3 simple ways to make more money as a freelancer

Feb 13, 2020

This article is reproduced with the permission of our partner, Trupo.

Last week, Trupo hosted a Know Your Worthshop with marketing expert Ilise Benun, where she spoke about the most common mistakes people make when trying to negotiate higher rates (as well as how to know what to actually charge for your work).

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Photo by Beth Dixson/@bethdixsonphoto

ICYMI, here are some key takeaways. (Also, follow us to hear about future events!)

1. Stop thinking of yourself as “bad with money.”

When you’re in a creative profession, it can be easy to believe the myth that you're not financially savvy by default. And hey, if you didn’t go to business school, things like quarterly taxes and Roth IRAs can feel daunting when you have to look up every other term in the description.

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Photo by Beth Dixson/@bethdixsonphoto

But the first step to making more money is to stop dreading the conversation around it. Even if your work spiritually fulfills you, it also needs to keep you afloat, and caring about how much you make won’t make you any less of an artist.

Being pragmatic about earning a living through your work–and not carrying shame around it–keeps you from taking on low-paying projects or worse, working "for exposure". That’s why the first step is simply cultivating curiosity around your financial education: if anything, it can improve the quality of your work because you’ll know you’re providing something valuable and feel more confident. Everyone wins!

2. Be calm and prepared for all outcomes when negotiating.

Ok, so you did your research and have a solid idea of what you want to ask for. Great! The one problem is: You can still get a no, even if you wrote a really strong email.

That’s why, before you even hit send, you should be ready for all possible answers. What happens if they refuse to budge? What if they go up a little, but not even close to what you’re asking for? Are there other expenses they can cover if the rate itself is too low? Do you have backup projects to take on so you can formally pass?

If you’re having this convo in person, that’s all the more reason to be prepped. Above all else, don’t be afraid of silence if the other person is thinking about your offer. Be confident, don’t backpedal, and always come in having a rate in mind as a jumping-off point (so you don't just blurt out a random number you can’t take back.)

3. Network more effectively.

At the event, participants filled out a sheet detailing what they needed, and what they could give. This covered everything from “can build a website” to “will watch your cat” and provided people with a natural way to connect over the direct ways they could help each other.

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Photo by Beth Dixson/@bethdixsonphoto

Similarly, when networking, it’s important to really know what work you’re looking for and what you can offer over simply meeting acquaintances in the same field as you. If you’re great at coding or design, say so! If you need help figuring out your finances as a freelancer, bring it up!

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Photo by Beth Dixson/@bethdixsonphoto

Eventually, as you branch out and meet more people who are open about asking or offering help, it can change how you work, too. Having more transparent conversations around what you can do and what you’ll need in exchange is a great way to meet people who will value your time–and pay you exactly what you're worth.

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