The ideal set point and type of clients and projects that you work on will vary from one freelancer to another. So it's a really great, customized way to build a business that works for you. It's why there's no one size fits all solution for a lot of the issues that advanced freelancers face.
Now, when you're first starting your business, there is general advice that applies to helping you get established find clients, and stay consistent with your marketing. But as your business grows, your needs might also change and evolve. One of the common sticking points for a lot of advanced freelancers is scheduling.
So in this episode, we're going to talk a little bit about some of my favorite scheduling tips. But you've got to keep in mind that what it looks like for you might be different. I've probably changed my schedule at least a dozen times across the course of owning a freelancing business. Even as that company has evolved, as well into incorporating things like public speaking, writing a book, or coaching other freelancers, that has meant that my freelancing schedule has had to change as well.
I balanced my freelance business for a year while also holding down a day job. So that meant that nights, weekends, and early mornings were the only times I could freelance. When I jumped full time into freelancing, one of the first things that I did was basically try to work as normal a day as possible. So eight to nine hours a day of doing everything that was required within my freelance business. And a lot of what helps make that scheduling transition relatively effective was the fact that I had been doing it for an entire year on the side of another job and knew about how much time it was going to take me to complete various things in my business.
So I knew how much time I needed to spend marketing. I knew what proportion of my time I need to dedicate to client projects. And I simply had to make some general adjustments to now allow for a whole work day. Now, what's interesting, and I've heard this from a lot of other advanced freelancers, is that we're actually more effective with our time when we have a day job. I don't know why that is. But I have found that to be true.
I've been freelancing full time for six years at the time of recording this podcast. But I definitely had better time management skills when I worked another job because I was limited, very limited, with my hours. So there was no time to get into my head, there was no time to question things.
So it became more difficult to schedule as my business grew and as I added more components to my business as well. So what you're “fully booked point” and what your schedule looks like will be different from other freelancers. Someone who's only able to work 10 hours a week can still be an advanced freelancer because perhaps those 10 hours are really focused and truly leveraging that freelancers abilities.
And what you think fully booked is, will also be very individual. So for me, that's no more than 20 hours a week of freelance client work in order to balance the other projects that I have going on. For someone else that could be 30 or 40 hours. So that's a really good starting point to begin with. You need to know what your fully booked point is. What is the maximum amount of time that you want to be spending, creating and delivering client projects?
So you've got to keep that in the back of your mind too. Maybe you don't want to do any more than 30 hours of client work per week. But you aren't going to neglect marketing, of course. So you might have to say, “Okay, well, what am I going to fit in five or seven hours of marketing, so I'm really working closer to 35 or 37 hours per week?” So my scheduling tips for advanced freelancers, these are just different ideas that you could potentially try as your business grows.
This is time when you're doing things other than working on your business. It could be hobbies, creative projects, like writing a book. You could be diving into a different creative talent or hobby that you'd like to have. But maybe you're brand new to journaling or meditation. I kind of consider as creative time too, because it really sets the tone for what the rest of your day and even week is going to look like.
So start by blocking out creative time. This is your non business time when you're not even doing things like listening to business podcasts, or reading books. This is truly your creative time when you're able to express yourself. And maybe that's only 20 or 30 minutes per day. But that should be built into your schedule first. Because guess what? If you don't put it in there at the outset, it is far too easy to overlook it and not have any of it in there at all.
I'm a huge fan of batching your work as a freelancer. And that includes putting all like minded activities into the same sectors or blocks of your day as possible. I do not market when I'm working on client projects or when I am in a period of doing phone calls or responding to my clients over Voxer. My marketing time is separate. It is individual.. And it is focused time when I am only working on that particular task. And blocking that out and thinking about how that's different from the time when you're working on client projects is very important. Because they're different ideas. They're different concepts. And we don't want to try to ask our brain to be doing multiple things at the same time.
I often see freelancers trying to do this because maybe it worked when you first started your business. You'd have several different tasks open and you're doing marketing on LinkedIn, you're reviewing job boards, and then you're also like half working on this piece or project for a client. Making these separate helps you be much more effective with the time that you are focused. So being distracted and pulled in different directions can really slow you down and impede your progress and productivity. So make that marketing time separate from your work time. Block out an hour or even 30 minutes per day, when you're specifically doing marketing and not working on things for clients or answering clients.
This is another personalized aspect of scheduling for advanced freelancers. Some people work better in the afternoons or at night. That is not me. I am never as productive during those times as I am first thing in the morning. So since we have the benefit of being freelancers and setting up our own schedule, adjust your work hours to reflect what works for you.
All it takes is letting your clients know what to expect. I tell my clients don't expect responses or edits from me after 3pm. I'm just not doing it. I'm normally not even in the office, I'm in the office earlier than most people, because I do typically work pretty early mornings when I am most focused. But that means I can get a lot more work done in 4 focused hours then trying to say, “Yeah, let me work the traditional nine to five.” Even though that's not my most focused period, I'll actually get the same or even less done, trying to take that approach of working someone else's hours.
So allow your body's natural rhythm and ability to help dictate when you're going to work the most. If you're really inspired and focused from 7 to 10pm at night, use that time for your brainstorming, outlining of projects, and thinking about how you're going to write your next blog for marketing purposes.
By doing this I’m holding other days sacred for client work or focused periods of work when I'm doing things like marketing, brainstorming new classes, and responding in depth to some of my clients. This has helped tremendously, because there's not those phone calls that disrupt and sort of punctuate the day and throw me off from what I was doing. So I've done everything from no phone calls on Mondays to Fridays to phone calls only on Thursdays to everything in between.
