Getting out of debt requires a lot of discipline. Frequently the advice you hear is to cut spending, cut expenses, cut your lifestyle. What most people ignore is the possibility of just making more money.
Sure you can stop buying cappuccinos and cancel your top-tier cable package, but if you could earn an extra $500, $1,000, or $2,000 a month, wouldn’t that solve all of your problems?
There are several ways you can increase your income:
- Negotiate a raise at work
- Get a second job
- Sell some of your stuff
- Rent out your basement
- Start a business
- Start freelancing
Today we’re going to focus on freelancing. You’ll notice that ‘second job’ and ‘freelancing’ are separate items. This is because a second job is typically lower paying, and you won’t have as much room to increase your income to a substantial level.
What Is Freelancing?
At its core, freelancing is simply offering your services to one or more clients. Unlike employment, this is a business relationship where you’ll have much more input and control over the work you do. Unlike running your OWN business, you’ll probably have much lower overhead and startup costs.
What Service Should I Offer?
You already have a number of skills, talents, and interests that could all be turned into some kind of freelancing opportunity. That said, some areas are much easier to get into than others. Your fascination with mid-17th century Austrian theatre might make for some interesting dinner conversation, but odds are no one is going to pay to hear it.
What you’re looking for is something that people need, are willing to pay for, and that you can do well. Freelancing requires putting yourself in a business mindset, and at least at the beginning you may have to compromise on the types of jobs you take to get going.
From Pleasure To Business
Many new freelancers assume that just because they do something that other people get paid for, they should have no trouble getting started. Here are two common examples:
Thought-process: I have a decent camera and I like taking pictures. There are lots of professional photographers who get paid for their best shots, so I’ll do that.
Why you’re probably doomed: There are simply too many amateur photographers taking beautiful pictures for there to be a great opportunity for you. You’ll waste time buying better gear, better software, and more, and there STILL won’t be a market for your shots.
How you can make it work: Ask yourself what photographs people ACTUALLY pay for. Actors need headshots, real estate agents need house photos, and companies need product shots for their brochures. These people are willing to pay for a good photographer.
The lesson: Take your skills and find a niche that’s willing to pay for them.
Thought-process: I love writing. Even though I haven’t published any of my short stories, they’re better than most of the junk I read. I’ll spend time talking to publishers and authors about getting my work published.
Why you’re probably doomed: Very few writers make it writing fiction. Although the internet is making self-publishing much easier, it’s going to be a long road. We’re aiming for quick-wins.
How you can make it work: Like photography, how can you combine good writing with people who are willing to pay for it? Websites are always looking for good content, so you could start by contacting blogs and offering to write guest-posts. A few articles a week on a few sites would be a nice chunk of cash at the end of the month.
You can also consider getting into copywriting, ebook writing, press release writing, etc.
Where To Start
The easiest services to offer are digital ones. Any service you can provide through the internet will have a lower overhead and less risk. Some examples are:
- Article writing
- Graphic design
- Photo or video editing
- Sound production
- Video production/animation
Sites like oDesk, Elance, and Freelancer are full of people posting these types of jobs (and of people fighting to get them). Start browsing these sites in the categories that interest you and read exactly what people are looking for. If you find one category where you can say “Hey, I can do that!”, make a note of it.
Remember, you’re not looking for a new full-time job. Even a few hundred dollars a month is a great start. Be open-minded and think of every project as a learning experience.