Can you make six figures as a freelancer?
I scaled my freelance business to a six-figure income in 10 months. And I did it from scratch—without knowing anything about how to make money online as a virtual assistant, freelancer, or social media manager.
But there were four key things I tracked while scaling my business.
The reason why I love to talk about this topic is because not enough of us are tracking the things that actually matter. It’s easy to get focused on tracking things like vanity numbers instead.
And when I say vanity numbers, I’m talking about how many Instagram followers you have or how many email subscribers are on your list. As freelancers, we don’t have to worry about those numbers.
But there are four things we can track that do matter. You’ll want to stick around because number four is going to surprise you!
Once you start tracking these, I promise you’ll see massive growth in your business because you’ll be focused on the things that matter and not distracted by the things that don’t.
So let’s dive on in!
Marketing Minutes™: How to Start Making Money From Freelancing
The number one thing I tracked while scaling to six figures was marketing minutes. And honestly, this should be the most important thing for any freelancer or entrepreneur. So what the heck are marketing minutes?
Marketing minutes are the amount of time you actually spend on marketing your services.
It’s the bread and butter of scaling your business.
Because your marketing minutes are how you get discovery calls, get new clients, and get known for your services. This might sound surprising, but at least 70% of all your time working should be spent on marketing when you’re starting a freelance business.
So what do marketing minutes look like?
First, you want to choose your platform. Are your ideal clients hanging out in Facebook groups? Or are you going to connect with them on Instagram? Maybe your ideal clients are spending their time on LinkedIn instead.
Here’s the thing, this is not actually about choosing your favorite platform. It’s about choosing your ideal clients’ favorite platform.
Let’s use Facebook groups as an example. I know Facebook groups are where my ideal clients are hanging out, because I work with course creators who are launching a program. So that’s where I chose to spend my marketing minutes.
To begin with, I’m going to find a group where my clients are already hanging out—let’s go with the Gold Diggers Podcast Insiders group for this example. My goal is to pop in there for 30 minutes a day, but keep in mind it doesn’t have to be 30 straight minutes.
We can break it up into 15 minutes here or there. Or let’s say I want to market myself a little more one week, so I want to spend 45 minutes per day in that group. In this case, I’ll be hitting up that group 3x a day for 15 minutes at a time.
My goal? I’m just going to get noticed.
That means I’m going to answer questions, respond to job postings, and consistently engage with other members of the Gold Diggers Podcast Insiders group.
With this strategy, I’ll begin by picking three Facebook groups where I plan to spend my time. I don’t need to be in 20 different groups—I just need to be in three that will produce the results I want.
Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean we’re just posting spammy comments. You know, the posts where you see the same person writing the exact same post in multiple Facebook groups on the same day.
That feels spammy. Instead, I’m talking about using the search bar to look for topics about my services.
For me, I’m going to search for Facebook ads. Not only am I going to see if anyone is asking questions about running ads, but I’m also looking to see if any clients are asking to hire a Facebook ads manager. Overall, the idea is to get really confident using the search bar tool and just three Facebook groups.
So, how are you marketing yourself in your business today? Think about it this way:
- Are you responding to job opps?
- Connecting with other business owners inside groups?
- Most importantly, are you getting seen by your ideal clients?
The first thing you want to track in your business is how much time you’re actually spending on your marketing minutes. I dare you to try tracking this time for 30 days and see what kind of impact it makes on your business!
Now, it doesn’t mean you need to be in Facebook groups every single day for 30 days straight. But I do think you need to show up at least five days a week to really see this work for your business.
Personally, I believe if you’re already on Facebook over the weekend, you might as well spend some time in marketing minutes. But it’s totally up to you and how you want to run things in your business—some people have boundaries where they don’t do any work over the weekend.
That’s totally cool. And you’ll still get great results by spending five days per week on marketing minutes.
Because when you show up consistently on a platform, and you’re actively pitching (aka responding to job opps), and you’re posting answers to people’s questions that directly reflect the services you offer…
You will see a tremendous difference in your business y’all.
This type of active marketing is so different from getting on Instagram, creating a post, and adding some hashtags. When we’re using organic marketing, like social media, to promote our business, that’s called passive marketing.
I’m going to encourage you to try active marketing for the next month. Track your marketing minutes for the next 30 days, and then come back to let me know how it goes. I have a feeling it’s going to make such a huge impact on your business!
If you want to dive deeper into how to spend your marketing minutes, we have an entire module that walks you through the strategy of everything from how to make the most of your time in groups to running your discovery calls inside of my Serve Scale Soar membership.
Discovery Calls: The Second Thing I Tracked While Scaling to Six-Figure Freelancing
The second thing I tracked on my way to six figures was my discovery calls.
You might be thinking, “Oh, I don’t like discovery calls,” and I totally get it. Sales are not everyone’s jam. But the thing is, you get really good at discovery calls after you do enough of them.
