How to Increase Your Freelance Income (Without Landing New Clients)

Oct 10, 2016

When you think about becoming a freelancer, it’s all too easy to fill your mind with days spent doing the thing you love—whether that’s writing, designing, photography, or something different.

But, as you likely already know, there are a lot of other little administrative things that manage to get in the way. And, one of those things that manages to be incredibly time-consuming? Marketing your business in order to land new clients.

Yes, scoring new projects and building new relationships is exciting—there’s always a little bit of a thrill that comes along with it. But, it also involves a hefty amount of elbow grease on your end. Pitching that client, reviewing the contracts, figuring out payment, learning their workflows and systems—it all takes time and work that ends up being totally unbillable.

So, as much as I love scoring a new client, I’ve learned that the simplest, most efficient way to increase my income as a freelance writer is to use the clients I already have.

How? Well, let’s talk about it.

The Secret Sauce: Increasing Your Income With Your Existing Clients

I’ll cut to the chase and just let you in on how exactly I earn more from my existing clients (without raising my rates): I upsell them.

Upselling is key to increase your #freelance income without chasing #clients or raising rates: Click To Tweet

What exactly does that mean? Well, to put it simply, I offer them more work. Let’s say that I’m currently writing one piece per month for a current client. After establishing a solid reputation and relationship, I’ll offer to write two pieces per month, or even a piece per week. Or, perhaps I’d pitch an ebook to them to better engage their audience.

You get the point. Basically, you offer extended services (and, thus, more work) to the clients you already have. This increases your workload and your income, without having to go through all of those pesky steps to get started with an entirely new client. Magic, right?

How to Upsell Your Clients

Alright, that all sounds fine and good. But, now you’re left with the question of how exactly you go about upselling your existing clients. Won’t that seem pushy or aggressive? What if they think it’s so offensive, they end up totally putting an end to your relationship?

Believe me, I get it—these are all concerns I had before the first time I ended up putting this tactic into practice. But, I assure you, I’ve never actually had anything bad happen as a result of offering more to an existing client. In fact, most have taken me up on my offer. And, the ones that haven’t? They just respond by stating it’s not something they’re interested in at that time. No big deal.

So, now that you’re done panicking and huffing and puffing into that paper bag, let’s talk over some key tips to upsell your current clients.

1. Develop a Relationship First

If you only take one tip away from this post, let it be this one. It’s crucial that you develop a positive, established relationship before ever trying to upsell a client.

That means consistently turning in high-quality work, never missing deadlines, and always being communicative and courteous. Think about it this way: If you’ve proven to be great to work with, your client will be much more excited about the idea of working with you even more.

2. Listen Carefully

When pitching additional work or services to your clients, it’s best if you can make sure your suggestions are as relevant as possible to the company’s goals and future plans—which means you need to listen carefully to ensure you can pick up on those murmurs.

For example, if a company you’re working with has been talking about moving some dollars away from content marketing, it’s probably not a great time to pitch an entirely revamped blog strategy. But, if they’ve been talking about growing a more engaged customer base? That’s the perfect time to itch additional content.

Stay engaged and keep your finger on the pulse of the whole picture—and not just your own piece of the puzzle. You’re sure to see better results that way.

Increase Freelance Income

3. Emphasize Results

Speaking of results, they’re important for you to emphasize when suggesting more contract work to a client of yours. Of course, it’s going to mean more of an investment on their end—but, you want them to see it as more than just additional money out of their budget.

This is why it’s important that you emphasize what exactly the company will get out of this extra work you’d provide (aside from increased expenses). Would they get more organic promotion? A more connected audience? A resource they could offer to grow their email list? An improved online presence?

Emphasize those results when pitching your additional services. That’ll ensure the client doesn’t just see you as a freelancer chasing a couple of extra dollars.

4. Accept the Answer

Maybe your client will be thrilled that you’re willing to add more work to your plate. Or, perhaps it’s not something they’re interested in pursuing. Either way—you need to be prepared to accept their answer and move on immediately.

If you’re concerned with looking pushy, then you definitely don’t want to continue to press them after they’ve already declined. That’ll only lead to a strained relationship—and perhaps even losing your existing work with them.

So, accept their answer, thank them for their consideration, and keep doing an awesome job with the work you already have.

Over to You

Even if you only have one or a few clients under your belt right now, upselling is still a great strategy you can use to increase your income—without having to secure new relationships and projects.

So, this week, I want you to pitch additional services to one client that you already have a solid, established relationship with. After all, the best you can do is try.

Have burning freelance questions you need answered? Contact me, and your question could end up inspiring a whole dedicated post!