A lot of people worry that when they become a freelancer, they’re saying goodbye to consistent income, and whilst this isn’t necessarily true, it is more important than ever before to make sure you do everything you can to keep as much of your earnings as possible. Grab a coffee, this stuff isn’t exciting, but do you know what is? Making more money for the same amount of work! Now that I have your attention, let’s begin. Currency Conversion One of the benefits of the internet is that it is easier than it’s ever been to find work, however, it’s often the client is in a different country and so you have to convert their payment into something you can actually use. You have a couple of options for this: you could have them send it straight to your bank account and let the bank convert it for you, or you could use PayPal to convert it and send your native currency to the bank. For a lot of people, PayPal seems like the easiest option, and it is, but it does have its flaws. Check your bank’s fees for international transfers – my bank takes around £25 to process money from overseas, regardless of how much I receive, whereas PayPal have a number of different fees depending on where you and your client are located. For someone in the UK to receive money from the US, it costs 2% of whatever the payment is. In this situation, PayPal is the best option unless I’m being paid £1300 or more, at which point I’d seek to get a bank transfer set up since it’d save me money and be harder to reverse than a PayPal transaction (but that’s a topic for another day). Client Consistency (or How to Keep Them Coming Back for More) There are a couple of points here that should never be forgotten: firstly, always provide your absolute best work and secondly, try to relate to your client. We’re all human, and who are you more likely to return to: the guy on Upwork who did a decent job or your regular guy, Dave, who talks a good game and still always delivers? Lots of different fields are open to repeat business – websites always need more content and maintenance, for example, so why not see if your client wants to make this an ongoing relationship? The worst that can happen is they’ll say no, but you might actually start something mutually beneficial (if you do, make sure to get a contract – it will protect both parties). A common problem a lot of freelancers have with regular clients is where they find themselves doing additional work as a goodwill gesture or for reduced pay. Often, they’ll want to help out a client whose finances are tight that month in the hopes of later payment, but DON’T DO IT. Your time is precious now, and you can’t pay rent with goodwill. That said, small, infrequent adjustments to existing work (15 minutes work or less) can go a long way towards fostering a strong relationship as long as they don’t become a regular occurrence. Let’s Talk Payment A lot of people struggle to set their rates, but ultimately, it comes down to how much you think your time is worth. Do some research and see how other freelancers price similar work, and adjust it up or down based on your level of experience or enthusiasm for the project. Never undersell yourself – you deserve to be paid for your time and no amount of “exposure” will put food on your table. Be open to negotiation, within reason. If a job pays slightly less than you wanted, but the client is high-profile, you might want to consider it anyway. Maybe they want to pay slightly less but offer you a permanent contract, maybe they want to pay more but have a shorter timescale in mind, whatever the situation, it’s worth keeping an open mind. It’s incredibly important that you both know when payment is due. Often, this will be when the work is delivered, but some freelancers bill at different times (start or end of the month, for example). A set payment date helps you and the client to organise your schedules and helps establish trust, which is a crucial component of any ongoing business relationship. Conclusions You are worth exactly what you say you are worth. As a freelancer, you are in control of your own finances, but, somewhat paradoxically, to maximise your earnings, you have to consider the client more than the money. High quality work and a strong rapport with a single client can make you more money in the long term than a multitude of one-time jobs. In short, take care of your clients and they’ll take care of you.