The Life-Changing Magic for Freelance Writers Who Need to Earn More

Carol Tice

Freelance Writers: This is Magic. Makealivingwriting.comDid you know that there’s one strategy freelance writers can use to earn more, almost like magic?

No, it’s not decluttering your house. Though that does help many of us be more productive.

It’s a way of bidding on freelance writing gigs that gets you earning more, every time.

I was reminded of this successful formula recently on a Den 2X Income Accelerator mastermind. Here’s how the story went:

Agonizing vs bidding strong

One of my 2X members always had trouble deciding what to charge. She isn’t hitting her earning targets (yet!), and was often scrambling to land more clients.

She’d take an initial client meeting, learn about the writing project on offer, and then spend hours or even days agonizing about what to charge. She’d ask around her network. Is this bid too low? Too high?

She had to get this right, because she was desperate to land the client.

After finally deciding on a price and submitting her quote, if she didn’t get the gig, she’d beat herself up some more about it. She was sure she was pricing herself out of the market.

As time passed, she built her client base and became a little less desperate for writing work at any price. Finally, she took a client meeting with a promising prospect and decided to go for it.

She’d qualified this client ahead of time, and knew they had the budget to pay a writer professional rates.

After she got a sense of the project scope, she tossed out a fat rate, right in the meeting. Just off the top of her head.

And the client agreed. Without a moment’s hesitation.

What do your prospects smell?

This is a progression I’ve seen over and over again with freelance writers. When we’re desperate, we often overthink bidding and usually bid way too low, to be sure we’re not undercut.

The problem? Clients can smell the desperation, in everything you say and how you conduct yourself in the negotiation — and that makes them not want to hire you.

After all, good writers aren’t desperate for clients, right? They have plenty of work.

Your real message

Once your career gets going, freelance writers typically gain more confidence, and get educated about going rates. They learn to qualify clients, find a high-paying niche to specialize in, and get in front of better prospects.

They’re not afraid to ask for good rates anymore. They’ve learned that if the rate is too low, they don’t want the gig.

That confident vibe communicates a lot to the client. I think the subliminal messages a confident, high bidder sends prospects include:

  • I’m busy and I could take or leave this gig
  • The rate I tossed out to you is probably what pros are getting
  • I respect myself and know what I need to earn
  • I sound professional, highly competent, and experienced

In other words, projecting confidence when you negotiate is the secret ingredient for making yourself desirable to clients.

When you’re desperate, those messages run more like this:

  • I have to take anything I can get — so you can get me for a song
  • I don’t know how to run a freelance business
  • My life is chaotic, so I may flake out on you

The difference is stark, no?

How to be confident — when you’re not

You may be thinking: “But I’m currently broke. How can this technique help me?”

Ever heard of fake it ’til you make it? Yes, you can pretend you don’t desperately need this gig — even if you do. Think of it as an acting job.

I recommend you try this out if you’ve been struggling to get gigs. Because nobody wants to hire a writer who seems desperate and in danger of starving to death and not finishing their assignment.

A few tips on how to develop a confident attitude:

  • Fix your money problems. Take a part-time job if you need to, sell unwanted items on eBay, cut expenses — do whatever you have to do to create financial breathing room, so that you aren’t clawing to take any gig, no matter how little it pays.
  • Learn about rates. One cause of dithering on rates is not knowing what others are charging. Join a writer community so you have people to bounce your bid ideas off of, and you’ll pick up on going rates pretty fast. That’ll give you more confidence to quote a professional rate.
  • Practice with a friend. If client meetings make you nervous, try writing out a script on what you want to say and going over it with a friend playing the role of your prospect.
  • Qualify better prospects. If you’re applying to online job ads or mass platforms where thousands of writers congregate, your bargaining position is weak. Often, you’ll have to take the rock-bottom rates they’re offering, or pass. To strengthen your hand, proactively find your own clients and tap into the huge, hidden demand for freelance writers that’s never advertised.

Think about what you say when you negotiate with prospects — and whether you could find a way to project more experience and confidence in what you say. It’ll make a big difference.

What do you say when you negotiate for writing gigs? Leave a comment and tell us your approach.

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50 Comments

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