The cost of living seems to rise higher each year, and the job market is increasingly competitive. But technology is also giving people the information and platforms they need to keep pace. The gig economy is a great way to smooth your finances with some additional income.
Many people are turning to freelance work as a side hustle or even a replacement for their day jobs. But even as you gain traction in freelancing, the amount of money you earn will be constrained by time. Here are some ways to maximize your returns as a freelancer.
Subcontracting your work
When you’ve reached that point where you can no longer take on additional projects or clients, subcontracting your work to other freelancers can be an attractive option. It allows you to pass on some useful tasks to fellow freelancers in need of more work, and it will enable you to collaborate and grow your network.
Plus, if you know someone who is an expert at a particular aspect of the job that you haven’t mastered, letting them handle that sort of work will improve results. You’ll be able to step back into a more supervisory role. That allows you to focus on the overall quality and cohesion of the project.
However, subcontracting must be handled with care. Businesses consult with firms specialized in commercial contract law to make sure that third parties live up to their agreements; are you sure your contacts can deliver? How can you hold them accountable for quality and timeliness? And how much can you afford to pay them?
You’ll also have to decide on the ethics of subcontracting. Are you going to inform your clients that you won’t personally be carrying out all the work? Some might express concern with that after hiring you specifically based on your portfolio. Convincing them that this will work to their benefit is another challenge for you to deal with.
Outsourcing certain tasks
If delegating client work isn’t your style, you can still free up more time by outsourcing administrative tasks. Start with an app like RescueTime or Toggl to track your time usage. That will help you analyze if a lot of your hours are being spent on necessary things, but don’t generate value for you as a freelancer.
You might realize that seemingly minor tasks such as responding to emails or inquiries on social media are taking up a lot of your time. Or perhaps doing the numbers and tracking incomes and expenses is not something you enjoy. It’s vital to ensure that you’re doing profitable work, but you might be dragging your feet as you go about it.
The amount of time you spend doing such tasks can be put to work doing far more valuable things. Compute how much your time is worth by the hour. Then check out the freelance job market for virtual assistants. With the available talent in the international labor pool, you can probably find someone who can handle these tasks at a bargain rate.
Shifting away from services
While most freelancers would work around the constraints of time by finding ways to free up more hours, an alternative tack would be escaping the service-providing model altogether. After all, no matter how efficient you become, in the end, you’re still trading your time and effort for money in a fairly linear manner.
Sometimes, you can leverage the resources you’ve created as part of a freelance project. For example, you may have taken photos or rendered graphics for a client’s presentation. If the terms of your contract permit, you can upload them as standalone images to a site that can distribute them as stock. That will allow you to earn money on a royalty basis. While it’s unlikely to replace your freelance work, it’s not supposed to; it supplements your income without requiring additional time on your part.
You can also invest in creating and selling a standalone digital product. That could be a book or online course that shares your expertise, for instance. The principle is the same; a fixed amount of time and effort goes into creative work, and the potential revenues generated will only grow without requiring further input. How much you earn will vary, but you are no longer confined by the limitations of the service model.
We only have 24 hours each day, and some of that must always be set aside for rest and other basic needs. Understanding this cap on your freelance revenue, you can focus on maximum efficiency and find different ways to get around such limits, making it a genuinely profitable endeavor.