Do You Make Incorrect Assumptions About What a Freelancer SHOULD Earn?

When we are employed by companies, we know the kind of salary we can expect. That salary may depend on the position we hold, our years of experience, perhaps our qualifications and training, and so on.

We also understand there is a ceiling to our earning potential. If we want to earn more, we have to climb higher up the corporate ladder. If we have climbed as high as we can get, then our earning potential is essentially capped.

So, what happens when we strike out and become freelancers?

We feel both excited and nervous by this new, relatively unstructured way of working.

But, one thing we tend to bring with us from the corporate world is the belief in that income ceiling.

If we are just starting out as a freelancer, we do some research and figure out the ceiling for beginners.

After we have more experience under our belt, we raise that ceiling, based in large part on what our peers are charging.

The trouble is, this is all based on a false assumption.

Who says there is a ceiling to what you can earn during your first year as a freelancer? Who says there is a ceiling to what you can earn after five years, or 10?

You might say, “Nick, of course there is a ceiling. It’s put there by the laws of supply and demand.”

To which I say, hogwash.

Imagine for a moment that instead of becoming a freelancer selling services, you became an entrepreneur selling a high-tech gadget. A really good gadget that starts selling like crazy from day one.

Are you going to say, “Whoa, we had better hold back on sales. Entrepreneurs aren’t supposed to do this well in year one.”?

Of course not.

Why not take the same attitude with your freelance business? Put aside assumptions about what you should be earning. Roll back the ceiling.

The limit to your earnings — whether you have been a freelancer for one day or one decade — is determined only by the value you offer your clients.

If you offer limited value, as in “I’m just a newbie copywriter,” you won’t earn much.

But, if you take a more entrepreneurial, ceiling-busting approach, and offer extraordinary value to your clients, in unique and valuable ways, the limits to your income magically disappear.

“Easy for you to say,” you might be thinking.

Why are you thinking that?

Almost every day, I get emails from talented writers who simply don’t believe they have sufficient talent to make money as a freelancer. If they do take the plunge, they squeeze themselves in beneath a ridiculously low income ceiling, and hope that a company, any company, will take pity on them and give them some work.

How well do you think that would work for our gadget entrepreneur? “My gadget is pathetic, and I can only hope and pray someone buys one.” Entrepreneurs can’t survive, let alone excel, unless they enter the market with absolute confidence in their products. Starting on day one.

It’s no different for freelancers.

Successful freelancers ARE entrepreneurs. They simply sell a service instead of a product.

And, like entrepreneurs, successful freelancers don’t box themselves in with a false income ceiling.

They plan and build a business with no ceiling to their potential income.

How about you? Are you a timid freelancer? Or a potential entrepreneur?

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Published: February 22, 2010

3 Responses to “Do You Make Incorrect Assumptions About What a Freelancer SHOULD Earn?”

  1. Nick is right. You have to stop thinking small. You have to start thinking the client will like what you deliver, and at your price. If you think small, that's all you will get. Like Nick said, "hogwash." I say take pride in what you do, think big, and go for it! Thanks, Nick!

    Kellie Craft

  2. Thank you Nick. I enjoy your books and seminars so much. Especially setting up a web site. I know I have a way to go but I will get there. I love the way everyone helps each other. It's like one big happy family. Love and best wishes to all. Cheers Millie Martin

    Millie Martin

  3. Thank you Mr Usborne for a very morale boosting confident building post.Us newbies really need such things to gain our confidence and start earning what we are truly worth Thank you Thank you


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