I'm all right jack keep your hands off my stack

Too Busy Making Money to Make Money

I’ve found that a lot of freelancers out there (myself included) have fallen into a trap of working too hard to make too little. Some of that goes back panic (read a little on that in an older post) and some of that goes to picking the wrong clients.

But the fact remains that if you chase too many $100 projects, you will miss out on too many $1000 projects. If you sell your services cheaply, you will be in a hole – you’ll wind up too busy making money to make money.

stackFreelancing can be a feast-or-famine proposition, and weathering the famine will make you realize that you want the feast. One way to keep the feast going is to charge enough for what you do and pick up clients that will pay you what you’re worth. If your power bill is due, you need money – but will you take a $100 logo design job in order just to pay it, when you know you should be charging $500? I know the need for money NOW – but I also know that planning ahead will help you avoid having to take a million bad projects just to keep your head above water.

What I’ve done – and I challenge you to do, too, is sit down and write out a real monthly budget. Figure out your bills – and estimate high. Figure out how much you need for groceries and entertainment. Figure out your needs for salary (yeah – pay yourself) and how much you’d like to set aside for the future. Now – add it all up and and divide that by 22, which is the number of work days in a 4 week month, minus weekends.

That will give you a figure of what you need to bank each and every day. Now, the hard part is going out and finding the projects that will pay that every day. The more realistic approach is to find the total number and then build enough projects to fit into that amount. Then, every month – try to find projects to fill that amount or more.

A little forethought will keep you from scrambling to make ends meet, and it’ll keep you from having to kill yourself and your opportunities with too many little, unsatisfying jobs.

If you can make it all with one project that will take you 2 hours – go for it! Imagine how great it would be to meet your monthly nut and have all those extra hours left!

(yeah, I’m still trying to find out how that feels, too…)

2 replies
  1. Adrian | Rubiqube
    Adrian | Rubiqube says:

    Great post, Jim! I totally agree with you and this is my advice to freelancers also: start looking for those quality / well budgeted projects! If you spend too much time on crummy jobs, you’ll soon spend all your time on crummy jobs.

    After about one year of being a full-time freelancer, I can say that I now set my goals a lot higher than when I first started out. And you know what? I make more money now and have more time on my hands.

    Like you said: start getting payed for what you’re worth!


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