Do you have an appetite for growth, but aren’t quite sure how to boost your income? This post is for you.
When you started your business, you put in a lot of hard work. At some point, though, all that work paid off; you achieved a certain level of success and became what many would call “established.” You’re making good money, you have a consistent roster of customers, and your company is financially successful.
If you’re at this point, you usually have 1 of 2 options: Remain where you are or pursue even more growth. If you’re happy where you are, that’s perfectly okay! After all, not everyone wants to grow year-over-year because their priorities and goals are different.
- 1. Charge Per Project (And Not Per Hour)
- Flaws of Charging Per Hour
- 2. Increase Your Rates With New Prospects
- 3. Improve Your Productivity
- Strategies for Improving Productivity
- 4. Upsell Existing Clients
- Strategies for Upselling Clients
- 5. Let Existing Clients Know About *All* Your Services
- 6. Ruthlessly Evaluate and Update Your Services
- 7. Awaken Dormant Clients
- Strategies for Reengaging Dormant Clients
- 8. Nurture Leads
- 9. Ask for Referrals
- 10. Get Clients on Retainers
- Bonus: A Passive Income Stream
But if you’re hungry to grow and earn extra income—but aren’t quite sure how to get the ball rolling on making money—then you’re in the right place. In this post, we explore 10 creative ways you can increase your pay, make money fast, and take your company to the next level—with plenty of extra dollars in your pocket.
And the good news? Implementing these strategies to generate more cash won’t require nearly as much effort as starting your business. Sure, you’ll still need to put in some effort to make money and increase your income, but it’s just a different type of effort. One where you think about your business in a different way—a smarter way.
Let’s take a look at how to increase your income, improve your cash flow, and generate the extra income you need to knock your financial goals out of the park.
1. Charge Per Project (And Not Per Hour)
Charging per hour may seem ideal. You simply track the time you spend on a project and send the client an invoice for those billable hours. While charging per hour has its place and sometimes cannot be avoided, there are flaws.
Flaws of Charging Per Hour
- You don’t get rewarded for becoming better and faster at completing the work
- Some clients may question your hourly rates and haggle over the price
- Too much emphasis is placed on the time it takes to complete the project and not on the value
That’s why one effective way to increase your income (and increase your income quickly) is shifting to a per-project pricing model.
When you price per project, you shift focus to the value and you get rewarded for getting faster and better at your work. This can not only help you hit your financial goals faster, but can free up spare time to take on more client work—which can help you earn even more extra money on your own schedule.
Tip: If you want to explore the power of value-based pricing and how it will help you grow your business grab a free copy of Breaking the Time Barrier.
2. Increase Your Rates With New Prospects
Most freelancers focus on filling their pipeline with more work. There’s nothing wrong with marketing and getting more clients, and we do recommend it, but many overlook increasing their rates or don’t do it out of fear that they’ll chase prospects away.
Many also decide on a rate, then falsely believe that this is the going rate in the market and continue to charge that rate with all future clients. Sound like you? Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth and I learned this while building my business over the past 2 years.
When I started, I charged $50 for a blog post to get experience, but as I progressed in my career, I increased that rate to over $300 for a single blog post.
Periodically raising your rates is an important part of hitting your financial goals, achieving financial independence, and consistently bringing more money into your business.
But, by how much should you raise your rates with new clients? While there’s no magic number, Ed Gandia suggests you increase it by 20% with all new clients. You can also set a minimum investment for new projects you’ll take on (e.g., you won’t consider a new job or working with a company on a new project unless it will bring in at least $500 of additional income).
And if you think this is too much, don’t. If you provide a quality service that existing customers are happy with, test the waters. We’re not saying you should rip people off, but what we are saying is that you should test your assumptions and get paid well for the services you provide.
3. Improve Your Productivity
Pick any typical project you complete for a client. Maybe it’s designing a website, writing copy, or even snapping some photos and then editing those photos with your editing software.
Regardless of the project, the chances are good that you have a rough idea of how much time it takes to complete those projects (if you don’t, start tracking your time).
