How I doubled my income as a freelance motion designerAug 27, 2022
Read time: 3.5 minutes
I went from $120k annual income to invoicing for $247k using a few different pricing models and a pinch of confidence.
Before I knew how to price my work appropriately, freelancing meant all-nighters, income insecurity, and zero free time. Now I have more control over my projects, can afford to turn away work that doesn’t perfectly align with my business, and am working fewer total hours.
Here’s how I did it:
- A curated clientele
- Mix of 3 different pricing models
- Workflow optimization
- Company of one mindset
In the end, not only did I walk away with more money, I had helped more people, made more happy clients, and had a greater positive impact with my work than ever before.
- Which is to say: if you’re a starving artist, you’re doing it wrong.
Don’t be precious. Put aside any emotional attachments to your Art, and separate the market value of your work from your personal value.
- When I talk about “value” and “worth” here, I am talking about money.
- That makes a lot of artists uncomfortable. We as a community need to work on that— for the sake of the work and its ability to reach anyone.
1. Your clients are the bedrock of your business.
🎥 The work you produce is worth as much as the value it provides for a client, be they a studio or a non-marketing company or even a consumer.
- Get to know your client’s business, speak their language (KPIs), and establish yourself as not just a motion design expert, but also a business partner.
- Work together to set big, measurable goals and identify the value in meeting them— then set your price as a fraction of that outcome to create a win-win offer.
If you’re not happy with the work or the financial support your clients are able to provide, it’s time to market yourself to new clients.
2. Diverse pricing mechanisms create flexibility
One of the greatest advantages freelancers have over studio and agency competitors is the ability to be flexible.
- We can’t compete on scale and resources, but a solo freelancer can be more nimble.
3 Pricing models, one for every occasion, much like having diverse income streams.
- Reserve time-based pricing for reliable, low-commitment gigs that will always be there to get your rent paid.
- Use deliverable-based pricing when time-based pricing would punish you for being too fast, but there isn’t enough information (or trust) to strike a value-driven deal.
- Value-based pricing is the most lucrative and the most risky, so make sure the offer is a win-win for your client and that you’ve established a clear objective.
3. Hone a workflow optimized for speed
The simplest way to scale is to get faster.
- When your clientele is curated, and your inbound marketing is targeted, you’ll know what to expect from 90% of the project inquiries that come through your inbox.
- Except when you’re billing by time— raise your rates in congruence with your speed gains.
4. I stopped “freelancing” and started running a business
😵💫 A minor identity crisis: Am I a freelancer? Or a business owner?
- I saw other freelancers list themselves as CEO of their LLCs. 🤔
- But I was still a sole proprietor operating in a corner of my studio apartment or a spare bedroom.
Reality check: Freelancing isn’t profitable until you start running your business as a company of one.
- 💀 Operating at-cost is unsustainable: we have to build in profit margins and price based on value, rather than trading our time for money.
- Inbound and outbound marketing strategies work for us just the same as they do for any other business.
5. A little courage
Throw it away: The first time I threw out a 5-figure number, I was sure the client would decline.
- Not only did they agree, they continued to hire me again and again.
- The confidence boost helped me continue setting higher numbers.
I noticed that when I planned to offload a project to a subcontractor, I always quoted way higher than I would for myself— and the clients still almost always said “yes.”
- I was valuing other people above myself, even if I thought I could deliver a better product, because I was embarrassed to offer someone the same rates I was willing to take
- Give yourself a rate you’d be proud to give someone else.
It’s business 101: The biggest growth comes from sticking to the fundamentals of growing your business and crafting your work.
- Advanced tactics don’t move the needle for most small businesses.
- Be aggressive about going steady with the basics
- Check your imposter syndrome on a regular basis— it never fully goes away.
See you again next week.
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