How to offset your freelance earnings – with Nathan Barry [Q&A]

I was joined on the latest Freelancelift Q&A session by Nathan Barry. Web designer turned teacher, of everything from app UI design (with the excellent App Design Handbook) to self-publishing books & guides (with the equally awesome Authority book).

Nathan has a lot to say in all areas of freelancing but particularly in this session I wanted to dive deep with him on something he’s really passionate about, building a secondary income stream to flatten out the freelancing peaks and troughs.

Create profitable side projects to overcome the income roller coaster

We spent a lot of time in this area, it’s something I believe in, as does Nathan. I built Handiwork to help freelancers get off the income roller coaster and it’s already helped several freelancers make enough on the side to support their living costs.

We talked about Nathan’s journey to where he is today (over $300k in sales this year alone!) and his tips for getting started.

It stands to reason that you have expertise in your field (Nathan was already designing apps which had good early success) so the real takeaway here is to build value in your field by giving away this knowledge.

Teaching is the best form of marketing

Top bracket freelancers have long understood that crafting a great reputation is almost as important as delivering a great service.

A reputation and strong online presence helps you to justify a higher freelance rate and respect among your peers will extend your horizons for referral opportunities.

Emulate chefs

A great example of this is the TV chef.

They appear on various channels and shows, ‘lifting the lid’ (pun intended) on their recipes, tricks and their entire methodology, yet it doesn’t stop their restaurants being successful, in fact it significantly enhances their popularity.

By giving away your unique recipes and broadcasting a message of authority in your space, you’ll be able to build a platform (on your blog, social or via an email to a list) from which you can spread your message and establish yourself as a stand-out freelancer.

Email is best for building an audience

Nathan had some great thoughts around how to broadcast this message and it was interesting to dig into some of the stats which back up his assertion that email is a better promotional communication platform than social or other channels.

You should be doing what you can to build a list and provide value consistently, even as a freelancer.

Make a goal per day, take smaller steps

Something we’re all a little guilty of is taking on too much. Be that learning objectives, financial goals or attempting to rework your entire freelance business strategy around client work.

Nathan built an app – Commit to help him build good habits, one step at a time, such as writing 1,000 words a day.

Putting this into practice for your freelance business, rather than overhauling your entire site – why not just commit to rebuilding the portfolio/showcase section for now?

It’s much easier to slot in a couple hours work between clients to make smaller wins in your business, rather than never achieve the goal at all if the task looms too large.

You can find more about Nathan at

Learn anything? Please share

When you’re held ransom by client work and income instability how are you supposed to find time to work on “growth” (whatever that means).

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