Can This Heartfelt Emotion Guide You to Better Freelance Clients?

Carol Tice

Couple in loveIf you’ve been stuck working for peanuts for freelance clients you can’t stand, you’re going to love this.

It’s a way to find better clients by tuning into your own feelings.

The fun thing is, your main guide to additional freelance success can be an emotion you might not associate with business that much. But it’s one we all really enjoy feeling.

Have you guessed what it is?

A few hints:

“Do what you ___ and the money will follow.”

“All you need is ____.”

“God is _____.”

That’s right. Could it be that simple? Yes, it can.

How to love your way to higher rates

I recently encountered the theme of employing love in your business twice in the past few weeks. Which was enough repetition to finally bring it home to me what a road to riches this emotion can be.

First, my pal Linda Formichelli sent me a chapter of entrepreneur and Sufi teacher Mark Silver’s book, Unveiling the Heart of Your Business. The chapter was on how to raise your prices using your heartfelt feelings as your guide.

When you think about a range of prices, sense your level of discomfort. If you tune into it, Silver says, you can discover the point where you feel love and harmony when talking about a price — and that’s where your rates should be.

Forget about market research and what competitors are doing. What feels right at heart? Where you can radiate positivity and love when you say that price? That’s the right price for you.

Try saying your proposed prices aloud and notice what happens with your body. Too low, and you’ll feel uncomfortable. Same with too high.

Open a loving heart to what you deserve to be paid, and you’ll see what to charge.

The formula for freelance love

Next, I headed to SOBCon, where one of the speakers was someone I’ve enjoyed learning from before — leadership expert Steve Farber, author of The Radical Leap Re-Energized.

Steve teaches people how to be bold and fully actualized in their careers.

One of his core sayings was a theme of SOBCon this year. It’s a simple formula for skyrocketing your freelance earnings and your job satisfaction level, too. It goes like this:

“Do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.”

I don’t know any better way to describe how to end up making a great living as a freelance writer doing projects you’re thrilled to write.

This formula has two sides. First, you need to figure out what types of paid writing you enjoy most.

Then, you look for people who truly appreciate your talents, and will pay you well as a result. When you get the love going both ways, you have a terrific project — one that will create a great sample, get you a glowing testimonial, and be a pleasure to work on.

That tends to lead to more work you love with other great clients. If you haven’t noticed, the good ones tend to talk to each other and will refer you.

How to make the leap from losers to lovers

If you’re stuck doing assignments you dread for clients you loathe right now, you’ve got to make some changes to your formula to grow your income.

It can seem impossible to turn this around. But you can.

Start by changing one side of the formula. Maybe you just start working only for clients who appreciate you more and drop the whiners and boundary-pushers.

Or you only write about topics you adore.

Gradually, get these two to line up. Find the clients who love your work in your favorite type of writing. And boom! You’re there.

My freelance client love story

Here’s the story of a client love affair I had once that shows what can happen when you live Steve’s credo.

This client approached me (which I always love!) through LinkedIn. They were a Fortune 500 company I happened to know and adore. Obviously, they had a marketing budget to spend on editorial.

I shop their stores and had covered the company in the past as a reporter. They were big fans of my more recent magazine articles on business topics. I thought their CEO had the highest ethics and admired how the company treated its employees.

They wanted me to write newsletter articles for their business clients about some of their services, the sort of business-writing challenge I enjoy. I’d get to talk to their customers and managers to write the stories, something I also find fun.

Then they asked me to bid it. I said it sounded like $1 a word.

They thought about it and got back to me and said, “That’s not enough. We think it should pay $2 a word.” And they did.

Find the writing you love. Find clients who love how you do it.

Not only will your income explode, but you’ll find yourself loving your freelance writing life, too.

Are you doing what you love for people who love what you do? Leave a comment and describe how it’s working — or what you’re doing to move in that direction.


  1. Ronda Swaney

    Holy cow, Carol…never in a million years would I have thought about my career/prospects/clients in this way. Thanks for the new perspective. As for your question, am I doing what I love for people who love what I do? Well…I have clients who love what I do, but their work isn’t necessarily what I love. It’s work that pays the bills. The work I love is the home and garden writing that I do, but that’s only a small slice of my pie. This has given me some more motivation to keep pushing in that direction. Thanks!

    • Carol Tice

      I know, it’s a fascinating perspective, eh?

