At the end of 2020, I officially became a six-figure freelancer. And while it was exciting to hit that major milestone, it took years of hard work to achieve.
I also experienced a whole lot of imposter syndrome along the way. Six-figure earners seemed like an exclusive club that only the most successful freelancers were a part of, and I had no clue how to gain access.
If you’re new to freelancing or working your way up to six-figures, then I’m sure you can relate. I’m sure you’ve seen the Instagram posts and thought…
- When they say six figures, how much do they actually mean?
- Is that before or after taxes?
- How much are they spending to make that though?
- Do they have a team?
While I can’t answer those questions for every six-figure earner, I can shed some light on how I got here and how you can too. Whether you’re on a mission to secure new clients so you can officially quit your corporate 9-5, or you’re in need of a friendly nudge towards the “right” next move for your business, you’ve come to the right place.
These seven tips will cover all the questions you may have about six-figure freelancers, from the importance of processes to expanding your network.
So let’s get into how you can level up your income and grow your biz in the process!
Tune in to Your Specialized Skills
If only I had “day off work” coupons for every time someone told me to find my niche when I was first starting out. In today’s market, there is a whole lot of demand for a variety of freelance services, and it can get overwhelming to narrow down your skills. Some clients may want you to juggle multiple hats, while others might want something more custom-tailored.
So how do you find your niche? Start by reviewing your numbers. Do you know what your best-selling package is? Which clients are contributing to the bulk of your revenue? Use those insights as a guide for how you can niche down your services.
Figure Out What Your Clients Need
Hopefully I’m not the first person to break this to you but not everyone is going to be interested in your services – and that’s okay! Instead, get really specific about who you’re trying to reach and how you can help that particular client.
Despite what some people on the internet might be telling you, you don’t need to be a one-stop-shop. Do you get your car maintenance done at the same place you buy your furniture? Is your go-to coffee joint also the place you grab your groceries?
Probably not, right? Same thinking applies here.
You likely have designated spots that you show up at for those daily, weekly, or yearly needs, and so do your potential customers. Narrow in on what you’re good at and how that translates into what your clients come to you for.
Does this mean that you can’t experiment with a new, less-traditional item in your shop, like a seasonal lavender latte? Not at all. It also doesn’t mean that you have to stick with your current services forever, but catering to your clients helps create brand awareness, trust and a strong reputation.
Build, Build, and Build Your Network
If you want to become a six-figure freelancer, just get more gigs, right? Not quite. A major part of growing your business will likely involve finding new freelance jobs, but don’t stop there. Also focus on expanding your network and building relationships that go beyond those that are currently paying for your services.
Here are a few simple ways you can build your network:
- Join an online freelance community
- Attend networking events (yes, even if they’re virtual)
- Reach out to former colleagues and past clients
- Create a spreadsheet with all of your leads and follow-up with them
Don’t be afraid to hop in the comment section of a thread or introduce yourself during a Zoom Q&A. In my experience, even a short conversation or follow-up email could eventually lead to a paying client.
Let Go of Your Pride and Ask for Help
As freelancers, we sometimes think that we need to have all the answers. I’m here to tell you that solo-Google searching can only get you so far. Trust me.
The truth is that you don’t know what you don’t know. I was lucky enough to have guidance from my freelance mentor-turned-friend Shauna, which then followed with much-needed expertise and direction from my business coach Wins. Now, my wonderful VA Pam helps me run this freelance ship daily. I also have multiple writers on my team, so in no way is this a one-woman show anymore.
I know it can be scary to ask for help or invest in support, but it can be a gamechanger for growing your business. Your time, energy, and capacity is limited so rather than trying to do all of the things, focus on the tasks that you’re good at and outsource or get help with the rest.
Set Non-Income Goals and Make the Time to Achieve Them
Being able to cover your expenses is non-negotiable but it’s equally important to set goals that aren’t related to your income as they can help you work smarter, not harder. You can hustle your way to $100k but if you’re burnt out and hating your life at the end of it, you probably won’t feel so great.
As freelancers, it’s easy to get wrapped up in helping clients reach their goals, but don’t let that stop you from prioritizing your own. Remember that onboarding process you wanted to streamline? How about the content plan that’s been on the backburner? Make sure you set aside some time to achieve these goals too.
Some tips to cross these to-dos off your list…
- Treat your non-income goals as if they were client goals
- Block off the time needed to complete your business tasks in your calendar
- Set target dates for the goals you want to achieve
- Track your progress along the way
Sell Your Process as Part of Your Services
I offer quality writing at a premium price, but I also have really clear processes from start to finish. I’m responsive, easy to work with, and can pretty much guarantee that there won’t be a ton of back and forth emails clogging up your inbox. That value is what seals the deal for my clients.
What I’ve noticed time and time again is that many freelancers tend to forget about the customer experience. They’re so busy working away on a project that it slips their mind to schedule a check-in or update their client to make them feel extra supported. Your process could be the reason a potential customer chooses to say ‘Yes!’ and bring you onto their roster, or decides to go in a different direction. .
Ask yourself: What sets you apart and what can you do to make every single one of your clients feel special and cared for? Maybe it’s a professional contract or an easy-to-use client portal. These elements add on extra value, maybe even more so than your service itself.
Know Your Value and Price With Intention
In the freelance industry, being a six-figure earner is vastly different from earning six-figures at a corporate desk job – from taxes to expenses, there’s a lot to keep track of. I created a freelance rate calculator to help you take the guesswork out of pricing your services but it’s not the be-all-end-all. It will just help you calculate the minimum rate you need to charge to cover your expenses and savings.
Personally, I think an hourly rate is a great place if you’re just starting in the freelance world, but in the long run it can work against you. When you started your biz, it may have taken you three to four hours to complete your signature service. Now, it might take you two. Working with an hourly rate gets tricky once you’ve established your key skills and built your reputation. If you’re providing the same quality and value to your client, then there’s no reason you should be making less now than when you started out.
The Road to Becoming a Six-Figure Freelancer
There is no shortcut to freelance success, and revenue is not a perfect measure of how much your business is thriving – not even close. It doesn’t tell you how much a person works, how big their team is, or what privileges have helped them build their business. However, having the goal of becoming a six-figure freelancer is what allowed me to invest back into my business in so many ways.
While these tips are a great starting point, there’s no way I’d be able to sum up my years of learning experiences and knowledge into just one blog post. So, I created a program where you can access coaching, mentorship and tools similar to what helped me scale my own business.
Click-worthy Creative Academy is the kind of program I wish I had when I started out, and I’ve jam-packed it with everything freelancers need to hit their goals – from nailing your niche to pricing your services.
Everything you’ve been searching for, right?