How To Make Money Freelancing Without Needing More Clients

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors. Disclaimer

Freelancing has a lot of perks to it: no boss, no set hours, and the ability to choose what work you do. However, there’s a downside. A good chunk of the freelancing industry is focused on providing individual services, which can make growth a difficult process. Despite this, you don’t always have to rely on taking on more clients when you want to make more money. This article will show you some of the strategies you can take on to make more money freelancing – without taking on more clients. 

The freelance client ceiling

If you try to grow solely by finding more clients, you eventually hit a ceiling on your earning potential. The only way to earn more is to: 

  • Take on another client
  • Raise your rates
  • Change your offerings to more high-value items 

Don’t lose your creativity

 Thinking more creatively about how you approach your business can open up a lot of opportunities when it comes to figuring out how to make money freelancing.  But when you take on more clients for the sake of trying to make more money, you risk burnout, lower quality work, or worse – both! Trading off your creativity as a freelancer presents more of the freelancer ceiling, as there’s only so much time you can devote to one of the two.

Increasing client load can also put you in a mental block – a sign that creativity is waning. A mental block is when we have too much work to do and our brains become overloaded – another reason taking on more clients is not always the answer to making more money

Do freelancers make good money?

With these scenarios in mind, it might make you think that freelancers don’t actually earn good money. This is far from the truth. While being a freelancer can take a lot of work, you can earn great money as a freelancer. In fact, one study found 75% of freelancers were earning the same or more freelancing as they did in their full time jobs.

How to make money freelancing without taking on extra clients

So – how can you make more money as a freelancer without needing to take on more clients? Here are 10 paths you can take.

1 – Sell products

Selling products is an easy way to extend the earning capacity of your business. Usually, freelancers can sell two kinds of products:

  1. Freelancer-focused: Products that help your fellow freelancers solve problems. For example, selling an ebook with your top performing sales scripts, email templates, or guides to handle upset customers. You can produce these for free using programs like Google Docs, then upload the PDF to a marketplace like Gumroad. From there, all you have to do is sell.
  1. Client-focused: Instead of publishing content for other freelancers, you can publish DIY products for clients. For instance, let’s say you’re a freelance audio engineer. Your primary work is setting up an audio system for clients. You could sell an inexpensive DIY guide that teaches clients how to set up their own audio system. Typically, this won’t affect your regular client base – the people who pay you because they don’t want to set up the systems themselves. Instead, this opens a new opportunity to sell to folks who can’t afford your full rate but can afford a less expensive DIY guide from an expert like you. 
  1. Other products: Another thing to consider is starting an ecommerce business on the side. This could involve anything from selling custom t-shirts to perfume. While these jobs might have nothing to do with your freelancing, they could just involve something you enjoy doing. 

2 – Courses

Offering courses can be a reliable avenue when it comes to making more money freelancing online. A course in many ways is an upgraded guide. Instead of just writing down something and selling an ebook, you explain a concept or explain how to solve a problem with video and other resources as well.These services take a more teacher-student approach, which increases their potential value. There are two ways to carry these services out:

  1. Live taught: with live taught sessions, you can charge way more because you offer your service to someone on demand, and personalize an experience for them.
  2. Pre-recorded: with pre-recorded sessions, although they tend to be more general in subject matter, they’re much easier to sell and distribute, as they are already recorded. 

Both of these services can be sold on existing markets like Udemy or Teachable making it easier to have some of the sales done for you. 

3 – Upsell and cross-sell

Businesses have a lot of problems – many of which they’d be willing to pay a freelancer to solve. So instead of always searching for new clients, try upselling and cross-selling your existing client base. Upselling is when you get them to buy more of what you’re already doing. Cross-selling is when they hire you for another project or to produce a different outcome. Both can increase your income without needing to find more clients. But in order to achieve this, you need to approach it from a business strategic view. 

Ask your clients questions about their business outcomes, goals, and their “selfish reasons” for doing things (a.k.a. What they get out of it). Making these interactions more casual can allow you to bring up other opportunities you want to present to them. 

For example, I know of one freelancer who was writing blogs for a startup, then that startup expanded into doing a podcast. Starting the podcast required someone to do basic audio editing and transcription, which was the perfect opportunity for the freelancer to upsell, and increase the cost of the client contract. 

4 – Affiliate and referral fees

Another thing you should consider when it comes to how to make money freelancing, is the people already in your network. You can make a lot of money referring people to freelancers you already know – upwards of hundreds of dollars per referral in some cases.

There are several platforms like Partnerstack or ShareASale where you can share trackable links with people and get paid when they sign up using your link. But make sure they’re platforms and services you actually recommend using! It’s important to show that you’re recommending something because it’s useful, and not just because you want the referral bonus. 

