15 Brilliant Tips to Help You Earn More

I often hear freelancers say they’d love to earn more money. They want more clients. More passive income. More revenues.

And frankly, who doesn’t want more money? The more money we have, the more we can have what we want from life, whether that means more free time, more cool gadgets, a better house… you name it!

Earning more money isn’t always that easy, though, and sometimes it seems like freelancers have the worst of it.

Competition is stiff. The economy is so-so. Lack of time. Lack of ideas. Lack of skills. Let’s give you something to sink your teeth into.

Here are 15 brilliant tips (in no particular order) to help you earn more money. ‘Nuff said.

Brilliant Tips To help You Earn More

Here they are. 15 brilliant tips. You may have heard these before, but they won’t work until you actually try them. ;)

  1. Follow up. You’ve heard this one before and you’ll hear it again: stay in touch with potential clients after they’ve contacted you. Every time you get a new email from a potential client, file it in a folder marked “Follow Up.” And do it. After seven days, send them a friendly email asking if they’d received your reply, if they had questions and if you can help in any way. You might be surprised to hear that they’re glad you emailed!
  2. Use the phone. I know, I know. I have a no-phone rule and I shouldn’t preach what I don’t practice–but here’s the thing: I do. I break my own rules all the time. Sometimes all it takes to land a deal worth a few thousand dollars is a 15-minute call. Shy on the phone? Stumble and stutter? Hire a VA to take your calls, or be even more proactive and hire a speech coach who can help you out. It’s fixable–so fix it.
  3. Upsell like hell. Clients don’t think about the little extra things they might need if they’re not aware they might need them. If you sell web designs, offer to create a matching business card. Or a gravatar for social media. A coder? Mention monthly maintenance packages–many people hate stressing over upgrades. A writer? Point out that a short e-guide would go great with that revamped web copy, or ask if the client’s considered a brochure for local business.
  4. Get over your fears. Can’t upsell because you feel uncomfortable? Think marketing is a four-letter word? Then you need to remember that marketing is just a way of telling people who need what you sell that you can help them. Why would you hold back that help? Learn that marketing isn’t evil, that there are perfectly ethical ways to help people find your good stuff and that you don’t have to become pushy with your pitches.
  5. Follow up again. Yup, we’re back where we started. Once you’ve done business with a client, the relationship shouldn’t end at final payment. Make a note on your calendar to get in touch after 30 days. Ask whether the client’s pleased with results. Ask if he needs anything else. Just say hi, if you feel like it. But, stay in touch and keep reminding the client you exist and that you’re ready to work with him again.
  6. Upgrade your skills. There’s so much information around today that there’s really no excuse not to upgrade your skills or even learn new ones. Buy a book at Amazon that teaches you a skill related to your business–it’ll help you earn more money. Take a course online. There are plenty of free ones and also many offered by recognized universities. Watch tutorial videos and practice what they show you firsthand.
  7. Upgrade your site. If you haven’t changed your web copy in the past six months, it’s time for some maintenance. Read over each page. Good enough? Or could it be better? Each time I look at my site, I find new places to improve the message or tighten it up. What about design? Get a premium theme that helps you do business, like The Client Machine, and make your business look every inch the pro venture it is.
  8. Create something. I know no one has time for this, but I also know that those who say they have none just aren’t making the time. Pick a product or service you want to develop and start creating it. Decide how many hours it’ll take you to complete, and then book yourself as your own client. You don’t have to work at this very long–an hour every three days will keep you progressing nicely to the finish line. Then launch!
  9. Break it down. Many freelancers get stuck on offering one or two vast services, like design, writing or marketing. But there are a lot of sub-services that fall under these wide umbrellas, and they could bring in extra cash. Break down services into individual mini-items for an a la carte list, then create packages that bundle services up together. Oh, and have a list of little extras for those upsells you’re going to do.
  10. Get out of town. No, really. Get in your car and head to the next town over. Bring nice little file folders you’ve prepared that contain an opening letter introducing your business, some printouts of your work, a list of rates and a business card. Walk down the main street and visit every third store. It’s more effective than telling yourself you’ll visit them all and achieves more than if you handpicked stores you think are best to visit (they’re probably not). Shake hands, hand out your folders and see what happens.
  11. Find your focus. Many of you spend a lot of time on stuff that doesn’t bring back much ROI, if any at all. Think about where you want to be in five years, down to the exact lunch you’re eating that day. Then with every task you’re about to undertake today, ask yourself: “Does doing this help me get closer to where I want to be?” When the answer is no, don’t do it, or phase it out from your regular services slowly. If the answer is yes, do more of it!
  12. Find your calling. This sounds a little fu-fu, but you need to be doing work that makes you feel jazzed, excited and on top of the world. If you’re doing work that you hate, every hour becomes a slog, and there’s no way you’re going to convey your excitement to people who need to feel that to buy. So stop doing the work you can’t stand. Outsource it, find a partner or drop it from your services. Do what you love, and show potential clients you’re awesome at it.
  13. Stop blogging. Well, don’t stop blogging, but stop focusing so much on it and start focusing on what actually brings in money. The investment of hours that go into blogs and the pitiful returns often aren’t worth it, but for some strange reasons, freelancers tend to drop a lot of time into keeping it up. Blog if you’d like, but if you’re chasing money, then cut blogging back to something manageable and spend your time elsewhere doing more work that matters. Or, blog on case studies or post about creative ways to use your products and services.
  14. Do the math. Sit down and figure out the cost of goods sold (COGS) for each and every service or product you sell, and I mean down to the 30 seconds it takes you to send a PayPal invoice to a client. When you write down every service, all of its related tasks and the time it takes to actually complete each one, you might be surprised to realize you’re working for pennies an hour instead of the hundreds you thought you were.
  15. Add bonus offers. Instead of chopping your prices with a special, add a limited-time bonus to one of the products or services you sell. Toss it in free of charge if it has low value, or discount it. That way, you get to sell your big-ticket item and still get a portion of revenue from an item that wasn’t getting much attention. Plus, you get both items in front of people’s eyes when you market your promotion!

