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4 Secrets To Successful Freelancing In 2020: 'That's What The Highest-Paid Freelancers Do'

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Elizabeth Balboa
·3 min read
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Freelancing isn’t quite what it used to be. The old framework typically included one-off projects in photography, writing, transcription or a similar field amounting to part-time employment.

“Today, freelancing is way bigger,” Nick Tubis, founder of Freelanceclients.com, told Benzinga. “Freelancing is kind of like the new consultant. You can start a freelance business, and it really could be anything.”

The gigs are often full-time and include sales, customer service, human resources, public relations, marketing and accounting — “things that add value to a business.”

The new freelancing model leverages technology to find clients quickly worldwide, Tubis said, adding that most freelancers contract with businesses rather than individuals. 

“It’s really helping businesses solve a problem.”

Where Freelancing Is Going: Recent global events have been a boon for the freelance industry, he said.

“Because of what’s going on with COVID-19, businesses are hiring more freelancers than ever before,” Tubis said.

The industry has opened up employment opportunities for older generations. Tubis’ website, which offers free training programs to budding freelancers, serves mostly baby boomers, he said. 

“The reason why is not just because of COVID-19. It’s that people don’t retire at age 50 anymore like they used to. People want to continue to work even if it’s a part-time thing,” he said, noting that many companies choose younger candidates over baby boomers due to wage cost or tech proficiency.

Tubis recently interviewed some of the highest-paid freelancers listed on Upwork Inc (NASDAQ: UPWK) to figure out their secrets to success.

Secret No. 1: Identify what's in demand.

While the freelancer terminal on Upwork shows only the “help wanted” posts of prospective clients, the client terminal shows the going rate for projects within different skillsets.

Tubis recommends that freelancers set up a client account to determine how much money peers make for different projects and then tailor their offerings to provide the highest-paid services.

Secret No. 2: Focus early on getting reviews.

“Focus on small jobs in the beginning that you can do really quickly: short-term, fast jobs that you can do quickly to get five-star reviews really quickly, and then clients will start reaching out to you and you don’t have to reach out to them,” Tubis said.

Secret No. 3: Raise the rates.

“To make as much as possible and have more freedom, you have to max out your rates as much as you can,” he said. 

He recommends testing demand at different prices by increasing the rate 20% each month until demand peaks.

Secret No. 4: Transition to a virtual agency model.

Tubis recommends that, once demand far exceeds supply, freelancers train and hire other freelancers to share the work and support more clients.

“That is what the highest paid freelancers do,” he said. “That’s how they gain that leverage and make six or seven figures.”

Such a model also provides financial stability, Tubis said. 

“The goal is to have multiple clients so you have more security if you lose a client and also for tax purposes,” he said. “There’s a way to get around that if you have more of the agency type model and you have 10, 20 or 30 clients that make up all of your revenue.”

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