If you’re a freelancer and you’re not making $250k per year in net profit from your business, we should talk.
Yes, a quarter of a million dollars per year.
In this article, I’m going to give you a couple simple ideas to dramatically grow your business, well into being a six-figure freelancer. At the end, grab my free guide with a bunch of the lessons I learned in my first million dollars of consulting, including specifics and tactics.
Let’s back up a second.
My name is Ryan Waggoner, and I’m a freelance mobile developer. I haven’t had a job since 2007, and for the last few years, I’ve consistently made at least $250k in net income from my business.
More importantly, I have a ridiculous amount of control over my day-to-day life. I can choose the types of projects I want to pursue, how to arrange my pricing and other terms, and where and when I do the work.
I don’t run an agency or a dev shop, I don’t live in NYC or San Francisco (though I used to live in both), and I don’t get any of my work due to having a strong personal brand.
I have gotten to this level while basically having zero web or social media presence for my business (which is stupid, I know).
I’ve also helped friends and family build strong six figure freelance businesses, and along the way, I’ve found that I love helping people grow their business.
So for the last few weeks I’ve been thinking about the upcoming year and what I wanted to focus on, and this is what I came up with:
My number one goal for 2016 is to help as many freelancers as possible become six figure freelancers, on the road to $250k in annual net income.
That’s a ridiculous goal, I know. I would guess that the percentage of freelancers making that much is like 2%, but my goal is to increase the number as much as possible.
If those 2% can do it, why not you?
If I can do it, why not you?
As much as my mother would hopefully disagree, I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual or special about me that has enabled me to reach this level of income.
In fact, I’ve made so many mistakes and done so poorly at a lot of things that I’m positive that you can avoid some of my mistakes and do even better.
Seriously, some of what I’m going to tell you about mistakes I’ve made is embarrassing.
There’s no reason you can’t get even better results than I have.
It took me far too long to realize that incomes well into six figures is possible as a freelancer.
The idea that breaking into six figures was a lofty goal was a real anchor on my expectations. It wasn’t until I reached $200k / year that I suddenly realized that most of what had been holding me back was my own expectations about what was possible.
This is really possible. For you.
You do not have to be perfect to get this to work.
You don’t have to get everything working right to make this work.
All you have to do is get the right things working. And I’m going to help you.
Over the next year, I’m going to write a ton, host lots of live webinars and Q&A sessions, and work with people one-on-one.
What’s the catch? Well, I’m going to give away a LOT of info and help for free, but if you need more advanced info or personalized help, I’ll have some (affordable) paid options too.
With all of the above, my goal is this:
I want to help you get your freelance business to six figures.
Then to $250k per year.
I don’t care if you’re a developer, designer, writer, admin, bookkeeper, etc.
There are people out there with some version of your skills (plus some new ones I’m going to teach you) who are making well into six figures.
That doesn’t mean that all skills are equally valuable, but your skills + the better freelance tactics I’m going to teach you = dramatically better results.
For now, I want to quickly share with you two overall themes that have made a huge difference over the last eight years in how I’ve seen my business change and grow.
1. Take ownership
This is crucial.
One of the key differences between freelancing and regular employment is the way that your results are very tightly coupled to the effort you put in.
Yeah, that’s true to some degree as an employee, but the effect is much more muted and takes longer to come to fruition.
With freelancing you can feel it in your bones.
For example, if I decide that I want to make 50% more next quarter as an employee, I’m almost certainly out of luck. I might be able to switch jobs if I’m severely underpaid.
But can I do that as a freelancer?
If nothing else, I can just work a lot more! Not fun or sustainable, but an option in the short run.
I could also change my pricing, learn some new technologies, build out my network to get better projects, etc.
The point isn’t that it’s easy to make 50% more in a short period; it’s not.
Taking ownership means that I can decide I want to:
- Make more money
- Work fewer hours
- Restrict my working hours to certain times of the day, or days of the week
- Take a three month sabbatical
- Start working with a new technology
- Hire an assistant to deal with things I don’t like doing
- Stop working on certain types of projects
- …and a million others
I can decide to do these things, chart a path, and then immediately start working towards them and seeing results.
I don’t need permission from anyone.
But I do need to recognize that I have this control, this power, this responsibility, and then actually do it.
That’s taking ownership.
Freelancing isn’t a more flexible form of full-time employment. It’s fundamentally different.
For employees the default is that tomorrow you’ll have a job and a paycheck.
For freelancers the default is that tomorrow you won’t.
If that doesn’t both scare and excite you, you should probably go get a job.
2. Work ON your business, not just IN your business
One of the hardest things about freelancing is boundaries.
You’ve gotta set boundaries between your work life and personal life. Boundaries of time, space, and emotions.
More on that later.
But it’s not just about boundaries between your work life and personal life. It’s also about boundaries between working in your business and working on your business.
Working in your business means doing whatever clients hire you to do, as well as all the administrative stuff that must get done.
Working on your business means stepping back and making improvements to the business itself. It means building systems, documenting things, learning new skills, doing high-level marketing and business development.
It’s the stuff that doesn’t have to get done.
And too often it doesn’t get done.
Clients and projects are like monsters that will eat up every second of time you make available to them. If you don’t have boundaries around time to work ON your business, they’ll gobble it right up.
Depending on how aggressively you’re trying to transform your business, you might want to set aside time every week, or even every day.
But block out that time, and don’t let the client monster near it.
Not just time, money too.
Set aside a small percentage (like 3-5%) of your gross revenue to reinvest in your business.
Do more if you can.
I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars over the years on software, training, coaching, conferences, and more. Overall, it’s been money well spent.