Learn 10 ways you increase your freelance earnings this year without going nuts. Our expert tips can help you build a financially rewarding freelancing career.
Freelancing is a great way to earn a living, but it can also be a challenge to scale your earnings.
If you’re struggling with how to pull this off and you’re stuck on the way forward, then this post is for you. Here, we shared 10 tips on how Nigerian freelancers can increase their earnings this year.
It covers everything from choosing a niche and building your portfolio to negotiating rates, asking for referrals, negotiating strategic collaborations, and more.
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So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Key Takeaways (Editor’s Pick)
- Begin by choosing a niche, branding yourself, and building your portfolio to become more appealing and valuable to clients.
- Use social proof to gain customers’ trust and confidence.
- Explore additional customer acquisition channels to boost your earnings.
- Design a customer retention programme to derive consistent value from your existing customers.
- Partner with other freelancers for access to their client base.
- Negotiate improved rates with clients to earn more value per client.
- Ask happy customers for referrals to grow your income at a lower acquisition cost.
- Diversify your earnings to build financial security.
- Sell things online to tap into the large eCommerce space.
- Offer training and workshops to earn from your transferable skills.
- Provide retainer services to build a steady income stream.
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First thing, First
Moving to scale your freelance earnings should be an afterthought.
Don’t rush into it. Start by specializing to improve your productivity and gain a comparative advantage. Plus, it allows you to focus your efforts on one thing and become more efficient at it. Choosing a niche makes you more attractive to potential customers, as they’ll know you’re an expert in your field.
As a result, you can easily negotiate for a rate increase without raising eyebrows.
Of course, it’s not enough to specialize if you don’t upskill. So, take relevant training and certification courses to boost your skills and show that you’re competent, credible, and an expert in your field.
When you sort these out, the next thing is to brand your freelance business to stand out from the competition and build an identity that sticks with customers. It also helps you attract the right type of clients who can afford your services without wasting much time qualifying prospects.
Finally, build a strong portfolio to demonstrate your experience and value.
Now, Here’s 10 Ways You Can Increase Your Earnings
Scaling your freelance earnings is easier with the right approach. And here are some of our favourite strategies to pull it off.
- Inspire confidence with social proof
- Scale your acquisition channels
- Implement a customer retention programme
- Negotiate strategic collaboration
- Improve your rates
- Ask happy clients for referrals
- Explore more income sources
- Sell things online
- Offer training and workshops
- Offer retainer services
1. Inspire confidence with social proof
Trust-based marketing is the present and the future.
It’s a marketing approach that aims to elevate customers’ trust in a brand or product. It’s essential because only 3% of people trust salespeople. What’s more? Only 1% of millennials say that compelling advertising is likely to make them trust a brand.
Trust-based marketing is even more important for freelancers because they work remotely and customers might find it more challenging to hold them accountable. So, if you can’t build trust customer’s trust, then you’ll have a hard time scaling your revenue as a freelancer.
And that’s where social proof comes in.
It’s a psychological concept that says people are often influenced by the choices others make. It involves using evidence of a product’s wide acceptance or a brand’s credibility to influence buying decisions.
How to inspire confidence with social proof
- The first step is to build your website and communicate your value propositions.
- Share customer reviews on social media and your website.
- Get happy customers to share their experiences on video testimonials and display them on your website.
- Show off your milestones, like the number of your happy customers to demonstrate how far you have grown over the years.
- Display badges and logos of the businesses you have worked for on your website.
- Embed all the badges or stamps of all your acquired relevant certifications to demonstrate industry expertise and credibility.
What You Must Do Now: Build a WordPress website with a clear value proposition. Use the free theme in our branding toolkit to design an engaging and immersive WordPress website.
2. Scale your acquisition channels
“Many roads lead to the same market.”
You’ve probably heard that in Nigeria. The truth is sitting down in one place can deprive you of many potential customers. Sadly, it’s one of the limitations that come with selling in traditional marketplaces.
