The one simple secret for earning top freelance pay

December 6, 2010 by Dean Rieck
Filed under: Freelancing 

high freelance earningsYou can do all sorts of creative promotions and aggressive marketing to increase your value to clients.

But in the end, it’s what you deliver with your freelance services that will make or break your business.

Quality work is the best marketing there is.

Many freelancers or those considering freelancing sometimes want the quick and easy way to achieve the high pay they’ve heard is possible.

But the fact is, there is no shortcut. You have to be good at what you do. Clients must value the service you are selling to them.

Even marketing that is pure genius won’t take you from earning $50 an hour to earning $250 an hour. Marketing opens doors. After that, you have to come through with great work to earn top freelance pay.

With experience, you will come to know the standards in your chosen specialty. But from your first project, and on every project, large or small, you must strive to deliver the best work you are capable of within the time available.

Clients don’t expect brilliance, but they do expect quality.

How can you be sure you are delivering top-notch work? Here are a few things you should be doing all the time:

  • Stay up-to-date in your field of expertise by reading the top journals and magazines.
  • Study the work of others in your line of work and learn from it.
  • Adhere to your field’s code of ethics and be sure that your clients do too. The DMA’s Guidelines for Ethical Business Practice is just one set of ethics you may want to follow.
  • Charge what a project is worth to give yourself the motivation to do quality work.
  • Insist on reasonable deadlines and turn down rush jobs that will encourage hack-level performance.
  • Ask questions, read books, attend seminars, and keep learning.
  • Be a leader in your field, because there’s no better way to create a professional mindset.
  • Guard your reputation and never do anything that would tarnish it.
  • Keep your various skill sets fresh with classes, certification, or whatever your specialty demands.
  • Get to know fellow professionals to give yourself a point of reference for what is expected of you.
  • Enjoy your work and always strive to improve each day.

There’s a lot more to achieving high pay and respect as a freelance pro, but doing high-level work on a regular basis is always the place to start.

And it’s the ideal way to increase your pay even if you’re already making good income.

What do you do to make yourself valuable to clients?

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  3. 5 simple ways to become a confident copywriter

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Smart Comments

6 Comments on The one simple secret for earning top freelance pay

  1. Andrew B. on Dec 7th, 2010 9:12 am
  2. Hi Dean,

    Great info, as always. I’m curious — do you find that is it generally preferable to bill by the project, or bill by the hour? And should the cost or the hourly rate be the very very very last thing I reveal, or should it be out front from the beginning?

  3. Dean Rieck on Dec 7th, 2010 10:35 am
  4. Andrew,
    See this:

    Don’t try to hide your fees or stall on quoting. You’ll just waste your time if you keep talking to a client who can’t afford you. And you can rarely talk anyone into changing their perception about the cost.

  5. Andrew B. on Dec 7th, 2010 1:02 pm
  6. Very cool, Dean — thank you. I absolutely LOVE the idea of clients buying expertise, not time.

  7. Anita Cooper on Dec 8th, 2010 9:07 am
  8. Loved your article Dean. As always, you deliver timely, useful info that gets right to the heart of the matter!

    I can remember when I was doing the 9 to 5 grind being strapped with co-workers who were…let’s just say “unenthusiastic” about their work, yet still got paid for doing substandard work. Drove me nuts!

    Thanks for the great advice!

  9. steven reese on Jan 4th, 2011 10:27 am
  10. Great info. I am currently trying to make my way as a professional medical writer. I am an LPN and I am learning and applying what I learn from internet classes. Do you find the internet a better place to learn freelance than say, official college classes?

  11. Dean Rieck on Jan 4th, 2011 11:53 am
  12. Steven,
    I’m not aware of where there’s a college class on freelancing. For most people, it’s a do-it-yourself thing. You can almost certainly learn a lot about it on this blog and others. Just be sure you’re getting advice from people who have had success at it (i.e. doing it full time and earning good money for a long time).