You need some level of flexibility to be able to speak to your clients. I find that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays are the days when most people are in the office. Holidays tend not to fall on those days. So it's easier to schedule phone calls during that time. I try to put as many of my calls on Wednesdays as possible, so that I can have Mondays and Fridays as my more creative days when I'm doing in depth focused work for me growing my business and other projects. And then Tuesday through Thursday are pretty heavy client days. So I keep those open for phone calls, consultations, and responding to pitches and follow ups. I keep those very client focused because that works.
Email sometimes is the bane of my existence. It never seems to go below 50 messages that I need to review and respond to. It can also become very addictive and non productive to be in your email inbox a lot. I used a tool called Rescue Time back in the day, and discovered that I was spending 12 hours a week at that point in time on my inbox. Now very few of those hours were making me money or were working on things that were imperative for an immediate response. For more tips on dealing with email, check out this blog post.
I try to check my email no more than three times per day. And I use a tool called Boomerang to push off things that are not imminent. So if someone emails me and says, “Hey, I'd love to collaborate with you.” If I don't need to respond to that immediately, I'm going to push it off towards one of those Mondays or Fridays, when I'm doing a lot more catch up work and non client specific things. And I'll respond to all of those together. So I will try to set them to come back all at the same time.
So let me explain a little bit more about what that looks like. If I get 10 emails in the morning, then some of them are from people who want to collaborate on things for freelancers and some are from prospective clients. Some are things I need to follow up with immediately. I want to push off the non imminent things. So I tell Boomerang send the collaboration requests back into my email on Friday at 9am. I'll take a look at all of those together, review them all, and respond together. I might immediately respond to the things that require my attention. And then I might have other things set up to Boomerang back into my inbox a Friday at 10am. Like perhaps all of my follow ups from everyone that I've pitched or written proposals for.
So that way I've got similar emails coming back into my inbox at a similar time. So Friday is my email catch up day. Maybe at 8:00, I'm getting those collaboration requests. At 10:00, a new wave of the things I boomeranged for follow ups have come back in. And that way it doesn't seem overwhelming or get confusing because they're showing up as new in my inbox during that time.
So many of us are completely guilty of not taking vacation. We kind of fall into this trap of thinking, “Oh, well, I can take a vacation any time. So I'm not going to plan it in advance.” One thing that I have found really increases the chances of you truly taking that vacation, enjoying it, and giving your clients plenty of notice that it's coming is putting that on the calendar at least three months in advance.
Let's say that I close my office for the two weeks around Christmas. I'm going to need to put reminders in my schedule, either Boomerang or on my calendar, around mid November to tell my clients, “Hey, your work is going to have to be turned in early. Edit requests need to be turned in by this date. The last time I can schedule phone calls is X day.” I'm going to let them know that about a month in advance whenever I can.
So if I wait until it's the first of December, and then realize I don't have enough lead time to get caught up on work that might otherwise be delivered. At the second half of December, I might not be able to accomplish that goal of letting my clients know that a vacation is coming and I'll just end up overwhelmed and behind
Most of my freelance clients are on retainer. So that means I am working ahead. If you're in another phase of your business where you're drumming up business, you're going to want to make sure your follow ups and your automated marketing efforts to go out while you're gone are still present and there. So it's still will take at least two to three weeks to lay that groundwork and work ahead. If I know I have to turn in two weeks of blogs for the second part of December in advance, I've got to kind of backdate and reverse engineer everything.
So then in November, I pick those topics, get them approved by the client, I draft them, edit them, send them in early, and all those different processes. I kind of have to back up and make sure that it doesn't fall into the normal schedule so I can truly take that time off. So that can really help you when you look ahead to the future and know:
So I'd love to know your favorite scheduling tips that might help you to grow your business more effectively. These are some of my favorites. But remember, it's going to look different for you. My best recommendation is to play around with your schedule, stick with your new guidelines for two weeks, and see if it works for you. If you find it unbearable then some changes are needed. But it's always good to test things out and try switching things around to be more effective. Thanks for tuning in to another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast.
This episode specifically is for those of you who are thinking about scaling your freelance business to six figures. I recognize that that's not necessarily everyone. Everyone has different goals for their freelance business. For you, it might make sense just to do this on a part time basis. Or maybe you have a day job you love that you don't want to leave. That's perfectly fine, but I wanted to introduce you to the concept that six figure freelancers, multi-six figure freelancers, and business owners that think a little bit differently. Many of them recognize that what got them to the six figure level or close to it will not be the same thing that takes them to the next level. So they made that navigational change pretty early on in their business to be successful with where they're at.
Increasingly six figure freelancing is becoming more common. In fact, it's estimated that 1 out of 5 freelancers is already there according to the State of Independence in America study in 2018. But I think that number should grow even more. Many people are leaving full time jobs to pursue freelancing and have a whole new perspective on work.
They don't just try to implement strategy after strategy and hope that it works. They're engaged in mindset habits that keep them positive like reading books or listening to uplifting podcasts, journaling, yoga, massage, exercise, and more. Six figure freelancers know that getting their mindset straight is almost more important than the work and some days even more important.
Need a recommendation for a great mindset book to start with? Check out the Big Leap by Gay Hendricks.
They know that no one client job proposal, pitch, or phone call defines them. Instead they approach their opportunity calls with clients with confidence rather than desperation. And trust me, that can make a world of difference when you're on the phone with a potential client.
They don't promise the sun, the moon, and the stars. Instead they know their value and they ask for it. Even though they know that it means many of their potential clients will turn them down. You will always be too expensive for some people. Just be prepared for that six figure. Freelancers know their value and recognize that they shouldn't position themselves as a person who can do it all. This often means that you end up in an employee type scenario where you are indeed doing it all for a particular client.
Unless you love juggling multiple things at the same time and being responsible for many different aspects of a client's marketing strategy, as a freelancer, niching down or focusing on the things that you do best is a great way to stay.
