As a freelancer, your job is to solve a problem. That’s why people hire you. The problem is the website might need more content in order to meet its traffic numbers and thus sell more product. Or an organization may hire you because they need you to increase their clout on social media. Or perhaps someone has a software idea in their head and they need someone to build it. Every organization has problems that a freelancer can fix. The most important thing as a freelancer is being able to identify these problems and offer a cost-effective solution and preferably a solution better than that of anyone else. But really, just being able to solve the problem will get you more clients than you can handle on your own. You’ll probably end up starting an agency. But if you want to take things to a crazy level be cost-effective and/or better than anyone else.

That’s a lot of knowledge to drop in an opening paragraph of a blog post. But it’s important you see this topic for its simplicity. Though lets rewind to your college days.

In college, you were in clubs, you did well in philosophy, you attended all of your classes, you respected your teachers. You were a model student. That’s great. I was that way. But you know? In the marketplace… no one cares. Absolutely no one. And why should they? None of the above have anything to do with solving that organizations problems.

Okay so right now you’re probably whining and saying that these type of college students are the ones that people should want to hire. That’s true. Partial true actually. Yes, organizations seek people who are hardworking, loyal and disciplined. BUT ONLY if these skills can be attributed to the work you are completing. This means that past performance is not indicative of future results. So it’s good to have these skills, it’s good to get references because of the person you have been but unless you can show exactly how these skills apply to the current job – they don’t matter.

No one also cares if you were the best fry cook at McDonald’s. Do not try to pass it off like you were some great leader as you hovered over acne-covered 14-year-old’s. Everything you talk up about to your new employer should be extremely applicable to their problem.

I’m writing this because this will help you earn lots of money much quicker than otherwise. You will not have that initial freelancer lull like many of my peers have encountered. It’s a common story. This is how it goes:

“I worked really hard in college. I was on the honor roll. I had a really great relationship with my professors. But the only questions possible employer ask are about what similar work I’ve done in the past. They have never even asked to see my transcript.”

Enough of me crushing what you did in the past. And trust me, I was a stellar student as well. I rocked high school and college. But let’s move on to what matters…

Prove that you can do the job. This comes in the form of proof of past work. If you’re a writer, show applicable writing samples. If you’re a social media manager, offer results of past campaigns, follower counts – every measurable statistic you can show of what you do working for other organizations. Prove you’re great.

Remember the bonuses you can offer an organization? Yeah. Do those for extra money. Prove that you are cost-effective and/or the best. If you have a business model which allows for you to be cost-effective (or you’re just hoping for more experience) be cost-effective. If you feel you’re the best in your niche – prove it. This is one of the very few times in life where it’s appropriate to puff out your chest. Toot your own horn. Some people simply don’t make the income they should because they are bad at touting their skills. You can be great.

Whew. That’s a lot of information. Though once you absorb it – you’ll be on to six-figures in no time. It’s 2016. All freelancers should be positioning themselves for a six-figure income.

Now… what problems can you solve?

William Lipovsky owns the personal finance website First Quarter Finance. His most embarrassing moment was telling a Microsoft executive, "I'll just Google it."

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