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    How To Make More Money As A Freelancer

    “The path to greatness is along with others.” – Baltasar Gracion, Spanish Priest

    My writing business is moving into young adulthood, and instead of wondering where my next project is going to come from, I’m looking for more money, more projects and more clients. The only catch is, I don’t want to work any more hours.

    Ahh, there’s the rub.

    The “secret” here is not so secret at all. Of the 28 hours I spend behind the desk, only approximately 14 are billable hours. That’s a dismal 50% billable rate. I simply must increase my billable hours to 75% of my total time, which will increase my income by 25%, with no time adjustment on my part. How?

    By hiring and training a virtual assistant.

    Fully one half of my hours are spent on administrative tasks like seeking clients, pitching clients, producing Letters of Agreement or contracts, maintaining websites and blogs, invoicing, answering questions and updating spreadsheets. Look at that list again. Every single one of these chores could be farmed out to someone else.

    There are a lot of hang ups when it comes to hiring virtual help. As a freelance writer, I understand that. But each of these issues can be solved.

    1. Can’t afford it you say? Let’s look at it this way: if you bill at $70/hour and pay a virtual assistant $30-40/an hour, by regaining those billable hours, you’re netting $20-40 more per hour.
    2. How can I be sure I’m getting quality help? Well, how do you help your clients to feel comfortable hiring you sight unseen? You probably provide a portfolio of work, with client references and a track record showing at least a couple years of service. Look for the same thing.
    3. I want to pay a fair price. Virtual Assistants (VAs) work on much the same system as freelance writers. You won’t be the only client, and you’ve got to accept that. I’ve estimated a rate of $30 per hour to hire a VA. You’ll want to do your own research. Consider what administrative assistants make in your area, and take into account your own billing structure when setting your pay rate. Be open to what the VA suggests, or visit the International Virtual Assistants Association.
    4. What about training? This question goes deeper than what’s on the surface. Another way to increase your productivity and your billable hours is to automate your processes. For example, once you’ve found a system that works for you in procuring new projects, or in invoicing and billing, document the details in what will become your business manual. This manual will then become your training manual.
    5. I can’t deal with the down time. Down time should be built into your schedule. Successful businesses need a time to relax and recharge after completing big projects- think of the day after taxes are due at a CPA firm, or the day after Christmas in the retail industry. You and your team need to push and give to meet deadlines and bang out quality projects, but you also need to regroup after success. This downtime is the perfect opportunity to bring on your VA. Suspend new projects, and dedicate your time to high quality training, keeping yourself available for questions and doling out your VA’s responsibilities in manageable increments.

    Investing in a new addition to your team won’t be easy. Syncing your schedules, dealing with miscommunications and ironing out expectations are all challenges that you will meet together. But doing so will take a load off your shoulders, increase production, and boost your bottom line.

    “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” – Henry Ford

    About the author

      Allena Tapia

      Allena Tapia is a freelance writer and editor. She helps new freelancers get started in the business at freelancewrite.about.com.

    • jaca says:

      Hi

      Very interesting post.

      keep up the good job. 🙂
      godbless..

      seo articles

    • Ron says:

      Allena,

      You make some very good points.Hiring a VA will free you up to do what you do best and pass your efforts on to producing quality products for your paying clients.

      Remember, sometimes you have to spend money to make money.

      Best of wishes to you as your business grows.

      Ron
      http://www.YourWritingDept.com

    • Anthony says:

      True VA’s can help, but so can simply raising your rates provided you aren’t pricing yourself out of the market. Many freelancers seem to under price either to get work or due to the perception that others will not want to pay them market rates as a sole practitioner.

    • Benstom says:

      I think what you have mentioned in your article is also a best source to work through online. Freelancing is now a days a best online money making source through a secure and reliable way.

    • Scott says:

      I have found that being a VA is great. I get variety of work from different clients so my job isn’t stagnant or boring. I think our clients get help beyond the work as we give them suggestions as they go. We become a resource.

    • Zak says:

      I just noticed your writing blog gets a good review on Stumbleupon by one of their top bloggers. It’s here: http://thamus.stumbleupon.com/
      Good work

    • Great article, Allena! I’m not quite at the point for hiring a virtual assistant yet, but you bring up very good reasons for doing so. I’ll definitely keep it in mind as my writing expands and grows.