A Few More Thoughts About Money

Of course, the best way to make more money is to keep more of it in your pocket. Cut out all the subscription payments to services you’re not really using, trim the fat off your budget and bring down expenses–there are probably a lot you don’t really need. Examine every expense you make with a critical eye… remember, this is money you’re giving to someone else.

Does spending money really help you earn more?

Your Turn

What has helped you earn more money? Share your answers in the comments.

Image by CiCCiO.it’s


  1. says

    Thanks James for the excellent outline of methods to garner more wages for freelancing. I think you especially hit the ball out of Fenway with the comment, “best way to make more money is to keep more of it in your pocket.”

    Did you ever get a chance to drink the fabled Kopi Luwak?

  2. says

    Awesome tips, James, as always. I’ve found follow ups to be a super-effective way to land new projects and so many freelancers aren’t doing them, because they’re afraid of bugging prospects (guess what? If you don’t bug them, you may not land the project either because someone else took the initiative to stay in touch).

  3. says

    @Jordan – Sadly, every time I visited a joint and said, “Kopi Luwak?” I’d get one of those horrified looks and a loud, “C’est quoi ça?!” Clearly, Quebec needs to get with the times.

    @Susan – I’ve also noticed that a lot of freelancers simply *forget* to follow up. They’re working 12 hour days and busting their butts to work hard and bring in money… but… uh… one 10 second follow up could bring in that money way more easily, y’know? ;)

    @Jen – Balance, balance, balance, and always ask yourself, “Is this helping me get where I want to be?”

  4. says

    Great list! I really love the last one – bonus offer instead of a discounted price! It’ makes sense! You’re making the money AND getting those products out there for clients and prospects to see.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Jen @adrinahdesign

  5. says

    SO glad I caught your tweet on this one. It’s a gem.

    I’m sorry to say that although I talk this talk (to myself and my clients), I fall pathetically short in Real Life. I appreciate the reminders and will be bookmarking this one for future reference until I get it right.

    I think that the key to making all these things happen is having systems in place. I’m not there yet, but I’m pretty sure that coming up with streamlined, replicable ways of handling these tasks will open the gates to entrepreneurial nirvana. (That and a bunch of oompa-loompas taking care of all the shlock administrative work that makes you cringe … but we’ll start with systems and work our way up.)

    BTW – Kopi Luwak … is that the famed “poop coffee” that Dave Barry immortalized in his 1997 column: http://www.davebarry.com/misccol/decaf.htm ? I’m not a coffee drinker, but I’m curious.

  6. says

    This are excellent! Bookmarking to read again later.

    I admit I’m really bad about following up. I tend to get busy and forget to do it. Also, it’s a little that I feel that if people aren’t getting in touch with me, they don’t really need what I’m offering yet. I know, that’s silly because when I do remember to follow up people are grateful. But it’s still tough to remember. Especially love your idea about making a followup folder especially for that.