But it’s not so when you sell online.
It lets you establish multiple customer touchpoints to scale your acquisition channels.
This omnichannel presence gives prospects more opportunities to find and experience your brand. As a result, you have a greater chance to land more customers, which in turn can boost your earnings.
It matters because customers have their preferred channels for reaching businesses. And having a presence on as many of these channels as possible can put your brand more in front of them.
Top customer acquisition channels to consider
- Facebook advertising
- Search engine optimizations
- Freelancer platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, Legit, Toptal, and Freelancer.com
- Email marketing
- Referral marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Google ads (paid search and display ads)
- LinkedIn ads
- Content marketing (blog, LinkedIn, and Twitter threads)
- Twitter ads
- Cold calls and emails
What You Must Do Now: List all the ways clients currently find your business. Brainstorm for additional channels to get your numbers up to 25. Prioritise and narrow down to seven or any number you can comfortably manage. Then develop a customer acquisition strategy for each.
3. Implement a customer retention programme
You will be leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t.
And I guess you don’t want that. Studies found that it costs five to 25 times more to acquire new customers than to retain an existing one. Also, around 60% of a company’s revenue comes from its existing customers.
So? A customer retention strategy can help you get more value from your existing customers and scale your earnings as a freelancer. It’s an action plan that lets you create customer loyalty that transforms your existing customers into repeat buyers and keeps them from switching to your competitors.
How to implement a customer retention programme
- Stand out with a clear brand differentiation strategy.
- Make it a culture to consistently exceed customer expectations.
- Offer tiered services to give customers multiple pricing options.
- Use cross-selling to influence value-driven repeat purchases.
- Retarget inactive clients to win back potential sales.
- Set the tone for a return purchase with post-service follow-ups.
- Incentivise active customers and get them to stick with you.
- Run holiday marketing campaigns to generate revenues from customers’ excitement.
- Trigger impulse purchases with FOMO marketing.
- Implement a customer feedback loop to strengthen relationships with existing clients.
- Follow clients actively on all their social media channels to stay on top of their minds.
What You Must Do Now: Check out our actionable customer retention guide for freelancers to gain more insights on how to implement these tips to build a comprehensive customer retention programme.
4. Negotiate strategic collaborations
Why do it all by yourself when you could use some help?
The Bible shows us what is possible to work as a group. According to this holy book, one will chase a thousand, while two will put ten thousand to flight. [Genesis 32;30]
So, negotiating strategic collaborations with other freelancers in different verticals shouldn’t be out of place. For instance, freelance writers can collaborate with SEO professionals to mutually benefit from their relationships with their clients and ramp up their capacities to acquire new clients.
Some freelance writers have one or two clients who would benefit from optimizing their websites for search engines. Conversely, the SEO professional would have some that need writers for their blog or social media accounts. Collaborating would be a win-win for both.
How to build a strategic partnership
- Identify ideal partners, especially businesses with similar clients.
- Look for overlapping core values. (shared value and business goals alignment)
- Articulates both sides of the value equation. (what each will gain)
- Pitch potential partners, showing what is in for them to win their attention.
- Draft the partnership agreement.
What You Must Do Now: Research top freelancers in different niches who serve businesses that might benefit from what you offer.
5. Improve your rates
As a freelancer, you don’t get a pay raise like most regular employees.
So, the most straightforward way to increase your earnings is to raise your rates. Of course, the thought of this could be scary due to the fear of losing your clients. But you have nothing to worry about if you have been delivering value to your customers and are sure of what you bring to the table.
None would want to lose you if you’re good at what you do.
How to raise your freelance rate
- Inform your clients of the updated rates well in advance.
- Provide compelling reasons why you have to raise your rates.
- Demonstrate to clients how your services have added value to their business – it could be your key to retaining them.
- Throw in value-added services (additional perks customers get for buying a product or service) to enable customers to get additional value from the extra fees they’re paying.
