The way to Deal with a Retreat: 16 Suggestions from Bufferoos as We Head to Cancún

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The Buffer staff is heading out on our first retreat since 2019! I requested the retreat veterans for recommendation on taking advantage of the journey as a beginner. How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

Are you a freelancer seeking to develop your revenue? It may be powerful to know the place to begin. Maybe you’ve fallen into comfy freelancing routines with shoppers you’ve been working with for months or years. 

That type of stability is nice … however it may additionally preserve you trapped. Possibly you’ve stopped questioning your assumptions about how lengthy writing an article will take, as an example, otherwise you haven’t raised your charges in ages since you’re anxious about dropping a shopper.

I’m going to take you thru the methods I used to extend my freelance revenue from one 12 months to the subsequent. This isn’t a narrative about “easy methods to 10x your revenue” or “how I went from rags to riches in a single day,” … however as a substitute, I hope, a extra real looking and achievable have a look at easy methods to considerably improve your personal freelancing (or small enterprise) revenue. 

Let’s begin with the top in thoughts: these methods led me to go from roughly $39,200 USD [£30,744] to roughly $70,500 USD [£55,266] in a single 12 months. That’s a 79 p.c improve. I did this round a traditional, on a regular basis life, with a partner, youngsters, hobbies, and plenty of different issues I didn’t wish to compromise.

Right here’s what I did … and the way you are able to do the identical, whether or not you’re just getting started otherwise you’ve been freelancing for years.

Step 1. Set Clear, Particular Earnings Targets

I’ve been freelancing for over 16 years now, and I’m embarrassed to confess that for a lot too a few years, I didn’t have a specific revenue aim in thoughts. I used to be protecting all my payments, and generally, I used to be glad to easily make the identical quantity I’d been making in my day job once I was in my early 20s.

A lot later, I noticed this can be a frequent drawback for freelancers and solopreneurs when I came across this piece by Naomi Dunford of Ittybiz. She defined:

If you happen to can’t appear to interrupt a sure quantity (and particularly if that quantity is suspiciously near your previous day job wage), you’ve received an higher restrict drawback.

The way to Do It

Work out what you made final 12 months (final calendar 12 months or earlier tax 12 months, no matter is sensible for you). Then, set the next aim for the approaching 12 months. Goal for one thing difficult however real looking: possibly a 25 p.c or 50 p.c improve, and even one hundred pc extra, should you’re going to have the ability to work extra hours.

Let’s say you made $30,000 final 12 months. You possibly can intention for $45,000 this 12 months. It’s a major improve, however removed from an inconceivable one.

Notice: Personally, I set revenue objectives for the calendar 12 months, however for the needs of this put up, I’ve given my revenue improve right here primarily based on tax years (for me within the UK, that’s April 6, 2021–April 5, 2022, vs. April 6, 2022–April 5, 2023) as that’s how my detailed data work out.

Step 2. Know What WON’T Work for You

In my enterprise, I may doubtlessly make more cash by subcontracting: loads of freelancers do, and that is how Kat Boogaard achieved some extremely spectacular figures as a contract author, scaling her business to make over $300,000.

However for me, proper now, I just like the simplicity of being a one-person enterprise. My husband works away among the time and has a lot much less flexibility than me: I actually like with the ability to plan my work round simply me, taking day off for our youngsters as wanted. 

There are many methods I may improve my freelance writing revenue … however these aren’t trade-offs I’m prepared to make at this level in my life. Again earlier than I had youngsters, as an example, I used to be glad to work on weekends; now, I keep away from night and weekend work.

The way to Do It

Resolve what your personal “strains within the sand” are along with your freelancing. Maybe you wish to preserve weekends (or at the very least one weekend day) utterly free from work. Possibly there are particular kinds of freelancing work you received’t tackle – I do know freelancers who received’t write items about weapons, say, or tobacco. 

There are many methods to earn more money inside the boundaries which are wholesome for your online business and for you as an individual. 

Step 3. Break Down Your Annual Earnings Purpose Into Smaller Chunks

When you’ve received your revenue aim, you’ll want to interrupt it down into smaller chunks in an effort to work out should you’re on observe or not at any given time.

Once I first began doing this, I used to separate up my aim purely mathematically. If I wished to make, say, £40,000 in a 12 months and wished to work 40 weeks (youngsters are at school for 38 weeks of the 12 months within the UK), then that will imply incomes £1,000 per week. However it quickly turned clear that not all weeks can be precisely the identical.

Now, I have a tendency to interrupt down my aim by quarter, then month, then week. So, as an example, within the first quarter of 2024, I knew I’d have much less freelancing work than standard, so I set a decrease aim for Q1 vs Q2. 

How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

The way to Do It

Usually, plan to make a bit much less within the first few weeks or months of the 12 months. You’ll progressively invoice extra as you deliver on new shoppers, elevate your charges, or get higher at utilizing your freelancing hours effectively.

Take into consideration occasions of the 12 months if you’re prone to have trip, household commitments, or different obligations affecting your freelancing time. For instance, the ultimate quarter ends on Dec eleventh, because it's my birthday on Dec twelfth, and I prefer to preserve work to a minimal for the remainder of the calendar 12 months.

