Double Your Freelance Writing Income: 5 Ways to Make it Happen

If you’re a working freelance writer, I’ve got a question for you: Would you like to earn twice as much money from writing as you do right now?

(I should clarify that I mean without working twice as hard.)

Who wouldn’t, right?

I’ve been helping freelance writers double their income for many years now, and here’s what I’ve learned: Earning a lot more may be easier than you think.

There are a few basic changes to how you run your writing business that reliably boost writers’ income.

What small steps make a big difference? Here are my top five tips for quickly doubling what you earn from writing:

1. Stop and analyze

Many freelance writers are caught in a gerbil-wheel trap. You spend every minute frantically doing current client work and checking online job boards trying to land more gigs. You’re barely earning enough to pay bills, so there’s little free time.

There are zero minutes spent reflecting on the big picture. Where is your writing biz headed? Who would you really love to write for, and how can you position yourself to get there?

In the world of entrepreneurship, this is called working in your business instead of on your business. You’ll need to stop the busy-busy and take stock of your direction to make course corrections. If you’ve got even a single hour, you could reflect on what’s happening and potentially chart a new course.

Question: When was the last time you made a list of all your clients, how much you make from them on an hourly basis — and where they came from?

Do you see any patterns in your marketing of where better-rate clients came from? Worse ones? That may show you it’s time to stop checking online job boards, and time to do more proactive marketing, or to double down on LinkedIn networking. Or perhaps one industry niche is paying better than your others, and you should troll for more work in that area.

Stopping to do a client analysis can help you see where you’re wasting time, which clients should be dropped, and which asked for a raise.

2. Drop the biggest loser

Once you know who your worst client is, lay plans to get rid of them.

Writers often stay trapped at a low income level because they fear change. “I love writing for client X!” writers tell me, even though the gig works out to under $20 an hour. Bulletin: That client isn’t loving you back.

Somewhere in your client list, there’s probably a client that should be cut loose, to free up marketing time to find better prospects.

Use the time you save to find a better client. Once you do, drop the next-biggest loser. And so on. This simple process of swapping out lower-paid clients for better ones is the main technique I used to build my own business to six figures — right in the middle of the last big economic downturn.

3. Create (or strengthen) your inbound funnel

Are great clients finding you online? Whether it’s from a LinkedIn profile or your own writer website, a thriving writing business gets inbound clients who see your work and contact you. You should wake up in the morning and find emails, InMails, or Messenger notes from good prospects.

If that isn’t happening for you, it’s time to build or improve your online presence. I’m currently teaching a bootcamp for new freelance writers, and I’m blown away by how many have fewer than 100 LinkedIn connections. Give the Internet a chance to help you find clients on autopilot!

Consider making network-building and site improvement a weekly goal – it can pay off in less active marketing you have to do. And we all want that, right?

If you’ve got a writer website but it’s never gotten you a client, it’s time to optimize it. Have you given SEO any thought, and are you getting found for the keyword phrase you’re targeting? It can be worth investing a little time to make sure you come off professional, and it’s clear what type of clients you want.

Remember, most clients are searching for someone who knows their thing. They’re Googling for an Atlanta healthcare writer, or a freelance cryptocurrency writer. Something like that. Be sure to think like a client and communicate your expertise.

4. Identify ideal clients

If your marketing is all over the place, it’s time to focus. One of the best ways to do that is with an ideal-client exercise. Here’s how:

Close your eyes and imagine your ideal freelance writing life. Who are you writing for? Is it Vanity Fair? IBM? Think big and make a list of at least 10 dream clients.

Next, ask yourself this: What clips would impress those clients? Who would be a good stepping stone down the yellow brick road to that Emerald City?

For instance, if you want to write for Forbes, you might pitch a piece to your city’s business magazine or weekly business journal, to start. Aligning current prospects with ideal clients helps you quickly assemble a portfolio that’ll impress the right people.

Stop taking any and all gigs that come your way, and writing about everything under the sun. Instead, build a path that leads directly to your best writing jobs.

Sometimes, this exercise will even lead you to realize you should pitch dream clients right away! I’ve seen writers pitch and get hired immediately by dream clients, once they did the ideal-client exercise and realized they had the portfolio to go for it.

5. Raise your rates

There’s a bottom line that if you want to earn more, you have to charge more.

Start figuring out how you’ll do it. Hint: You’ll need to target clients that have real money and understand our value — bigger-circulation magazines, larger business and websites. Generally, these gigs aren’t sitting around an online job board.

Make sure you know what you’re earning on an hourly basis (even if you charge project rates, like you should)…and keep inching that figure up.

If you don’t have the stomach to ask existing clients for a raise, be sure to bring in new ones at higher rates. If you’re not raising rates, you’re not keeping up with the rising cost of living.