They don't engage in drama with friends, family, or anyone else online. We've all probably been in some of those Facebook groups or online spaces where drama rules the day. I've seen it far too often. It's part of the reason that I have the stringent rules in my own Facebook group because I don't want it to become just one more place on the internet where people are arguing with one another and shaming people. Or trying to jump and pile on and and be trolls, right?
So six figure freelancers are way too busy being booked and doing those positive mindset practices to help scale their business to be worried about dealing with naysayers. So if you are the type that gets totally locked into that comment someone made five days ago, that makes you feel really poorly about yourself, that's a mindset habit that you can start to work on and recognize that anyone who kind of goes that direction with the constant negativity is only pulling you away from business opportunities.
Rather than saying, I offer it all now. You can still be a multi-passionate entrepreneur and freelancer and have several different things going on at once. But you don't want to say, here are the 50 services that I can provide you with. Most six figure freelancers have no more than four or five things that they provide to a client at any one time. Often they become an expert in their niche or a kind of project in which they do really, really well. They further become an expert in that niche or industry, which makes it easier to convert and sell and collect testimonials that convert other clients like that.
It's a very common mistake I see freelancers make. They assume that they can just stop when they're fully booked. Six figure freelancers do not stop or give up when they are booked. In fact, they use that to their advantage. They establish waiting lists. They apply urgency and scarcity to converting new clients, but they don't make any excuses about finding their marketing avenues with the highest conversions. You aren't really going to see six figure freelancers that have 16 different ways in which they market and they are waking up every day trying to do all the things. Instead they've said, you know what, my two highest converting channels are X and Y. That's where I'm really going to put most of my effort.
They don't accept calls with tire kickers. When I get on a phone call with someone who is not serious about hiring or has an extremely low budget and just wants to argue with me specifically about pricing, I get off that phone call as soon as possible. I was recently on a phone call with someone who wanted to hire me to go straight to their book. He threw out at the beginning of the conversation that his budget was $8,500 for a six month project. That it required multiple interviews with him and you know, basically formatting the book to be self-published. And it included the creation of a marketing plan. I honestly thought it was a joke when he said it. It really came across like he had no clue what goes into producing a book.
So about six minutes into the call after he was starting to go off into a tangent. I just very clearly said I'm not the right person for this job. It sounds like you have some phone calls set up with someone else who might be a better fit. I wish you luck. So getting off the phone with tire kickers, trying to weed and screen those people out before you even talk to them is key.
I had a sample project recently where the client took six weeks to pay for one blog. They also never responded to any of my comments in the Google document when they made edits that made no sense or asked for information that had nothing to do with the blog post itself. So when the client said that they didn't think they'd be moving forward with me, huge relief, right? You also have the power to decide after bad sample projects when to say no. That particular client just beat me to the punch that time.
Six figure freelancers seek ideal clients only and often have a client or monthly minimum. They won't take on a project where the scope of work is expected to be one thing per month or where there's a flat fee that the client is paying, but that also includes hours and hours of phone calls and back and forth.
And if you haven't listened to the previous episode about hiring a virtual assistant, this would be a great opportunity to go back to that and learn more about when it's the right time to start outsourcing to a virtual assistant on your team. Six figure freelancers recognize that they need support from a variety of different professionals, including an accountant, perhaps a team of freelance subcontractors, a virtual assistant, or even a coach. And they'll see these professionals as investments rather than as an expense and realize that they cannot do everything within a given day or do everything well. So they'll outsource what doesn't fit in their zone of genius and keep the rest.
They're not forever blaming their lack of success or the problems in their company on someone else. They're recognizing the role that they played in that process so they don't blame marketing tools, virtual assistants, or anyone else for their lack of success. Instead, successful freelancers always look to see where they can improve and then create a solid team surrounding them to help them get better and accomplish even more.
Other freelancers and mastermind groups are a great place to start so that you can have a support system to be at your side as you navigate and grow your freelance business. Finding other people who get what you do, who encounter the same types of challenges and obstacles, and can be a sounding board when you have questions and concerns can be instrumental for helping you scale. These lifelong learners are your six figure freelancers who also read and learn from experts.
They listen to podcasts in their industry, right? That's probably you if you're listening to this podcast. They seek out expertise from other people. They see people about two to three steps ahead of them and learn from those people as much as they can. You have to recognize that you cannot do everything by yourself. You shouldn't want to do that either. So having a team of people around you who might have more knowledge in a specific area or who can help you navigate some of the trickier aspects of working as a freelancer, especially as your business grows, can give you a lot of peace of mind and help to normalize the situation.
Oftentimes, our friends and family members don't really understand what we're doing as freelancers. They don't recognize how our lives are different. Or that we're not just sitting at home all day watching Netflix. They don’t know what it really takes to run a freelance business. So build that community around you. Even if you're a remote worker at home.
Now, six figure freelancers have an eye towards the future. Freelancing might not be their end goal and that's okay. They have an underlying desire to scale their company and to build their business around their life and not the other way around. Six-figure freelancers don't have that perspective of “Let's just keep adding and adding and adding income and revenue to my business, especially if it's also adding complexity and I'm getting increasingly less happy with the process of running a business.” They're constantly testing things and thinking about how to do things differently, how to make their business work more effectively for them.
Now, if you've been listening and are thinking, “I don't know if growing a six-figure freelance business is right for me.” That's okay! You can still keep many of these tips in mind and effectively scale your freelance business as much as possible in the timeframe that you have and with the individual goals that you have. The more that you start thinking about where you're going to be with the next step in your freelance business, the easier it will be to build your confidence and get to that point.
Thanks as always for tuning in to another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast. Remember, you can get lots of free resources on my website, including past episodes of this podcast, hundreds of YouTube videos, and great blogs to help point you in the right direction.
One of the most popular topics that comes up with intermediate and advanced freelancers pertains to hiring a Virtual Assistant. These freelancers are curious and want to know when should they hire a VA? They are also curious about how do they know it's time to bring a VA into their business? Another piece of the puzzle is knowing how any freelancer can properly leverage this person.