      ~Michele
      Freelance Writer & Blogger

    • Krista says:

      Hi Allena

      What a good article and good reminder! While we don’t use VAs over here in Malaysia, we have hired someone to work for us, allowing us more free time to go out and network and of course, gain new clients! Initially we were also of the mindset that “we can’t farm this out” and ” no one can do what we do”. But we knew if we wanted to excel in our business and bring greater value to our clients, we had to start getting staff and more importantly, training them. It is tough initially (both mentally as one tries to break out of the I-can-do-this-all-by-myself thinking and physically as one has to systemize the tasks and train another person who may/may not be familiar to the things we’ve done all this while). But the payoff is better. We can now focus on truly important stuff!

    • Ahh . . . the old “4-Hour Work Week” story, from your personal experience. Bravo!

      Jeff YablonPresident & CEO
      Virtual VIP

      Virtual VIP

    • Allena says:

      Kyle, I should hope that a VA who is also a graphics designer and webmaster would make 40-100 an hour! That’d be a great person for a freelance biz-tech writer to partner with!

    • Great idea, Allena. It’s so frustrating the time spent on unbillable hours. This is a great solution. And Matt, I’d just like to know since when is $30 an hour exploitation!

      I have an under-grad degree and two post-grad qualifications and when I used to come home from long term backpacking trips I happily took on $15 an hour receptionist work. It helped pay the rent while I worked out what my next career move would be. I never saw it as “dirty work”; exactly the opposite actually. It was freedom. The freedom to earn a living, meet new people and not get too wrapped up in work until I was ready to do so.

      Everyone has different strengths and every job has its place. I don’t think Allena was inferring she’s “better than” a VA because she gets paid more.

      Thanks for a great article.
      🙂 Kelly

    • I guess it comes back to Stephen Covey’s principle of big rocks. If there’s something more important for you to do (and someone to help take the load off your back) then that’s what you need to do. Great post, Allena!

    • Donna Caissie says:

      Matt,

      Being self-reliant myself, I can appreciate your wanting to do it all yourself. I think that the question any solo entrepreneur has to ask him/herself is, “am I not achieving my goals because I have a need to do everything myself”?

      The better VAs don’t require much training. Because they’re self-employed themselves, many of them are very Internet and technically savvy. I would suggest that a writer looking for a VA would need to assume that any VA had some basics under her/his belt. What basics? Good keyboarding skills, an ability to both spell check and proofread, an ability to know which homonoym to use, etc.

      I’ve put together a little booklet about how to find a Virtual Assistant; the booklet includes a VA interview sheet to help guide someone in what to ask when interviewing VA candidates. It’s free for the asking.

      I agree with Bette; AssistU VAs are the cream of the crop; obviously, I’m an AssistU graduate myself :-).

      =>Donna
      [email protected]

    • Kyle says:

      Allena,

      Thank you for promoting our industry. Virtual Assistants are a great partner for entrepreneurs. However, I must respectfully disagree with the following statement, “I’m probably a little more educated/experienced than my VA will be, so yes, their time (hourly rate) is less $$ than mine- they bill less than I do.”

      I am a business owner, have more than 20 years of administrative experience, graduated from AssistU (the premier VA training institute), an AA in Business Management (graduated Magna Cum Laude) and a BBA in Business Management (graduated Magna Cum Laude). I have excellent writing skills and know punctuation very well! I am also the Colorado-Wyoming-Montana Division President for the International Association of Administrative Professionals. The first VA to hold that honor.

      You will find highly educated and intelligent VAs to support you in your business and we do not necessarily charge less than you do. Most of the VAs I know charge from $40 – to more than $100 per hour. They can be highly skilled in web development, graphic arts, general office support and more.

      The focus should be on the idea that we, as a partner, can take things off of your plate so you can focus on what you love! Which is your business. Thus, you will, in turn, make more money. In a true VA relationship, it is a win-win situation with both parties respecting each other’s unique talents and skills.

      Granted, not all VAs will have the same level of experience, talents, skills or education. Some think it is an easy way to earn some money while working from home. Just as some entrepreneurs do. But, you do, in the long run, get what you pay for.

      I appreciate your article on virtual assistance and the benefits we can bring to other entrepreneurs! Thank you!

