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How to Earn Freelance Income Without Any Clients

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The #1 question I get asked is “how do I find more freelance clients?”

I’ve talked to dozens of freelancers over the years who, for one reason or another, need to find paying clients right now.

For some, it’s serious — and time-sensitive. They just quit their job and don’t know how they’ll pay rent next month. For others, they’re just eager to start their own business.

But there’s another way to earn money that most freelancers forget about…

In fact, you can earn a regular income every month without any clients at all.

Sell Your Own Work

All you have to do is sell your own work. You don’t need to have an amazing idea, form a startup, build a million-dollar business, and conquer the world.

👉  Stock content marketplaces let you upload your original creations and start earning a side income right now. This is a goldmine idea if you’re a:

  • Designer
  • Developer
  • Illustrator
  • Photographer
  • Animator
  • Audio Engineer
  • 3D Modeler

How Marketplaces Work

  1. You sign up as an author/creator on one or more stock marketplaces (there’s no limit!)
  2. You upload original content that you create (again, no limits)
  3. Set your own prices (some marketplaces do this for you)
  4. People buy your designs, code, photos, music, videos, etc
  5. You get paid for each sale (usually 70% or more)

That’s it.

If you consistently upload content people want to buy, you’ll start to build a following. Those followers will turn into customers, which will help you earn even more.

I know people making upwards of $20,000 per month using this method!

There are some fantastic benefits to creating your own products too:

  • You have no income ceiling.
  • You need minimal experience and no resume.
  • You can make one product and sell it forever.
  • You never have to ask a client for approval.
  • You never have to worry about late payments.
  • You don’t have to worry about contracts.
  • The marketplaces have worked hard to find and attract paying customers for you.

👉 I designed a little calendar widget in 2010 and put the PSD file up for sale. That file still pays for my gas bill every month over 10+ years later.

You could build an entire career out of this and bypass clients forever if you wanted to. All you have to do is keep up with trends and create content people want.

Know What People Want

How do you know what people want? Just click on the Popular or Trending tab on each marketplace, see what’s selling really well, then create more of that. It can’t get much easier. They basically give you a free sales roadmap to follow.

Here’s a list of marketplaces to get you started:

👉 If you have a Dribbble account, you can host your artwork on a Shopify or Gumroad store and add “For Sale” buttons to your Dribbble shots.

“But what if I don’t create digital media?”

Now, you might be thinking, “But I’m a copywriter! This will never work for me…”.

And you’d be right. Stock content websites don’t work well for copywriters.

However, you can partner with someone creating digital products (like website themes, eBooks, banners, t-shirts, etc) and sell your services to them. You could be their primary resource and they could be your main client.

Likewise, designers can partner with developers to create amazing WordPress themes and sell them together.

If you don’t want to create products for a living and still want to earn the big bucks from clients, this is a great way to subsidize your income until you start gaining traction as a freelancer.

Remember, it’s never too early to start creating your own products and earning a side income!

Don’t quit your day job too soon

I highly recommend not quitting your day job until you’re earning consistent income as a freelancer. That means, for a period of time, you’ll likely need to be working more than 40 hours per week.

But this mitigates your risk and gives you a trial period where you can make sure freelancing is right for you. Transitioning to freelancing and a life of self-employment is a huge career shift that you shouldn’t take lightly.

Don’t “take the leap” away from your day job until you can reasonably predict that you’ll have success as a freelancer. You should also have a backup plan and plenty of savings in place before quitting your job to make sure you don’t find yourself needing to earn money on a moment’s notice.

If you decide that freelancing is right for you, selling your own work is a great way to passively subsidize your freelance income

Last updated on February 28th, 2023

About Matt Olpinski
I've been freelancing since 2009 and have worked with over 100+ clients including some of the biggest brands in the world. I later started my own company Matthew’s Design Co. and now teaches 50,000+ freelancers each year how to succeed through my personal blog, newsletter, and community for freelancers.