Right here’s how your 12 months may break down for a $60,000 revenue aim:

  • Q1 (Jan-Mar): $13,000 (build up revenue)
  • Q2 (Apr-Jun): $16,000
  • Q3 (Jul-Sep): $18,000
  • This autumn (Oct-Dec): $13,000 (day off for Thanksgiving and Christmas)
How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

You’ll be able to then break down this aim by month, by week, and by day. You don’t must set this all out in the beginning of the 12 months (in reality, I like to recommend you don’t!) As a substitute, see what’s developing week by week and plan accordingly.

Step 4. Monitor All Your Freelancing Time

I received critical about monitoring my time throughout 2022 – and that is the one change that I consider made the most important distinction to my revenue that 12 months.

Monitoring my time confirmed me:

  • A few of my work was netting me near $200/hour. Different work was bringing in additional like $120/hour. Realizing that made it straightforward to know which shopper’s work to prioritize.
  • Some duties took longer than I assumed they did (like getting ready invoices). Earlier than monitoring, I typically mentally discounted this sort of admin time, forgetting to actually plan for it in my week.
  • I labored fewer hours than I assumed, normally simply 15-20 hours per week. 

The act of monitoring my time inspired me to give attention to billable duties, like finishing articles for shoppers, relatively than non-billable work, like writing emails. This paid off rather well when it comes to my revenue within the medium time period, although now, in 2024, I’m including in additional time on advertising and networking once more so I can proceed to develop my enterprise.

The way to Do It

There are a great deal of completely different apps that can assist you observe your time. Having experimented with a couple of, I discover that Clockify is one of the best match for me.

How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

If you happen to don’t wish to use an app, you may prefer to strive monitoring your time utilizing a spreadsheet in 15- or 30-minute intervals. 

Step 5. Ringfence Your Working Hours

I’m positive I’m not the one freelancer who finds that if you’re working from residence, and also you don’t have set hours (or a boss), it’s very straightforward for all types of non-work duties to creep into your day.

Whether or not it’s popping to the shop for a lacking ingredient for dinner, switching the laundry to the dryer, or chatting to a pal on the telephone, you may discover that your working time is getting interrupted or chopped up.

Some flexibility isn’t any unhealthy factor; in reality, it would properly be why you selected to freelance within the first place. However flexibility can turn into an issue should you’re always including only one thing more into your day … which means that you just’re dropping hours of productive time over the course of every week. 

The way to Do It

You may discover that it helps to:

  • Have particular “begin” and “cease” occasions to your freelance day. (My day is book-ended by my youngsters’ begin and finish occasions at college.)
  • Have time allotted elsewhere for non-work admin and chores, so these don’t find yourself creeping into your work day. 
  • Hold your work to-dos and your life to-dos in separate to-do lists. That would imply two lists inside one app (or paper planner), otherwise you may even use two completely different apps.

Step 6. Increase Your Charges if You Haven’t Carried out So Just lately

One of many causes my freelance revenue rose was as a result of a shopper who accounted for an honest chunk of my revenue elevated by pau from $0.20/phrase to $0.25/phrase. 

I used to be fortunate I didn’t must ask in that occasion, however I’ve typically put up my charges and have by no means had any pushback. Final 12 months, I raised one other shopper’s fee from $0.13/phrase to $0.15/phrase.

You may discover these charges are fairly completely different! Don’t be afraid to set completely different charges for various shoppers primarily based on what the work includes. As an example, my higher-paying shopper’s work required much more analysis than the lower-paying shopper’s work, and it additionally typically meant tackling requested edits.

The way to Do It

Elevating your charges as a freelancer could be daunting: you could be anxious about dropping an excellent shopper. Bear in mind, this can be a regular a part of doing enterprise, and your shopper may be very prone to take it utterly of their stride.

I discover that it’s easiest to tackle newer shoppers at the next fee after which progressively elevate the speed for older shoppers to match. I intention to offer shoppers at the very least a full month’s warning that my fee might be going up.

Step 7. Use Timers to Hold You Centered and Productive

In addition to monitoring my freelancing time, I additionally use timers to maintain me centered … chances are you’ll discover this a bit an excessive amount of, however it’s positively value a strive.

I usually set my timer for 15 to half-hour, which helps me keep laser-focused. After the timer goes off, I’ll both set it once more for a similar job, swap to one thing else, or take a break.

Typically, I’ll intention to finish a sure job (e.g., drafting a piece of an article, writing a top level view) earlier than the time goes off – I positively discover this helps me pace up and work extra effectively. I additionally use the timer at factors the place I could be combating my focus.

The way to Do It

I exploit a bodily timer dice (I at present have the TickTime Cube) or set a timer on Alexa. You possibly can use your telephone … however I discover I simply get distracted within the act of setting the timer if I spot a brand new notification!

If you happen to’re struggling to focus otherwise you’re procrastinating about beginning an enormous job, setting a 10-minute timer and promising your self you’ll focus for these 10 minutes may also help you get transferring.