    • Allena says:

      Hmmm Matt, another thing I have been thinking of is that admiistrative tasks aren’t necessarily “dirty work”. I worked as a secretary for years and enjoyed it. I felt like it was my job to SUPPORT the person above me, and I knew that I wasn’t making as much as they were, but I also knew I wasn’t as “put out” as they were- I went home when I wanted, there was low stress, mid-level responsibilities… Sometimes I want to go back to it lol!!! But I’m “good at” writing, just as I assume my VA will be “good at” organization and procedurals.

    • Bette Arnold says:

      Working with the right Virtual Assistant will make you more money. Think of their rate as an investment in your business.

      As a virtual assistant myself, I help clients with administrative tasks while they work on expanding their business. As you work with your VA, the VA gets to know you and your business more and be more proactive thereby become much more valuable with time. Working with a virtual assistant is more of a relationship than outsourcing individual projects.

      For more information about the field of Virtual Asstance and the benefits of working with one, check out http://www.assistu.com. Who knows, you might run into me.

      Bette
      [email protected]

    • Matt says:

      Allena,

      Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate your article.

      But, I guess I’m of “ye old school of self reliance”.

      I like Sarah Greene’s comments. While I’m not so skilled at VA tasks, maybe she could tutor me on how to be more efficient (when performing my own VA tasks). That is also why I read these great blogs (and Lifehack/er, etc.). The productivity tips are priceless.

      I posted more here, but didn’t want to clutter these comments with my trivia:
      http://canalien.blogspot.com/2008/02/more-more-more.html

      Thanks!

    • Great post on why VAs are a powerful asset to your business.

      I’m an entrepreneur and have between 8 to 10 Virtual Contractors at any time helping me on my business. I have noticed though that a lot of entrepreneurs, service professionals and free-lancers hold back from hiring…like they are afraid to take the risk.

      You make a great point on how to pay for it. My own personal story is that I broke 6 figures with my first 2 assistants then over doubled my income the next year with 2 more. I’ve never looked back.

      If you know a service professional, free-lancer or entrepreneur who needs to hire a team but doesn’t know where to start, invite them to check out http://www.virtualteambuildingtelebootcamp.com, a 10 week virtual training on how to build and manage a powerful virtual team.

      Happy delegating!

      Melanie Benson Strick
      Million Dollar Lifestyle Business Coach
      & Virtual Team Building Expert
      http://www.successconnections.com

      PS Want to discover an easy way to triple your income? Download my free report on 101 Ways to Triple Your Income by Outsourcing Your High Payoff Activites at http://www.successconnections.com/101ways.

    • Allena says:

      Thanks, all. I have not moved on my inspiration just yet, but I have also convinced myself.

      Matt- that’s capitalism for you. In addition, I’m probably a little more educated/experienced than my VA will be, so yes, their time (hourly rate) is less $$ than mine- they bill less than I do.

    • Matt says:

      “I’m looking for more money… The only catch is, I don’t want to work any more hours.”

      So, you hire someone else at a lower pay scale to do your dirty work, huh? Is their time really worth less than yours?

      Ah, the smell of greed.

      Where’s the Zen?

    • I enjoyed the article. You make a great case for hiring a VA. I also wanted to point out that a VA can actually create the procedural manuals for you. Since we are specialists, we can often come up with more effecient and effective ways of handling things and document the processes for you.

    • As someone trying to “break into” the Virtual Assistant biz, I really appreciate this article. It’s so true! Partnering with a VA will not only give you more time to get out there and make money, it will truly help you grow your business in ways you never thought possible.

      It’s important to remember that, if you want a VA to speak directly with your clients (either via phone or e-mail), you need to select an individual with the highest quality of professionalism. They truly represent you and your company in all their interactions. Your clients won’t see any difference between you and your VA.

      And for anyone looking to try out the VA thing with a true professional (and receive a great “new to business” rate) drop me a line at my website.

      Thanks for this inspiring article, Leo and Allena!

    • Ryan says:

      Agreed, having a virtual assistant would take a load off. I also agree that you will still be making more money if you increase your billable hours enough. Having never had a VA, I would like to know how much you lose in productivity when working through a VA. Are the leads you get not quite what you want? Is there additional paperwork or steps to take? For those of us who like doing our own thing, how will having a VA disrupt our “groove”?

    • Hi Allena

      I just love your article, thank you so much, this means a great deal to new and inspiring VAs.

      Margaret

    • I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

      Allen Taylor


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