I have lots of different things to say about hiring a VA. There's no way I can cover it all in one brief podcast episode. So this episode is going to be focused mostly on when it is time to hire a virtual assistant in your freelance business. We are not going to dive too much into the process of doing it. So this is really designed for you if you don't have a virtual assistant yet in your freelance business. It’s also for you if you may have hired one in the past and didn't have a good experience. This episode is also for you if you've never worked with a virtual assistant before to get those creative juices flowing about the different types of things that you might be able to use a virtual assistant for.
Now being fully booked is also a sign that your rates are too low and that they need to be increased. But when you're fully booked and your plate cannot handle any more projects on it, you have officially capped out your revenue. At this point in your business, you cannot take on any other projects and you cannot realistically expect your business to grow.
When you have filled every single hour of every day and you're racing against the clock it is time to hire a VA. You may even be finding at the end of the day that you're barely getting your deadlines done. You might even be even falling a little bit behind. So when you are fully booked, you can’t afford to be spending time on tasks like:
These tasks are taking up valuable space in your calendar. It's also draining your energy and pulling you away from those processes in your business where it could be handled by somebody else. It’s also unlikely that these kinds of tasks you’d outsource to a virtual assistant are in your own zone of genius.
But this person handles tasks digitally and does them for you either by when they're being paid by the hour, being paid by retainer, or per project. You don't have to start in a big way to bring in a virtual assistant. You can start with just a couple of hours per week with inexperienced VA, even a new VA if you're willing to train them on the process. But being fully booked is that first key sign that you have too much going on and you're actually at risk of dropping one of the balls in your business and starting to make mistakes or miss deadlines.
Deciding what to outsource to your VA is important- learn about the risks of overloading your VA in this blog post.
A lot of us don't really know and tend to underestimate how much time we are dedicating to administrative tasks. So what I encourage you to do is to track your time for a full week. You can do it loosely in a notebook or you can use a tool like toggle that's toggle.com which will help you set up different categories and labels for your tasks. And then you can figure out what you're spending your time on. There's also another great tool called rescue time, which will essentially analyze what you're doing on a weekly basis and send you reports as well as red flags of key issues.
So one of the things that really opened my eyes to needing to delegate and outsource more was when rescue time sent me a report about spending 12 hours a week in my email inbox. That's not something that I want to do. I don't think that's something that anyone wants to do. But it was my first real wake up call that I was going to have to do things differently. To find a way to get on top of my inbox management,I had to hire somebody to help me with it and implement some different systems and tools.
So if you've tracked your time using toggle or some other way and you're finding that you're spending more than five hours a week in administrative tasks, you are doing too much of those tasks. You are limiting your revenue and your business growth potential. So if more than five hours as being dedicated to that, it's time to take a step back and say, “What of these things can I outsource to someone else?”
A lot of people and freelancers are nervous about passing that on to someone else in their business. That's probably the last thing you'll outsource to somebody that you really trust and have been working with for a while. You can still leverage a lot more of your time by choosing to outsource something else.
For me, social media is a huge drain on my time. I don't enjoy doing it. It's far too easy to go down the rabbit hole with social media and end up looking at things that weren't the reason I hopped on there. Right? We've all done that. You might get on social media to schedule something and then you find yourself distracted. I'm always looking for ways to more efficiently use my time.
I have had an extension installed on my internet browser for probably four or five years now called kill the news feed. When I sign in from any of my computers, I cannot see any of the news feed that makes it so tempting to scroll. You still see all of the rest of Facebook. You can navigate to your groups, you can view your notifications, and you can even click on your own page to get there and update things. But that has been instrumental in saving my time.
When I did that, I also realized that I didn't love doing social media. So I searched for a virtual assistant who could help by planning and scheduling posts to keep those types of things off my plate. So I saw that I was spending more than five hours a week on social media. I was spending more than five hours a week in admin. Those are perfect things to outsource to a virtual assistant. It’s a great place to get started.
Now you don't owe it to any virtual assistant to pay them forever. You can work out your own payment terms and maybe bring them on for a couple of hours per week or for a limited engagement to start. But you want to be making relatively consistent revenue to where you don't feel like your not able to pay them.
You don't want to set up a situation where you bring this person into your business and then you're not able to pay them several weeks or months in. I've seen this happen before and it can be really frustrating for the virtual assistant who essentially pulls time out of their schedule to help you figure out how to get everything organized. They do all of the onboarding work. They get to know you and your clients and the different industries that you work in. And then if you're not making consistent enough revenue for whatever reason, it gets very frustrating for the VA because they essentially have to step right back out of being able to work with you.
That's not a situation that anyone wants. So do you need to be making 5,000 or $10,000 a month to justify a VA? Not necessarily, but I would recommend consistently making at least $3,000 so that you can dedicate a portion,possibly $200 or $300 a month to start. And you can scale that as your business grows, but you want to make sure you have that money to pay your VA..
Consistent revenue is also a sign that your business is poised for growth. So that is your signal to start thinking more clearly about how you dedicate your time with what you do on a daily basis within your business. So the more you can be critical of how you're currently spending your time, how you divide that up, and how you decide if this is something you could potentially outsource is an excellent way to feel more confident about how you go through with this different with this process.
And that's when you're ready to hand over control. Hiring a VA does not mean that you have to hand over complete control of your business, but it does mean that you have to take a step back. You have to decide how you can remove yourself from some of the processes of your business. Ultimately, this is going to help you learn to be more effective. It's going to help your business scale. You're going to get more of your time back that you can spend.as you want. But at the end of the day, you are still going to have to give up some level of control.
You're going to have to share password information with somebody who is new to your business. That's always going to be nerve wracking. It's going to be nerve wracking to hire someone who's going to do something that is facing the front of your business. So talking with potential clients etc, but that will always be there, right? Because you've put so much energy and time into establishing your business and it's just scary to kind of hand that over to another person.
