This week I’ve come to the conclusion that I can no longer dramatically lower my weekly expenditure… well, I could but that would mean sacrificing socialising, travel, and taking my girlfriend on dates.
Once you’ve reached the stage of saving as much of your income as you can (I’m hovering around 60-65 per cent) and maintained that rate for a couple of months it’s time to start increasing the amount of income you bring home.
The reason I waited till I was saving around half of my paycheck was to ensure that I’d developed the money habits necessary to avoid lifestyle creep. On top of that, I’ve also spent the past few months learning the amount I needed to live a fulfilling (albeit thrifty) life. Therefore, the only logical step forward is to increase the gap between my expenditure and my income.
Here are five out-of-the-box ways that you can increase your income.
1. Move Closer to Work
I was having a chat with my mate who works for a large telecommunications business. He recently got a promotion that granted him an impressive 20 per cent increase in pay. I asked him, “Mate, what are you going to do with that extra cash?” He told me that he “Might move into the city”.
I was shocked, this guy is a pretty financially responsible guy and here he was telling me that he was willing to double his monthly rent based on a 20 per cent increase in his income. How foolish I was, I had forgotten my reasons for becoming financially free! He wanted to make the move to save an hour and a half each day commuting.
With that extra 90 minutes a day, he could dramatically increase his income. That’s 450 minutes a week, which is 7.5 hours! By moving, he has found an entire working days’ worth of time. This allows him to dedicate even more time to developing his passion project into a feasible business and give him the extra time necessary to progress with his skill set.
One killer way to increase your income is to look for ways to increase the amount of time you have doing productive activities.
2. Help More People
One of the things I’ve been saving toward this year has been a three-month trip around South East Asia with my girlfriend, and (this also relates the next point) I started looking for ways that I could either a.) not spend any money on the trip, or b.) actually make money on the trip.
So I attended a travel writing workshop. I figured I could leverage my writing ability with my living conditions to produce some unique travel writing content. However, when I was at the workshop I met a bunch of people that were looking to be writers, the majority of which were untrained.
At the end of the workshop, I gave out my email address to the attendees and told them that if they wanted any help with their writing I would like to help them develop their skills. The next day I was surprised (and rather chuffed) that a few people had sent me their writing for critique. I mean that’s what I do for this site anyway, why not help others get better?
After correcting the pieces’ grammar and offering some structural advice, the people enthusiastically emailed me back how happy they were with my critique. And suddenly, they were asking me how much I charge for coaching. I told them that I’d help them gratis, but if they were looking for something more formalised I could put together a program for them. Two weren’t interested, but one was. Pow! Another income stream that I can earn from anywhere in the world.
One effective way of getting more business is to share the fact that you are skilled at a particular thing, and help people develop that skill.
3. Don’t Focus on the Money, Focus on the Skills
Everyone loves an international adventure, but you know what everyone loves more than an international adventure? A free international adventure! What about an adventure that someone actually pays you for? This was my thinking when I attended the travel writing workshop, I was hoping to make some contacts or learn a thing or two about the business of travel writing.
Anyway, I’ve been sending emails to marketing departments of all the largish South East Asia tour companies looking for a contract that will cover my relatively small travel costs, and allow me to work for around three to four hours a day. What this would allow me to do, is continue to develop my writing technique whilst providing a small cash flow that means I can use the amount I’d saved for this trip on investing.
Thankfully, I have an extensive digital trail that makes my name easily googleable. For those of you who don’t have that set-up yet, I recommend you do it ASAP. Having been a journalist, I can tell you that we as a profession are pretty lazy. If someone gives us a useful piece of well-written content, I have no reason not to post it on the site. But I digress.
When I moved back to London after living out my dream to be a cowboy I got a job that helped me develop my writing ability. I say “job,” it was actually an internship that only paid for my travel and food but that was all I needed. What I wanted from the job was the knowledge of how a professional editorial department was run.
Fast forward three months and the internship was over, and I ventured out into the world of freelance writing with contacts at PR agencies, an understanding of what editorial departments look for in freelancers, and how to proof-read properly.
I was now far more bankable as a freelancer because I wasn’t just some guy in his bedroom sending out emails. I had developed professional skills that helped me understand what happens “behind the curtain” of the written media industry.
When you work on your side-business it’s worth spending some time working for cheap (or even for free) to build your skill set in an area that you’re weak in.
4. Develop a Broad Taste
Two weeks ago a Korean Muse cover band played at a local venue. I’m not the world’s biggest Muse fan but I’ve listened to most of Muse’s songs released from 2001 to 2006. Anyway, this band puts on a great show and I’m singing my heart out for the hits.
Fast forward an hour, and I’m at the bar sipping a cheap Gin and Tonic and I spy the cover band. I go over and have a chat with them, telling them how surprised I was that they were such huge fans of an English rock band.
