I’m glad you’re here. And while it sucks to earn less than $15 per hour, there is good news: You’ve got nowhere to go but up.
There are a lot of people who will tell you that earning $15 or less per hour is just the way it is being a freelance writer. They’ll tell you that website content doesn’t pay, that nobody gets more than $30 per blog post.
Sorry, but that’s bullsh*t.
I make $500 or more per blog post. I earn $140 per hour. And I am certainly not superhuman, or some business genius. I got here because I had big bills and no other options. And so I made it work.
You can make it work, too.
Here are a few ways how:
1) Focus on getting recurring work.
One of the most stunning takeaways from the freelance writer’s survey is how much recurring work “high-earning” freelancers (over $45 per hour) get versus low earners.
So how do you get this recurring work? There are plenty of ways to go about it, but here’s the condensed version:
- Write blog posts. Clients need regular blog posts for their websites. How regular they need them depends, but it’s at least once a month, and often once a week. You need to become their outsourced company blogger. Landing even 2-3 regular blogging gigs will not only dramatically reduce how much time you spend finding clients – it will also give you a more regular, predictable income. And if you can get your client to agree to a couple of blog posts titles at a time, if you do have downtime in your schedule, you can just work ahead of deadline for your blogging clients.
- Do A+ work. Every single time. Here’s how I really made my way to $500 blog posts and being an ultra-high earner: I over-delivered. No matter how mundane or stupid or forgettable an assignment seemed, I turned in work that was several grades better than what was needed. And I kept doing it. You need to do this, too. Because what sometimes looks like a boring assignment for a one-off client can become ongoing, highly paid work. Submit every piece of writing as if you were auditioning for a job.
- Ask for it. I know – it’s hard for some people to ask for things. I hate promoting myself, too. But friend, you need to earn more money, and that can be quite the motivator. So ask for additional work. Even better, get specific about writing you could do that would help your client. Always be thinking about how your writing skills can drive more business for your client. Then tell them about your ideas.
2) Work with better companies.
I will not lie to you: Some businesses and people are just cheap. They will not pay any more than nickles for writing. You need to stop working with these people. Wish them well, but dump them. Because there are companies and individuals around who do pay good money for good words. You need to get better at finding and identifying them.
One of the best ways to identify companies like that is by how many employees they have.
In my own work, I’ve found that companies with 10 employees or so don’t usually make for good clients. Now, I’m crazy expensive, so smaller companies could work for you for awhile. But in the Freelance Writers’ Survey, it clearly showed that freelancers who work with companies of 50 employees or more or agencies tend to earn more.
In my experience, there’s another good reason to work with larger companies. They’re less likely to not pay you. They’re also more likely to agree to ongoing work. They’re big enough to have a budget that’s worth talking about.
3) Become a better writer.
I’m not saying that you’re getting paid a terrible rate because you’re a bad writer. You can absolutely be a good writer – even an excellent writer – and still earn an awful hourly rate.
But improving your writing skills can help. So long as you do it the right way.
You see, many freelance writers think that “become a better writer” means bigger words, or more styled prose, or injecting their personality into their writing. It’s certainly good to have “a voice”, but it needs to support, not detract, from what you’re trying to say.
Depending on your client, what’s good may have a different meaning. But for almost any business client, here’s the outlines of what “good” means.
- It’s easy to understand. Specifically, your copy comes in at less than a 7th grade reading level per the Hemingway Editor.
- It’s easy to scan. Sorry… but very few people will read every word you write. It’s just that nature of reading on the web. So add subheaders. Use bulletpoints wherever you can. And consider using bold to help your reader find what’s most important fast.
- It’s error-free. Do not submit another word to a client without running your copy through Grammarly’s free tool.
- If it’s a blog post or other online content, your copy links to other pages on the client’s website about every 300-500 words.
- It’s in the same mindset as your client’s other content. Always read at least five blog posts and five pages of content on any client’s site before you submit a piece. Look for the tone they tend to use, any style conventions, formatting – the works. Submit a piece of content that fits with what’s on their site.
- Cut filler, flacid words.
- Use examples wherever you can. Especially if you can find examples from your client’s clients or customers.
- Read your work out loud before you submit it. When your ear notices a clunky sentence, fix it.