15,000 per month, for the basic plan at $150/month (its only offering at the time).

10 of those customers left, but 30 ended up loving the product and upgrading to the newly launched pro plan at $300 per month.

Super Saas Inc. lost 10 customers, sure, but those same 100 customers are now making it $18,000 per year, rather than $15,000.

A 20% increase in recurring revenue, and here’s the kicker… that’s before factoring in any new sales.

And that’s what you want going for you as a freelancer as well.

For example, I went from 5 clients to just one, and my recurring revenue exploded from $1,500–$2,500 per month, to $5,500.

Even if you sell one-off projects, do good enough work that you will get repeating customers, if recurring is out of the question. (You can always sell additional recurring services, like site management as a web developer.)

It doesn’t matter if your current clients are making you a few hundred, or a few thousand per month, you have room to expand that revenue.

Renegotiating a 66% Raise in Two Emails

When you’re first starting out as a freelancer, you probably don’t have the confidence to charge what you’re worth.

If you’re anything like me, you research what competitors are charging, and then underbid them by a fair bit, just to give yourself a fighting chance.

Once you’ve proven yourself to a client over months or years, many will be receptive to a raise.

Of course, rather than positioning it as a “raise”, you should position it as a natural increase in your rates alongside your improved skills.

For example, I reached out to a publication I had been contributing to for years but had ignored for a while because of the lower rates and other commitments.

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In two emails, the first explaining my new focus on higher-quality, more SEO-driven articles, with two examples of top-three ranking pieces I had created in the last year, and the second pitching my new rate, I secured a 66% raise, from $0.06 to $0.1 per word.

In addition, my focus on content marketing meant most of my new pieces were over 2,000 words long.

So rather than a few 1,500-word articles earning me $90 on average, I was making $200+ per article of 2,000+words.

That’s a price increase of over 100% per article.

Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

Of course, you might not feel comfortable suddenly asking to increase your rate out of nowhere.

And you don’t need to.

How Can You Expand Your Service to Make It Worth More to Your Client?

When I had first started writing for the blog in question, I thought of myself as a blogger for hire.

I might have known the basics of SEO, like checking for search volumes before pitching ideas, but that was about it.

I didn’t know about:

  • Strategic usage of semantic keywords in content and headers.
  • Searcher intent, and targeting users at different stages of intent (closer to purchase) to make more affiliate/direct revenue.
  • Cornerstone content and internal linking.
  • Google PAAs (People Also Ask questions) and how to target them to win snippets and more organic traffic.

By investing in SEO tools like SEMrush, I had expanded my service beyond just coming up with blog post ideas and writing them.

This made it easier to ask for more money, and for the client to accept it.

What can you add to your current service that will justify a higher rate?

As a web developer, you could tag on SEO, and offer a “content roadmap” advising SMBs on what topics to target, based on keyword research.

You could even collaborate with other freelancers to offer content upgrades like video production or audio narration.

The sky is the limit.

Consistently do Good Work (Better than Other Freelancers)

Don’t get lost in the race to close more clients and revenue.

Once you get a few under your belt, it can often be more fun to chase extra revenue, than to do the freelance work you’ve already landed.

Early in my freelancing career, I made this mistake.

I was spending hours every day searching for new blogs and corporate sites and pitching. As a result, I started missing deadlines and delivering sub-par articles.

I was seeing $$ signs, and it made it hard to focus on the work.

Don’t make the same mistake.

Focus on consistently shipping your best work.

Consistently doing good work can be all you need to do to automatically expand your revenue.

Sometimes, you don’t even need to ask.

Early last year, I started doing some work for an agency and didn’t think twice about it. I would follow their directions, keep deadlines, and generally kept my head down.

They kept giving me more work, until, without me asking or indicating anything, they offered me a flat monthly retainer of $5,000 to write for them, essentially full-time.

After trucking along for 8 months, they decided to bump me up to $5,500.

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I get paid in NOK to my Norwegian account through Transferwise, hence the big and varying numbers. (When the NOK plummeted in March, I got a temporary 20% raise.)

Thanks mostly to this single client, I’ve made well over $50,000 as a freelance writer over the past 12 months.

All I did was put my head down, do good work consistently for months, and say yes when asked if I could take on more.

Are you giving each article, wireframe, logo, banner, or other deliverable 100% of the attention it deserves, 100% of the time?

Not only will this help you get more work with existing clients, but it will make your portfolio stand out, and increase your chance of getting new clients by word of mouth.

How much more money would you be earning each month if you increased your average client revenue by 60% or more?

Note: This post is about increasing income from high-quality (corporate or SMB) clients.

If your primary income is low-paying gigs through platforms like UpWork or Fiverr, start building your portfolio of work, and attracting and approaching potential clients directly.

That will help you build healthier, longer, better-paying relationships with your clients, instead of being treated as a commodity on platforms where companies are always searching for “the best value”.