5 Ways Freelance Writers Can Earn More Without Marketing

Carol Tice

Happy writer gets more moneyHands up, writers — who loves to do marketing and reach out to new prospects?

Yeah. I thought so.

Well, here’s a piece of good news. You can earn more without having to talk to strangers, if you have a great client or two already. Or even a medium-good one.

I even have one tip you can use if you don’t have any freelance clients yet.

There are plenty of ways freelance writers can get more money without having to find any new clients. Here are my five favorites:

1. Ask for a raise

I recently got a heartbreaking email from a writer who had been writing for a business client for 12 years at $25 an hour. She had finally figured out that wasn’t a professional rate, and wanted to know how she might now broach the topic of getting a raise.

I wanted to cry. After 12 long years, it would probably be hard to talk this client into a higher rate now. Don’t let this happen!

Don’t ever go more than a year with a client without asking for a raise, at the very least a small one. I try to set up initial contracts to expire in 90 days so that I can ask for a raise in three months.

Remember, you are learning more about that publication or business as you go. That expertise makes you more valuable. It saves your client time and money not having to train up someone new on their audience or business all over again.

As it happens, November is the best month to ask for a raise — so go for it.

2. Get introduced around

You’ve got a contact at your client…but they may not be the only person who assigns work. Ask your editor or marketing manager to introduce you to others in their organization who might need a writer, and you could hit a gusher of additional work.

If you’re writing for a magazine, ask about other editors who assign for other parts of the magazine, or for that magazine’s website. At a big magazine, there might be a half-dozen editors or more. This is how I ended up blogging three times a week for several years for Entrepreneur — I was writing for the magazine editor, but asked around and found out another editor needed a blogger.

Even if your editor doesn’t provide an introduction, reach out and introduce yourself as a current writer for the magazine.

Also, most publications are owned by a publisher with more than one title. See if you can reach out to editors at sister publications. It’s an easy entree in the door when you write a query that starts, “I write for your sister pub X and have a story idea for you…”

On the business side, even medium-sized enterprises may have multiple silos, divisions, departments, affiliates, or marketing partners. See who your contact touches who might also need a writer and ask if you could get an introduction. If your contact likes your work, they’re often happy to oblige.

3. Up-sell your client new projects

If you’ve been blogging for a business for six months or more, it’s time to analyze their marketing and find more lucrative writing assignments they need done. Look for something that would help drive more sales.

Perhaps they should launch a newsletter, or their team bios need refreshing. Or you’re writing that newsletter, but they don’t have a blog, or should add videos you could write scripts for. Or the CEO needs speeches ghostwritten.

For instance, one business-finance company I was blogging for didn’t have a free product to give its blog subscribers. So I sold them a $1,500 white paper on how to find money for your business. Win-win — a stronger signup offer for the client that grew their blog readership, and more pay for me.

4. Expand your ongoing role

Clients with regular, recurring work for you are a great situation that you want to keep growing. For instance, if you’re blogging once a week for a client, maybe it’s time for them to up their frequency now that they’ve got some readers.

Remember my Entrepreneur blog? After a while, I sold the editor a new weekly column where I blogged about business-related reality TV shows.  Presto! Another several hundred dollars a month of ongoing revenue.

5. Publish your own products

Every freelance writer should be thinking about ebook topics they could publish. A short ebook on a topic you know can provide another income stream that helps you avoid desperation and taking crummy clients. If you have a strong title, Amazon may find you some sales without a lot of effort.

I’m trying to get more into this myself — have one short ebook on writing productivity I cranked out with Linda Formichelli that’s done fairly well. And I’m working away on more, including the replacement(s) for my old Make a Living Writing ebook, which I’m splitting into three new ebooks.

How have you earned more without marketing? Leave a comment and share your technique.

19 Comments

  1. Ruth

    One thing I would add: Give yourself a raise… by not charging hourly when you can avoid it. My project rates are loosely based on what I want hourly, plus some. I don’t like getting into discussions about why I cost a certain amount hourly and how many hours it takes… That conversation alone is a time suck and time is money!

    Btw, I’ve found this to be a REAL problem working with nonprofits who would pay $X00 for me to write a $X,000 grant application, but don’t want to hear anything about $100/hour since few people in nonprofits make that and typically don’t see writers as on par with, say, their accounting or legal counsel.

    Flat project fees are also an incentive for me to work smarter. Because I know I can’t work indefinitely on something (and the client knows it too!) I get more done in less time, which means I make more per hour.

    • Carol Tice

      Absolutely…project fees are where it’s at. I love your point — just having to talk about and justify hourly rates kills your hourly rate! So avoid. 😉

      My point of view is what I make per hour isn’t the client’s business, generally.

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