Six quick and easy tricks to save and make more money as a freelancer

Are you struggling to make ends meet this month? Do you need extra cash and fast? Want to make sure next month is profitable? It might sound too good to be true, but there really are steps you can take immediately to earn more money.

The following quick and easy suggestions will not only boost your income and keep the wolf from the door, they'll ensure a healthy cash flow in future:

1. Go lean and mean

It might be an obvious first tip, but it's always important to mention and one that often needs reminding: get super lean and mean with your money. That means no unnecessary spending, both personally and professionally. Because the more you spend, the more you need to earn. And you won't be enjoying that new BMW when you realise how much that keeps you chained to your desk.

Consider using a budgeting tool or app. Something that will help you stay in control of your finances. The following recommendations will serve you well:

  • Money Dashboard: By showing you exactly where your money goes, Money Dashboard helps you make better decisions about how to use it.

  • Mint: Easily pull all your accounts, cards and investments into one place so you can track your spending, create a budget, receive bill reminders, and get customised tips for reducing fees and saving money.

  • MoneyHub: Bring your money to life – that's the promise from MoneyHub, which lets you see the big financial picture wherever you are.

  • Pennies: Budgeting shouldn't be boring, which is why you'll appreciate Pennies – a super simple, super fun money tracking app. Available on the App Store with rave reviews.

2. Review everything

With a wealth of subscription tools, products and services at our fingertips, it’s easy to lose track of what we’re paying for each month. Open up your bank app right now and go through all of your latest outgoings. Are there any subscriptions you could do without? Spot anything that seems too expensive? Ditch, strip back and cut wherever possible – you’ll feel the weight coming off your shoulders. Here are five steps you can take today to cut costs:

  • Negotiate expenses and shop around: Got a phone line? Broadband? Web hosting? Use a subscription service your clients can't live without? Create a list and contact every single service provider you use, and ask for a discount. You'll be surprised how much people will want to retain your business and be willing to help you save money. Don't ask, don't get.

  • Go paperless: Do you really need all that paper and printing? Adopt a paperless approach, and tell all your clients that you're doing everything digitally from now on. That includes invoicing, correspondence and notes. You'll save loads of money, and it's great for the environment too.

  • Reduce travel costs: Do you really need to visit your client 100 miles away every month? Can you suggest a cost-effective alternative like Skype? If your client insists on monthly face-to-face meetings, can you ask for your travel expenses to be covered?

  • Share resources: We all have friends who freelance. Is there any way you can pull together and share subscription services to save money? What about a shared office space where you can use the same facilities, tools and apps?

  • Buy secondhand: Need an upgraded laptop? Don't be lured into buying the latest Apple or Microsoft products if you don't really need them – buy secondhand instead and save yourself the expense.

3. Find some easy gigs

We’ve all had to do it – take on work we’d rather not. Those small tasks that don’t offer much, but if you need to make some extra cash, they’re a lifesaver. The following freelancer sites regularly list opportunities, so get signed up and check daily for work:

  • UpWork: Considered one of the best in the business, UpWork lists freelance opportunities for programmers, designers, writers and marketing professionals.

  • Freelancer: Launched in 2004, Freelancer is an established community of freelancers in the fields of design, development, marketing and data entry – definitely one to join.

  • Guru: Focused on 'technical, creative or business projects', Guru brings a wealth of opportunities to all types of freelancers from developers to designers.

  • People Per Hour: A UK-based site, People Per Hour lets you create a profile (including a video, if that suits), look for jobs and send proposals. You then get rated on your work.

  • iFreelance: One of the biggest networks out there, iFreelance is a directory of photographers, filmmakers, graphic designers and developers.

4. Turn those leads into clients

If you’re having one of those months where you’ve been to lots of meetings and people seem like they’re on the brink of hiring you, consider offering a lucrative discount to seal the deal. Send a follow-up email, asking how they are and mention that for a limited time you’re giving a 10 per cent discount on all new business for the first three months. Sounds simple, but it works.

Even better, offer the first job on the house! Yes, you might be working for free – but you're building a relationship of trust, and that's worth it's weight in gold. Because you have to remember that every client will always feel as though they're taking a risk when hiring new suppliers. Lessen that risk by dangling a juicy carrot – one that gives them no excuse to delay in hiring you.

5. Rent out desks

If your biggest outgoing is your office, and you've got room for a few more desks, why not rent out the space to other freelancers? You could charge anything between £250 – £400 per desk, per month – depending on your location and local market. That's £4,800 a year – a substantial sum that will help you cover costs. And if you've got two desks going spare, then you're really rocking. Just check with your landlord that you're allowed to sub-let. If you want to go ahead, check out the following online resources where you can advertise your desks:

  • Desks Near Me: It's completely free to list your desk or office space with Desks Near Me – a great website that will find you suitable office sharers quickly and easily.

  • GumTree: I'm not sure how GumTree became one of the leading resources for finding desk and office space, but this established site is still very reliable.

  • Share My Office: Freelancer, startup or growing business? Rent out your spare desks to likeminded entrepreneurs and make a little extra cash on the side.

6. Ditch the office entirely and go virtual

Don't really want to share with others? Ditch the office instead. Because having an office is really not essential these days. Clients don't care where you're based, as long as you can deliver quality work on time and on budget.

And if you need a meeting, take advantage of the wealth of independent coffee shops on your local city's doorstep, as you'll be supporting other small businesses too. For further help in becoming a virtual business, consider the following tips:

  • Get a virtual office: You don't really want to use your home address on your website or business stationery, so get a virtual address that also handles your post. You could try the usual suspects like Regus or Orega. Or if they're just too darn corporate (and expensive) try the softer, more creative options that you might find at a co-working space like Central Working or Impact Hub – which frankly, are part of a creative community and care more about the success of your business than taking your cash every month.

  • Get the essential virtual tools: For task management on the move, use Trello or Teamwork; time-tracking and reporting – Harvest; Gmail for email; Dropbox for document storage and sharing; DocuSign for getting contracts signed and Google Hangouts for conference calls – both video and phone.

  • Hire a virtual secretary: If you want someone to answer your calls – either when you're on holiday or during busier periods, then consider hiring a virtual secretary. This isn't the cheapest option – and ok, it won't save you money. But it'll save you time, and that means you can focus on earning more cash. TimeEtc is a good recommendation. Prices start from £169 per month and that gives you six hours per month with a dedicated UK assistant. If that's too steep, check out eReceptionist, as their prices start from £9.95 per month – they've even got a free 30-day trial.

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