6 Ways to Make Extra Money as a Freelancer

By Tim Beyers, Contributor, on June 20, 2017

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Freelancing requires creativity — not just to do the work, but also to pay the bills. You’re running a business, after all, and it’s important to make extra money as often as possible, and to take advantage of every opportunity.

The trouble is, you won’t always be able to raise your rates or bring in new clients. You may also have to find easy one-offs that supplement your core business. Here are six ideas to bring in some extra cash that you can try right now:

Make Extra Money on the Side

1. Drive

Odds are, Uber and Lyft operate in the town that you live in. If you have a car, a smartphone and you’re willing to tolerate the occasional loud, rude or drunk passenger(s), ride-sharing can earn you between $15 – $18 per hour as you pick up passengers and charge them fares. To make the most money, be available on Friday and Saturday nights when the demand for drivers is at its highest.

2. Sell Your Infrastructure

What did you need in order to set up your freelance business? Did you build a website or develop a unique tracking tool? In “Rework,” Basecamp co-founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson argue that every business has by-products that are salable. As a freelancer, you have by-products or expertise that may help one of your peers. Package it, sell it and pocket the money for later.

3. Sell a Product

Sometimes you’ll have something to sell that’s central to your business, like a natural add-on. Think about the freelance photographer who sets up an online store to sell prints when she isn’t out on shoots. Every sale adds incremental income, and she doesn’t have to be near her computer (or even doing anything, really) to get paid. Passive revenue streams can be a definite boom to your bottom line.

4. Sell Your Obsolete Gear

For years, I’ve made a habit out of keeping the computers that I buy in good enough shape for resale. The Mac I’m currently using to write this story is seven years old, yet still could net me a tidy sum on the aftermarket because I’ve upgraded it. By maxing-out its available memory, and installing a brand new battery and flash hard drive last year, I’ve made sure it’s anything but just “another tech dinosaur.” Keep your gear in good enough shape for resale and you’ll make it easier to fund upgrades and maybe put a little extra cash in your pocket.

5. Accept Odd Jobs

Services such as TaskRabbit connect freelancers with a few spare hours to various odd jobs that pay upon completion. Be warned: Some of the requests are weird. Similar to Lyft and Uber, if you’re willing to dive in and be available, you can make some decent pocket change to put in your rainy day fund.

6. Take a Part-Time W-2 Gig

As freelancers, we tend to avoid going on the payroll system (sometimes as a matter of principle). But I’ve had (and still have) part-time W-2 gigs where I control my schedule, receive predictable paychecks and pay taxes regularly. The interesting part is how I choose to pay my taxes. Instead of taking as much as possible, I claim zero deductions and ask my employer to take a bit extra from the federal form. The resulting “over withholding” — deliberately paying more than you’d owe on those earnings — helps offset the monthly and quarterly tax payments on my freelance income.

Freelancing is never easy, and there will be months where it’s difficult to make ends meet. Selling a product, performing a side hustle or taking the occasional odd job (or even a part-time W-2 gig) can be what you need to make extra money and keep some cash squirreled away for the tough months.

One more pro-tip: Keep your funds in a high-yield savings account if you can, and don’t touch it unless you must. Having that cushion will not only keep you fed and focused on pitching the work you most want to do, but it’ll also help you to preserve the precious freedom that led you to freelance in the first place.

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