  7. says

    Great advice. In fact I paused reading halfway through to send a note to a client I had been meaning to follow-up with for some time.

    I know when I had a brick-and-mortar store, I found that if I was actively doing things like rearranging displays, it attracted traffic faster than sitting at the desk could ever bring. Action draws people.

    That may mean doing some non-profit work, attending events or writing stories for lower-paying venues (if people who pay more will be reading it) to increase your SEO and get your name out there.

  8. says

    Great tips, thank you for sharing! I really like the idea of a Follow Up folder and I’m definitely going to implement that. I’ve bookmarked this for future reference.

  9. says

    I will read it again and again to make sure I am doing what I should be doing. Very effective points. I do always advise on my other services as well when I provide estimation for requested service, that way in future they can come back to you if client need other service.


  10. says

    @Jen – Hope to see you use that tip!

    @Suddenly Jamie – To be honest, even I fall short on being consistent with all these tips, so I figure that gives you ample reason to feel like a rock star ;)

    You’re right, too – systems are very, very awesome when freelancing. (I should know. I co-wrote the book on ‘em!) The more you have, the more the work becomes routine and automatic, which means easier to remember and faster to do!

    @Naomi – You and I should split a VA ;) Seriously, though, I’ve had a LOT of clients just get busy dealing with their emails and stuff, and they forget. They often thank me for following up and get right on it!

    @JT – You’d be amazed how many tricks you can pull from a brick-and-mortar store to bring online. And good on you for doing that follow up!

    @Adam – Gmail has awesome features for that follow-up system :)

    @Kavyansh – Cheers backatcha!

  11. says

    Thanks James. Nice and clear.Tracking one’s time is essential, so your point about “doing the math” is a good one. In any business, time is money. Another equally important tip, be professional, in every way, on every level.

  12. says

    #1 is probably the most powerful and most often overlooked.

    Another great way to leverage your time and make some great contacts is to put on a quick presentation for a client’s office. Teach them how to do something or show them how you can help them. Get a conversation going and you’ll quickly have 2-3 jobs and a half dozen reasons to follow up.

  13. says

    Excellent post Jason! The humor in your words always seems to catch my attention. :)

    Some of these points don’t normally work for me and my situation but they’re helpful nonetheless. My favorites would be upgrading both your skills and your website, create your own personal project, and getting over your fears. I’d also like to suggest getting over your laziness and start putting your plans into action.

  14. says

    I’ve actually mentioned it on here before, but I do try to upsell like hell when I can. If I’m making someone a site or business card, I’ll check if they have any customization or tab son Facebook, or a really good Twitter background, and then offer them when they don’t.

  15. says

    Hey, cool tips. I especially appreciate the no-bs tone you describe them with ;-)

    I think the only thing I slightly disagree with is your (what I assume to be) rhetorical question at the end… I’ve actually found that spending money CAN make me more money.

    Lemme explain…

    – Spending money means I’m out in the world, doin’ stuff. Other people do stuff too – and some of those people are my prospective clients.

    – Seminars and workshops cost money – but as a copywriter – if I go to seminars and stuff on marketing, it’s filled to the brim with potential clients. And I’ll definitely walk away with a good handful. I’ve even walked away with a full page filled to the brim with people eager to do business with me.

    Okay, so that covers “cost of business” spending that brings in more money. There’s also something else though.

    This might sound weird and “new agey”, but sometimes I feel inspired in my gut to buy certain things. They may not be logical or sound purchases – but something deep down is just calling for me to buy it… and though it doesn’t make sense up top in my head, it feels right.

    The more I follow that feeling — whether it calls on me to buy something, talk to someone, do nothing, goof off, etc. — I find the more successful I become.

    So, I guess it’s all about “sensing” where your purchases are coming from. If they’re purely compulsive, and there’s no inspirational or spiritual meaning attached to them, and you’re really lacking money – then you should probably cut those out.

    But if you really feel inspired in your gut to make those purchases, I say go for it. Following your gut is an adventure, and though you may go through hard **** from time to time, it seems people always come out on the other side glad to have had that experience. And I’ve never heard someone say they’d trade that experience back for anything.

  16. says

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    for me. And i’m satisfied reading your article. However wanna commentary on few common issues, The website taste is perfect, the articles is in reality great : D. Excellent process, cheers


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