How to Take Control of Your Fluctuating Freelancer Income

Because dancing on tables isn't a financial backup.

Ebb and flow.
High tide, low tide.
Seagulls, crabs.
Too much sunscreen, too little sunscreen.

The only constant in business is change and that’s really the most thrilling part. Your business keeps you on your toes and smacks you awake at night.
The ONE time Change doesn’t make self-employed peeps starry-eyed? When it applies to money.

If you’re full-time #ladyboss already then you’ve seen the effects of flying high with clients only to drop down in a waxy, feathery mess the next month.
If you’re part-time #hustler than you know that one month the money can be crashing in and that the leaving party is  weeks away, only to have a massive design bill leave you with pennies.

Regardless of where you are, you need to know what the money is doing.

Which is why you need to sit down and do a cashflow analysis of your next 6 months.

It doesn’t need to be fancy, it needs to be effective and answer these two questions:

  • How much money (and when) is coming in over the next 6 months.
  • How much money (and when) is going out over the next 6 months.

Cashflow projection is the terrain of accountants but all the savvy business owners (and marketers) will include this perspective into their launch planning, growth assessments, and business strategies. It’s basically a schedule of the money you’re getting from clients or projects and then what you’re paying in bills, subscriptions and invoices. See what’s left over each month and you’re good to go (hopefully).

Cashflow Projection

The easy way:

  1. Grab a piece of paper (or a spreadsheet) and open up Satori, Paypal, or wherever your money hangs out. Since you’re doing this for the next 6 months, I want you to write down your total coming in each month (you may have to write out each client’s package/project).

Cash coming in from:

  • Packages
  • Projects
  • Delayed payments from clients
  • Subscriptions
  • Affiliate income

2. Take a look at what your costs were this month (or past 30         days).

Your costs might include the following:

  • Website (plugins, hosting, tools, etc)
  • Apps (Satori, Xero, Float, ConvertKit)
  • Your wage (you keep your business money separate from your personal money, right?)
  • Contractors (VA, Project Manager, etc)
  • Loan repayments
  • Programs, courses, subscriptions
  • Internet, phone bills, etc
  • Taxes
  • Coffee (JOKES!)

Write them down, add them up and assess – is that an average amount you spend on your business each month for you?

Yes? Then you’re good to go. No? Then adjust accordingly.

The real way:
I’ll let the accountants pull out the fancy spreadsheets and show you how it’s really done. This article is thorough and Microsoft-y.

The fancy way:
There are some fancy tools that will pull the numbers from your accounting software and help you see into the future. I’m trying out Float (since it integrates with Xero) and it’s pretty awesome but there’s also Pulse app.

The future of cash might not seem bright or positive, but never fear, that’s where the cashflow planning comes into play! Remember, this is the fast and fun version of cashflow handling, don’t challenge an accountant to a winner-takes-all contest.

Planning

1. Take a look at your next 6 months and see where the income black holes are (not enough money or no money coming in).

2. Pencil in your tentative launches and how much you REALISTICALLY think they’ll make. (Go back to your past launches and then multiply the $$$ by 1.5 to get a conservative number.)

3. Which months are currently too low (even with launches planned)? Add in another launch of an affiliate product or webinar bundle or new mini-product to get that income up.

Seeing your income gaps and strengths is a good way to take control of the self-employed stress.

Planning makes the following easier:

LAUNCH PLANNING —> Do you have weak months that need an additional income push? A good way to get strategic about your money is to start seeing its gaps and planning launches to fill in those weak months.

INCOME ASSESSMENTS —> 4 questions for you: Can you sell more packages to current or past clients? Could you expand into a new market (like go from coaches to designers)? Could you sell new packages or services to your current peeps? Can you develop something new to sell to new peeps? Use these prompts to increase your cha-ching over the next 6 months.

STABILIZE INCOME—> This is a crucial reason I recommend my clients focus all their marketing efforts on getting booked out when we work together because by locking in work for months at a time it allows you to:

A. Relax
B. Grow your business (hire the VA, invest in a new website, etc)
C. Work on that passion project (write the book, plan the retreat, etc)

I had my own come-to-Jesus moment in December 2013. My income was vacillating by thousands each month (and when it went up? EXHILARATING! when it went down? TRAUMATIC!).

Which is why I put all my marketing efforts into one outcome: being booked out 6 months in advance. 

Here’s what cashflow looks like pre and post-being booked out.

Pre-booked out: I was scrapping by some months and then living high the other months.

Post-booked out: I had my first 10k month and a base income of approx $4,000 for 5 more months. It’s all about focusing on strategic marketing and using this perfected method.

The same holds true for my clients – stabilized income – the Holy Grail for the Self-Employed when they use my Be Booked Out method.

Having gone thru your cashflow for the next 6 months, how are you doing for clients/money?

P.S. Need help? Click here to learn more about Be Booked Out.


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  • Hi Halley,

    Awesome post which I discovered via XOSarah. My colleague and friend Dianna Huff has written a guide called Cash Flow for Freelancers. It is seriously amazing and super practical step-by-step exercises. I’d love for you to check it out.

    Happy New Year!
    Rachel

    Rachel Cunliffe
    Reply
    • Hey Rachel! That guide looks intriguing! Can’t wait for Dianna to release the full version soon. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 😀

      Halley Gray
      Reply

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