These are the 5 ways you can make more money
when you’re fully booked with clients
It’s the freelancer dream…. right up to the moment you realise you’re in a waking nightmare.
When I started freelance digital copywriting I had the completely arbitrary figure of £5k per month as my target.
I saw someone else achieving that, or a coach promising it, and being the unimaginative copy cat I was at the time, I grabbed onto the figure with both paws, and made it my own personal mission.
It didn’t take me too long to get there - maybe a year of narrowing down who I wanted to work with (women, who didn’t want to talk to me on an actual phone - shudder - and weren’t too perturbed when I needed to stop work to do the school run, or dropped everything for a couple of days to nurse a poorly kid).
The first £5k month was tough, but I reasoned it would get easier.
The next month, I started to feel the strain. How could I find time to market my business and find new clients while I was maxed out on my current copywriting projects.
Months 3 and 4, I figured out how to treat my own business like a client, so I’d carve out enough time to do the marketing and networking to keep the leads rolling in.
And by month 5 I was a burned out frazzle of a human, ready to go back to earning less and sleeping more. I was fully booked and ready to increase my income - the two didn’t seem compatible.
That’s a really long way of me saying - I get it - the current level you are working at is not sustainable.
You want more money, but you need to work fewer hours.
So you’re looking for some of that magic leverage folks are talking about.
I’ve been buying and selling that for the best part of 7 years, as a freelancer, turned course provider, and as a copywriter creating sales pages for clients launching courses, programmes, and memberships.
Here’s what I know about increasing your income when you’re already booked out with clients.
There are basically five ways to do it, and all the business-building offers I’ve seen fall into one of these categories, or are some kind of hybrid of a them.
So here are the Big Five, along with links to folks who can help you out with them (and nope, I’m not only going to pitch you my stuff).
#1 Get Paid More For The Work That You Do
a) Increase your prices for the services you’re providing
If you’re fully booked, that’s a good sign that you’re not charging enough. If everyone you quote for gives you a hearty yes, then there’s scope for you to increase your rates. Sure some people might say no, but it sounds like there’s a queue of hopefuls lining up behind them, waiting to work with you. And if you do end up with some slack in the schedule, surely that’s a win. You can work with half as many clients, at twice the rate, and still make the same amount of money AND have some magical spare time to invest in growing your business (or on watching Netflix, whatever makes your heart happy).
b) Drop the lower paying services
If you offer a mixture of premium services and the lower-paying getting-things-done kinda work, maybe it’s time to shift the balance heavily in favour of the premium stuff.
I will add a word of caution to that though.
Sometimes there’s only so much premium work are brains/bodies can handle, and then the ‘grunt work’ is handy to squeeze in around the edges to top up the income.
When my kids were younger, our schedules were rather unpredictable (such a ridiculous understatement) so I could only commit to one or two sales funnel projects at a time. But at the same time I had regular blogging clients on retainer, because these were much less taxing, and I could plod through them in much smaller chunks of time, whereas copywriting sales funnels needed hours of uninterrupted working time.
c) What’s the most VIP services you can imagine
Can you go even more premium than you’ve got already? Would people pay big to get you at short notice (and does that work with your life)? Or maybe they’ll pay treble your regular rate, to get you on a one-off call to chew through a problem you can help with.
I got asked to turn around a sales page over a weekend once, so I quoted double my usual rate, did the work, the launch made multiple £10ks, so I decided that doubled rate was now my new rate, and double that was my fast-turnaround rate. It was a lucrative weekend all round.
d) Find the clients with the most money
That lucrative weekend I just mentioned taught me something important:
Someone who is launching a course for the first time doesn’t usually have a huge budget for a copywriter to create their sales page from scratch.
The owner of an established successful membership has plenty of money to pay a copywriter to tighten up a sales page that’s already done a pretty good job.
And then there’s the corporate clients.
I have nothing of wisdom to share there, as it’s a padding pool I’ve chosen not to play in, but plenty of my business buddies have enjoyed financial success by switching their attentions away from individuals (small business owners, or regular members of the public) and focussing on corporate clients.
#2 Do More of The Work You’re Paid To Do
a) Agency Model
You don’t have to build a huge agency with an actual office, and employees, and all that jazz. You could find a friendly freelancer or two to sub your work out to. Develop rigorous processes for working with them, and quality checking work. Maybe you still do all the client facing bits, and sub out the stuff that doesn’t need your magical touch. Or maybe you’re happy to have a team that work directly with your clients, following your own branded process.
b) Do Less Non-Paying Business Work
I’m married to an accountant and so I’m painfully familiar with the phrase ‘billable hours’. Boring as his career-focussed chats are (sorry hun), the phrase did help me make sure a hefty percentage of my working time was focussed on the paying tasks, rather than the nice-to-dos (like browsing Creative Market for totally essential brand resources… totally essential I tell you;) ).
