Freelancers Make More Money By Firing Clients

Freelancers make their own income.  There’s no annual review in the big office at the end of the year, no haggling over the percentage of my increase, no influx of cash every two weeks without fail.  So how do you give yourself a raise?  There’s a lot of advice on how to calculate an hourly rate to charge, but it’s my experience that clients drive rates.  If you want to make more money, manage your client load more effectively. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a cover band, an astrologer, or a graphic artist.  A freelancer must consistently cull through the list of steadies and say a fond farewell to the less profitable ones, replacing them with new, more lucrative gigs.  Using a perpetual ranking system can help you make more money from your freelancing efforts over time.

Who Do You Fire?
If your goal is to increase income, you’ll need to systematically take on higher paying work.  Because you only have so many hours in the day, this involves replacing lower paying work with higher paying work.  Even if you have employees or you outsource some of your jobs to others, resources are still limited.  The first step is to identify your lower quality jobs. 

Ranking Clients
A good ranking system takes into account many factors in addition to pay.  I borrowed the ranking idea from Kathryn Vercillo and expanded on it to fit my needs.  My system involves assigning a point value to each of my jobs in the following areas:
· Fun:  Do I like what I’m doing?
· Pay:  How is the pay relative to my other jobs?
· Potential:  Are there extra benefits like networking or visibility?
· Reliability:  How likely is this job to continue to provide steady income into the future?

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I assign 1-5 points for each attribute.  You’ll need to figure how much you make on an absolute scale.  To do this, I calculate an hourly rate that takes into account all the work I do on a particular job.  For example, offline column writing consists of writing and editing only.  Online jobs include time to write and edit, as well as post, promote, and check stats.  Make sure to include all your ‘overhead’ time when figuring your hourly rate.  Build your system to reflect your values.  

Evaluating New Clients
The beauty of the ranking system is that helps you answer the question, Should I accept (or apply for) this job?  Simply rank the prospective work on your system and if it ranks near the top, take it and say adios to one of the lower rankers.

I’ve put my ranking system into a handy spreadsheet that I keep with the rest of my GTD lists.  (Yes, I’m that geek.)  Now I always know where I stand and the automated format makes it easy for me to reassign point values based on changes in expectations and my mood. 

How do you increase freelance income?