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How to Make More than the Average Freelancer
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How to Make More than the Average Freelancer

Use these three criteria to make more than the average freelancer in your freelancing business

I’ve been freelancing for quite a few years though I just started posting my freelancing income last month. After posting the income reports, I always get emails about how to start a freelance work from home job and how is it I’m able to make way more than the average freelancer every month.

I thought I would combine this month’s freelancing income report with a few tips on how to make more money in your freelancing business.

We recently looked at a Payoneer survey in our first freelancing income report that showed the average freelancer made $21 per hour on 36 hours a week. There are a lot of questions I have about the survey and it may not apply to your situation but it’s a good place to start. The survey results put the average full-time freelancer at just over $3,200 per month.

how much do freelancers make

Making more than the average freelancer will mean putting in the time to build a client list, developing the skills you need and knowing how to bid on projects. We’ll get into each of these below after a quick rundown of my freelancing income last month.

April Freelancing Income Falls but Still higher than the Average

My April freelancing income was lower than the previous months but still fairly good. I had a large project that paid $2,500 a month close in March and I haven’t done much to replace the client. Check out the other 2016 freelancing income reports here.

Most of my freelancing income comes from writing projects for other websites. This is pretty typical for bloggers, contracting out to other websites to post content on a regular basis. You’ll get fast at putting together a quality article and will learn SEO skills worth big money to other websites.

I write three articles a week for a group of investing sites at $150 per article. I like writing the articles because it gives me a chance to do some detailed stock analysis, something that I enjoy doing and have spent a lot of time learning how to do it well. I’ve been writing for one of the sites since 2012 and write for each website they create. I also do longer reports upwards of 10 or 20 pages a few times a year when they need something to offer as a marketing pull. Total freelancing income from the three sites was $1,800 in April.

I write once a week to the Finquiz Blog, a third-party study prep provider for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams. I’ve been posting on the blog since 2012 as well, sometimes as much as three times per week. I only charge $70 for these because the posts are fairly short and I can put them together in less than an hour. Freelancing income for the contract was $300 in April.

I found one project from the freelancing site Upwork to develop a cash flow model for a real estate development project. It’s pretty rare that I search Upwork for freelancing projects because many don’t get filled or go to the lowest bidder. I get enough word of mouth from prior clients that I don’t need to do as much marketing anymore but I was invited to bid on the project by this client. I earned $1,250 for analyzing a real estate development project including a spreadsheet model of the costs and returns as well as a Powerpoint presentation the developer could show to investors.

I picked up three more articles from prior clients that are usually willing to take gaps in my schedule. Over the years, I’ve had to drop clients or refer them to other freelancers because I didn’t have enough time or they were not able to meet my fee. Keeping the quality of work high usually means you can put these clients in a call-back list to get extra jobs when you need it. I made $375 on these articles last month.

My total freelancing income for April came to $3,725 which is just above the average freelancer income reported by Payoneer. I only spend about 15 to 20 hours a week freelancing and have started shifting more of my time to the five blogs so my freelancing income worked out to about $49 per hour for the month.

How do I beat the Average Freelancer Income Every Month?

average freelancer income reportThere’s three things you need to do to make money freelancing, one of which you can’t change but the other two can help you make more than the average freelancer.

  • Stick with your freelancing business, even if it’s just five or ten hours a week. Too many freelancers give up and don’t build the huge client list that comes with time.
  • Get the education or professional certification you need for credibility.
  • Learn what you’re worth and how to bid on projects.

I held a regular full-time job for years while I was building my freelancing business. It’s tough spending an extra ten hours or so each week but you won’t make much money early on and you’ll need something else to pay the bills. Stick with it though and your freelancing business can easily grow to support your spending within the first year.

I have gotten many projects because I hold the CFA designation, a very respected certification in the asset management and investment analysis industry. The self-study program cost about $2,000 and took more than 900 hours studying over three years but it was well worth it. I’m not saying all private certification programs are worth it but talk with a few people in your industry to see which ones might help you get that implied credibility.

You can also take a few video course on Udemy to refine your skills in different jobs. While you won’t get any kind of certification, you can get hours of video courses for less than $50 on the site in just about any subject. I’ve used several classes to learn more about SEO and about social media marketing.

One of the most important skills that will help you make more than the average freelancer is knowing how much to charge for your projects. It probably won’t be much at first but you’ll be able to gradually raise your rate as you grow your freelancing business.

Before bidding on any freelancing project, read through the project details and get an idea of how long it will take you to finish the task. Read through other freelancer bids and check other similar projects to see how much people are bidding on that type of work.

Understand that there will be a big difference between bids from freelancers in Asia compared to those located in North America. There are a lot of good foreign freelancers out there but my experience is that the majority do not have the English proficiency, the creativity or the skills to provide quality work for more than rote tasks. If you have the skills to do the project really well, don’t be afraid to bid much higher than others on the project.

You can still get projects even on a much higher bid if you detail your worth in your cover letter.

  • Lead in with your related experience specific to the project. Most freelancers apply to projects with a generic letter so be as specific as possible and you’ll stand out.
  • Use bullet points in your application to highlight past projects and your credentials. A project manager may have to sort through dozens of freelancers and doesn’t want to read a long letter.
  • Highlight your skills and education for the project and why you’re worth the higher bid on the quality of your work

It’s better to bid high for a project than to bid too low and then not want to spend the time actually completing it. You won’t get as many projects but the ones you get will be from legitimate clients that will continue to request work. Bidding correctly is something the average freelancer doesn’t do and they get stuck with all the low-paying jobs from clients that don’t want to pay for quality. Make sure you’re getting paid what you’re worth and your freelancing business will never disappoint.

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