The average American earns $44,720 per year.
That doesn’t sound terrible – until you factor in the reality that younger workers (between the ages of 20–24) are making $28,000 per year on average.
No matter where you fall on the spectrum of pay in the U.S., chances are that you’d like to raise your own income up a couple of notches.
You want to boost your earning potential….but do you believe it’s really possible?
You might have a packed schedule, a limited educational background, or even work in a career field that doesn’t bring in a ton of cash.
We’re not intimidated by these barriers, and neither should you be. It is possible to boost your earning potential, regardless of the stage of life you find yourself in, your current income, or your (perceived) lack of resources.
Here are four tips on how to boost your earning potential without switching careers:
1. Ask for a raise (or raise your rates).
The most obvious way to boost your earning potential is to ask for a raise, or raise your rates.
Sounds a little too simple, right?
In fact, getting paid more to do essentially the same work may be easier than you think.
But, you’ll have to prove your value.
If you work for someone else…
If you work for a small business, a mid-sized company, or a giant corporation, making more money at your current job means you’ll have to approach your boss (or higher-level exec) and ask for it.
Asking for a raise can be intimidating, but remember the potential outcome: A higher income!
You’ll be far more successful in asking for a raise if you can show your boss that you are worth a higher investment.
Perhaps the most powerful way to do this is to leverage your rate of productivity. If you can show that you achieve more work in less time, that’s sure evidence that you are worth more. Using a time-tracking app like Timing makes this task efficient and professional by producing detailed reports that break down your time spent by task, project, or application.
If you work for yourself…
If you work for yourself as a per-hour freelancer and you’d like to be earning more cash, you’ll have to raise your own rate.
It’s easy to raise your rate when negotiating a contract with a new client – less so with an existing client. Still, it’s possible to raise your rates, especially if you can show evidence of producing more work in the same amount of time.
Again, the most efficient way to do this is to use a time-tracking system (like Timing) to measure and report your productivity rate, showing that you produce high-quality work quickly.
2. Look for opportunities to take on additional work.
As a freelancer, you have potentially limitless earning potential. Take on more work, and make more money.
You might find new opportunities for work through social media, networking sites, or asking existing clients for referrals.
And if your schedule is packed (lucky you!), you can still take on additional work as a freelancer, but you’ll have to take an honest look at how you’re spending your time and start maximizing your productivity.
If you don’t already work for yourself, then consider taking on some side work as a freelancer. You may have hobbies or skills that you can monetize in order to bring in an extra source of income. For example, you may work as a project manager by day, but be a copywriter by night. Or you’re a full-time accountant with a photography business on the side.
Be creative with how you earn extra cash. You may find that your side-hustle begins to bring in more income than your 9 to 5 job.
Taking on per-project freelance work gives you the freedom and flexibility to earn some extra cash on your own time, and even increase your overall career satisfaction.
3. Spend money to make money.
It’s been said many, many times, but you’ve got to spend money to make money. But it doesn’t have to mean emptying your bank account.
Enhance Your Skills and Education
There are other ways to increase your level of skill or education outside of paying tens of thousands of dollars for grad school or additional degrees.
You can easily learn a new skill – and enhance your value – just by investing a bit of time and cash into an online course.
For example, digital content writers can enhance their value by learning SEO. Or a graphic designer might want to dive into basic coding as a start to website development. Either of these skills can be learned online, and they don’t have to cost more than a few hundred dollars.
Invest in Tools and Apps That Make You More Efficient and Productive
It’s tempting to rely on free tools such as Google Calendar or Evernote to try staying on top of your shifting priorities, appointments, and various projects.
But investing in apps or tools with a price tag will usually pay off in the long run by helping you to become more efficient and productive, especially for freelancers.
For example, you will probably want to invest in a program that can help you track your expenses and itemize those expenses come tax time (and thereby save you time when filing your taxes).
A time-tracking tool such as Timing comes with a small price, but it will ultimately help you increase your productivity (and earning potential) by helping you track and report your working hours and minutes.
Invest in Your WebsiteIf you run your own business, you need to invest money into creating and running a high-quality website. Period. Click To Tweet
At the very least, this involves paying for the “Premium” or “Business” version of your site and paying for your own domain name, giving you the ability to customize your site and appear professional.
You may also want to hire a web designer, graphic designer, or copywriter (or all three) to make sure your branding is on-point and your site is clean, functional, and effective.
If your website is outdated, non-functional, or poorly designed, you can count on losing sales, clients, and cash.
4. Increase your productivity.
You only have so many hours in the day, and your day may already feel packed with work-related tasks, projects, and meetings.
The truth is, with the average person spending 2 hours and 22 minutes a day on social media, you may have more time than you think.
Increasing your productivity involves making an honest assessment of how you’re spending your time, singling out activities that could be wasting your time and undermining your earning potential.
For example, does checking your email 15 times a day really contribute to your productivity? Or is it a compulsive habit?
Keeping track of your time can help you become more aware of how you’re spending your time, and how you can shift your activity to pour more minutes and hours into profit-building activities.
A word of caution: Don’t forget self-care.
If it’s the case that you do take on extra freelance work or begin investing time in learning additional skills in order to boost your earning potential, you will find yourself with a busier schedule (and more cash).
As good as it will feel to bring in that extra income, remember that self-care is still important. Your health (mental and physical) and precious free time are invaluable resources that should not be forgotten or overlooked in order to earn more.
In the long run, you’ll thank yourself for pacing your schedule and taking care of your needs (and avoiding dangerous burnout).
You can do this.
Boosting your earning potential may not be as difficult as you think.
Remember, you are not limited by time, educational background, or your career path.
By following one (or more) of the steps above, you can become a more productive, higher-quality asset to your boss, your customers, or your clients – and a higher earner regardless of your current circumstances.