7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Freelance Income This Year

Posted by John Shaver on Sep 08, 2014 in
7 Simple Ways to Boost Your Freelance Income This Year

Freelance designers are always looking for new ways to make more money. There's only so many hours in the day, so picking up new projects isn't always an option.

In this article you'll learn seven creative ways to boost your freelance income in the upcoming months.

1. Self Host Client Websites

One thing every web design project needs is hosting, and there are typically a couple options at your disposal.

  1. Use the client's pre-existing hosting account
  2. Host the client's website on your own servers

From a purely financial standpoint, the second option makes a lot more sense.

If you're looking to supplement your income, it's smart to invest in a reseller hosting account of your own that can run multiple websites at once.

You can charge each client a monthly or annual fee, and with multiple people on a single account, it can add up quickly.

A reseller hosting account might cost you $500/year, but if you have 10 clients paying $20/month, you're bringing in $2,400/year, or $1,900 in extra profit for no extra work.

We've used four different providers over the years to host all of our websites, and LiquidWeb has been the best by far. If you're looking to host just a few, low traffic websites, BlueHost is also hard to beat.

It usually takes just 1-2 paying customers to cover the entire cost of the account, so everything after that is pure profit.


  • Earn extra income each year
  • Keep track of all your website projects in one place
  • Offer your clients an added service
  • Take the pressure of managing hosting off of your clients


  • Maybe more work managing accounts
  • You take on the responsibility if something goes wrong

2. Monthly Maintenance Plans

A lot of businesses want a website, but don't make any changes to the content once everything is online. This is good because you get paid up front, but bad because you earn nothing after that.

Sometimes they'll contact you for small changes and pay you by the hour, but wouldn't you rather get paid every single month instead, even if you didn't do any work?

For example, you can charge clients $49 for web hosting, weekly site backups, and up to one hour of content changes each month. That's almost $600/year of additional income from a single source.

Ideally, you'll end up doing absolutely no extra work, and the client still has the option for site updates.

Most people won't ask for updates every month, so the more clients you get on board, the more guaranteed monthly income you can count on.


  • Maximum monthly money for minimal effort
  • The more monthly maintenance plans you have, the less new work you have to find
  • Multiple maintenance plans add up to substantial income


  • You must be very clear on what is included in the monthly fee, whether maintenance time rolls over each month, etc.
  • Some clients will try to get more than what they pay for

3. Sell Completed Projects as Stock Graphics

Some people make a living solely by creating and selling stock graphics. Even if you prefer to work with locals, you can still grab a piece of the pie.

If you design a custom business cards for a company, you can easily prepare the files for resale with just a few tweaks. Replace the business name and logo and you're good to go.

Sites like Creative Market make it easy to show off your work to a large, and ready-to-buy audience. Even if the template only sells a few times in your life, it will be time well spent.


  • Earn passive income each month
  • Get your name in front of thousands of other designers


  • Extra work preparing files for download
  • Large clients might require ownership of the finished designs

4. Sub-Contract Unwanted Work

Most people are great at one or two things, decent at a few others, and poor at the rest. Instead of trying to do everything yourself, why not pay someone to do the work you hate?

You don't have to run a full-fledged design company to outsource design work, and it's not as complicated as you think.

If a client asks you to design a logo and some brochures, but you know that logo design is not your strength, just find another designer who is comfortable with branding and pay them to do it. You can draw up a basic agreement to keep them from trying to steal your clients.

Once you've built a few relationships, you can outsource more and more until all that's left are the things you actually want to do yourself.


  • Work on only the projects you like
  • Complete more work, faster


  • You must manage other designers

5. Manage Client Ad Campaigns

The more skills you have, the more services you can offer your clients. The more services you can offer your clients, the more opportunity there is to make money.

Local businesses make up a lot of the clientele for freelance designers, and they're also some of the biggest spenders when it comes to online ads.

Running ads through Google, Bing, or Facebook is not as hard as it might seem. With a few weeks of research and practice, you can quickly become qualified to run basic ad campaigns, and help your clients find new customers.

Traditionally, agencies earn a set percentage of their client's ad spend. So at 10%, if their client spends $1,000 on ads, they would earn $100. You can also charge hourly or flat rates if it makes more sense.


  • Offer a valuable new service to your clients
  • Learn new advertising tricks as you go


  • Clients might hold you responsible for poorly performing ads

6. Raise Your Rates

This might seem like an obvious way to make more money, but people don't do it enough.

After freelancing for a few years, you get used to doing things the comfortable way.

A good rule of thumb is to re-evaluate your pricing every 6-12 months. If you find yourself overwhelmed with work, it might be time to charge more and work less.

When your clients are happy, they will probably stay with you, regardless of a small price increase. If one or two people don't want to work with you any more, that just opens to the door to new, higher paying clients.

Oftentimes, people demand to know why you are charging more, so just be prepared with an answer.


  • Earn more money per hour
  • Work less for the same profit


  • Clients might leave
  • Clients might request justification of higher prices

7. Upsell Your Services

A lot of designers are not natural salespeople, but you should always be selling. As a freelancer, no one else is going to do it for you.

If you're designing a logo and business card, offer to design a brochure and letterhead for a complete identity package.

Many times, your clients will be thankful for offering something they didn't even think about. When people are thanking you AND giving you their money, you know you're doing something right.

Are there any other tips we're missing? What has been the biggest income booster in your design career?

Share your tricks and experience in the comments.

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