5 – Manage other freelancers

Sometimes a client needs more work than you can do, but they don’t want to work with anyone else. Or maybe you have too many offers for work from clients, and you don’t want to overload yourself. A good alternative to this is the option of managing other freelancers. 

There are a lot of freelancers who aren’t comfortable with sales or client management. They just want to do good work. You can help fill that gap. You provide more work and new clients to those other freelancers. In return, you keep a small percentage of the overall contract value. While you still have to pay fairly, there is value in managing the client relationship. If you’re making it easy for another freelancer to find work, you can absolutely take a small cut.

6 – Focus on high value jobs

Being a freelancer with a versatile skill set can really help you in the long run. But knowing which skills and jobs pay more can be even more valuable when it comes to making money freelancing. 

For example, you might have three different jobs in front you. If job A goes for $500, and job C only goes for $100, see if you can shift your business to only focus on job A. Even if job A takes three times as much time as C, your profit in the end will still be higher. Decisions like these allow you to cut down on potential costs, and save up on time – making potential profits even higher.

If you consider this strategy, make sure you assess what’s making you the most money, and the rates you can charge. Also make sure you prepare a portfolio of work that’s specific to the job you want to focus on. 

When you make this change, don’t forget to adjust your one liner, and notify your circle of clients to let them know what’s coming. You don’t necessarily have to tell people why you’re changing things up, just that you are. If anyone asks, you can share that you want to provide more value to clients and focus on your strengths as a freelancer.

7 – Monetize a newsletter

If you’re an expert on a certain topic, or really passionate about one, there are plenty of ways you can make money freelancing online. One avenue you could consider is starting a newsletter. 

There are newsletter platforms like Mailchimp and Substack, which can make the job much easier, and you can monetize your newsletter through: 

  • Ads
  • Sponsored content
  • Subscriptions
  • Creator patronage

Newsletters work well when you’re able to build up a good audience, but can still provide a nice little bit of extra money with a smaller one. If you are considering starting a newsletter, there are different business models and time commitments required depending on what type of revenue you want. Consider the following:

  • Ads and sponsored content can require a big reach and audience
  • Subscriptions require high-value content that’s hard to find elsewhere
  • Creator patronage requires community support

It’s possible to make a lot of money with all these methods. Just know which one you’re most likely to succeed with and then focus on that.

8 – Run your own blog 

If writing a newsletter isn’t for you, but you enjoy writing, you could start a blog. Compared to other mediums, a blog has a lot more room for flexibility, and there are plenty of ways to monetize your traffic. Not to mention, if you have SEO skills, or any other unique distribution methods, there’s potential to earn a lot of money for relatively little work. 

Some ways to make money off your blog are through:

  • Producing sponsored content
  • Ads
  • Affiliate and referral links
  • Subscriptions and creator patronage

Although they’re much more flexible, blogs usually take more work because they tend to focus on a bigger audience. You’ll need to write more content, but if you have a lot to share, blogs can be a really valuable way to make money freelancing online.

9 – Get paid for your expertise

Remember: freelancing is a form of entrepreneurship. And you as a freelancer are running  a business. That means, as an entrepreneur, you can get paid to provide your perspectives on a variety of topics, bringing in some extra cash on the side. This could be carried out a number of ways:

  • Do paid online surveys through platforms like SwagBucks
  • Launching an advisory offering (there’s potential for upsell here)
  • Launching a feedback-as-a-service offering where you help businesses targeting entrepreneurs refine their products and services

This route is more for freelancers who want to share their expertise on a subject, but don’t want to be limited to just writing like with blogs and newsletters.

10 – Cut costs to increase profits

Finally, it’s important to remember that profit is based on both revenue and costs. If you want to make more money, one way is to limit how much you spend. Take stock of all your outgoing expenses, noting where they are going and why. Then consider questions like:

  • Are you using the platform or thing you purchased to its full value? 
  • Could you downgrade your subscription or buy a cheaper version without it affecting revenue?
  • Is there a lower cost alternative that does the same job?

While cuts can be beneficial, it can be easy to go overboard. There’s only so much you can cut, and eventually you might be left with only essential spending. This can be a good thing, but if you cut too much, it could harm your business. 

Moreover, there’s a time cost. For example, if you decide to downgrade on a subscription, it could mean there might be more work to do manually. This can be fine if you’re able to make time for the job, but if you’re not careful, it can be exhausting in the long run. Sometimes, it’s just better to spend the extra money for the sake of value, a critical law of success in freelancing

Remember: freelancing is a business

Whether you’re a new freelancer or an experienced one, always remember that you are running a business. This means you have all the creative outlets of a business and you have access to multiple growth paths. As we touched on above, there are plenty of ways to make more money as a freelancer that don’t include taking on more clients. Try the combinations that work best for you, and don’t forget to be creative throughout the process!

Read Next: The Best Freelancing Sites That Aren’t Upwork, Fiverr, or TopTal