Use a time tracker like Toggl to measure where your precious time is going, and then decide what can be nixed, and what could be outsourced, to free up your precious time and brain space for those paying clients.
c) Do Less Non-Paying Non-Business Work
If you pay a cleaner £15 an hour to free up an hour of your time (but probably two, because you know they’ll do a better job, faster), how much extra money could you make each week.
Not into having a cleaner?
No worries - I used the ‘how much money could I make if I was working instead of cleaning’ logic to buy a RoboVac and I love it with a fondness usually reserved for pets or gin.
What humdrum but essential duties do you wish you could sack off so you could spend your time on the business instead?
#3 Do The Work With More People At One Time
Behold, we have finally reached the hallowed ground of the ‘Scaleable Solutions’.
By the time you are fully booked, there’s a good chance you have built a small (but growing) audience of people who love you, but can’t (yet) afford to work with you 1-1.
And at the same time you’re wanting to sell things that don’t involve working with you 1-1. What a happy coincidence.
a) Create a course based on what you know
Turn your skills, knowledge and experience into a course that helps people DIY their way to the same transformation or outcome that working with you 1-1 would achieve.
For a quicker way to create and release your training idea, take a look at Elizabeth Goddard’s Paid Live Training concept.
b) Group programme
Usually there’s some kind of core content, a timetable, a coaching element, and a small batch of people working towards the same outcome.
Some content, a community, some ways of accessing your input.
You don’t need a huge library of content in place to get started - you can build as you go.
Be warned this is effort upfront, money later, because the hardest slog is getting those first paying members, and you’re energy is going into keeping the happy, while marketing the membership, while creating new content.
Using a doors open-doors closed strategy, even if only temporarily, will help you pace yourself and focus your efforts.
d) Some kinda hybrid
What if you had a self-study course that was available to buy evergreen, and then once a year you ran it with live support, kinda turning it into a group programme?
What if you had a membership, with a library, and support options your members could dip in and out of, but they signed up for a fixed term (3, 6, 12 months)? And what if you combined that with a premium price so it looked more like a mastermind than a membership?
What if you had a bunch of self-study courses people could buy individually, AND the option to buy into a membership that unlocked access to all the courses - so every time you created new content for your membership, you also had the option of selling that content as a standalone self-study course.
You get the idea… play around, combine, stack, tweak, create whatever scaleable offer that’s going to work for you and your life.
Resources that might help you along your way:
Membership Academy - a membership for membership owners, that I’m a part of, even though I don’t have a membership right now.
Successful Memberships without a team - free training from Elizabeth Goddard
How to create and sell something before you’re ready - another free training from Elizabeth Goddard (yes, I’m a fan)
#4 Mentor/Coach Other People Who Want To Do What You Do
Hey congrats, you’re fully booked. There are plenty of people that would love to be in your position.
You could mentoring progamme/club for them, where you show them how you did it, and hold their hand while they build their own client base, refine their quoting, onboarding and delivery systems, and generally hone their craft.
Did I do that for other copywriters? No.
Do I wish I had? Absolutely. I was put off because I knew there were already communities and masterminds for other copywriters. I wasn’t a part of those groups because I didn’t find them to be fun places for me….and that is the opportunity I missed. If I didn’t enjoy being in them, chances are there were plenty of other copywriters out there who felt the same, and would’ve jumped into my own breakaway option.
#5 Selling Stuff Your Audience Wants That Someone Else Offers
Lots of the tools and courses you love, will have affiliate schemes.
This means you can sign-up and get a unique link to share with your contacts or add to your website/blog posts. When someone clicks on the link, a magical cookie links their computer to your affiliate ID. And then if they buy something from that website, you may get a thank you commission.
You could promote tools and courses that have helped you do what you do.
Or before you create a course, if there’s already one that exists, that you rate, maybe it would be quicker, easier and more lucrative to promote that instead.
You could team up with other business owners to pass on referrals too.
Do your clients often need the input of another professional before they’re ready to work with you, while they’re working with you, or after you’ve worked together? Referring them on to someone you trust will:
- Stop scope creep, so you don’t accidentally end up doing the work someone else would be better suited to do
- Be helpful for your client and save them hours of research
- Could earn you a thank you payment (if you pre-agree this with the person you are referring them to).
That’s A Wrap
Hopefully that’s inspired a whole page of ideas of ways you can make more money.
Now pick one and implement it - because ideas in your notebook won’t earn you a penny (trust me, I’ve got an enormous stash of very full notebooks).