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It’s Time For Freelancers To Branch Out: The Big Money Is In Complex Projects

Working as a freelancer comes with the constant pressure to generate clients and income. When you’re lucky enough to land steady work, you know it’s going to end at some point, and you’ll be thrust back into the turbulent and unpredictable flow.

To compensate for the unpredictability of work, freelancers often compromise their rates and perform work that won’t benefit the client. It’s understandable when you need to hustle for your income, but there’s a better way.

Taking on quick gigs here and there from job sites including Craigslist seems like a fast way to make money, but rarely turns out that way. Continually competing for gigs is exhausting, and by the end of the project, you’ve worked far more hours than you can bill for. You may have started out charging $50/hour, but unbillable hours can bring your rate down to $10/hour or less.

Substantial, complex projects are where the real money is, and perhaps you’re afraid to dive into a larger project because it requires significant responsibility. Being responsible can be scary, but the rewards outweigh the risks.

Complex projects generate larger up-front deposits

Those $500 or $1,000 projects usually provide a 50% deposit up-front. That’s roughly $250-$500 in your pocket when you begin the project. Those deposits aren’t always enough to keep you afloat until the end of the project. If you’re like most freelancers, your projects often take unexpected detours; a change in scope, a breakdown or three, and procrastination on the client’s side. Meanwhile, you need money, so you take on more small projects to generate cash flow. With multiple projects, your time is divided, and your first project seems to drag on.

Imagine taking on a $10,000 project and receiving a $2,000 deposit (or more). That larger cash deposit will give you more time to focus on the project without worrying about having to generate more cash. You’ll be able to work with the client one-on-one, in-depth, to capture their vision and produce better work. You can set milestones for meeting goals and collect 4 more $2,000 payments at intervals that will sustain you throughout the project.

Larger projects give you a stellar portfolio

There’s nothing more disappointing for a client than checking a portfolio featuring the same design with different color schemes. Clients may not know how to build their website, but they certainly know when they’re looking at the work of a skilled developer.

A client that wants the best work will set aside a significant budget to make it happen. For Houston home rental agencies like Green Residential, the existence of a budget is clearly visible by looking at the scope and design of their website. Imagine being able to take credit for building out a website for a well-known, thriving business like them. People judge a website based on looks. When you start landing gigs for high profile businesses, you can proudly share your work in your portfolio and more businesses will want to hire you.

Large projects reduce stress and overwhelm

You may have grown up in a world that rewards “multitasking,” but that’s what you want to avoid as a freelancer. Having too many projects going on at once diminishes the quality of the work you perform. Your time is already limited, but the tendency to switch between multiple projects prevents you from focusing all your attention on one.

The truth is, multitasking is a myth; what we’re doing is task switching, and task switching burns more glucose, which causes fatigue. If you’ve experienced extreme exhaustion from working on the computer or thinking all day, multitasking is probably the culprit.

In an article revealing the myth of multi-tasking, Forbes.com discusses a TiVo study that found 78% of people multitask while watching TV by using their smartphones, and 72% multitask with their laptops. Once cell phones became an entertainment device, they’ve been a source of distraction from just about everything.

The world we live in encourages and even rewards multitasking, as hiring managers specifically look for employees who can multitask well. That seems fine, but as the Forbes article points out, multitasking damages performance, lowers productivity by 40%, and can ruin your business.

Long-term, big projects are an opportunity to grow

If the money isn’t enough to convince you to go for the larger projects, consider that throwing yourself into a big project will help you grow as a person and as a business. You’ll face new challenges and obstacles and will have to come up with solutions. You might not be wildly successful at first, but the more you engage the unfamiliar, the more skills you’ll build.

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