How to Meet Your Freelance Income Goals in 2024: Six Steps to Success

21 Mar 2024 | Freelancing

Title image: How to Meet Your Freelance Income Goals in 2024: Six Steps to Success

Quick note on currency: I’m in the UK, but I give my rates in dollars because most of my clients are in the US. I also tend to use dollars for examples here on Aliventures as I have more US than UK readers.

A couple of weeks ago, my guest post went up on Buffer, titled How I Increased My Freelance Writing Income By 79% Percent in a Single Year (and How You Could Too).

It goes through some specific techniques I used to grow my freelancing income significantly … and I wanted to share some of those ideas here on Aliventures too, with a particular focus on what you can do during the rest of 2024 to meet your goals.

As a freelance writer, your main goal is probably to make money. I imagine you want to enjoy your work too, and that you get some fulfillment from the writing itself … but you still likely have some goals (or at least hopes!) about making decent money from freelancing.

How can you boost your chances of reaching those goals? And what if 2024 is already going off-track for you?

Here are six steps to help you succeed.

Step #1: Set Clear and Specific Goals for your Freelancing

Whatever kind of freelancing you do – whether you write, edit, consult, or do something else involving words –  you’ll want to know what you’re aiming for in terms of income.

You might want to replace your income from your day job. You might want to go further! Or if you’re freelancing to support your fiction writing, you might simply want to hit a certain minimum amount that lets you pay essential bills.

This could also be a year where you ramp up, or a year where you aim to match what you made previously. You might even be happy to make less than last year – especially if that means you can free up time for another important goal or writing project.

You could set your goals as:

  • An annual goal (e.g. $60,000)
  • A monthly goal (e.g. $5,000)

You might find it’s easier to think in terms of monthly income to start off with. What would be an achievable average per month? What does that look like as an annual goal?

Step #2: Assess How January and February Went

At this point in March, you’ve hopefully at least sent out invoices, if not been paid in full, for all the freelance work you did during January and February.

How did those months go for you? Maybe there was a dip in your income: work from a particular client dried up, or you were unwell and couldn’t work as much as usual. Or perhaps you got your year off to a flying start and made more money than you expected!

If your January and February didn’t go too well, can you see ways to course-correct? It could be that your monthly goals were too ambitious – maybe this is a good point in the year to adjust them.

It’s always okay to change a goal if doing so makes the most sense for you. 

Perhaps January and February made it clear that your goal was a lot more ambitious than you realised. 

Don’t spend the next nine months of the year desperately scrabbling to make up for lost time, and feeling discouraged with your goal, when you can simply reassess and adjust your goal in the light of 2+ months of experience.

Or perhaps in January and February, you landed two great new clients who are keen to work with you for the long-term. If your initial income goal was fairly modest, now might be the time to start shooting for something more ambitious!

Step #3: Figure Out What You’re Making Per Hour for Each Client

I’ve been tracking my time using Clockify for a couple of years now, and I’ve found this a super useful way to not only stay on task but also to figure out which clients are paying the most per hour of my time.

Like the majority of freelancers, I charge per word or per project, not per hour. (I go through project pricing vs hourly pricing in Module #5 of Start Freelancing, if you’re interested in knowing more about that.) 

From my perspective, however, I generally want to make the most possible money in the least amount of time! That means figuring out how long a particular client’s work takes, and how that breaks down per hour. By tracking my time for each blog post, I can easily calculate my effective hourly rate.

For instance, a 1,200 word blog post that I’m charging at $0.25/word gets me $300. If it takes me an hour and a half to write, edit, and optimize that post (fairly typical for me as after 16 years of doing this, I’m pretty fast!) then I’m getting $200/hour.

For more on time/income tracking, check out Six Ways to Track Your Freelancing Time and Income (and Why You Should)

Step #4: Don’t Be Afraid to Raise Your Rates

The absolute easiest way to make more money freelancing without spending any extra time working is to increase your rates.

Halfway through 2023, I raised my rate for one client from $0.13/word to $0.15/word. That isn’t a large increase … but it applied to 69,620 words (!) that I wrote during the second half of the year. That’s an additional $1,392.40 that I made during those 6 months without doing any extra work.

I totally get how daunting it can be to even think about emailing a client to tell them your rate is going up. You might be worried that:

  • They’ll simply stop working with you altogether
  • They’ll react badly (e.g. questioning whether your writing is worth the extra money)
  • They’ll expect more from you (e.g. adding in images/formatting, when you didn’t previously do that)

In my experience, though, clients react just fine. Raising your rates is a completely normal part of doing business. 

If you are feeling unsure, though, the simplest thing to do is to raise your rate for new clients first. Simply take on anyone new at your higher rate. Then, you can let existing clients know that you’ll keep them at your old rate for a month or two, before putting them up to the new rate.

Step #5: Set Weekly and Daily Income Goals

The tricky thing with an annual goal, or even a monthly goal, is that it can be tough to know whether you’re on track until it’s too late to easily change things. You might also find yourself scrabbling to get as much work done as possible at the start of the month … only to realise that you could have taken things a bit more slowly.

Each week, it’s a good idea to look at your calendar and set an achievable income goal that ties into your monthly/annual goal. You’ll likely find that your exact goal varies from week to week: perhaps in the first week of the month, you have to send out invoices and you’ve got a couple of appointments eating into your work time, but in the second week, you have more hours available for freelancing.

You can even break this down further and set a daily income goal – then plan to tackle work that will get you there! For me, that means doing my highest-paying (per hour) work first, then filling in any extra time with the lower-paying work. Obviously, this won’t work in all situations – e.g. if your work has tight deadlines, so you have to tackle pieces as they come in.

Step #6: Protect Your Freelancing Hours

I know how easy it is for other things to creep into your freelancing day! When you work for yourself, from home, it’s so easy to end up taking half an hour here to pop out for groceries or half an hour there to tackle a backlog of household chores. 

One of the great things about freelancing is how flexible it is, and it’s absolutely fine to work whatever hours you like. But if you’ve set aside, say, 9am–3pm for freelancing and other things keep intruding, it’s going to be tough to meet your goals.

Having good boundaries around your freelancing time can be tough. This is something I still find difficult, even after many years of freelancing. Using time tracking software helps me, and having a set start/end time for my freelancing each day.

You might also find it helps to:

  • Clearly communicate what hours you work to other people in your life (particularly anyone living in the same house as you – partner, roommates, etc). Here are some tips on what you can do if your partner isn’t supportive about your writing.
  • Keep a few hours free each week as a “buffer” … if something interrupts your freelancing time earlier in the week, you could use those hours instead.
  • Make sure you have sufficient time when you’re definitely not working. It’s easy to end up quickly checking emails or doing little bits of work in the evening, when you’d be better off having a proper break so you can start fresh the next day.

If you haven’t yet set goals for your freelancing income in 2024 … now’s a great time to do so! You’ve still got just over nine months of the year left, and you’ve got your January and February income to help you choose an achievable goal.

If you have set an income goal, how’s it been going? You might want to adjust your goal (up or down) depending on how the past couple of months went for you. Or, you might want to look at the ideas above to see which ones might help you stay on track for your goal.

About

I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.

Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.

My Novels

My contemporary fantasy trilogy is available from Amazon. The books follow on from one another, so read Lycopolis first.

You can buy them all from Amazon, or read them FREE in Kindle Unlimited.

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