      It’s not always easy to get this equation teed up right…but if you can the results are amazing.

      Where in the home & garden space could you find great pay and great clients? That’s the question to mull…

  2. Colleen Kelly Mellor

    If what I love to do–encourage (especially) women to come out more as advocates in any field, how do I tap into a money-paying gig here? I predict that most of my clients would be in the support field where volunteers reign–not lending themselves to “writing for hire services.” Oh, I love writing and do get paid gigs for newspapers but we all know those avenues are drying up. So, I am left with my perpetual question: “How to turn what I write into money-making enterprise?”

    Your field–Carol–is clearly one that’ll find adherents…Your niche audience is we who wish to broaden our writer’s scope, monetizing more effectively. Mine and maybe others’ are not nearly as clearly-defined…

    • Carol Tice

      Are there companies that rely on these advocates? Government agencies or large nonprofits that need to tell the stories of how these advocates are changing lives for them?

      An alumni magazine that might profile one of these advocates who’s a grad? There are four possible better-paying markets than newspapers off the top of my head, right in your sweet spot. Go get ’em!

  3. Willi Morris

    There are so many great benefits to doing what you love! I love doing feature writing, so when I get a freelance assignment – even one that doesn’t pay much like I got recently – I get SO excited. That initial excitement leads to your best work. And that enthusiasm, in turn, leads to getting pitches accepted. When you communicate genuine enthusiasm, it comes through. This is what editors don’t see a lot of. I also think that is an asset in job interviews.

    • Carol Tice

      Totally agree on all fronts, Willi!

      I have refused to take work I can’t get excited about for a long time now…at least in a dorky fascinated sort of way. πŸ˜‰

      I love a challenge, so I often tap into that side of my nature to engage with good-paying work on funky topics, like the 8 features I just did all about logistics and shipping. Who could do that? I love taking on things where the editors are scared they won’t be able to find ANYONE who could bring back an interesting story.

      There’s more than one way to love the writing you’re doing…if I can tap into a love channel somewhere, it tends to work out well.

      And obviously, I LOVE writing tips that help writers earn more. πŸ˜‰ Probably why this blog has become the happening thing it is today.

  4. Crystal Spraggins

    Hi Carol:

    I’ve been meaning to email you, and this post came right on time! Remember that legal client I told you about? Well, I took your advice and “packaged” the deal and followed up and now I’ve been working for them for a few weeks, and I love it! What does this have to do with your post? Everything! I was hired after seeing a profile in the paper of this firm and learning that they are doing the kind of work I admire, and that’s exactly what I said in my pitch. But it wasn’t a canned pitch, it was a heartfelt pitch, and they responded! (Also, I should mention that I followed your other advice and checked out their site and knew that–yay!–the Articles section wasn’t being updated.)

    It is such a pleasure to work with a like-minded client who loves what you do and how you do it! It makes work almost not like work. Seriously.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Crystal!

      Thanks for sharing this great success story of using my tips and tapping into your love and own values to connect with the right client for you. It really works, hmm?

      When you can honestly write in a client pitch, “I just love what you’re doing,” you start on 3rd base with that client. You’ve taken the time to UNDERSTAND who they are, and you love them. Who doesn’t want to hire that?

  5. Cara

    This is fantastic advice, and it really lines up with my experiences. I started my business doing Kindle formatting, but I’ve gradually shifted over to book editing and design. That’s what I really love doing.

    As I’ve raised my rates and consciously sought projects based on how much I wanted the work and how pleasant the client seemed, it’s transformed my business. Not only am I loving what I do more, but business has boomed.

    This doesn’t even have to be a gradual thing. When I decided to stop pursuing the small, unexciting Kindle formatting projects and go straight for big, juicy book completion projects, I won a bunch of really awesome work. The old, less-great projects drop off the schedule as they get finished. Maybe it’s different for writers, but for me, it’s almost taken care of itself.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Cara —

      I love your story! And yes, when you go in your love direction things can change fast. Glad it’s working for you!

  6. Mary Pat Bolton

    Carol, this post was so helpful. I’ve done a lot of writing that satisfied my clients, but the logistics of the jobs made me miserable. I’m searching for a way to write that feels better for me, and I love the idea of using love to guide me.

    • Carol Tice

      Can’t wait to see what happens as you use this technique, Mary Pat.

