This story initially appeared on Greenback Sprout.
I’ve been a contract author since 2011 — however I think about my first 5 years within the enterprise a follow spherical, as a result of I used to be so unsuccessful.
I spent these years making low 5 figures yearly. After I landed a full-time writing job, I used to be terrified to ever return to freelancing for a dwelling. I believed I used to be simply dangerous at it. Then I obtained laid off.
In December 2019, I used to be instantly with no job and solely had about one freelance project each different month.
However this time, I kicked up my freelancing sport — and went from making nearly nothing to matching my full-time wage in lower than 90 days.
If you happen to’ve obtained the fundamentals of being a contract author down and are prepared to earn more money, strive these steps that’ll increase your worth and get shoppers knocking in your door.
1. Study to jot down for the online
Content material advertising and on-line publishing drive among the biggest demand for writers. Corporations want writers for weblog posts, social media, e-mail advertising, e-books and touchdown pages.
In case your background is in print journalism or inventive writing, bone up on find out how to write for on-line platforms, together with search engine marketing (search engine marketing) and social media, to vastly enhance the gigs you qualify for.
2. Develop a distinct segment
I attribute a number of my success gathering shoppers shortly to my give attention to writing about private finance, a sought-after area of interest. I’d labored full time for 5 years within the area, honing an experience in difficult subjects.
I initially didn’t need to “area of interest down” as a result of I like writing about so many issues. However labeling myself a “private finance author” and leaning into my biggest data base helps me appeal to shoppers trying to find that experience. It additionally helps my community consider me for referrals.
Finance, well being, and regulation are all profitable niches that all the time appear to have open writing alternatives. They every cowl complicated subjects which have a serious impression on readers’ lives, so experience from writers and editors is essential.
I don’t have a certification, equivalent to a Licensed Monetary Planner or CPA, however these would add authority and increase your worth as a distinct segment author. Authorized blogs typically need to see a regulation diploma or schooling along with expertise writing about regulation.
3. Be referable
By way of full-time jobs and freelance aspect gigs over time, I developed robust relationships with editors and fellow writers.
Networking has by no means been my robust level. I developed relationships as an alternative on the power of my work — I turned in clear copy, met deadlines, and proposed good concepts. When my mates and colleagues knew I used to be obtainable for work, they have been joyful to refer me to shoppers and cross alternatives my manner.
Regardless of how a lot you’re getting paid to your work now, put your full effort behind it. Displaying up and doing a killer job will set you as much as see referrals roll in — so you possibly can ultimately be choosy and really feel assured negotiating increased charges.
4. Be versatile with charges
Setting freelance charges is a sophisticated dance. I set my preliminary goal considerably arbitrarily, based mostly on what I knew from colleagues and freelance writers I’d labored with as an editor. It was fairly excessive, and I turned down a number of provides from prospects who couldn’t match it.
However then I obtained a proposal from a website I knew I’d take pleasure in writing for. It supplied a set fee to all freelancers — half my goal per-word fee. Nevertheless it additionally had infinite alternatives for assignments, so I’d spend much less time pitching and in search of new work.
A low fee with the promise of plentiful work might be extra profitable than a excessive fee for one-off or sporadic assignments it’s important to spend unpaid time securing. Construct that distinction into your charges to keep away from turning down good alternatives that don’t suit your stringent requirements.
5. Work based mostly on earnings, not hours
You’ll be able to plan your days as a freelancer a number of methods:
- By time: Decide to working 9 a.m. to five p.m. (or any set variety of hours). Cease at quitting time, even for those who’re in the course of a venture, and resume the following day.
- By duties: Create a to-do record for the day, and work till you examine every part off.
- By earnings: Purpose for a mean each day greenback quantity, and work till you’ve earned it.
I plan my days based mostly on earnings, as a result of it helps me earn probably the most and constantly enhance my earnings with out rising my hours or workload.
Working towards a greenback quantity every day helps me prioritize work, and it helps me shortly see after I must rebalance my workload by dropping over-taxing shoppers and reaching out to new prospects.
6. Do some math
This was probably the most necessary steps I took to spice up my revenue 70% in my third month again at freelancing. Early on, I used to be doing a number of content material administration work that stuffed as much as 20 hours per week, and I used to be doing a number of writing assignments to fill in the remaining.
Monitoring the hours spent on every venture helped me shortly see that writing had a significantly better ROI.
Maintain monitor of the time you spend on every venture to know your efficient hourly fee. You’ll see which tasks are incomes you cash and that are sucking your time.
