Professional Development

Advice for new freelancers (part 3 of 3)

And learn how much other freelancers are making 👀

A painting of a clouds at sunset on the left and a painting of a sunflower on the right

We’re now into the third and final newsletter in my series of tips for people who want to freelance full-time!

In the first two newsletter editions (which you can find here and here), the focus was on laying the groundwork to give your freelance business enough time to succeed. Namely, by getting a full-time job first and building your savings.

So now, let’s talk about the actual freelancing work you’ll do. I’ve got 3 points:

1. Decide your freelance service

This is the service you’ll offer to clients. Ideally, it should be at the intersection of:

  • What you like to do
  • What you’re good at
  • What people will pay you to do

For me, this was writing. If you aren’t sure what this is for you, check out 49 ideas here.

And don’t worry about getting your service right the first time. You can always change it later.

In fact, it might help to explore different services, and different service specialisations, before deciding on your exact offerings.

For example, you may start out as a freelance videographer and shoot all sorts of videos, from wedding videos to corporate videos, before deciding to specialise in wedding videography.

But maybe after some time, you think corporate videography is more lucrative due to the opportunity for recurring work (more about this in a bit).

In this case, you can pivot to offering corporate videography services instead! It’s your business, so you can do what you want.

Just be aware you may have to rebuild your portfolio and client base whenever you change your services. So, give yourself enough time and financial resources to make the transition successfully.

2. Pick recurring work if possible

Recurring work means you regularly—and preferably frequently—get projects from the same client.

It’s awesome for a few reasons:

  • You get stable, predictable income: If your client books you for 2 projects per month for the next 3 months and each project is worth $X, you know that you will earn at least $2X for the next 3 months.
  • You don’t need to work so hard to constantly get clients: If your current clients keep sending projects your way, you can spend less time on getting work and more time on doing the work itself. (Though I don’t recommend getting complacent and completely stopping your efforts to get new clients. More on this here)

Let’s go back to the wedding/corporate videography example to illustrate the second reason.

Most people marry only once in their lifetime, so the chances of a wedding video client asking you to shoot another wedding video for them are quite low. And they probably won’t come back to you for a new video so soon either.

Which means once you’ve finished their project, you’ll have to find another client to keep the money coming in.

In contrast, when you shoot videos for businesses, the client might want a video for one campaign, then engage your video services again for another campaign down the road, and so on.

(I’m thinking of Shopee’s cringy monthly sales videos here…ha…haaa…)

So, when you’re deciding on your freelance service, see if you can offer packages for recurring work. You can always leave space in your schedule for one-off projects that interest you.

(And if you’re a wedding videographer reading this, I’m not saying you’ve picked a lousy service to offer and that you should switch services. If you love what you do and it pays you well, that’s great!

You may just need to work a little harder to keep your schedule full and continue doing the work you enjoy.)

3. After deciding on your service, your priority is to get work

No, it is NOT to do up your website or design your logo. Or, I don’t know, write a business continuity plan.

It’s possible to get clients without these in place. And in the beginning, you should.

Because getting your first few jobs—and seeing the money come in!—will build your confidence. You’ll then be motivated to continue growing your business instead of giving up too quickly.

And as you keep marketing yourself, and keep getting jobs, and keep bringing in income…you may suddenly realise you’ve made it as a freelancer. 😉

So go out and find people willing to pay you for your skills ASAP! This blog post might help if you need tips on getting clients fast.

You can perfect your fancy marketing assets later!

And that’s it! I hope you’ve found this series useful. I didn’t expect it to be so long lol.

As mentioned, you can check out part 1 of this series here, and part 2 here.

All the best for your freelancing adventure. If you have questions, feel free to write to me and I’ll do my best to help!

More freelancer news

Here’s how much other freelancers are making

I attended an event organised by Creatives@Work a while back. During this event, they shared some survey stats on how much the freelancers in their network are earning.

(Creatives@Work is a media agency that engages freelancers for client projects. Okay, that sounds like most agencies. But they’re quite active in supporting freelancers and promoting freelancing as the future of work)

They’ve since published the stats into a report, which you can download here after you provide your email address.

But here are some of the juicy numbers if you don’t want to do that:

  • 36% of freelancers (in the C@W network) earn $3,001 to $5,000 per month
  • 33% of C@W’s freelancers earn more than $5,000 per month
  • 47.9% of these freelancers charge $30–$80 per hour
  • The highest monthly revenue at least one freelancer in their network has earned is $70,000 per month, while the lowest is $2,000 per month

Take these numbers with a pinch of salt.

During the event, C@W gave disclaimers like how these numbers aren’t:

  • Broken down by industry, or
  • Based on whether the survey respondents freelance full-time or part-time (because people who spend more time freelancing will generally earn more from it)

And the report also doesn’t say how many freelancers were surveyed. At most, it mentions that C@W engages 330+ freelancers every year.

So, the numbers may not be the most helpful for comparing against your situation.

The report also discusses some other things you may find useful, like:

  • The percentages of C@W freelancers who operate under various business structures
  • Whether freelancing is a sustainable career
  • Traits of people who have made freelancing a sustainable career
  • Soft skills and traits that will help in managing a freelance business

Download the report here to learn more.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 12 Oct 2023. If you liked it, you can sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

Leave a Response