Freelancer who has billed $432,000 so far this year: Here are my top 3 tips for success

Stefan Georgi brings in $50,000 per project writing infomercial scripts as a freelancer. Here are his best tips to succeed as a freelancer or independent contractor.

Stefan Georgi.
Courtesy Stefan Georgi

Stefan Georgi was working a corporate job in 2011 when he saw how much fun his girlfriend was having as a freelance writer and decided he wanted to try making it as a freelancer, too. "She's the one that introduced me to the world of copywriting," he says. He quit his job and started picking up a range of writing projects, including websites and IT content.

Eventually, he found his freelancer niche writing infomercial scripts. "You get to be cheeky, you get to be creative," he says. "It married a lot of things that I'm passionate about."

Today, he brings in $50,000 per script. So far this year, he says, he's brought in more than $432,000 from such writing projects.

As many as 75% of U.S. workers who quit their full-time job in order to freelance say they earn the same or more in pay than when they had a traditional employer, according to a recent Upwork study of more than 6,000 U.S. workers. Here are three pieces of advice Georgi offers anyone interested in finding success as a freelancer.

Treat yourself like a business owner

Whether you're taking on a few gigs as a side hustle or diving into freelancing full time, "you are a business owner as a freelancer," says Georgi, in "the business of you." That means freelancing is about a lot more than just the work itself.

"You're in charge of sales," says Georgi. "You're in charge of customer service. You're in charge of project management. You're in charge of fulfillment."

Think about all of the different components it would take to find work and make your freelance career a continual success, from reaching out to prospective clients at networking events and on social media to earning certifications that might improve your skills and give you an edge on LinkedIn and elsewhere. Then incorporate time for those tasks into your weekly and monthly plans.

Be realistic about how long projects take

Deadlines matter, and so does delivering what you promised by the deadline. "A lot of success comes down to doing what you say you were going to do in the time frame you said you were going to do it," says Georgi. A good reputation can help you drum up business through word of mouth.

With that in mind, pay attention to how long tasks take you to do. When you start taking on projects for other people, be "strategic about how you schedule your time," he says. When you create a timetable, be "realistic about how much time these things are going to take you."

Missing deadlines can make you seem unreliable and can make it difficult for clients to keep up with their own schedules as well.

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Video by Stephen Parkhurst

Think of yourself as an investment

When you're figuring out how to set you hourly rate, or how much to charge potential clients for your time, it's easy to feel like quoting a fair price means you're taking something from a company any time they hire you. "The one mistake a lot of freelancers make is they think of themselves as a cost," says Georgi. "So they're afraid to ask for money."

In fact, the reason a company hires you to do work is so that they can meet their own goals and grow the business, he points out. They need you and they need your services. And, quite often, they're willing to pay.

"If [freelancers] look at themselves as an investment that generates the ROI," it makes it easier for you to ask for what you're worth, he says. And when you pitch yourself as an investment, he says, it also "makes it a lot easier for clients to say yes."

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