But it's also something that is really important to think about. There's a lot of different benefits that you can get from outsourcing to a virtual assistant and knowing how you're going to leverage that Think about what the benefits are for you and your business and even your clients. It will give you a lot of peace of mind.
Now there's many out there, some of the most common that a freelancer might be hiring are:
They might design your sales pages, opt in pages, landing pages, and edit your graphics for social media. A content manager is someone who is helping you to write press releases, newsletters, directory submissions, or creating, editing or posting your blogs on your behalf. I have a VA on my team who helps to make sure that all of the content that I create is ready to be published live.
Now, the category of general virtual assistant can also include social media VAs. You might sometimes find social media VA's working outside of the general VA term because they won't take on generalized projects. They'll specifically do social media. But general VAs are where most freelancers are going to start when hiring their very first project working with their very first virtual assistant.
General VAs can do things like data entry, preparing PowerPoint presentations, light transcribing of audio and video files, creating templates for documents, creating forms, online research, sending client invoices, basic bookkeeping, putting together training materials, personal errands, doing research, or finding hotel/travel reservations for you. They may also be able to add images and tags to blog posts. They are acting somewhat like a receptionist, managing your calendar, creating your social media accounts, or uploading your videos on YouTube so you can see how there's a lot of different tasks that fall under that umbrella of general virtual assistant.
For a freelancer, you have to hone in on what it is you do best that only you can do in you business that is writing for clients and that is specifically speaking to clients. Outside of that, there's a lot of tasks that you could do, but I don't really need to do. That's why it's a good idea to be able to outsource it to someone else on you team.
It changes based on the projects that I have going. Some of my VA's are with me for the long run and have been with me for years. I have VA's that work on my YouTube channel, on my podcast and it's corresponding show notes, VA's that work on social media and a VA that runs one of my other businesses for me completely and prepares all of my PowerPoints. And I have someone who posts my blogs for me and post a lot of my LinkedIn articles as well. So there's all kinds of different ways that you can leverage virtual assistants.
Freelance writers, in particular, might even consider using a virtual assistant to do some research. That's a great way to still keep integrity with your writing process, but still ensuring that you're making the most of all the time that you have.
What you do with that time is up to you. You might take more of a break and reduce your working hours. You might scale and spend some of that time trying to bring in new clients. That's really up to you. Deciding why you're going to hire your VA is going to be important. That way you can measure your success. How will you know when a relationship with the VA is successful? When you have two or three more hours a week to plan and do certain things.
So if you've been thinking about hiring a virtual assistant and you're sort of stuck and don't know what to do next, a future episode, we'll go into some more detail about the process of hiring a VA and what you can specifically expect. This is your teaser to start considering how you might be able to leverage a VA in your own freelance business. I'll tell you that I do not know any six-figure freelancer who does not use at least one virtual assistant. So if that's where you are aspiring to go, if you're looking to make more money and get more of your time back, hiring a VA should be the next thing on your radar.
Thanks as always, for tuning in, if you want to check out the podcast in iTunes and listen to some of the past episodes, please consider leaving a review for the show. It helps other people find the Advanced Freelancing podcast. You can also always join my Facebook group, Mastering Your Freelance Life with Laura, which is where you will get the most free trainings and access to the best tools and strategies for scaling your business.
Today I'm taking a step back to talk about what I think are some of the most profitable and in-demand freelance side hustles to consider. Now, if you're an advanced freelancer, which you probably are just for checking out this podcast, you probably already know your niche. You may have been working in a freelance side hustle or even scaled it up to a full-time career, but this episode will still be helpful for you because you might be thinking that it's time for a change.
You might be interested in making a transition and pivoting to offering a different type of services, and this is what I love about freelancing. When we don't love doing something anymore, it's okay to incorporate another type of freelancing as a side hustle. It can be a great way to test out whether or not this is something that you're interested in. Stay tuned because if you listen to this entire episode, you're going to get a link to be able to sign up for my full PDF that goes into great detail on the top 25 most in-demand freelancing side hustles to consider, the general work that they do, and then the software that you need to know for each type of freelance side hustle.
It's a great overview of what freelancing looks like today and takes on some of those popular myths about freelancing that just are not true for the way that digital creatives are working online today.
Now when you're listening to this episode, we are closing in on the last couple months of 2019, but what I've included in this episode and in the freebie PDF you can get and sign up for at the end of the episode, are what I think some of the most in demand freelance side hustles are and are likely to continue to be throughout 2020. This freebie is going to benefit you is you are new to freelancing and you're thinking:
● Which direction do I go?
● How do I decide what type of background I have?
● How do I know?
It’s also going to benefit you if you're an established freelancer looking for something new. It's always a good idea to have your finger on the pulse of freelancing. If you're like me, you're looking to pivot every so often because you might just get bored of doing the same thing over and over again. You might get overwhelmed. You might be looking for something that's a little bit more of a challenge. So the freelance side hustle you started with might be scaled down over time.
Now, that was definitely true for me. I've been a freelance writer since 2012 so about seven years at the time you're listening to this episode. I've really loved creating blogs and email copy for a lot of my clients. But several years ago, I started to feel like I'd gone as far as I could go with blog writing. That's when I started to branch out into doing other types of freelance side hustling.
So I still had this core stable of freelance writing clients that I was providing services for, but I wanted to expand my skill set. I didn't want to be locked into a box. I also wanted to be able to see what other things I might like. It was important to me to see what other things were in demand.
I did more editing work rather than just freelance writing. I did project management work. I also started educating myself on new things like influencer outreach and writing email copy. Why? Because it allowed me to have some different skill sets to rely on and decide if I liked it better or if this made me more versatile.
