While it seems most professions have a standard rate people expect to be charged, freelance writing is one of those with rates all over the board.
You can do the exact same work and charge ten times what you’re making when you find the right writing clients.
The sad truth is most freelance writers don’t charge nearly enough (and for some time I was one of them). Read Here’s How Much to Charge Your Freelance Writing Clients for more of what you can and should charge for your writing.
Say you make $50,000 in a year. Keep in mind that in the US as a freelancer you:
- Pay more in taxes for being self-employed
- Pay for your own vacation time
- Are charged 3-4 times as much as employees for health insurance
- Don’t get paid sick time
The bigger picture is that your ability to write is a talent few people have and it contributes greatly to the success of any business you help.
Once you’ve established how valuable you are and what you need to charge, here’s how you go about getting better paying clients.
1. Raise your prices
The only way you’ll get higher paying clients is by actually raising your rates. If you charge $50 for a blog article, raise it to $60. If it’s $60, go for $80.
Some writers get hung up and think they are “taking other people’s money.” In reality, you write that blog article once and your client can benefit from it for years and years to come.
If it’s going to help their business for that long, why shouldn’t you make good money on it? You’ll likely find if you’re creating something truly valuable for your client, they’ll be more than happy to pay that price.
The irony is, clients who are willing to pay more know the value of good online writing. As a result, they don’t complain as much as the little guys who don’t pay as much.
For example, I had a client who I charged $30 per blog article and who wouldn’t stop complaining. He would do a line-item analysis of every last word of my blog articles. Eventually, he ended up not paying on a bill.
I now have a client I charge $200 for 800 – 1000 words, and another I once charged $450 for that many words. The type of responses I received for these?
“That article was amazing!”
“That was a great article!”
No revision requests and no complaining.
Not. A. Word.
2. Let go of the content mills and job bidding sites
You should view content mills like you view a landlord who owns slum apartments. They’re just in it for the money and they’re sucking out every last penny they can possibly get.
You will never, repeat never, convince content mills or job bidding sites that you should be paid more. Their concern is one thing and one thing only: price.
With content mills, you’re racing to the bottom of the pricing barrel – and you have a large amount of people willing to compete for the lowest price!
Sure, you can get paid $15 per article and do 3-4 in an hour, but you’re going to scream when they all complain and want significant revisions.
Trust me – I’ve been there.
3. Reach out to prospective clients
To get the best paying clients, you need to reach out to them. It’s not as hard (or scary) as you may think. There are a number of different markets you can target directly, including:
- Marketing agencies (although they’re not the best paying)
- Trade magazines with online content
- Custom publishing companies
- Government agencies
Personally, I go after businesses because that’s the type of writing I like (and it pays well).
Pitching directly for online writing clients is the fastest way to earn a full-time living from freelance writing online.
4. Build your own writer’s website
Kirsty has a nice little website here. Your website does not need to be complicated (even for getting very lucrative clients), but you absolutely need to have one.
It shows you take yourself seriously as a professional online writer.
All you need for pages is:
- Hire Me
- Contact Me
It gets limitlessly more complicated if you want it to, but that’s all you need to get started.
You can get samples for your portfolio by doing pro bono work for businesses or nonprofits, or by writing sample documents on topics you want to write on.
All you need to do to get started is to show you can write.
5. Target markets that can pay
If you’re writing for mostly very small, local businesses, you’ll have a hard time charging that $100 or more per hour rate. $50-$60 should come pretty easily though.
While we all love our small local businesses, most of the time they don’t have much – if any – budget for freelance writing.
Instead of trying to convince people your writing is valuable, target markets that already appreciate the value of your services.
The sweet spot is companies with $5-$50 million in annual revenue, and possibly even higher. They’re usually large enough to have a marketing manager and employee, but not large enough to have all their writing needs met.
One way I look for these companies is by using the INC 5000 list. This list distributes the information of 5000 of the fastest-growing companies in America by annual revenue. These have plenty of funds available for marketing but may need the extra help you can offer them.
They say charging more and getting better clients is really about confidence, and I think it is. Don’t feel guilty about it. (I still do sometimes – it’s a struggle.)
You are not “ripping people off" though. You are providing a valuable service to someone who finds you valuable. If someone doesn’t agree with your pricing, they are going to be a bad client (without exception). And, when you land those higher-paying clients, your confidence and stress levels (and your wallet) will thank you for it!
Good luck in your freelance writing endeavours and feel free to ask any questions you may have in the comments section below.
Dan Stelter is a SEO consultant and freelance copywriter in Chicago who specializes in helping businesses make more money from their marketing materials and websites. Visit his website at www.freelancewriterinchicago.com or learn more at The Smarter Copywriting & SEO blog.
Image couresty of Christina Saint Marche via photopin