To set a goal hourly fee, an excellent rule of thumb is to double your full-time hourly fee. If you happen to’re aiming for an annual wage of $50,000, the hourly fee at a full-time job could be about $24. Purpose for about $48 per hour freelancing.
You must intention for extra as a freelancer, since you don’t receives a commission for each hour you’re employed. You spend tons of non-billable hours on duties like writing pitches, researching publications, looking job boards, writing proposals, assembly with prospects or networking.
While you’re self-employed, you additionally need to pay extra taxes and purchase your personal medical health insurance for those who don’t have a partner who can present protection.
7. Drop time-sucking shoppers
After realizing I may earn extra on writing than on content material administration, I broke up with a consumer that had commanded a ton of my time for a low hourly fee.
Once I stuffed that point with different shoppers, my hourly fee jumped about 40%. That meant I may earn more cash and work fewer hours. I used to be hesitant to lose that consumer, who promised as a lot work as I needed, however I knew I may make higher use of my time.
Concentrate on inefficient work that sucks a number of time you can spend on extra profitable work, and don’t be afraid to drop shoppers for higher alternatives.
Discover shoppers who waste your time with non-billable work — those who require difficult invoicing, e-mail you at odd hours, micromanage each project, anticipate a number of rounds of revisions, or are usually disorganized. Account for that additional time when determining the hourly fee you earn for that consumer’s tasks.
8. Don’t depend on pitches
My largest mistake in my first stint as a freelancer was pondering pitching was the one method to get work.
Sending a one-off pitch is an effective way to get an project at a high-end journal or newspaper, or at blogs as a brand new author. Nevertheless it’s a laborious method to make a dwelling writing.
Deal with discovering shoppers that provide ongoing writing work and need a long-term relationship. Small companies typically work this manner, as do area of interest websites that require experience, like finance, well being or authorized blogs.
Or flip one-off assignments into ongoing gigs by doing an excellent job.
Comply with up after one profitable project with one other pitch. As soon as an editor is aware of how nice you’re, allow them to know you’re obtainable to simply accept assignments. Most websites have a wish-list of articles they’d like written, they usually’ll be joyful to cross them your manner when you’ve confirmed your self dependable.
9. Search for gigs in the appropriate locations
As a brand new freelancer, you might need relied on dealer websites like Upwork and Textbroker to search out locations to receives a commission to jot down. However shoppers on these websites are sometimes searching for the most affordable rent and aren’t as involved with high quality.
Now that you’ve extra expertise, you will have higher choices to search out gigs:
- Browse higher-quality job boards, like MediaBistro, JournalismJobs.com, and Mediagazer.
- Host a portfolio and “work with me” web page by yourself web site, and hyperlink to it out of your social media profiles to assist shoppers discover you.
- Be part of membership teams of writers, like Freelance Writers Den, Editorial Freelancers Affiliation, or Society of Skilled Journalists, which host vetted job boards and allow you to record your self as obtainable for rent.
- Use your community and ensure colleagues who love your work know you’re obtainable, to allow them to ship prospects your manner. Attempt to return the favor when you possibly can.
- Be part of freelance author teams on Fb, like The Freelance Content material Advertising and marketing Author and The Write Life, the place editors submit high quality alternatives.
10. Develop into (a bit of) tech savvy
Being simple to work with will make you extra worthwhile to shoppers — and a bit of tech savviness makes you much less of a headache than somebody shoppers have at hand maintain with each new piece of software program.
Discover ways to use fundamental tech you’ll encounter as a freelancer, together with:
- Video conferencing: Google Hangouts and Zoom.
- Challenge administration: Trello and Asana.
- Phrase processing and collaborating: Microsoft Phrase and Google Docs.
- Content material administration: WordPress (and Wix for some small companies).
11. Subscribe to writing newsletters
Newsletters for writers are a easy method to keep abreast of writing gigs with out continually perusing job boards. Plus, they normally include tons of writing ideas.
My favourite newsletters with distinctive writing gigs are:
12. Attain out to new shoppers
While you’re a brand new author, it may be simple to depend on job boards or Fb posts to search out new shoppers, however you can also make more cash for those who discover shoppers by yourself.
Use websites like Crunchbase to search out startups in your discipline. Ship emails to them explaining what you provide and how one can assist develop their enterprise along with your writing.
Set a calendar reminder to comply with up inside a number of months with a fast check-in and a hyperlink to your newest article.
Following up is essential, even for those who by no means hear again or solely obtain a lukewarm response. You by no means know when an organization will likely be prepared for freelance assist. It might be six months or a yr from now.
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