While my business involves some digital marketing work, my bread and butter come from freelance writing. Freelance writing clients are currently the foundation of my business and allows me to support my family.
Things weren’t always this way though. When I was starting out, freelance writing was just a side hustle. I had to work my way up to be able to earn enough money to feel secure and to gain better paying clients.
The other day, someone emailed me asking how they could earn more money as a freelance writer. The person claimed she would only land work with clients who wanted to pay her low rates and that it was extremely hard to find someone who was willing to pay what she knew she was worth even though she knew she brought a lot to the table.
It’s important to realize that freelance writing is not a one size fit all career. There are various different types of writers, niches, and client needs which can make the amount of compensation vary from one writer to the next.
If you are looking to land contracts with clients who will pay you what you’re worth, I have quite a few general tips and strategies that will help you earn more as a writer regardless of what your niche is.
Step 1: Determine How Much You’re Worth
The first and most important step is to determine how much you actually believe you’re worth. It’s important to know the value of your time so you don’t get stuck with assignments that don’t pay you a liveable wage.
You can start by tracking your time spent working or figuring out how many hours you can work if you’re just starting out. Next, look at your monthly expenses. Review your budget and don’t forget that freelancers have to pay taxes on their income.
Now that you know how much time you have to work and how much you need to earn, you can start to do a little math. The amount you need to earn each month and divide it by the number of hours you can work each month.
Determining Your Net Worth
So let’s say you have about 32 hours per week/ 128 per month to work and your monthly expenses are $3,000. When you divide 3,000 by 128, that gives you $23.40. But wait, let’s be realistic and determine that you’re probably not going to spend the entire 32 hours per week writing so you DON’T want to set your rate at $25 per article.
Freelance writers also need to spend time editing their work, promoting their services, checking and responding to emails, and sending invoices.
Let’s say all this takes about 10 hours per month. I’m estimating this, but if you track your time, you’ll know how much time it really takes. So now that you’ve only got 22 hours per week/ 88 hours per month to freelance, you can recalculate your numbers.
Now, it raises your price to about $34.09 per article, but remember, you need to account for taxes and not all freelance writing assignments are exactly the same. You may also need to perform research or interviews which could take extra time.
Plus, you need to edit your work or the unexpected can happen and you may lose a client or get sick and not be able to submit a few posts for the month. You never want to earn just enough to cover your base expenses.
Bump up your minimum base rate per article by $15-$50+ to account for this.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll need to earn at least $50-$84 per article which is totally doable. If you have goals to earn more money, you can raise that rate even more. Consider your financial goals like saving for retirement, paying off debt, and building your emergency fund.
Now, it’s time to discuss how you’ll start earning what you’re worth.
Identify and Clearly State What You Bring to the Table
Whenever you’re sending a pitch or discussing your services with a potential client, be sure to clearly let them know what the benefits of working with you will be. Spell out your strengths, skills, and experience to justify the price you’re asking for.
Sometimes, it even helps to share what sets you apart from other writers. I usually let potential clients know that I always meet deadlines, use only credible sources, and tend to edit my own work.
Freelance writers should always uphold these standards in my opinion, but some of them don’t so by explicitly stating the standards you follow, it could persuade clients to be willing to pay more.
You can also add extra services that may not require much time and effort from you. For example, if you can add license-free images to your posts, or will promote them on social media when they go live, you can leverage more pay.
Build Up Your Portfolio
Sharing your skills and experience with a potential client is great, but talk is cheap. When you’re trying to land a new client, you need to actually show them writing samples to prove that you’ve written on other sites.
You can guest post to build up your portfolio, but usually, the more credible the site is, the more money you can demand. For example, if you can land a post on a site like the Huffington Post or Forbes, that will give you instant credibility even though the Huffington Post doesn’t pay writers.
Clients will have the mindset that if someone else allowed you to write on their big credible site, your work is good enough for their site too and they should pay you fairly for it.
Be Cautious With Job Boards
Job boards are often promoted as a great way to land freelance writing gigs but the truth is that they’re so competitive. Most aspiring writers know about job boards and are checking them often for leads.
The problem with this level of competition is that people start to lower their rates to become more appealing to clients. This messes things up for everyone seeing as how the clients who are looking to hire aren’t willing to pay much because they know that if you don’t lower your rate, someone else will.
Instead, only use job boards with caution and mix up your search by sending out cold pitches, using social media, and looking in unexpected places that other writers may just gloss over. The ProBlogger job board is actually a good one for freelance writers even though it is competitive, but the rates are pretty good.
Networking is one of the best ways to land work with clients in general, especially those who are willing to pay you what you’re worth. Usually, if the client knows you or knows someone you know, they will feel more comfortable about paying you more.
As a freelance writer, it’s easy to feel nervous or even somewhat guilty to quote a high rate to a client who isn’t familiar with the quality of your work even if you’re confident in your skills.
You can start by asking current clients who you enjoy working with if they have any referrals for you. You can also join Facebook groups to interact with other writers in your niche who may be able to pass leads your way if they’re too busy to take on new work. Or, you can connect with potential clients on social media or in person at small business events.
Summary: Know Your Worth and Ask For The Compensation to Match This Value
Bottom line, it all comes down to knowing what you’re worth in the first place, then finding a way to strategically ask for your desired rate in a way that the client is likely to comply.
Calculate how much you need to earn at bare minimum, then consider how much your time is worth and add to that base amount.
If you settle for less, you won’t be as happy with your assignments and workload and that could have a negative impact on the quality of your life and your work.