Step 8. Attempt Creating and Promoting Digital Merchandise

A small share of my revenue – about 3.5 p.c in 2021 to 2022 and simply 0.9 p.c in 2022 to 2023 – was from promoting my very own digital merchandise. 

How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too)

This wasn’t a very important revenue stream, however it did lead to an revenue enhance in months the place I wasn’t doing a lot freelancing (I typically run Summer season and Winter gross sales, as an example, as that matches with once I’m taking a while off from freelancing).

In 2024, I’m specializing in rising this side of my enterprise: it’ll give me much more flexibility and a better incomes potential, plus I really like creating my very own merchandise. As a part of this, I’m engaged on rising my newsletter list to construct a bigger viewers of potential prospects.

The way to Do It

There are every kind of digital merchandise you could possibly promote: assume ebooks, e-courses, templates, printables, apps, and extra! You’ll want some type of on-line platform of your personal – that may very well be a web site/weblog, Instagram account, Fb group, e mail record, or anyplace which you can promote your merchandise to your followers.

Step 9. Hold Experimenting With New Strategies to Develop

All of the above steps helped me improve my freelance revenue considerably … however I didn’t wish to cease there! In the course of the 2023-2024 tax 12 months, I did a few extra issues to proceed to develop, albeit extra progressively. You may wish to give these a strive, too.

Taking On Further Freelancing Duties

Typically, you may be capable of up your revenue by taking up an additional job for an current shopper. Certainly one of my freelance writing shoppers requested me if I may format and add weblog articles for him, as this was an actual bottleneck in his course of.

I agreed to do that at an hourly fee and created a complete guidelines to comply with, so it turned an easy, low-energy, and low-stress job. Not solely did this imply extra billable work for every article I wrote, it additionally meant I may write extra articles, as I used to be conserving the pipeline of recent posts flowing.

The way to Do It

Choose a shopper you take pleasure in working with and ask if there are any additional duties you could possibly tackle. Some potentialities are:

  • Writing briefs for articles so the shopper doesn’t must prep these
  • search engine optimization optimizing articles in accordance with the shopper’s preferences
  • Making ready e mail newsletters or social media posts primarily based on an article 

Working With an Accountability Coach

I didn’t fairly meet my revenue aim for the 2022 calendar 12 months. In November 2023, I began working with an accountability coach, Blake Stratton. I discovered teaching invaluable to assist me push to fulfill my revenue aim in 2023: specifically, it helped me do higher at ringfencing my freelancing time and at avoiding distractions.

The way to Do It

Teaching is an excellent method to put money into your self as you develop your online business – but when one-to-one teaching isn’t inexpensive, you could possibly have a look at peer help. That may imply becoming a member of a supportive on-line group or working with an accountability buddy, the place you share your objectives and mutually help each other.

Dealing with Elements Outdoors Your Direct Management

All of the above concepts are ones you could possibly replicate or management. However some modifications could be outdoors your direct management. You do nonetheless have some affect over these.

As an example, within the 2023 to 2024 tax 12 months, I landed a brand new higher-paying shopper due to a former colleague who was now in a advertising/enhancing position. You’ll be able to’t power one thing like that to occur – the supply got here out of the blue, for me – however you may make it extra possible.

As an example, you could possibly:

  • Sustain with previous contacts and let folks know should you’re in search of extra work
  • Write visitor posts to get your identify on the market (significantly should you can write for blogs that your perfect shoppers are prone to learn)
  • Preserve good relationships with editors and shoppers who may move your identify on to people who find themselves in search of a author

Your Plan for Rising Your Freelance Writing Earnings Over the Subsequent 12 months

Are you prepared to extend your freelance writing revenue? Let’s run by means of a very powerful steps from above to get you began.

  1. Set your revenue aim. Goal to be each formidable and real looking! Solely what meaning in your circumstances. It could be a 25 p.c improve, a 50 p.c improve, or perhaps a 100% improve in your revenue from final 12 months.
  2. Break down your aim by quarter, then by month, so should you’re on observe.
  3. Search for the best wins first: ones that don’t require working any additional hours. That would imply:
    1. Bettering your focus, so that you’re getting extra carried out in the identical period of time.
    2. Monitoring your time so you’ll be able to see precisely which gigs are value essentially the most to you per hour.
    3. Elevating your charges so that you make more cash for a similar quantity of labor.
  4. When taking up additional work, begin along with your present shoppers: that is simpler and sooner than trying to find brand-new shoppers. Provide to tackle extra of the identical (e.g., six articles per thirty days as a substitute of 4), counsel additional duties you could possibly sort out, or ask in the event that they know anybody who wants a author.

You can also make an excellent dwelling as a contract author. My revenue in 2024 appears set to place me inside the highest 10 p.c of staff within the UK regardless of working part-time hours – by no means greater than 20 per week – and taking quite a lot of day off throughout college breaks. It took me 16+ years to get to that time, however you could possibly do it a lot sooner utilizing the concepts above. Even simply implementing one or two of them may make an enormous distinction to the place you might be in a 12 months’s time.

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