- Create a tiered pricing system to make it easier for customers to pay.
What You Must Do Now: Prepare for the possibility of losing some of your clients. Develop plans to re-engage them, like offering them discounts for a specific period or selling them lower-priced alternatives (downselling).
6. Ask happy clients for referrals
Asking for referrals is a great way to grow your customer base without spending a lot of money on acquiring new customers.
It lets you use your customers’ goodwill, connections, and network to bring in more customers, which will likely lead to more earnings. The best part is that the conversion rate for this channel is high because of the personal connection they have with the customer who referred them.
Don’t take my word for it. Studies show that referred customers are more likely to buy than those acquired from other channels and they tend to spend more and stick around longer. [Source]
How to encourage customers to make referrals
- Impress customers with excellent customer services
- Ask customers for referrals, like anyone who they believe can benefit from the services.
- Make video testimonials of your happy customers and encourage them to share on their social media accounts.
- Make it easy for customers to refer people to your business. You can generate a landing page or WhatsApp chat links for these.
- Use incentives to entice customers to make referrals.
- Run a customer loyalty programme to centralise and structure your referral system.
What You Must Do Now: Create your referral system plan showing when and how to ask customers for referrals plus the incentives.
7. Explore more income sources
Another way to grow your freelance earnings is to explore more income sources.
Besides providing you with comfort and financial stability, diversifying your income opens you up for more opportunities and growth. Relying only on one client or income source leaves you vulnerable to market changes and the loss of that client. And you should never box yourself into this corner.
We all saw what happened when AI-writing technology disrupted the content-writing industry.
Several content writers, full-time and freelancers, lost their jobs. I know some content managers in top companies who lost theirs to these disruptions. It wasn’t funny.
However, those who diversified their income sources survived.
Other income sources you can explore as a freelancer
- Expand your customer acquisition targets beyond your current market.
- Attach at least one value-added service to each of your offerings.
- Offer complementary or related services. For instance, if you’re a freelance content writer, you can provide related services like content distribution, content audit, or in-content lead generation.
- Acquire more skills to expand your services. For example, you can offer SEO, sales funnel designs, email marketing, or social media marketing services.
- Sell physical or digital products online. (we’ll talk about this later).
What You Must Do Now: List all the additional services you can offer with your current skill set. Then start offering them. Take more certification training to improve your expertise.
8. Sell things online
Not “a lot” of people would advise you to do this as a freelancer.
But selling things online not only diversifies your earnings but adds some predictability to your cash flow, allowing you to scale your income more effortlessly. Moreover, by 2026, analysts believe that 24% of retail purchases will take place online, up from 20.8% in 2023, to hit $8.1 trillion.
It won’t be bad to position your business to tap into this huge market.
Some things you can sell online that can align with your freelance brand
- Online courses to teach people your skills.
- Online D.I.Y courses to guide your existing customers on how to make the most from the services you provide them. For example, as a freelance writer, you can sell customers courses on how to generate leads from their existing blog posts.
- Print-on-demand merch like T-shirts, flags, or mugs customised with your client’s logo or design.
- Sourcing niche books from eBay and Amazon and reselling them in your stores.
What You Must Do Now: Pick a niche and develop your eCommerce business plan.
9. Offer training and workshops
Offering training services is financially rewarding.
Explore this option if you have transferable skills that prospective freelancers and businesses might need. The best part is the global corporate training market will exceed a $493 billion valuation in 2028, up from $345 billion in 2021. Analysts believe that it’ll grow at a CAGR of 8.90% between 2022 and 2028.
So, there’s a lot of money to make here.
You can design training programmes to help prospective freelancers find their feet. Also, several businesses won’t mind having you train their in-house team to become more efficient and productive.
For example, as a freelance writer, you can develop a training program for in-house marketing teams on how to use content marketing to increase brand awareness, establish topical authority and thought leadership, generate quality leads and nurture leads into paying customers.