Now imagine you could complete those same projects in less time and still get paid the same amount. That’s the power of improved productivity. But how exactly do you boost productivity? Here are a few ways.
Strategies for Improving Productivity
- Use the 50-20-50 focus technique: Dedicate 50-minute blocks of time for intense work, take a break for 20 min, and then repeat that 50-minute session
- Outsource tasks to a virtual assistant, hire contractors, or get extra staff on board so you can free up time to focus on client work and marketing
- Automate cumbersome manual processes such as your accounting and bookkeeping with cloud accounting software
4. Upsell Existing Clients
Your existing clients are the easiest people to sell to. Because they have already worked with you, they know you’re a reliable source and partner—which means they’re more likely to want to additionally invest in your business or services.
And no, that’s not a sweeping statement—it’s backed up by some solid stats: Current customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more compared to new prospects—which means tapping into your existing customer base is a great way to generate more income (and a bigger paycheck).
And a great way to tap into that network to bring in more money? Upselling. I took this approach in my business. After initially offering blogging services to a client, I proposed a larger and more lucrative writing project: eBooks. And, guess what? It worked! I have since written 3 eBooks for them.
You too can upsell by using these 3 strategies.
Strategies for Upselling Clients
- Provide a better version of your work. This strategy may include crafting different packages you can offer: One at a low price and another at a higher one.
- Present extra services to help clients with their workload. You could provide a turnkey service instead of a single service. For example, if you write copy, you could partner with a graphic design specialist who can create infographics.
- Stay in tune with what your clients want. You may start working with a client by offering a particular service but then discover that their needs change. Adapt to those changes and give them a solution that helps them solve their problems.
5. Let Existing Clients Know About *All* Your Services
Sometimes a client approaches you for a specific project and in haste to get started, you fail to mention all the services you provide.
They then continue to see you as the go-to person for that service and hire other professionals for a service they believe you don’t offer. In these instances, you’re losing money by not educating your prospects on what exactly it is that you do.
The solution is to show your cards at the beginning of the relationship by letting the client know that while you can help them with [insert service], you also offer other services.
If you have a side hustle that’s unrelated to your core business, you can also let them know about that side job. For example, let’s say your main gig is providing business and investing consulting to companies—but you also do some copywriting work on the side. Letting your clients know about your copywriting services could open the door to new work (e.g., helping a consulting client write content for their new online sites).
It also pays to periodically remind clients during the year about the services you offer, especially if you’ve updated your list of services or learned new skills to remain relevant in the market. That way, if and when they need something you offer, you’ll be top of mind—and be able to jump on the opportunity to make money and bring additional cash into your small business.
6. Ruthlessly Evaluate and Update Your Services
Regardless of your industry, markets, customer needs and interests can and do change. You need to ask yourself:
- Am I staying current and adding services that would generate more revenue?
- Am I staying on top of new trends and techniques to remain current and relevant?
Sometimes clients may be tempted to work with another professional because those professionals are helping clients stay ahead of trends. But, if you become the go-to person for that and update your services, you’ll never have to worry about losing those clients.
Tip: The best way to stay relevant is to build relationships with clients to understand how their challenges evolve. You could, for example, send your client a survey once a year to understand their problems. This is a low-cost (and, in certain cases, completely free) way to do market research, which can help you better serve your customers in the future—and make extra cash in the process.
7. Awaken Dormant Clients
Do you have any current clients for whom you’ve done a few projects in the past, but have now fallen off the radar? If you take the right approach, you can reengage these clients to boost your income quickly.
Here are a few ways to recapture the interest of dormant clients and get them to reengage in your company and spend more money.
Strategies for Reengaging Dormant Clients
- Send a friendly email or social media message checking in to ask if they need help and if there are projects on the horizon.
- Create a document that outlines a few ideas that can help their business. I recently did this with a client who currently provides me with occasional work. While I’ve yet to hear back from her, I know that this tactic may bear fruit in the future.
- Start a newsletter and ask if they want to join the list. Newsletters are a fantastic way to nurture leads.
