The very reason you start freelancing is to rope in the benefits of freedom, to be on your own, and obviously to make money. The pipe dream does not always come true; not every freelancer makes as much as he or she would like. When freelancers don’t make enough money, it’s not a pretty scene because it could mean frustration or it could be the wasted attempt of quitting a job to rally a dream.
How do you turn this around? It begins with finding out reasons as to “why” freelancers don’t make as much as they should. Here are at least seven of those reasons:
A half-hearted, non-committal approach to freelancing
Are you freelancing you thought it was a cool thing to do? Did you consider freelancing because you knew someone who was doing it already? While it’s fine to learn from others, it’s not the best path to a bulging bank account. Freelancers have to do all the work themselves. To necessitate such a commitment, loads of work, and success, you’ll need to approach freelancing from the heart. You aren’t going to make money working on anything you don’t like.
Pricing low: starting off on the wrong foot
One of the biggest mistakes most entrepreneurs do, including freelancers, is to price themselves low in the hopes of getting into business. It’s not the smartest thing to do. Pricing yourself low is an indication of desperation or lack of a smarter approach to business. Low prices are almost always an indication of low quality work. The best of the products and services are expensive. Look at Fedex, Starbucks Coffee, and the custom designs from world-famous designers. Consider products such as those from Apple, Rolex, or any of the luxury cars. They are priced high, and they are still in business. They are profitable, and they almost have a cult-like following.
How does that work? The answer is simple: it’s value slapped on top of the normal prices. What can you give more to the client apart from what’s expected? Add more value, and price to the point of profitability.
Part-time freelancing is part-time money
Freelancers who work part-time obviously don’t put in the dedication, commitment, and the kind of hard work a full-time freelancer would. Part-time freelancers don’t sweat it out like the seasoned pros do. Part-timers know that freelancing is “another” way of making money. If it’s “another” way, then they don’t give it everything they’ve got. Less time spent on work is that much money lost.
Freelancing is a business
Billions of people “like” to be in business. For most of them, being in business seems to be the answer to bail them out of the misery of a cubicle-ridden corporate life or it could be their ticket to freedom.
Running a business, however, demands a separate set of skills apart from technical proficiency that a freelancer is expected to have. For instance, it’s not enough for a web developer to create code or to work on development projects; it’s important for the freelancing developer to be able to market, to sell, and to serve customers well – these are a separate set of skills they don’t teach at the university.
If these skills are not taught at a university or in the normal course of an adult’s learning, very few people take the extra mile to equip themselves with these skills.
That’s why very few freelancers make good entrepreneurs. It’s just not everyone’s cup of tea.
Not working hard enough is not making money enough
Freelancing is hard work; just like any other business is. The deluge of misinformation that propagates that “freelancing is easy”, and the relentless propaganda about “freelancing being the ticket to living the dream”, creates false expectations. If you are a freelancer and if you are just starting out, you deserve to know the truth: it’s hard work, and it takes time to establish yourself.
After you establish yourself, put in the hours, and do the “due diligence”, you’d set yourself up for making more money – the right amount due.
Skirting with the bleeding edge of productivity
Freelancers are victims to what I’d like to call as the “bleeding edge of productivity”. No class of professionals skirt with unproductive hours (or days) as much as freelancers do. Unproductivity for a freelancer is a job hazard; it’s a risk that needs to be addressed. It’s also another one of those strong reasons why freelancers lose their golden chance to make as money as they should (I know this all too well, I am a freelancer myself).
The Internet, family, and hundreds of other things (along with people) threaten to derail a day’s availability for a freelancer. Money is lost when a day unaccounted for or an hour not billed. Period.
Not plumbing into the depths of client relationships
Most businesses, freelancers, and other professionals forget the inherent value of every customer or client relationship. Go by fancy jargon like “lifetime value of a customer” or use plain commonsense: not leveraging the power of these relationships is another reason why freelancers leave money on the table. Getting along well with a client, consistently doing well and exceeding expectations, and always aiming to deliver on time are perhaps the simplest self-declared KRA (Key Result Area) freelancers can hoist on their own shoulders.
Dig into that network you worked so hard to create. Let clients come back for more. Leverage relationships.