You’d think I’m crazy right?
Many of us have a specialty we provide for our clients and that’s the full extent of our business.
Others might sell paid products like e-books or teach classes, but for the most part a freelancer’s income is directly impacted by the amount of work they output.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Making more money doesn’t have to mean taking on extra work, or figuring out how you’re going to manage an entire month on four hours of sleep.
What About Those Other People You Know?
I don’t need to stress why online friends are important, but I do need to stress that your online friends are vital to you making more money with minimal effort.
It’s not that they’re going to give you more exposure, in fact, it’s not anything they’re going to do for you.
It’s what you’re going to do for them.
Now I’m assuming that as a professional freelancer you’re active in different communities, not just to prevent loneliness, but to cultivate connections with the people within the community.
Well, your online friends need work too, and you just might be the perfect person to give it to them.
The Trouble with Straight Up Referrals
One thing freelancers do if someone they know is looking for help outside of their specialty is refer them to another freelancer.
It’s a perfectly natural instinct but it is actually a terrible practice. Not only is it preventing you from making more money, it’s also putting your reputation at risk every time you refer someone out.
Think of it like setting two people up on a blind date. You know them in the context of your own relationship, but it’s actually impossible to judge how they’re going to get along with each other.
As a hypothetical, let’s say someone in your community is an excellent designer, and you know someone looking for design work.
Now what if your “designer friend” has the email that only works after you’ve sent five messages? Or they work on the “Half up front”/disappear for month/”you better pay me and be happy with whatever I give you” system? Just because they produce great work doesn’t mean they’re great to work with.
Likewise, your “client friend” might turn out to be a monstrous beast hellspawn whose blood flows with the misery of freelancers.
If both “freelancer” and “client” fit these profiles, the world will collapse from the inside out, universes will be destroyed, small children will be sacrificed and you’ll have to live with knowing–It was all your fault.
Think of Yourself as a Professional Middleman
Now let’s take this same scenario, but give you a little more involvement.
You know someone who is looking for design work. Instead of just referring them over to your freelancer friend, dig a little deeper to find out what exactly they are looking for. What are their goals? What are the metrics that will determine their success? You know, pre-scope the project.
When you know more of the specifics, get in contact with your freelancer friend, give them the scope and find out how much they charge.
Now this is where most people would give up the controls. Don’t even think about it.
This is the part where you start making more money.
After you’ve found out how much your freelancer friend charges, tack on a little extra “finder’s fee.” If the would-be “client friend” accepts the price, your new job is to act as the go-between, which usually only means bouncing emails back and forth between freelancer and client, and handling the money.
Now if you’re considering setting fire to the comments calling this unethical, consider this: You’ve spent the time to cultivate your relationships within your networks, why shouldn’t you benefit for helping someone else solve their problem?
From the viewpoint of your freelancer friend, you’re taking care of the sales conversation and client management side of things, so they can focus on actually getting work done.
How’s It Done?
That’s pretty much it. When you’re participating in community conversations, actually listen to what people have to say.
If someone you know in one community is complaining about how they don’t have many people commenting on their blog, and you know a copywriter in another community who talks about how they can always get a minimum of 20 comments on every post (and here’s why) that might be a good match.
If a friend is talking about how their sales pages don’t convert well, and another friend specializes in landing page design, they might also be a good match.
Pay attention to the needs of others, and become familiar with the strengths of the people in your community.
The more people whose styles you’re familiar with, the more relationships you build, the greater ability you have to be making more money without actually doing the work.
Will you get the occasional headache? Of course.
But it’s not nearly as common as it is with client work. Also, where you’re not the one doing the actual work, the people you connect with are going to be far more likely to be patient with you.
In the end, you’ll end up making more money by copying and pasting a handful of emails and spending maybe an hour on the phone.
Pretty sweet gig, eh?
Have you used subcontractors?
How did that work out?
Image by andjohan