Freelancing is a dream for many people, but making a full time living at it isn’t as simple as most hope it will be. The biggest challenge for most freelancers is creating the processes they will need to be successful.
No matter how talented you are at your chosen work, if you miss deadlines, fail to communicate with clients, and don’t get invoices sent out and collected on time, you won’t be able to make a decent living at it.
How Much Do Freelancers Make?
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat. Whenever we talk about money, keep in mind that amounts are relative. What one person thinks is getting rich doesn’t even get another person interested much less excited. What matters is how much you need or want to earn.
Rates vary greatly for the same type of work. Let’s take freelance writers for example. In Due.com’s new Ultimate Guide to Freelancing we find these statistics:
Writers on average get $58 – $82 per blog post written.
Writing – Bloggers, copy editors, and content managers can make $25 to $30 an hour.
I personally don’t know any writers who charge less than $100 per blog post and the going rate in my circles is $150-$300 with $150 being most common.
Most clients prefer to pay by the post or page because they want the risk of it taking longer than expected to be on the writer rather than the client.
But that doesn’t mean that we all started at $100 or $150 per post. When I started freelancing years ago, $75 was the going rate in those same circles.
Today, there are many writers who get $150, while others are paid $300+ and some can only find work at $50. The difference is complexity, experience, knowledge more than grammar and spelling.
While it is beneficial for freelancers to be able to edit their own work, if you have sufficient ideas to share you can pay a proofreader or editor or find a site that will edit your work for you.
The same is true of every other type of freelancing. The best way to determine what you could be charging is to have someone successful in your field who is not trying to hire you evaluate your work.
Regardless of what price level you are operating at today, you can always work up to making more money. To do that, you need to make sure you have certain skills.
Skills ALL Freelancers Need
Getting organized BEFORE you have clients is a lot easier than trying to create a method for tracking work once you’re busy. The most successful freelancers I know have processes to keep track of everything from clients to projects, to-do lists, and getting paid.
Most of them cobbled their processes together from email programs, spreadsheets, RememberTheMilk and Trello, but Murray Newlands and John Rampton are offering a system that pulls it all together in one place. Best of all, there is a free version for those just getting started so you can use it for free until you need to upgrade.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
The most important skill you need is the ability to communicate with clients and a way to manage your relationships. Missing emails, not returning calls, and not following up consistently will greatly reduce your income and make it much harder to become successful.
At a minimum, you need some kind of CRM system to keep track of the clients you’re communicating with and billing.
While you could use gmail or an email management program, a better system is to use a solution like Due.com that allows you to track customer information, time management, invoicing and know what invoices are still outstanding – all in one place.
Why enter all that information in multiple places if you can do it all in one? The entry level version is free indefinitely so you can keep expenses down, and then upgrade to one of their affordable plans ($10, $25, or $100) as you need more capacity.
Track Your Work
Unless you only handle one project at a time, it is essential that you have a project management tool. Many people use spreadsheets, or to-do lists, but a project management database is a better solution.
Due.com has separate sections for keeping track of clients, projects, timelines, tasks, invoices, and you can even add staff if you get busy enough to need to delegate some of your work.
Manage Your Time
Even if you charge by the project and not by the hour, it can be useful to track how much time you’re spending on each client or even each task to make sure you aren’t undercharging.
Time tracking is a feature in the upgraded versions of Due.com. Use it to find out which tasks are eating up your day so you can alter your schedule, increase your rates for certain tasks, or decide to cut back on them.
Create Accurate Invoices
Just check on a project and click the “create invoice” icon, and your invoice is filled out and ready to send. Icons along the write allow you to quickly edit, send, or mark invoices paid.
You can also set up recurring invoices. This is perfect for regular clients who pay by the month. Freelancers who do social media management, SEO, or manage blogs could set the invoices up once and have billing go out monthly without any additional work.
Integrate with PayPal and Track Payments
All of the non-free versions integrate with PayPal. They will automatically be marked paid as the payments come in, freeing up your time to do other things.
Just check your Due.com dashboard and it will tell you what invoices are paid, which are overdue, and which are pending.
Not following up on overdue invoices is a major issue for many freelancers. Using a program that clearly shows how many overdue invoices you have makes it easier to keep cash flowing in on time.
Due.com will also send reminders automatically and can be configured to send them on a schedule you prefer. Why send them manually if you can let them run on autopilot?
Making More Money Freelancing
Here is a summary of what you need to do to make more money freelancing:
- Communicate with and keep track of clients
- Log your projects when they come in
- Create tasks and make sure you complete them
- Measure how much time you spend on tasks so you’re not underpaid
- Invoice promptly and send reminders to make sure you get paid
There was nothing as efficient to use when I got started, but now there is. While you could set this all up manually or in separate programs, why not just use Due.com and have it all in one place?
Once you have your processes set up you can focus on how to get more freelancing work.