I speak as someone who’s paying $7,000 for braces on kid #2 right now, that cost $5,000 with kid #1, about 5 years ago. The price of everything else is going up, and raising rates shows you’re professional and value your worth.

Once you’ve done the client-analysis process and realigned your actions to suit your goals, make a date with yourself to repeat it every six months- one year. Your client base will change, as will your best actions to grow your income.

We don’t tend to hit new earning levels without a goal. Set yours high and even if you fall short, you’ll be earning way more than you did before.

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Photo via Monster Ztudio / Shutterstock 

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5 Romantic Ways to Earn a Living as a Writer

Maybe you’re the type who welcomes Valentine’s Day with open arms — and a slew of candy hearts for good measure. Or maybe you’d rather ignore Cupid’s birthday entirely, rebranding the event S.A.D. (Singles Awareness Day, that is).

But whether you struggle with or celebrate this annual festival of fondness, one thing’s for sure: making money as a writer can be just as trying as navigating a romantic relationship…and just as blissful when the stars align.

In honor of the season of love, we’ve put together a few fun ideas for earning cash as a writer, even — or maybe especially — if you’re a little love-sick. (In either sense of the term.)

Below, find five dreamy ways to win a wage for your words.

1. Help the lonely find love as a professional dating profile writer

Just as we do for delivery meals and taxi rides, many of us turn to the wide world of the internet when we’re in search of Mr. or Ms. Right. (Or even Mr. or Ms. Right Now.)

But crafting a well-written online dating profile can be a serious obstacle for those who aren’t linguistically inclined.

Which is why “professional online dating profile writer” is now a real job title — and a uniquely 21st-century way to make money writing copy. You could offer up your services freelance on a platform like Fiverr or try to find a gig with a firm focused on this kind of content, like DatingProfileWriters.com.

You might also just reach out to the singles you know in person and ask if they’d like to give their OKCupid “About Me” section a bit of a professional spit-shine. Besides, most online dating profiles would probably be more objective (yet still attractive!) if they were written by a third party.

2. Bring others’ romantic sentiments to life by writing greeting cards

How many lovestruck — or lovelorn — people turn to the staid stanzas of a pre-written greeting card when attempting to express their emotions?

You can use your way with words to help a stranger say what they really feel by writing those heartfelt, if generalized, sentiments.

There are many large greeting card manufacturers who hire full-time writers and offer internships to those who are still studying. That’s how poet and short-story author Keion Jackson ended up as a senior writer at Hallmark Cards. You can also write for major card companies on a freelance basis, earning a flat fee for each accepted submission.

And thanks to DIY sales platforms like Etsy, you could even strike out on your own, writing and selling artisanal greeting cards of your own creation — though in this case, it’ll probably help if you’re as crafty as you are literary.

3. Find work as a freelance romance writer

Yes, it’s true: finding any work as a freelance writer is already complicated. But it’s also true that you can get paid to write romantic fiction on a per-word basis.

Check out, for example, this listing from Radish Fiction, calling for freelancers who are “interested in the romance genre and serialized storytelling.” At $50 per 1500 words, the pay isn’t exactly stellar… but it is paid!

Romance writers are also sometimes in demand on freelance platforms like Upwork. This listing offers between 3 and 6 cents per word for “high quality romance writer[s],” and you’ll be provided an outline. Again, not exactly bread-on-the-table money, but a fun way to bring in a little bit extra!

4. Or pitch and pen your own piece about love

If you’ve got your own heartwarming (or heartrending) story to tell, you might be able to make significantly more than a few cents per word to tell it. You can earn a more substantial chunk of change, not to mention exposure and name recognition, if you successfully pitch your story to one of these literary outlets, which pay quite well for personal essays.

Just be sure your piece fits your prospective publisher’s submission guidelines, and ideally relates to any recent pitch calls the editors have made.

Keep in mind that editorial calendars tend to run several months ahead of publication, so you’ll probably want to reach out by December at the latest with a story you think would work well in February.

5. Feeling feisty? Self-publish your steamy fiction

Find yourself weaving wandering tales of courtship — or even out-and-out smut? No need to be embarrassed. In fact, you may be sitting on some serious earnings potential.

There’s a huge market for romance novels, which accounted for about 15% of adult fiction purchases in 2017, easily beating fantasy and sci-fi combined. And thanks to the accessibility of self-publishing, you don’t necessarily need to do the time-intensive footwork of finding an open-minded agent.

Looking for even more ways to earn cash as a writer? Check out these online gold mines for finding paid gigs, or this guide to getting your start as a freelancer.  

Whether you’ll spend February 14th smiling in pink or scowling in black, we wish you the best of luck — both in love and in lucrative writing!

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