Freelancing…and Actually Making Money at It

It’s the dream, right? Working from home, setting your own schedule, marching to the beat of your own drum?

For the right person…..absolutely. For the person that is not prepared or motivated–it could spell bad news.

Freelancing is an opportunity to build a business on your terms and work with the clients you choose. This one aspect alone is valuable, especially when so many 9-5ers hate their working environment in the corporate world.

Being given a chance to do this on your schedule and work around family commitments is an experience most of them would trade in their overtime pay for. However, if you approach it with the wrong attitude or perspective, it could end up being an excellent time waster and money loser.

So what’s the secret to freelancing and making money? It all begins in the preparation….

Using a profit mindset approach

The first step is to prepare your mind in that freelancing is your job. If you come at it with the approach of “do it whenever I can,” you’re not going to make money.

Set up a daily schedule and stick to it. Don’t take phone calls, make coffee dates, hang out on Facebook, or anything else that is going to distract you from your work.

You have the ability to set up your ideal work environment, whether that’s at home or in the local coffee shop. Once you have done that, then USE that environment to be productive!

Value your work and others will too

Second, this is not the time to sell yourself cheap. Your work is valuable, and if your clients are happy, then your work is worth paying for.

It might be fun to start out by doing smaller, low-pay jobs to get your foot in the door, but once you get going, set up a fee schedule and use it. This shows your clients that you stand behind your work and understand the value it’s going to give them as well.

Choose your clients wisely

Third, you do not have to work with everyone who approaches you! Some of these clients just want to negotiate you down to a bare-nothing pay and this is only going to waste your time!

Be polite, yet firm with your clients. Let them know what your policy is and document exactly what work you have agreed to.

This eliminates the chance of them adding things on, one at a time, just because “it will only take a few minutes.” Clients like this are going to get as much as they can, for as little as they can.

When you devalue yourself and your work by continuing to accept their jobs, you are literally throwing dollars out the window. Be selective in your clientele, give them exactly what you have promised and your high quality work will start to bring in business on its own.

Having all the freedom of a freelancer can be overwhelming at first, and you can get lost in all the “great ideas” to make your business successful. However, if you don’t master the basics first, you’ll never make it past the first few months.

Keep in mind this is YOUR business and you have to work it responsibly, professionally and creatively.

With great power comes great responsibility — doesn’t just apply to Spiderman.

It’s exciting to build a freelance business and do so from the comfort of your home office, wherever that may be. There are plenty of pitfalls along the way though, and if you fall into them unknowingly, you’re going to have a difficult time becoming profitable.

Make a plan, follow it carefully and then enjoy the satisfaction of building a home-based company you’re proud of, and that lets you pay the bills!

Let me know how you’re accomplishing your freelancing goals in the comments below …

Comments

    • says

      Hi Adrian,

      I agree that it can be very hard to find a good client. One of the best ways to get started is to use Textbroker.com. You’d be surprised how many great clients I have found through that site and now receive recurring orders from. Of course, there are others, but this site would give you a lot of variety in terms of client orders and I think you’d enjoy it. Let me know how it works for you!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

    • says

      Hi Kamran, Yes, those are excellent bidding sites to start with as well if you have competitive rates. I might also suggest some sites that don’t require you to bid on jobs, such as Textbroker.com and similar sites. :) Great ideas you shared–thank you!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  1. says

    I’m having a hard time finding new clients. I’ve given up on the content mills because they just don’t pay a respectable rate. And the bid sites – forget it! They want you to work for peanuts. I find now I am spending so much time learning the internet environment of writing that I’m not actually working as often as I should. Any advice on finding quality clients?
    Shauna L Bowling recently posted..Regression Before Progression = Success                                by Shauna L Bowling

    • says

      Hi Shauna, I agree with you! Some of the sites pay pennies and it’s not worth your time to even look at the ad, let alone work for them. The bidding sites require you to give your work away if you want to get any jobs and I disagree with that as well. Check out TheHoth for a client that pays some great money per article and they are a wonderful team to work with. I absolutely LOVE my working relationship with them and would highly recommend them to others!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  2. says

    You are so right Valerie!