  7. Rob

    I hate to be the party-pooper, but I think what you say is better in theory than in practice. You’ve got to be pretty tuned in to raise your rates according to what your intuition tells you. Some people think way too highly of themselves and wonder why they’re not getting the dollar a word they think they deserve. Others don’t even know it’s a realistic price to ask for, even if their Elance clients have been praising their $10 assignments to high heaven.

    Okay, maybe “it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen” and one day all the pieces will fall into place and I’ll intuitively know what my work is worth and who to connect with. In the meantime, I’m happy enough with the “love what you’re doing” part of the equation. That alone drives me to hone my skills and seek out more fulfilling assignments.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Rob —

      I think you have to be in an honest place with yourself when you use your heart to feel out pricing. If you’re in denial and puffed up about your own greatness obviously this technique isn’t necessarily going to work well!

  8. Rhonda Kronyk

    Thank you.

    I am attending a conference next week where I have the opportunity to pitch 3 article ideas to a magazine editor. As part of the research, I went through back issues of the magazine, which accepts the type of writing I want to do – essays. I love writing essays. As I went through the back issues I came up with a dozen ideas that would fit their audience.

    Then I started to second guess myself. Really, who cares? Your post is a reminder that others will care if I put the excitement I feel about my ideas into my writing. But, I can’t do that unless I am writing about something that I care about. I have read this magazine for years, enjoy it, and would ‘love’ to be a part of it.

    So, no more second guessing. It is time to get my pitches just right, and prepare to present them with the passion that I feel for the project.

    • Carol Tice

      Absolutely — go for it!

      You have a lot of ideas…use love to figure out which few to present to her. The ones you love most, naturally! You’ll be most enthusiastic about those and more likely to get one accepted.

  9. Marsha Stopa

    LOVE this!

    I took a couple classes with Mark Silver a couple years ago. He is a very wise teacher. I’d strongly recommend him to anyone who feels inclined.

    Re Rob’s comment: Tuning into your intuition is a more natural process than most people think. We’ve been taught to ignore and downplay it for the more logical, mental approach. (No news there.)

    Mark teaches a very gentle, effective way to get into that space while also acknowledging our mind and ego AND applying sound business practices. Learning to not resist your intuition is key.

    Love the story at the end, Carol.


    • Carol Tice

      Hi Marsha — people don’t believe me when I tell that story…but it really happened.

      You really do want to write for people who love what you do. They’re so excited to have you, and want to pay you what you’re worth. You can’t believe it until you see it in action…but it’s a great feeling. I was glad they told me over the phone so they didn’t see my jaw drop… πŸ˜‰

    • Rob S

      Thanks, Marsha. Interesting comment. I just asked for an incremental raise from 2 of my clients last week. I was scared of losing them, but it felt like the right thing to do. Maybe that’s what you and Carol are getting at.

  10. Jordan Clary

    Several years ago I lived in China and wrote regularly for a colored gemstone magazine (no longer publishing unfortunately). They paid well and I got to visit some cool places like a ruby mine in northern Vietnam. Then I got into teaching, and now I’m out of teaching and back to freelancing which I enjoy a lot more, but things have changed in the past years!

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve gotten to do some fun stuff as a writer too, Jordan. I went to both Alaska and Hawaii on paid-for business trips as a staff writer to see some glamorous hardware stores…had a blast.

      Also went to both Chicago and New York City 5 times apiece on their dime. I actually went on about 100 paid business trips on one staff job, to dozens of major cities. I loved getting to see the country on someone else’s dime! Actually helped me figure out where I wanted to relocate to from L.A.

  11. Carla Cano

    Well I don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said already but I was really inspired by your post. Of course I am usually inspired by your posts. Thanks from a new freelancer!

  12. Lindsay Woolman

    Hi Carol — I’ve been really wanting to hear more about the emotional/mental from you. I love that you teach very practical skills for writers, but I feel like this stuff — the mental side — is what gets people to change what they’re doing and attract new clients and opportunities. Would be an interesting topic for the Den, if you haven’t covered it there. Like, just on getting your mind into a higher frequency (love) to draw in others who are on your frequency. After all, they say that money is just energy. Understanding that your mental state and thoughts can attract better clients is a FACT in my opinion.

    • Carol Tice

      Well, glad you enjoyed this one!

