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How to make a steady income as a freelancer

Carol Chan is a writer for BUILT BY GIRLS, which prepares the next generation of female and non-binary leaders to step into their power and break into their careers. WAVE is the backbone of BUILT BY GIRLS: it’s a 1:1 matching program that connects high school and college students with top tech professionals across the country. For more information and to sign up check out

Freelancing is becoming more and more popular as a form of employment.

According to Upwork’s annual study "Freelance Forward," more than one-third of the American workforce has freelanced during the coronavirus pandemic, which is a 22% increase since 2019. More young professionals are leveraging their skill sets outside of traditional employment and breaking the mold of what work looks like.

Make no mistake, though — freelancing isn’t easy. In addition to the outlined services you’re offering to your clients, you are also in charge of marketing, bookkeeping, client management, and so on. And arguably, the biggest pain point of freelancing is money.

Here are a few pro-tips to maximize your chances of steady income:

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty)

Send cold emails consistently

When you’re first starting off, it really is a number’s game. Commit to sending out 10-15 emails a week to people and businesses you’d consider your “ideal client.”

Once you have your list, reach out with who you are, the unique value you offer, and that you’re looking to onboard new clients and would love to chat. While it might take a few tries to book anyone, you’ll at least be top of mind for when a business need arises.

Ask for testimonials and referrals from existing clients

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (Maskot via Getty Images)

Let’s say you just completed a project and you’re ready to move on to the next one! Not so fast.

Before you part ways, make sure to ask if they’d be willing to give you a testimonial. Social proof can be helpful for prospective clients who are on the fence. You should also mention that you would greatly appreciate referrals from their network. It never hurts to put the ask out there.

Find your online communities

There are so many different community groups and directories you can join for freelancers. This is a great way to expand your network, ask for advice, and to find potential gigs.

Freelancing can feel isolating (especially during this pandemic), so it’s truly a wonderful way to find and connect with like-minded people.

(Photo: Getty)
(Photo: Getty) (Olezzo via Getty Images)

Diversify your income streams

Freelancing is not only one way to make income with your skills. Consider other creative ways to earn money that isn’t tied directly to your time.

For example: Can you create an online course or e-book with knowledge that you’ve gained over the years? Or if you’re a designer, can you explore the world of art licensing or selling digital prints? The possibilities are there, you just have to look for them.

It’s never easy to be a full-time freelancer but if you keep pushing forward, you’ll start to gain momentum. And before you know it, you’ll be turning away clients left and right. Good luck!

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