How One Freelance Writer Got a 600 Percent Raise

Carol Tice

Freelance writer charts a big raise in her incomeBy Bree Brouwer

I used to think pro freelance writers were crazy when they said you should drop your lowest-paying client to make room for one with a bigger budget.

“Don’t they remember what it’s like to have student loan bills come due?” I thought.

But now I realize they were right.

It’s completely possible to drop a bad client and get a better one instead. Here’s how I did it.

How I Met Bob (and Bill)

This past spring, a friend recommended me to her friend Bob (no, that’s not his real name) to do blogging for his company.

Bob couldn’t pay me my $50 per 500-word-post rate, but I agreed to do $30 for 300 words because he had connections to the entertainment industry, where I wanted to get more freelance work. Bob was a nice guy who was impressed with my writing, but I wasn’t happy with my rate.

In July, I attended a new media and gaming convention in Austin, Texas, where I met the owner of a mechanical keyboard company, Bill (nope, not his real name, either). He said he was interested in hiring me, but didn’t have work at the moment. We kept in touch over the next few months.

How I Dumped Bob for Bill

Meanwhile, I went to Bob and told him I wanted to renegotiate our 2-month contract, which was now over. I was honest by telling him I was commanding higher rates than he was paying me, but I’d be willing to negotiate since he was easy to work with.

Unfortunately, Bob came back and told me flat-out he couldn’t even afford to pay me $40 a post. This was after I put together an entire content strategy proposal for him, which he’d also rejected even though I was charging far below the going rate of most professionals.

I realized Bob would never be a good long-term client, no matter how nice he was, because he simply didn’t realize the value I was providing.

I told Bob I’d submit my last post, and it was a pleasure working for him so I hoped he’d let me know if his financial situation ever changed.

Days later, Bill contacted me, saying he needed blogging services.

After an initial phone call, Bill agreed to pay me $175 per 500-word blog post with three social media status updates.

Only a few days after dropping Bob, Bill sent me the $175 per post contract in an email.

Simple as that.

How to Find Your Bill

It might seem impossible that in just 72 hours, I jumped from $120 a month with Bob to $700 a month with Bill (almost 600% raise). You’re probably thinking I’m crazy for dropping a client before I had a new contract signed, much like I thought Carol and other pro writers were when they told me to do it.

But it’s not — you just need to be courageous enough to dump your Bob so there’s a space for better-paying Bill to come along.

Have you dropped a low-paying client? Tell us in the comments below how you did it.

Bree Brouwer is a freelance blogger, content marketing writer, and content strategist.

45 Comments

  1. Kristi Valentini

    I was writing two blog posts a week that I had to do research and interviews for, find pictures, promote via social media and post into a content management system for $50/post. That gig ended up taking 8-10 hours a week for me to accomplish and I realized I was working below minimum wage!

    It certainly helped me build clips, but I finally realized after six months that if I continued with the gig, I would never have time pitch national magazines for more lucrative assignments.

    I quite the gig and started pitching magazines again. Within a month or so, I landed my first, national magazine assignment and earned $750!

    I definitely agree with your post Bree that you have to correctly value your time and talent and make room for better paying gigs/clients!

    • Bree

      Wow, Kristi, you’re making me feel lazy now. 🙂 My next goal is to drop my next two lowest-paying clients and focus my time on pitching magazines as well as contacting more companies about writing for their blogs. So I’ll be dropping my Bobs before I have future Bills, but as a lot of other freelancers have pointed out already, sometimes you have to do that to find your time and sanity.

    • Carol Tice

      Exactly. There’s always that one client that’s such a time-waster…they’re annoying…the hourly rate sucks…and if you don’t get rid of them, you don’t move forward. They’re sucking so much energy and they’re so aggravating you’re drained, and you don’t send those queries out.

      Dropping them is like dropping that sandbag of ballast overboard when you’re in a hot-air balloon. Then, you just soar.

  2. Annie Sapucaia

    What a great post (just found your website)! Though I’m a translator and not a writer per say, this lesson applies to my business as well. I do agree with Chip though that dropping Bobs does not cause gaining Bills directly – hard work focused at “Billing” is what does it, and dropping the Bobs frees up time to do that.

    • Bree

      Actually, you make a good point, Annie — this experience isn’t restricted to just writers, or even translators. It’s something all businesses need to pay attention to. Scaling your business up just makes sense!

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