Three Magical Words to Earn More as a Freelance Writer

Carol Tice

Freelance Writer Income - 3 Magical Words to Earn More.

What if there were some magical words you could utter as a freelance writer and earn more money?

You’d probably chant those words in front of the mirror, calling on the Money Fairy to grant your freelance writer wish.

But in reality, it probably sounds too good to be true. Right?

That’s what I thought when I quit my job as a business reporter to be a full-time freelance writer. It seemed like every day was a hustle, and earning more money meant working more hours.

But then something happened.

A prospect called to see if I could do some writing work for them. I took a deep breath, and then I uttered three magical words that unlock the key to making more money as a freelance writer.

Do you know what those words are?

“I’m fully booked.”

This might not be on your radar as a freelance writing goal. But trust me, when you can start telling prospects this, you’re on the edge of a major breakthrough as a freelance writer.

Here’s what happens to your business when you’re fully booked:

The two-year tipping point as a freelance writer

This is what it looks like to be a fully-booked freelance writer. I wrote this down after saying those three magical words to a prospect:

-At the moment, I’m not spending time sifting through online job ads, obsessively trying to make new LinkedIn connections, or beating the street at networking events.

-I only had time to write one post for Make a Living Writing for the week, because I’m so busy.

-I have all the work I can handle, nearly all of it at very nice rates.

-I’m really overbooked, but I’m  hoping I can somehow figure out how to make the workload manageable again in July, once a couple of big new clients ramp up and get going.

It took a heck of a lot of marketing to get to this point, about two years. And it was absolutely worth it.

Here’s why those three words, “I’m fully booked,” are so important and magical:

You relax

The anxiety of starting each month with open time still on the planner is gone. I’m now starting each month with enough work booked to be confident I can pay my bills, and even take my family out for an occasional meal. Being more relaxed makes you more effective and creative, so your work gets done faster, allowing you to make more.

You gain confidence

It’s an ego-booster to realize you are in demand.

You get picky

In the depths of the recession, I took a lot of crazy assignments. One-off projects. Small-business clients with not much money. Quickie articles that paid $100. Stuff I never would have considered in 2007. Now, that’s over. If someone doesn’t fit my image of an ideal client, I can pass.

You start dropping clients

Now you can look at your client list and identify your biggest problem child. You know:

  • The client that pays in over 90 days
  • The client that whines about everything
  • The client that is never satisfied
  • The client that wants a committee to edit your work
  • The client that won’t return your emails for two days, or simply doesn’t pay enough

The next good client that comes down the pike, it’s time to swap that loser out. Repeat this process until you have only top-drawer publications or companies on your roster.

You become more valuable

When you’re fully booked, it’s like smoke signals go up. You start to attract great new clients.

When you tell some prospects you can’t take them on because you’re too busy, they are impressed. You must be a good writer!

They want to hire you even more. Sometimes, they offer you more money in hopes of getting you to kick someone else off your schedule to make room for their assignment. Sometimes, you say yes.

Your rate starts to rise

Besides all the reasons already stated above, your rate starts to go up when you’re fully booked, because you don’t have to spend as many hours marketing (but don’t stop!). You have more productive, billable hours, so that translates to more income.

Say it: ‘I’m a fully-booked freelance writer’

If you’re not, what are you going to do to give your freelance writing career a boost and start moving forward? There’s a lot of work out there. Now is always a great time to make new connections and find  new clients.

Want to be a fully-booked freelance writer? Let’s discuss in the comment section below.

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  1. e.lee

    I never thought that these 3 words could be so magical wow! It creates the impression of demand

    • Carol Tice


  2. Misti Sandefur, Chri

    Thanks for another great post, Carol!

    I know exactly what it's like to have so many clients that you don't have time for personal projects and marketing, which is why I'm constantly changing my writing schedule. In fact, early this morning I shared my newest schedule with my blog readers. It's a schedule that allows me to focus on my clients and still have time for personal projects and marketing.

    You said you'd like to "make your workload manageable again in July," so I thought I'd refer you to the post I published on my blog this morning. Maybe this schedule will help you achieve your goal by July… and it may not, but either way, I thought it may be of some help to you. After all, your information has been a big help and inspiration to me, so maybe I can help you this time around. 😉

    The post: Time Management for the Busy Freelancer. Hope it helps!

    • Carol Tice

      All time management tips appreciated around here, Misti! Now if you could just come over and make my email not work for most of the day, I could really save some time!

      I went and took a look, and don't know if this type of schedule is for me. I have blogging clients I have to file for daily, so I can't really block out an entire day for marketing OR personal projects, much less 3 days a week for those! My article deadlines fall wherever my editors put them, so that also makes it hard to clear a whole day. And thankfully, I'm now at the point where I'm not needing to spend a whole day a week marketing.

      But maybe could help some readers…thanks for sharing it!

  3. Misti Sandefur, Chri

    Carol, Ah, yes, email. I usually exit out of my email before I begin work. Then after I'm done, I return to check my inbox. Of course this is hard for some to do, and at times, I have to force myself not to check it as often. 😉

    In regards to the schedule I suggested, you can always write the blog posts and articles ahead of time for your daily clients, and then use the schedule features to submit them when they're due — this is what I do anyway. Just a suggestion, of course. And my time management schedule may not be for everyone, but it never hurts to refer someone that may benefit from it. Furthermore, it can always be edited to fit the writer too. 🙂

  4. Kristi Bernard

    This is really inspiring information. I want to be able to freelance but I am a little chicken to even take on a first assignment. It is my goal to accomplish a few before the end of the year.

    • Carol Tice

      Go for it Kristi! When my Make a Living Writing e-book is out — I'm aiming for next month! — it can give you a step-by-step guide on how to break in. I put you down to hear about my discount deals. July is going to be presale month and there will be great bargains for everyone who's participated in my blog.

      Thanks for writing!

  5. Petey Silveira

    Love all this information! I am at the place where I'm still trying to do my day job as a marriage therapist and my evening and weekend job of author, blogger, speaker and radio show host is taking up more and more time! Sooner or later one of them is going to win out!! May the author be victorious!

    Much love and light!

  6. Sheryl

    Interesting! I am always afraid to turn down work…and end up regretting it. But now, I’ll think of these 3 magic words next time I need to say no.

  7. Bradford Hainesworth

    Can you describe the qualities of a perfect client to yourself? You probably thought immediately of somebody in your business who’s the perfect client. Which is good because the first step in finding more perfect customers is to truly understand what a perfect customer should look like.


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