Even if you got one just last week, chances are you could use a raise. While more money isn’t always necessary, it sure is nice. And if you can easily impress your boss, why wouldn’t you want to earn a few more dollars for the duties you perform at work?

Chances are, though, that your employer has your position pretty accurately valued. If your salary requirements ever exceed that value, you’d need to be promoted to a new position with more responsibilities, or find a new job. So if those options aren’t appealing at the moment, the best way to earn a raise is to impress your boss. On a regular basis.

How you can you do that, though?

While I’m self-employed now and set my own rates, I learned quite a lot about earning more money while working for a vanity book publisher. In fact, those lessons took me a long way in setting up my current self-employed situation. If you’d like to earn more at your job, and if you want to set a foundation for setting out on your own, here are a few pointers.

Let The Profits Guide You

When I first started at the book publisher, I remember reading a bit about a man named Michael Masterson. He got his start in the publishing industry, editing a newsletter. According to his story, when he wanted to make more money he realized that he’d have to make his boss more money. When he did that successfully, he got a stake in the company. Which was worth over $1 million soon enough.

So if you want to earn more money, you could be like Masterson and arrange to share in the profits you generate.

But an easier way to impress your boss is to just improve the bottom line a bit, not explode it. Take a look at where your company draws its profits. Without taking away from your normal duties, start to come up with ideas that will improve those profit-driving areas.

You can take these ideas to your boss or, if it’s feasible, you can just start working on them. Either way you’ll create an impression. An impression coupled with profits leads you to greater benefits.

Find Areas of Excessive Spending

There are two ways to make more money. The first is by earning more. That is admittedly a great path, because there aren’t many limits on how high you can go. Another way is to cut spending. If you can’t do this from your current position — if you don’t have access to spending information — you can still make differences here and there.

While reading about society’s energy consumption lately, I came across the energy efficiency page at our power company. One fact on there struck me: Buildings account for 40% of the energy consumed in most countries. That seems like an enormous amount. This includes heating, cooling, and electricity. Doesn’t that seem like an opportunity? Even if you can’t access the bills, you can still undertake initiatives to reduce your company’s energy usage.

If you do even simple things, such as encouraging employees to shut down computers after work (rather than putting them to sleep), turning off every unnecessary light, and keeping unnecessary appliances unplugged, you can make a dent in that building cost. Suggest to your boss that your landlord install new insulation, or timed thermostats. All of these initiatives can reduce the building energy cost, which will in turn save the company money.

Yes, increasing your company’s bottom line is what will most impress your boss. There is no substitute for that. If you take initiative and drive profits, you will be rewarded. But there are other things you can do in order to make yourself more valuable. One of the best ways I’ve found is to ease your boss’s anxieties and fears.

Find Out What Keeps Your Boss Up At Night

At the publishing house, my boss was petrified of losing clients. The money he personally made was based on a commission from client payments. If we lost a $200,000 contract after just two $20,000 payments, he lost out on commission for $160,000. He’d constantly threaten the entire staff if something even seemed to be going wrong. Sick of those calls, I found a way to not only get him off my back, but to have him actually appreciate my services.

When a client expressed or gratitude during any of our conversations, I made note. After a few of these conversations, I’d subtly suggest that the client call my boss and express the same feelings. He was the one who signed the client in the first place, so it was an easy suggestion. “You know who would love to hear what you just told me? Larry.” And so the client would pick up the phone and express the same jubilance to my boss. I’m sure he slept easier those nights, which certainly made my job easier — and made him appreciate me more.

We could all use a raise, and now is as good a time as any. But in order to earn a raise, we have to take initiative and help the company in additional ways. By increasing profits, reducing costs, and easing our boss’ troubled mind, we can truly earn our eventual raises. At the same time, we learn valuable lessons for self-employment, in case you ever consider that path.

So, are you ready to take those steps and earn what you are really worth?

Joe Pawlikowski owns and works for a number of startups. He writes about those entrepreneurial issues, plus anything else that interests him, at his personal blog, A New Level.

Image courtesy of 401(K).