We chat for a bit, and they ask me what I do. I tell them that I do a bit of English teaching here and there. They singer grabs my shoulders and shouts “We’re looking for a teacher for our doctors!” Turns out these guys are all surgeons and need someone to help them learn English so they can increase their patient base.
Now, I couldn’t help them out (but I did introduce them to another teaching friend of mine) due to my imminent leaving of the country. However, it was through being able to talk to these guys about their love of music that the position was offered to me.
When you’re looking for people to hire you, your skills are important. But, what’s more important is that they want to do continued business with you. The majority of the time, people hire people that they like over people that are more talented but who they don’t like.
One of the most effective ways of enjoying a good rapport with someone is to be able to talk about things we as humans connect with like films, music, and literature. By pushing yourself to read/listen/watch a variety of media, you maximise your chances of building a solid connection with somebody.
Now I’m not saying that you should blindly agree on liking the same things as other people, I’m saying that by exposing yourself to more media you can give an informed opinion on what you like. In the same way that people bond over supporting rival football teams, people also bond over arguing that Radiohead’s OK Computer is better than Kid A (it’s not), or if J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye is actually a modern classic (it is).
Friendly discussion between two “fans” of something is a fantastic way to get more work and develop better relationships with your customers.
5. Do More, for Less
This technique is not about doing more work for less money, the site’s name is “Financial Freedom” after all! What I’m talking about here is doing more work, for fewer clients. In your side business’s early days you spend hours trying to get as many clients as you can, and work super hard to keep those clients.
Once you’ve been running your business for around a year, and the business is profitable. It’s time to increase the size of the projects and decrease your client base. Look at the clients that pay the most, and that you have a good working relationship with. Start pitching them bigger projects.
For example, one of my first freelance writing gigs that I got was writing marketing copy for a travel website. I would write hundreds of 60 to 100-word descriptions of apps, tools, and accessories for travellers, for the amount of work involved, this paid very little. I had a few people that I did similar work for.
As my skills increased, I began pitching advertorial work to tech companies. This work paid far more and involved less kerfuffle as I only had to write about one or two products in depth (as opposed to shallowly talking about hundreds of products). Naturally, I pitched advertorial work to my other clients and if they weren’t looking for that I’d say, “Excellent! I’ll email you in three months to see where you’re at then”.
Currently, I’m pitching 12-month content drives to a few clients and prospective clients. But realistically, I only have enough time to do one or two.
I know how this sounds, “decrease my client base?! Are you crazy?!” and it does seem counter intuitive. However, by pushing forward my skill set and only taking the work that demonstrates how far my abilities have progressed I only do work that shows off how good I currently am.
Literally anyone with a mediocre grip on the English language can write 60 to 100-word descriptions for products, my job security is always at risk from someone who can do it cheaper. By consistently doing a great job for my clients, and then moving on (on good terms) to bigger projects I increase my job security by becoming more skilled and knowledgeable than my competitors.
When you’re working by yourself freelance, juggling the admin work of 10+ clients is a huge hassle that is essentially busy work. It doesn’t make you any more money but takes up a large proportion of time. Similarly, you need to focus more time and energy on developing a work schedule that allows you to manage all the different jobs you have at one time.
By striving to do bigger projects for fewer clients you maximise the time spent doing actual work, and increase your ability.
Working like a Weirdo
Once you’ve reached a point where you’ve changed your spending habits and lifestyle a point where you can consistently save a solid proportion of your wages, you can either keep on living like that or accelerate your journey by increasing your income.
Here are five seemingly counter-intuitive techniques to increasing your income:
- Spend more on having more time: Increasing the amount of time you have to work on your side business allows you to accelerate the rate of growth for that business. Think of it as a “time investment”
- Give your skills out for free: The odd thing about people is most of us can’t be bothered to do something. If someone comes along and shows us how to do something, we’re far more inclined to say “yes that does look difficult” and pay that person to do it for us in the future
- Skills > Money: A sure-fire way of increasing your value to other people is to increase your knowledge. By working for free/cheaply you get that education for far cheaper than paying a coach or a mentor, and you develop solid business contacts
- Experience more things: When we limit ourselves and aren’t open to new experiences we close off an entire group of people that want to pay us for our skills. Through trying new things and absorbing more media, you develop your ability to connect with people
- Complicate and simplify your client base: Do more difficult projects for fewer people. Trust in yourself and you’ll be able to get clients by word-of-mouth referrals. If you’re not always looking to do more difficult projects, your competitors will outpace you
That’s all from me now, if you found this article helpful;
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If you want to learn more about wealth creation, check out the following articles:
- Trick yourself into becoming a money magnet
- The hidden costs of wealth creation
- Seven techniques to save more
- Five things you need to be investing in
- How to raise £250,000 in 7 days