I've also worked with a lot of freelancers. Whether it was through my courses or one on one strategy sessions and coaching for freelancers. So I know what a lot of other people are doing as well and where they're getting results. That's why this episode is designed to get you to think about some of the different types of freelance side hustles that are out there that might appeal to you.
Then you can grab that PDF at the end, maybe even share the link with a friend who's thinking about getting started with freelancing and doesn’t know where to even start. You may have a friend that wants to get started freelancing, but doesn’t even know what a freelancer is. They may be wondering what type of freelancer they could be based on their background.
Now there's a new social media app or tool developed practically every day. Social media gets to be very overwhelming for business owners. So it's probably not surprising to you that it's a great way to specialize as a virtual assistant. You will see VA's who call themselves social media managers and people who don't do VA work, call themselves social media managers, but you should definitely know tools that are used to schedule social media as well as your social media platforms themselves, like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can also specialize in a certain type of social media management tool or type to further niche down.
Graphic designers don't have to work at agencies alone or for a company as the core graphic designer. Many of them are selling and sharing their skills online. They are sharing in these marketplaces where people are hiring for specific gigs, like creating a logo or creating PDFs. I work with a graphic designer on retainer because it's great to have somebody else who knows your brand style and colors to create all of your images.
If you having the training in this, you can certainly make a lot of money doing this as a side hustle. People typically charge hourly rates for it. Specialists can charge somewhere between $50 and $100 an hour. So if you have that background or training, perhaps you did it for another company, this could be a great way to specialize and start doing a side hustle for companies that aren't really in a position to bring in a full-time employee but still need help.
If you love numbers and details, bookkeepers do a lot of tasks to help online and offline. Businesses stay organized with their finances. You'll usually see going rates starting no less than $20 an hour and going all the way up to $60 an hour for more advanced reconciliation and financial planning issues. Everything from payroll management to checking and credit card statements to forecasting are the types of tasks that a bookkeeper typically does.
Now another way that a lot of people break into freelance virtual work is as a customer service specialist. Lots of companies today use virtual assistants and customer service specialists in an online capacity. They know tools like Zen desk or they manage emails. They make sure that customers are essentially happy and that there are established protocols and procedures for helping customers with common questions like being locked out of their account or needing a refund. These types of side hustles are very in demand.
Freelancers who have this skill set from college or their own self-education are developers. Web developers are familiar with plugins, frameworks, website platforms, and tools like HTML, PHP and Java charging upwards of $50 an hour. If you know multiple coding languages, you can even push your income as a freelance side hustler up to a hundred dollars an hour as a developer. Developers are in huge demand today.
Essentially 3D modelers create computer graphics that are used in video games, 3D printing animation, and special effects. There's lots of different tools like AutoCAD and Sketch Up that developers who have 3D modeling experience use.I am seeing more and more jobs requesting these 3D modelers as well.
If you love creating, building and designing websites, the more you know about user experiences and how to make a website appealing and easy to navigate could serve as the foundation for your freelance side hustle. As a website builder or designer, more experienced designers charge well over $60 an hour or expensive retainer packages. I strongly recommend two tools to check out would be WordPress and Squarespace is this appeals to you.
Have people always told you that you have a pleasing voice? Perhaps working as a freelance voice over artist is a great way to leverage your skills and make some extra income. Putting together a voice reel is easier than ever. Thanks to online tools like Audacity. Check out some of your competition before jumping in as a voiceover artists. There's lots of VO artists on places like Upwork and Fiverr where you can get a sense of the different ways they set out their samples due to the drive and online marketing.
If you have training and experience working with search engine marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising tools to create comprehensive and successful marketing campaigns. Many small and medium sized businesses need help with this. They don't really want to hire someone in house. Or they might not yet have the budget to do it, but they could use someone on a freelance basis. And most marketing freelancers are gonna charge an average of around $50 an hour.
So if you have experience from a day job that you're looking to transfer over, this is a great one to consider. Do you love data science, like using machine learning to generate new products, creating charts, or generating data infrastructures? A data scientists can charge upwards of $100 an hour when they know tools like Apache, Spark, and Linux. Check that out if that appeals to you. Creating raw data in spreadsheets and organizing it and developing key takeaways from that data are some of the most popular things that these freelancers do.
Now, one that's emerged on the market in recent years but is booming, you're listening to one right now, is a podcast producer. So a podcast manager or producer can do a variety of activities, but sometimes they'll even specialized down to just doing audio editing. But you've also got podcasts managers doing post-production work up generating podcasts, interviews, coordinating them, and overseeing the production of a podcast. This is a very popular way to specialize today. If you're an audio engineer and even writers can specialize as a podcast show notes writer.
Now, network engineers and IT security protocol implementation experts often find many opportunities to work online today. Whether it's computer gaming and building software products or running an entire network control system, engineers definitely have a place in the gig economy.
Now, we briefly talked about audio editing before. Video and audio editors are getting more demand because there's such a drive in the creation of online content like courses. So whether it's storyboarding, project management, live action video, putting together landing pages and funnels and sequences with videos and audio, this is a great way to start a side hustle.
If you already know how to use tools like Audacity, Camtasia, and more advanced tools, a really creative way to get started generating buzz for someone else's business is to freelance as a publicity expert. It's your job to determine what channels are right for publicizing the services and products of your client. So you think about different ways to promote them to a broader audience and bring in more potential customers. Newer freelancers working in publicity charge around $25 an hour, but seasoned experts pull in a lot more.
If you've always wanted to be a teacher, but need a remote and flexible work schedule, being a tutor in terms of foreign language, math, science, ESL, or standardized test prep is a great way to break into the freelance marketplace and get some experience.
Do you love figuring out what makes websites rank in search engines like Google? Getting some additional training and picking up knowledge from podcasts, books, and online courses might pave the way for you to work as an SEO specialist. SEO specialists look at things like the navigational structure of a site, the optimization of a site to maximize page speed, and how to resolve conflicts inside these sites and make them more beneficial for the client in terms of ranking in search engines.