    I’m not a freelancer exactly but I do have clients that I coach so I love having my own schedule. I do have my own online business but a lot of my friends think that just because I work at home I’m always available. Like my time isn’t important to me.

    You have to set your schedule and you’re right, don’t waste a lot of valuable time playing around on Facebook or checking out images on Pinterest. If you’re serious then stick with a schedule or you’ll soon have to go back and get yourself another job.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted..7 Ways To Run An Unsuccessful Mobile Email Campaign

    • says

      Hi Adrienne, You are so right! I loved your reply and it’s true that if you don’t value your work time, no one else will. I have found that I just have to ignore any texts or calls that aren’t emergency related while I’m working and call them back when I’m finished. I also close down the social sites so I’m not tempted to glance up and see what’s going on. I have found that the more focus I give my work, the more money I make and how can that not be a motivator? ;) Thanks for reading this post and sending your reply–love it! :)
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  3. says

    As @virtualCableTV tweeted in reply, I NEVER use the term freelancing as it implies I work for free.

    I am a small business owner and that’s that.

    Describing one’s self as a freelancer is psychologically effective as it means too many things to too many people.

    Such as:
    * you can’t find a “real” job
    * you have a real job and you are moonlighting
    * you can be pursuaded to work for free to prove yourself

    The last item being the most damaging as I have discovered.

    NEVER describe yourself as a freelancer.

    You are a small business owner and operator. Present yourself to customers and prospective customers as a peer who is also in business and you will be psychologically imprinting an effective message about who you are and what you do.

    • says

      Hi Clinton,

      Your comment made me think and I checked what Wikipedia says about the etymology of freelancer:

      Free-lance – indicating that the lance is not sworn to any lord’s services, not that the lance is available free of charge.

      So we can discuss about the term itself and it depends how you see things.

      From your point of view you’re right, because you have a business and you sell things/services and that’s incompatible with something that begins with FREE. I can understand that.
      But I wouldn’t go that far telling people not to describe yourself as a freelancer ever.

      Thanks Clinton for your comment, I appreciate it.

    • says

      Hi Clinton, I get what you’re saying about the word itself and I appreciate you replying to the article. For me, the term “freelancer” means I’m my own boss and I choose who I want to work with. For me, it means freedom rather than being chained down to one thing in particular. When I talk to people about my freelance work, they seem to get the same perspective and often wish aloud that they could do the same thing.
      It’s true that it’s all in the perspective of course, and I understand where you’re coming from. What we do is definitely not free and it definitely deserves proper wages–so I agree with you in that. :)
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your thoughts!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  4. says

    Hi Valerie,

    I’m not looking to do freelance work at the moment, but I think your advice is excellent – particularly what you say about valuing your work and choosing your clients with care. I think the pittance some people expect to pay for writing gigs is outrageous and it’s just sad that there are so many people desperate enough to work for such rates – it’s no better than slave labour, in my view.

    Thanks for this thoughtful, helpful article.
    Susan Neal recently posted..Should Your Blog Post Carry a Health Warning?

    • says

      Hi Sue,

      I just don’t know what to expect when you see some people ready to write 3 posts for $5 or $10. There are no words this can describe, you mentioned it’s like slave labour and I completely agree with you. Not to mention how this affects to others in this business.

      But I think in the long run this isn’t sustainable and it’s doomed to failure.

      Thanks Sue for stopping by, I appreciate it.

    • says

      Hi Susan, I absolutely agree! The thing that most freelancers don’t understand or take into account when they lower their wages like that, is that they devalue the work of other freelancers as well. Clients expect to see slave labor charges wherever they gather estimates from, and when they receive a correct figure that shows the value of the writer’s work, they are shocked and surprised. It would be easier if the people who wanted to give their work away for free would just do so, and make it easier on the writers who really want to follow their passion and make a living at it at the same time. Just my thoughts of course! :)
      Thank you for reading and good luck with your freelance writing career–if you stick to it, you can become successful and enjoy what you do every day!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  5. says

    Dragan looking up the meaning of freelancer in Wikipedia is certianly entertaining and as demaning as it is going to sound I’ve been in business before you even left grade school. Maybe as early as while you were still in diapers.

    The subjects you write about are very helpful but still contain many caveats you have yet to learn. When you pass these things on to others you are defeating your purpose and niave people go forth with the misbeliefs you imparted upon them with your words of wit and wisdom.