Here’s the good news: you don’t even need to host a new website. Just create a subdomain on your current freelancing website and host your training program there.
How to start a training business
- Identify your niche.
- Conduct market research to understand your ideal customers and their pain points.
- Decide whether you want to offer online or in-person training.
- Set up your training pricing model.
- Create your training materials and structure the modules.
- Build your website to promote your training and register students.
- Incorporate a learning management system (LMS) into the website to organise and distribute your training materials and manage your students.
- Launch your training.
- Implement a customer feedback loop and ongoing support system.
What You Must Do Now: List all the possible training programmes you can offer right now. Create a draft content for your training website.
10. Offer retainer services
Retainer services are the holy grail of freelancing.
It gives freelancers a steady stream of freelance jobs without having to worry about constantly finding new clients or crawling job boards. It helps keep your average customer acquisition costs low. So, instead of trying to book one-off projects, find ways to guide your customers into building a long-term relationship.
Your retainer services shouldn’t be for everyone.
Instead, look for clients you enjoy working with. Listen to them often to understand their long-term frustrations and then design a retainer service that can help them solve them.
The key to onboarding them is to let them understand the value of a long-term relationship. Then, propose a pricing system that works for them plus relevant KPIs to track the value you’ll bring to their business.
How to offer a retainer service as a freelancer
- Identify when a client needs a long-term relationship. Don’t pitch retainer service to new clients until you have evaluated the ongoing project that you can work on with them.
- Pitch the retainer to the client, demonstrating the value they’ll get from the long-term relationship.
- Set a flat monthly rate.
- Provide ongoing value, not just deliverables.
- Tailor your retainer service to each client.
- Draft your retainer contract, including a 30-day notice to cancel.
What You Must Do Now: Design a retainer service for your top clients. Pitch the value they stand to get from the relationship. Offer them a trial month with the option to cancel anytime to alleviate their fears.
How can I increase my hourly rate?
Your best bet to increase your hourly rate is to become more specialised.
The thing is, the more specialised skills you have, the more valuable you are to clients and the more you can charge. Also, show clients how your skills and experience can help them achieve their goals.
Next, negotiate your rates. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.
How can I get more clients?
There are several ways you can get more freelancing clients, including:
- Networking: Attend industry events, connect with people on LinkedIn, and reach out to potential clients.
- Proactively marketing your service: Create a website, write blog posts, and share your work on social media.
- Offering a free consultation: This is a great way to get to know potential clients and show them how you can help them.
- Providing excellent customer service: Once you’ve landed a client, make sure you provide excellent customer service so they’ll be happy to refer you to others.
How can I negotiate better rates with clients?
Follow these tips to negotiate better rates with clients:
- Know what the going rate is for your services before you start negotiating.
- Be confident in your skills and experience. Clients are more likely to agree to your terms if they know you’re worth it.
- If a client isn’t willing to pay your rate, don’t be afraid to walk away.
- Negotiate in person or over the phone. This is a more personal way to negotiate and can help you build rapport with the client.
- Be willing to compromise. Sometimes you’ll have to compromise on your rate to land a client.
How can I improve my productivity?
These steps can help you improve your productivity:
- Set goals and deadlines to stay focused and motivated.
- Break down large tasks into smaller ones to be less daunting and easier to start.
- Take breaks. Get up and move around, or step outside for some fresh air.
- Delegate tasks. If you can, hire help to free up your time.
- Use technology to automate your tasks and streamline your workflow.
It’s Time to Grow Your Freelance Revenue
Figuring out how to grow your freelance earnings can be a hard nut to crack.
Thankfully, the tips in this blog post can guide you to pull it off. We recommend taking them one at a time to avoid overwhelming yourself.
However, before you begin, ensure to pick a niche that matches your skills and passion to put your best foot forward. Also, brand yourself to stand out and build a compelling portfolio to communicate your value and make a great first impression.
As well, look at what other top freelancers in your niche are doing to learn one or two things that can help improve your lot.