It’s taken years to build my freelancing income but I now make thousands a month and have more clients than I need

I’ve been freelancing since 2006 though much of that time was on a very limited basis. I started full-time freelancing in 2013 and love the freedom I get from running my own home business. It takes a while to build a real stream of freelancing income but I made more last month than I ever did at a traditional 9-to-5 job.

This is my first freelancing income report though I plan on updating the blog each month. I’ve actually been transitioning away from freelancing as my five blogs start becoming a bigger source of income but freelancing will be a big part of my work from home money for quite a while.

Scroll down after reading the freelancing income report below to learn how to find freelancing clients for your new home business.

March Freelancing Income Report

The largest part of my March freelancing income was a three-month blog management contract for $2,500 a month. A lot of bloggers offer some kind of management or content service to other bloggers. PsychCentral reports that upwards of 95% of blogs fail, most within six months of starting. Blog for even a year and you’ll learn a ton of information that can help a blog succeed and that info is valuable to new bloggers and corporate sites. In just the three months I worked on the owner’s two blogs, I doubled traffic to the site from Google search and from social platforms.

2016 freelancing income reportI had previously written articles for the two blogs when the blog owner emailed me about managing the sites for a few months to boost traffic. Referrals and repeat business are about my only source of freelancing clients now. My own blogs and existing clients are more than I need so I don’t do any marketing or outreach.

I made $1,500 last month writing investment analysis for two clients, StreetAuthority and ProfitableTrading. I’ve been writing for the investing sites since 2012, anywhere from two to four articles a week along with a few annual reports for their newsletters.

My longest-running client, FinQuiz, is a study program provider for the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. I write a weekly post to their blog on how to study for the exam and about the CFA curriculum. I’ve been writing for the blog for nearly five years and the posts are fairly easy to write since I spent so much time studying for the CFA myself. I get $300 a month for four posts, well under my normal rate for other articles but the posts only take me an hour to write.

I made a total of $4,300 in freelancing income for March, along with the $2,279 I made from blogging and self-publishing.

How to Find Freelancing Clients and Make Thousands a Month

To be honest, my first freelancing job was just to pay for a vacation. I was tired of my 9-to-5 life in corporate finance and needed a break. I had burnt myself out on working multiple jobs and saving every penny planning for early retirement. What I didn’t realize was that it wasn’t retirement that I needed but just a work-life I didn’t dread every morning.

When I found out how much money I could make freelancing and how much I loved being in control of my own financial future, I set out to make the side hustle a full-time goal.

The first rule of starting your freelancing business is to focus on what you know and enjoy. Spending 40+ hours a week doing anything has made you an expert in your job and it will give you a jumpstart on freelancing income. If you’re still unsure that you are ready to freelance your skills, consider taking a course or two on Udemy. The video learning website offers hours of video courses for as little as $15 and can get you up to speed on just about any topic.

Eventually, you might even consider putting your own courses up on Udemy to supplement your freelancing income.

udemy online freelancing income

A professional designation in your industry can help secure freelancing clients. It took three years and over 1,200 hours of self-studying to earn the CFA designation but I’ve gotten more clients than I can count by having those three little letters after my name. Make sure the designation or certificate is well-respected and something you can fit into your schedule.

It’ll take a little longer to get ready to freelance if you have absolutely no interest in freelancing the work you’ve been doing in your day job but it can be done. Even more important than your ability to do the work is the enjoyment you get from doing it. Freelancing isn’t easy and you’ll likely be working more hours than you did for an employer. I love being able to control how much I make but it wouldn’t be worth it if I didn’t enjoy writing investment analysis and blogging.

If you can’t enjoy your freelancing business, pick another freelance idea or just stick with your employer.

Getting your first freelancing clients will be frustrating at first. You’ll need a website to showcase your past work and help establish credibility. Check out this mega-post on how to start a blog along with a special offer on Blue Host WordPress hosting.

Get a free domain and monthly website hosting for just $3.95 from Blue Host

You may need to do a few projects on a pro-bono basis or put together a few work examples. I wrote a 20-page report on investing in Latin America and stock market integration in the region when I started. I wasn’t doing it for a client and it took weeks to finish but it was worth it. A journalist for Bloomberg saw the report and I was invited to talk at a conference in New York. After that, my client list filled up fast and I really haven’t had to do much marketing since 2012.

It’s best if you can do your sample work for a potential client. This will give you a testimonial from another business as well as a start on getting referrals to other clients. You might even be able to write off the time spent on your taxes if you do the work for a qualified non-profit organization. Use some of the resources below for finding clients and explain that you’re willing to work at a discounted rate or pro-bono to get their business.

Finding freelancing jobs is easy on job boards…but finding actual freelancing clients isn’t as easy. Many of the jobs you’ll find on sites like Upwork and Freelancer are never filled and there are a million+ freelancers all applying for the same work. Many of the clients on these sites are looking for the cheapest options and the competition from Asian and Eastern European freelancers usually bid these jobs down to under $10 an hour. The job boards can still be a good place to get started but you’ll need a strong website and work examples to prove your expertise is worth the higher hourly rate.

My two favorite ways to get clients is by guest posting and going directly to potential clients. Providing a guest post on blogs related to your service isn’t just for aspiring freelance writers. Research the most popular blogs related to your service through a Google search or through a blogger outreach tool like InkyBee.

  • Send an email to the blog offering a guest post. Make sure you look for a posting policy on the site and spend a little time seeing what topics the blog covers.
  • Offer a choice of at least three topics you might write about and ask for at least one link back to your website in the post or in a biographical paragraph at the end.
  • The post shouldn’t be directly about your product or service but about a problem readers face. You’ll get a lot more freelancing clients by being a resource to the industry rather than trying to push your product or service.

Do some research into who is the most likely to need your freelancing service. Join a couple of groups related to your industry on Facebook. It’s a numbers game but you can get a lot of clients just by emailing out an introduction to potential customers. Post a weekly article on LinkedIn and contribute to group discussions. Note the people that are most active in the groups and who you might be able to help.

Don’t be discouraged when your inbox doesn’t fill up immediately with job offers. One of the biggest advantages of freelancing is that you can do it on a casual part-time basis until you build the freelancing income to transition full-time. I only made a few hundred a month freelancing for almost a year until I really started getting clients but it’s built to several thousand and it’s all from referrals now. In next month’s freelancing income report, we’ll talk about how much to charge for freelancing projects.

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