    The point is, no customer or any prospect is going to look up the word freelancer on Wikipedia. When a person describes themselves as a freelancer they are being perceived by whatever meaning the customer or prospect uses the word and its meaning.

    And what I am telling you whether you want to hear it or not describing one’s self as a freelancer is self-defeating as the term has many negative connotations. Nobody gives a sh!t about Sir Lancelot and the days when the term was used in merry old England.

    This is exactly how some people are ready to write 3 posts for $5 or $10 as you are responding to comments from others. It is all about perception.

    And your arguments leave me with no other perception but to conclude you are not a good listener. You have difficulty understanding what is being conveyed and you are argumentative and worse you have acquired the habit to try to argue about how you believe you are right when you are not.

    The term freelancer is the most damaging self-denigrating term in business and nobody should refer to themselves as a freelancer for all of the reasons I have taken my valuable time to try to explain there by making your blog more interesting and helpful to others than you have done yourself by making the serious error you have made in this particular post.

    • says

      Hi Clinton,

      First, I decided to publish Valerie’s post because I find it interesting and helpful to my readers. And I still think so.

      Whether I’m right or wrong I’ll leave that again to my readers.

      As I said in my previous reply, you have your point of view and I can understand that. After all, it is all about perception-AGREED on that!

      Thanks again for joining this discussion and sharing your valuable time, I appreciate it.

    • says

      Hi Clinton, As noted above, it is definitely all about perception and maybe the freelancers you’ve had personal experience with recently have not valued their work very much. I for one refuse to sell my work for such low prices, as I have a family to take care of as well, and I don’t want to waste my time working for clients who don’t appreciate it.
      It’s important to see every side of a term and that is true, but for the most part in my world, freelancing is something that many people wish they could do full-time. I am an example of what they would love to do if they weren’t tied down to a 9-5, but I’m not the rule. It takes a certain level of dedication, motivation and self-discipline, along with self-value, to be a freelancer and that is a concept that many people miss when they open their own business like this.
      Thank you for reading and sharing your opinion!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  6. says

    Hi Dragan,

    Great post for Freelancers!

    I have been a freelancer since I can remember after I graduated from college. I am used to this type of business. 98% of my life, companies hired me on a contract basis and never been an employee of theirs.

    Once I was an employee at Panorama Productions but they laid me off. But they were good to me, they’ve provided an unemployment for me which is nice. But, that was the very first unemployment I’ve ever experienced and I remember being really scared. I said to myself I never wanna be laid off again.

    So Freelancing, you have your own business! You will never get laid off. However, being a freelance or working for yourself takes more discipline than anything else. It’s like being homeschooled. It takes determination and consistency. You cannot fool around whenever you feel like it. But instead, you have to create “consistency” as if you are working for somebody.

    Also, another thing on freelancing, you have to set aside % of money just in case when it’s not “feast” and it’s “famine” say they terminated your contract, at least you have money saved for rainy days. Another thing, you have to put aside the income tax for Uncle Sam. Anyway…great post!!!

    Have a great weekend.

    Angela
    Angela McCall recently posted..How To Use Friends+Me & DoShare in Chrome

    • says

      Hi Angela,

      I agree with you, freelancing has its benefits but differs from traditional 9-5 working time.
      We’re talking about real entrepreneurship and the responsibility that entails. Responsibility to ourselves and to others we’re working with.

      Just like you said, you can’t fool around just because you don’t have a boss hanging over to your shoulder. Moreover, you actually have to live with it – with determination and consistency.

      Many people discourage at the beginning, because of lack of earnings not knowing it takes time to build reputations and trust. This is where it takes consistency and believing in yourself.

      Thanks Angela for commenting and enjoy your day!

    • says

      Hi Angela! I agree with you and thank you for sharing your thoughts. If you don’t treat the freelance work like it’s a regular job and be your own boss “over your shoulder,” then you’re not going to be successful. The only way to approach it is with the mindset that you are in control of your own future, and it’s up to you to create it. Thank you for your insight and for commenting!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  7. says

    Working from home is serious business! When working with others, I can be a tough cookie. If someone wants to work with me, it is on My Time! I make the appointments, I call them up. I had to learn this the hard way years ago when I allowed people to call me. lol

    Working with people I want to work with. I NEVER would accept someone who was difficult to work with. Like attracts like in my book. If someone wants me to coach them, they do have to fill out a certain form. I have it all set up so I can scan through who will be serious, or who will waste my time and come back and bite me in the butt.