And when you start getting good at discovery calls, you’ll start to like them a lot more. It almost becomes a game when you start looking at your conversion rates from these calls.
Let’s say I need to sign two new clients. If I know that 50% of everyone I get on the phone ends up booking me, my goal is now to book four discovery calls this month. When you start working from the numbers and tracking your conversion rates, discovery calls aren’t such a big deal anymore.
You know it’s just a numbers game at this point.
Another common reason why some freelancers don’t love discovery calls is because they take too long. It’s not necessarily that they don’t like the sales part, but they spend too much time on the phone with prospects—I’m talking 45 minutes to an hour.
My discovery calls are 15 minutes long. (Yes, you read that right!)
So what’s the secret? Honestly, this was something I had to work on y’all. In the beginning, I stayed on the phone with potential clients for way too long, so I totally understand if the idea of selling a client your services in 15 minutes seems mindblowing right now.
But it’s easier than you might think. Once you streamline your discovery call process, you can get these calls down to 15 minutes too. And when you know exactly what your conversion rate is on those calls, it’s not so bad to get on them.
When we make it a numbers game, we take all the emotion out of getting on these calls.
The only thing that we actually have to be doing is enough discovery calls to figure out our conversion rate. So, pick a goal for the next 30 days. Once you track your marketing minutes—and track your number of conversions—you’re going to be crystal clear on what it takes to hit your goals.
This has been so helpful for planning with clients. When I have my contracts coming up to an end, I know when I need to get in there and start marketing more. For example, if I know that I need to add two new clients, I need to have at least three discovery calls.
Now, you won’t know your numbers when you’re first starting out. That’s okay—you can still start this process.
If you figure out that you’re not getting a client out of every two discovery calls, don’t give up. Just aim to get on four discovery calls at first. Heck, I would even challenge you to get on ten calls before you actually decide on what your conversation rate is.
So, this was a huge lesson I learned: tracking my marketing minutes and discovery calls really goes hand in hand. And those are two places where we need to be spending the majority of our time when we’re scaling our business.
Profit & Loss: The Third Thing I Tracked to Earn More Money as a Freelancer
The third thing I tracked on my way to scaling my freelance business to six figures was my finances. And the way I did this was with my profit and loss statements every month (P&L).
In order to track your P&L, you have to track your expenses and income. But the cool thing is that if you use a CRM program like Dubsado or Honeybook—and everything runs through that one processor—it’s super easy to see how exactly much income you have coming in.
But if you’re not tracking your expenses yet, you’re not alone.
As freelancers and online business owners, one thing that’s easy for us to avoid is looking at our expenses. And our expenses are where we can get in a little bit of trouble, especially in the online business world, because it’s so easy to get shiny object syndrome!
We have stock photo sites, online courses, social media schedulers, and the next amazing thing we can buy that promises to grow our business. I’ve been there—buying these things is so fun in the moment! After all, I want to continue getting more knowledge, and I like things to look pretty.
The only problem? When our expenses start adding up, our profit starts to trickle down, and we need more clients to hit our financial goals.
So, I love tracking my P&L because I can see exactly what I’m spending each month and what I have coming in. One thing I noticed after a while was the more money I made, the more my expenses went up.
But the thing is, my expenses didn’t need to go up. I started purchasing silly stuff. For instance, I decided I had to have the best stock photos for some reason. I was paying $99 quarterly for stock photos that we really don’t need as freelancers. I also had the entire Adobe Cloud Suite.
Y’all, I am not a graphic designer. I try to pretend to be one, but I’m not, so why did I need Adobe? I could use Canva or iMovie and run my business just fine—I don’t need Adobe Cloud to run my business.
When I started tracking my P&L, I realized how much software and different tools I could cut. Because the truth is we really only need four tools to run our freelancing business at the end of the day.
To this day, I don’t buy a ton of online courses. I only buy the ones I know will directly impact my business the most. I get that it can be tempting to spend $100 here or $400 there to buy a course, but those aren’t the ones that will help move my business forward.
So when we look at our P&L every single month, we take a valuation of where our money is going and what we’re spending it on. A lot of times, we find that we can usually cut some of those expenses out.
Personally, I like to Marie Kondo my business. If it doesn’t bring me joy, it gets cut.
And until I was consistently making $10,000 a month, my expenses were less than $500 a month (they were probably closer to $300). If you keep a good inventory of your expenses, you can make decisions that will help you run a super lean and profitable business.
Which is what we all want, right?
Even later, when my freelance business grew to $25,000-$30,000 a month, I still kept my expenses under $1000 per month. Talk about great profit margins!
And if you know me, you already know I’m really passionate about helping freelancers build profitable businesses. One of the great things about freelancing is that we can keep our expenses extremely low and our profits high, putting more money back into your pocket at the end of each month.