A brand strategist is a great way to fuse marketing knowledge with graphic design awareness. Some of the tools you might want to have in your skill set includes search engine optimization, writing and copywriting, and public relations expertise. As a brand strategist, another tool to check out is working as a translator.
Translators often have experience in at least two or three languages and ensure that the content is translated properly given the language and grammar specifics of the language that it's going to. So freelance translators often start out somewhere between #15 to $30 hourly. Then you can scale it up.
One freelance side hustle that I love because I've worked in it before is as a content or a project manager. Their job is to set together the strategy for implementing content across a broad variety of channels. This can even include recruiting, hiring and managing freelancers as well. This is very popular with those companies that leverage blogs and similar tools to promote their content. If you are thinking about becoming a project manager, you should be organized and enjoy working with others.
If you love listening to audio and translating that into text, a transcriptionist might be a great way for you to break in as a freelance side hustle. Simply put, transcriptionists listen to recorded audio or video and type it out into written form. Many of them charge between $25 and $35 an hour. I have worked with a transcriptionist and transcription tools for years and it’s been very helpful for speeding up my process!
Of course, I love the freelance side hustle idea of working as a writer. Freelance writers do a variety of tasks like creating website pages, sales copy, newsletters, emails, brochures, blogs, product descriptions and more. This gives writers a great deal of versatility and experience working in content marketing. And if you're curious about how to get started as a freelance writer, check out my book called “How to Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business”, which goes into all the details of how to make it work as a freelance writer.
If you've worked in administrative positions before and are looking to transition into a side hustle or pick up a couple of extra hours a week, serving as a virtual assistant to an entrepreneur is a great way to do this. You might be doing things like email organization, customer service, and calendar management.
To get started building on these previous ideas of working with language as a writer, editors and proofreaders can pick up multiple opportunities to work for academics. Those creating content and people who are in a school setting, so even college students and graduate students might consider hiring an editor or proofreader. It's a good idea to familiarize yourself with some of the various styles like AP and Chicago and to check out further information about the level of depth you're going to get into while editing.
I have a great course on how to become a freelance editor and some of the ways to set yourself up for success with that by taking a look at some of the pieces that are already created and giving your client a good understanding of the scope that you work on when completing freelance editing projects.
This has been a great overview of what I think are some of the most in-demand forms of freelance side hustling. If you'd like to pick up the PDF to learn more about the software that you should know more about, what these freelancers specifically do, and the typical hourly rates they charge. Check out BIT.LY/sidehustlestarter.
I’m stepping out of the box of talking about advanced freelancing for this particular episode because I have had a number of people reach out to me about the process of marketing a book. I recently wrapped up the launch of my first book “How to Start Your Own Freelancing Business” published by Entrepreneur Press in July 2019.
If you have been following me, you already know this is the book I wish I had when I started out as a freelance writer. And that is what I kept in mind when I was writing this book. I don’t really talk about the craft of writing, but I do talk about how to set yourself up for success working with clients, what you need to know about marketing, what typical days look like, etc.
This book was published very quickly when you think about the traditional timeline of publishing. So that gave me a very condensed timeline to come up with a plan for launching and marketing this book. In this episode, I’m going to dive into the “behind the scenes” of my book launch and what it really takes to market a book.
Having a solid book launch and a marketing plan in place is very important no matter which direction you go with publishing. This is something you should be thinking about ideally before you even start to write a book. Why? Because it matters! The marketing of the book actually takes up a substantial amount of time after the content is written. But it can take a long time to put that plan in place.
It’s because it directly affects sales. The more you can drive up the hype and excitement about this coming attraction, the more likely people are going to be to preorder your book and/or order it after it launches. Makes sense, right? I’ve interacted with lots of authors who have self-published a book who have said, “Hey, I just started thinking about marketing. My book came out 3 months ago.” Now, this is not to say you can’t still market a book after it’s been published. However, the ideal time is before it comes out.
My book came out in July 2019, but I really started thinking about marketing in December. When you write a nonfiction book, your book is sales based on the proposal. So your marketing plan is part of that proposal. Essentially you are trying to communicate to publishers:
● Here is what I intend to do to market the book.
● Things you have already done to establish a platform and a brand.
In the world of nonfiction books, the platform is an important word you’re going to hear over and over again. Essentially, it’s how you are connected to all the different people in your world that are going to buy this book. So this could be your social media numbers, your email list subscribers, the number of people you have in your online courses, etc. All of this makes up your platform.
This is a way for publishers to evaluate if you already have an audience ready and willing to buy your book. So the platform is one of the most important things that publishers look at when they are deciding if they want to work with you on a nonfiction book. It’s still important in the fiction world, but less important.
You see a lot of nonfiction authors who are professional speakers, CEOS, or online business gurus who have already built a business and have recognition for that business. Nonfiction publishers see these types of people as less of a risk because they have already built up recognition and an audience who will be willing to buy their books.
Publishers care about book launch marketing. There is a myth that if you get a publisher or self publish a book all you have to do is put it out there and people will buy it. Which isn’t the case at all. You have to do just as much work, if not more, on the marketing end of things for a book to actually sell. There are A LOT of books out there. If you want your book to actually sell you have to put in time and effort on the marketing! Any savvy author out there is going to put in that time on marketing their book.
It started with the development of the book launch/marketing plan I had in my proposal. But of course, it went much beyond that as well. I started tweaking and using it in a lot of different ways after the book was written because I knew more about what I could say the book was truly about. So you need a plan about 6 months out. You will be tired at the end of it, but it’s worth it. You should have a lot to do if you’ve done your work.
One of the things that really helped me was having a launch team, I had an author’s assistant who helped me plan out the launch. I also did a call with a book launch strategist who walked me through the different components of my marketing plan. We went over what I had already typed up and how my TedX Talks were going to work in conjunction with my launch. She even reviewed some of my creative ideas.