8. Nurture Leads
It’s also common to reach out to prospects only to find that:
- The timing is poor
- They can’t fit you into their budget
- They have everything sorted in-house
I’ve encountered this often with clients who ask me to reach out in the future as they’re not ready to invest now—but they expect things may change. I invariably do this and in some instances use the same tactics listed in the previous section.
While this works, there is also a better way: Nurturing leads by starting a newsletter. Sending an email once a month with some content ideas, and just generally reminding them you’re still alive and providing your services, keeps you top-of-mind. So, when clients do eventually decide to bring someone on board, chances are good you’ll be the first person they think of.
Not only is this a great way to nurture leads, it’s also a way to build new skills (e.g., copywriting and design), which can help you raise your rates and bring more money into your company.
9. Ask for Referrals
A recent study shows that 85% of small businesses get customers through word-of-mouth, which is 26% higher than the second most popular method—search engines. Referrals are an incredibly powerful way to grow your business—and to leverage a current job or relationship into a new job or relationship.
Just think about it: If someone loves your work and refers you to a contact, that contact has a higher chance of converting (and bringing more money to your business!) simply because the referral comes from a credible source.
If you want to increase your income through referrals, you need to be proactive. So, while you can expect to get some referrals without asking, you can—and should—make a habit of actively asking for them. I know what you may be thinking: But won’t that come off as desperate? The short answer is no.
If you do it correctly, by methodically asking once in a while, clients will understand. After all, you have a business to run—and looking for ways to generate extra income, including by asking for referrals, is a part of that. Also, it boils down to how you ask. Approach it the wrong way, and you may indeed come across as desperate.
I usually send an email every quarter asking for a referral. I also only focus on my best clients—the ones I have a good relationship with.
You can ask them to personally refer friends or family members they think would be a good fit for your services—or you could ask them to spread the word more widely across their network (e.g., make a post on their social media account). This can be a great way to get a lot of new customers in the door (and the extra money that comes with them) in a short period.
If you need help asking for referrals, read this Entrepreneur article titled “25 Ways to Ask for a Referral Without Looking Desperate.”
10. Get Clients on Retainers
Retainers are a great way to generate a recurring income stream each month. While you can push for retainer agreements with all prospects, focus on quick wins instead by reaching out to people you’ve worked with before and who are on the fence about hiring you.
Those clients may have tight budgets and retainers provide great perceived value. For example, you could propose a slight discount if a client decides to go for an all-inclusive monthly package vs. a single service. Sure, some freelancers will argue that offering a discount is a no-no, but if you’ve done the numbers and found it to be a beneficial arrangement, then why not provide one?
Tip: If you do decide to pitch a retainer to a client, set up a recurring invoice schedule using cloud accounting software like FreshBooks so that the invoice goes out like clockwork each month, without you lifting a finger.
By setting a regular schedule for invoices, you also get clients into the habit of paying you on a set schedule, which prevents late payment.
Bonus: A Passive Income Stream
Passive income refers to products or strategies that drive revenue long after you’ve actually put in the initial work of creating the product or setting up the strategy. Essentially, passive income allows you to just sit back and make money (not as easy as it sounds).
Depending on your business—small business, side hustle, or growing business—passive income can look very different. It will also take shape differently. There is a huge variety of digital products and content you can create to share your expertise, including:
- Worksheets or checklists
- Online courses or webinars
- Educational videos
If you’re an established business owner who’s comfortable with where you are, that’s okay. But, if you’re looking to take your business to the next level, then these 10 strategies for how to increase your income will help you get there.
You don’t have to implement these strategies all at once. In fact, we recommend that you only pick a few and focus on those before moving on to others. Dedicate a small amount of time each day to see how you can optimize these strategies. It doesn’t have to be hours upon hours of work—15 minutes a day will work.
Over time, that 15 minutes will add up. That’s 1 hour and 15 minutes a work week, 5 hours a month, and 150 hours a year (give or take). Before you know it, those small changes can add up to massive changes down the line.
So, what are you waiting for? Get started today.
This post was updated in March 2022.