Happiness Level: The Fourth Thing I Tracked Scaling to a 6-Figure Income
The last thing I tracked might sound surprising from a business mindset.
It didn’t have anything to do with numbers, sales, or conversion rates. The fourth thing I tracked on my way to six figures was my happiness level—yep, you heard that right!
I tracked my happiness level. So, what does that mean?
It means I was self-aware of when I was getting to the point of burnout. For me, burnout usually looked like starting to spend more time on my business than on my family or providing services I didn’t enjoy.
You might be reading this and nodding along. If this sounds like you, maybe you’re doing services that don’t light you up, but you feel like they pay the bills. Or maybe you feel guilty about not spending enough time with your family because you’re so busy running your business.
My family is the entire reason I started this business. If that is you, I recommend becoming very self-aware of your happiness level. Because when we’re not thinking about what makes us happy, it becomes so easy to get burned out.
Here’s an example of this:
Early in my business, I was focused on organic social media and doing all the things. This was before I switched to offering Facebook ads, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, you name it.
But the thing is, I hated doing Instagram. I didn’t want to play the algorithm game, and doing engagement was not fun for me. It just wasn’t for me. When I felt myself getting frustrated, I cut that service out of my offerings.
I told my clients, “Sorry, I’m not doing Instagram anymore.”
At that time, I kept doing Pinterest marketing. I could use a scheduler to run everything and figured it wasn’t a big deal. So, Thursdays became my organic social media day because I was batching my work tasks.
Slowly, I started feeling burned out every Thursday because I was scheduling Pinterest the entire day. I had a bunch of Pinterest clients and just was not feeling it anymore. That’s the part where I started looking around to see what I could do about it.
I knew there had to be something more out there.
At this point, I was making $6,000 a month, but I just wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. I wanted to scale further to become a six-figure freelancer but I knew I was at a cap. Because I was aware of my happiness level and tracking my P&L, I decided to pivot.
But when I thought about what made me happy, I noticed that I enjoyed running Promoted Pins for clients. That was the advertising side of Pinterest marketing. So, I decided to take the plunge in Facebook ads.
The course I bought to learn Facebook ads cost me $3,000. It was a lot of money, but I was able to do it without even blinking because I had been tracking my P&L—and I felt confident this was the right move for my business.
I knew my happiness level wasn’t where I wanted it to be at that point. And I needed to find something that would bring me joy, or I would burn out really fast.
When you’re tracking these numbers together, it makes the decision to pivot in your business ways easier. But beyond the numbers, you can also ask yourself, “Am I happy doing this?”
I’ll be honest, figuring out what makes you happy in your business is something that can take time too. There might be some trial and error—and that’s okay!
Because when I pivoted to Facebook ads, I also started offering sales funnels for clients. After a few months of building sales funnels, I realized they really stressed me out. Sales funnels didn’t bring me joy at all.
So, what did I do next?
I looked at my numbers. They were bringing in a good amount of revenue for me, but I figured out that I could add two Facebook ad clients to my schedule, drop a sales funnel each month, and I would actually come out ahead!
Because Facebook ads brought me way more joy. So, not only would my happiness level go up, my profits would also go up too. From a business mindset, why wouldn’t I drop the sales funnels?
As a freelancer, we have to make tough decisions sometimes. But let me tell you, when you’re tracking these numbers, it makes those decisions so much easier.
Now, I can honestly say that I love what I do.
Let’s Take Action
All in all, these are the four key things I believe every freelancer needs to track in order to scale their business.
Your marketing minutes help make sure you’re putting yourself out there enough, while knowing how many discovery calls you need each month will help you figure out how to get the clients you need.
Once you know exactly what steps you have to take to hit your goals, your P&L comes into the picture. Not only does your P&L help you make sure you take more profit home than expenses, it also makes it really easy when it comes time to invest in a bigger expense or make a pivot.
The numbers will help you decide whether or not you’re making the right move.
Finally, your happiness level should be driving everything. Now, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be happy 24/7 in your business. We all have bad days. It doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll have those days sometimes, and that’s okay.
It’s all about looking at the big picture. If you’re spending more time in your business than with your family, and that’s not your goal, then maybe it’s time to pivot.
Or maybe you’re providing services that you don’t love. You look at your P&L sheet, and it tells you those services you don’t love aren’t bringing in the money you need. Let’s go ahead and drop those!
When you use these numbers together, you can make really smart decisions that don’t just benefit your business but also your emotional health.
I didn’t track my YouTube numbers on my way to six figures. I didn’t track my email list either. I didn’t track Instagram or any of those vanity numbers—I tracked the numbers that truly mattered.
So, I would encourage you to focus on tracking these four numbers in your business too. If you’re worrying about vanity metrics, this is your sign to stop stressing about the number of followers you have or comments you get on social media.
I truly believe if you focus on tracking these four key areas of your business, it will help you scale your business too.