I did 2 TedX Talks in the month leading up to my book launch. I created a book trailer. I have appeared or will appear on 35 podcasts that I pitched. I did some guest blogging, I did some traditional media responses using HARO. I also reached out to all of my contacts in different industries to let them know the book was coming out. I found collaborations in diff organizations that had a similar audience to mine. I offered a giveaway to their audience. I worked with an influencer who advertised my book to her audience as well. And of course, I leveraged my launch team.
My launch team was a core set of volunteers who committed to buy the book when it came out. They agreed to submit a review. They shared things on social media. This was helpful for me because you kind of get tired of talking about your own book. Also, you can say all you want about your own book, but it won’t matter as much as what someone else has to say about your book. When you can rely on a launch team like this it’s huge because social proof speaks volumes.
You have to consider things like traditional media responses, working with a publicist, etc. Working with a publicist is risky and expensive for several different reasons. Because of this I actually DIYed most of my book launch.
So for my launch plan, I built out a calendar of exactly when I wanted certain things to drop. This included:
● Book trailer to drop exactly 30 days before the book launch.
● Have my launch team primed and ready to go exactly 30 days before the book launch.
● Make sure we have a lot of sales on the day the book became available.
So I did a lot of sharing in my personal network. I built a launch team. I wrote about the book on LinkedIn. I reached out to a lot of different people on what they could do to help me with this launch. I did giveaways. I went Live on other people’s Facebook pages.... I also had the book pre-order link in my email signature for about 5 months leading up to it. It just had a picture of the book and it said buy my first book.
It was harder to do the marketing than it was to write the book. I’ve been writing for years. But all of the different moving pieces of the marketing really paid off because the book was ranking very well on Amazon the first week it was up. It was really great to see this after all of that hard work. I do recommend you give yourself NO LESS than 3 months and that’s only if you have your marketing plan laid out and you are just picking the components of it.
We also had a preorder giveaway. So I had a landing page on my website where people who preordered could send a copy of their receipt and they would get a special set of bonuses. I also scheduled conferences the summer the book was coming out so that I could talk about it and sell some copies lives and sign them and build buzz. I also gave anyone who bought it live access to the special set of bonuses.
It’s very important to get reviews on Amazon. Why? Because it helps other people decide if they want to purchase the book. I kind of assumed that people would just go back and leave a review after they read the book. But that’s not necessarily the case. I learned that you really need a more personal approach and reach out to people who have purchased it. You need to personally ask them to leave a review. Reviews are really key for Amazon to see that people are not only buying the book but they are actually reading it and liking it.
So this is something I am still actively working on a little over a month after the book has come out. I’m still personally reaching out to people who have purchased the book. I am finding creative ways to keep the buzz about the book going.
The first 90 days are important in Amazon’s algorithm. Why? Because you want to get your book in the suggestion section of Amazon. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that says “Customers who bought this also bought…”. I want my book to be associated with other books on writing or books in a similar genre. I want this to happen so that people who don’t necessarily don’t know me personally have a chance to see my book and possibly buy it.
This has a lot of similarities with much of the teaching that I do around running your freelance business too. To be successful in freelancing or in marketing a book you have to have your finger on the pulse of marketing. You have to be doing something every day or every week that is moving your marketing efforts forward.
You lose a lot if you don’t already have a marketing plan in place before you launch. It’s really a lot harder to try to do this after the launch to generate the buzz you need to sell your book. So if you are self publishing think about how much lead time you need to have to create this marketing plan and be able to implement it around the time the book comes out. That date is very important. You want to be able to show Amazon and other retailers where the book is listed. You want to show them The buzz and hype around it and the excitement that coincides with that date. So it’s a lot harder if you are looking back 3-6 months later and try to start marketing your book because you have already lost some traction by not already having a marketing plan in place.
From the moment I signed the contract for my book “How to Start Your Own Freelance Business”, I knew the publishing date was going to be July. So I reverse engineered all of my marketing plans and ideas thinking back about when I wanted certain things to drop. I thought about how I could use various components of my marketing to get maximum leverage out of them.
Like in the month before the book came out I wanted to drop the book trailer because it would generate more excitement than if it was launched 4 months before the book came out. I also didn’t want my launch team to sign up too early because then they would sign up and forget about it. It would be really hard to keep people engaged and do their posting on their social media and leave reviews.
This shows consistency. It shows that there is still interest in your book after the initial release. You also have to make sure you don’t frontload your marketing plan too much. How are you going to keep the excitement going a month or two months after the book has been published? What other components of your marketing plan can be activated at this point after it has been published?
So as you can see there is a lot of work that went into planning a book launch. It was very tiring. Towards the end, I was happy that I had planned ahead because I was also balancing my freelance business and watching the launch go live. I was nervously tracking everything. I was very thankful in the summer when the book dropped that I had done a lot of the leg work in advance. Why? Because I don’t know that a lot of the marketing that I did would have come to fruition if I hadn’t planned it months in advance.
It was kind of surreal when the book came out because I had spent so much time thinking about the marketing and doing outreach and putting this plan together that it was like “WOW, THE BOOK IS ACTUALLY HERE!” It has been this thing that I have been talking about, thinking about, and strategizing for so so long and now it’s here. Now to keep the buzz going. Having the energy and strategy to do that was largely due to the fact I had done so much planning in advance.
So I strongly recommend if you are thinking about publishing a book to think about your marketing now. It contributes to your platform and the likelihood you will be able to work with a traditional publisher. Even if you are self-publishing platform is just as important because you are doing all of the marketing legwork to get that book off the ground. You will thank yourself later when you have done the work in advance.
To get a copy of my book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business—available now! Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more. Of course, I would be honored if you would also leave a review of my book!