    Valuing our work is most important of all. If we don’t value our time, no one else would.

    Thanks for these wise words!

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently posted..Learn From Reading Blogs

    • says

      Hi Donna,

      As Valerie stated in this post, you have to choose your clients wisely. ‘Be polite, yet firm with your clients. Let them know what your policy is and document exactly what work you have agreed to.’

      I agree it’s important to have a clear business attitude, otherwise we can stumble upon unpleasant surprises and clients from hell.

      I don’t doubt you’re dedicated and successful in your work and wish you all the best.

      Thank you for your comment Donna and I appreciate you sharing it as well. Enjoy your day now.

    • says

      Donna, that is so great that you screen your clients and anyone else you choose to work with. This is not just your right but your responsibility as a freelancer and something that a 9-5er doesn’t have the ability to do. It’s a treasured part of owning your own business and I’ve think you said it very well. Sounds like you have a great business plan and thanks for commenting!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

    • says

      Hi Enstine,

      Yes profit mindset approach is necessary if we want to run our business successful. It’s just an indicator we value our work and others will too.

      Thanks Enstine for stopping by, I appreciate it.

    • says

      Hi Enstine, They say the world doesn’t revolve around money but if you don’t have it, it’s all you think about. Valuing your work and your time puts the best dollar figure on your work and you have to work on projects that are really going to pay you what you’re worth. Profit is also about the emotional benefit you get from running your OWN successful business as well, so the mindset goes further than your paycheck. I’m so glad you liked the article and thank you for sharing your thoughts!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  8. says

    Hey Valerie,

    Thanks for the great advice, I totally agree with you about valuing your work. It’s just really difficult to get start getting freelance gigs online unless you are willing to work for absolute peanuts. And equally bidding for work on sites like odesk when you’re starting is pretty difficult as there are always people with lots of feedback who snap up the job. Most people on those sites work for very little money anyway so even having really low rates might not help you bag any work.

    I will check out Textbroker though, thank you for the tip!

    Thanks for sharing :)

    Laura
    Laura Raisanen recently posted..10 Tips To Successful Email Marketing

    • says

      Hi Laura,

      You’re right–it does take time to find the jobs that pay the best and give you fulfillment as a writer at the same time. Even if you’re writing about mundane topics, you can get a lot of satisfaction when you’re getting paid what you’re worth. Congrats on checking out Textbroker and you’ll also find a helpful list of places to begin on my site at misswordy.com if you like!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Book Review: Over the Top

  9. says

    Hi Valerie

    This is such a good post. I am not a freelancer but I do internet marketing from home. I have had my own businesses for most of my life but until now they were in offices and I traveled there and worked conventional office hours (and a lot more).

    When I first started working from home I used to find it difficult to discipline myself to stay focused. Like Adrienne I too have people who think because I am home I can chat or they can call and I should be available. It is about educating them.

    Valuing yourself and your work is very important. I know way too many people who sell themselves short.

    A great post. Thank you.

    Sue
    Sue Price recently posted..Who Is Empower Network For?

    • says

      Hi Sue,

      It’s great you mentioned, when you work from home people think you’re always available. It happened to me too. They thought I’m actually playing and loosing my time.

      Yes valuing yourself is very important (business) attitude. Undervaluing in business returns like the boomerang.

      I appreciate your comment Sue and have a great weekend.

      ~ Dragan

    • says

      Hi Sue, Thanks for reading and commenting! One of the things I found that helps me on days when I can’t seem to stay on task is a timing software program. You just put in what you’re doing, how much time it should take and then an alarm will go off towards the end. It lets you know if you’re making good time or need to get back to business, lol. I love it and it’s just another tool in the toolbox to make our day more productive. Thanks for reading and showing that valuing yourself can create a successful business!
      Valerie Strawmier recently posted..Who Wants to Be a Writer and Be Fit? I Do!

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