  13. Don Wallace

    I think most of us with any kind of career experience whatsoever tend to integrate some extremely negative and destructive narratives into our own self-talk that get drummed into us from past co-workers and employers:

    “You don’t get paid for having fun”

    “it’s called work for a reason”

    “sometimes you have to deal with despicable people that you absolutely hate for good reasons who happen to be leaders, to get ahead, and that’s just the way it is, and just shut up if you don’t like it.”

    Also the local culture can be a strong influence. People in the inner Midwest where I live (Ohio) tend to live non-intense lives under the radar and are scared to death of standing out. And most people here tend to be pretty depressed all the time (I recently saw a statistic that pegged Ohio as one of the top states for *swearing*.)

    Also there is a bitter survivor’s culture with the usual low-fee online freelancer hangouts like Odesk, Craigslist, Elance, etc. Virtually every job I find in these three places has some aspect written all over it that screams “only for those who want to be abused”. I never enjoy contact with “prospects” from these places. They are always looking for something ill advised or stupid.

    Negativism, whether self induced, or from a cheap or stupid or outright evil client, kills my own creative process.

    The point is that self-denial – which employers generally either preach or infuse into the workplace as a precondition of permanent employment – will absolutely kill your business, if your business is related closely to a creative process.

    Taking on lousy clients and not going after good clients because you are underconfident is a type of self denial. Not standing up for yourself is self denial.

    Timely advice in this article.

    • Carol Tice

      Hi Don —

      I never would have guessed that about Ohio…as a west coaster who’s visited the Midwest quite a bit for business I think of the region as a place of bedrock American values rather than scared and depressed people. πŸ˜‰ Less show-offy, sure…but that can be good in a writer.

      When every job you find on a particular platform seems to come with a guarantee it won’t be something you love for people who love what you’re doing…at the risk of stating the obvious, it’s time to find other places to look for gigs.

  14. Hermine

    Hi Carol,

    I really like this perspective to determining your rates. Though I’m coming up on a year in my freelance writing career this reminds me of when I was designing bathrooms as an interior designer. The clients who trusted in me 100% and truly valued my talents were always the ones that ended up the most satisfied with the finished product, they were also the ones I enjoyed working with the most.

    I’m learning how to get into that space now with my writing as I start approaching higher quality clients and marketing myself instead of relying on bidding sites and job boards.

    I think a lot of us who have come from content mills and more so, bidding sites, have a hard time internalizing that we DESERVE to get paid what we are worth. We spent so much time trying to justify a low rate just to win a project that getting out into the world and hearing people say things like “I want to make sure that I compensate you accordingly for your time and effort” is sort of a shocker.

    I actually have an opportunity to try this out this week, so I’ll be paying attention to my emotions as I put my pricing together for a new client this weekend.

    • Carol Tice

      Cool — let us know how it goes!


    It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d most certainly donate to this outstanding blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle
    for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
    I look forward to new updates and will talk about this blog
    with my Facebook group. Talk soon!

  16. Kimberly

    Hi Carol

    I am still trying to find my feet in that regard.

    I have spent 4 years studying journalism/public relations. Most of the work has been about the theory; the who, what, where, when, why and how of writing. For all the money I payed for my education I was not informed of how to go about actually being published, what a good piece of writing is worth or steered toward a good mentor or support group. It has been a very hit and miss experience for me. Articles that I thought were technically good were not published, yet an article and photograph I did not feel was so good was published. Go figure.

    I will definitely spend some quality time researching like minded publications and their readers who may be more interested in my articles and what they have to say.

    Thanks for the tip πŸ˜‰ YOU ROCK

    • Carol Tice

      It kinda pisses me off the extent to which J-Schools don’t seem to be preparing writers for the reality of today’s marketplace. They need to get out of their ivory towers and realize most grads aren’t going to be getting a job at a newspaper anymore.

      I don’t know why they don’t teach any real-world freelancing skills, as that’s what most working writers will be doing in the future… But that’s why I created 4-Week Journalism School with Linda Formichelli…and stayed tuned for an announcement about J-School coming in just a few weeks, too.

  17. Teresa Thomas

    How can I sign up for this site and get the attention that I am in need for my writings?

    • Carol Tice

      You subscribe here through that big box at the top of the Home page — or you can click on the About or “Free Stuff” tabs up top to find a subscription form, too.

      But I’m not sure you’re clear what goes on here — I’m not a content mill, if you’re looking for a publishing platform. I do hire guest posters — you can read my guidelines here:


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