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How a Mean Editor Helped Me Triple My Writing Income


Client management is harder when your client's a jerk.It seemed like a dream come true.

I landed a high-paying blogging gig on a popular software blog. I knew that the clients I wanted read this site, so they’d see my name there and come to me with gigs.

In my mind, this was the break I was looking for to make it big as a business writer. I felt like I’d finally made it as a professional freelance writer.

But it didn’t take me long to figure out it wasn’t the absolute dream job. The editor was mean. Here’s how I handled it – and how it helped me with marketing and client management in the long run:


Working with a real meanie

Now when I say this editor was mean, I don’t mean she was the kind of tough-love editor that actually cared about your improvement. I mean she was rude.

One day, an article I’d write was great, and the next day it was horrible – she didn’t know what I was thinking by writing something so terrible, and refused to pay my invoice.

Call me crazy, but I kept going.

You’d have to be incredibly nerdy to know, but in the world of software, this company (and its blog) are big names. Plus, the $200 per post price tag was the highest I’d ever earned at that point.

But my audacity to stick with it came crashing down on me in November when I tried as politely as possible to ask for more clarity from the editor, pointing out her conflicting statements about my work.

She lost her temper and fired me on the spot – still owing me $400.

I was furious and sad. I was angry I didn’t have the resources to fight her for that $400, and Christmas was right around the corner.

What I did to recover

I harnessed my anger as inspiration (I really didn’t have a choice). I worked my tail off through the next month, with the goal of increasing my income and filling out my calendar for the first few months of 2015.

I networked like crazy on AngelList and LinkedIn, going after software startups that needed writing and marketing work done. (Startups are usually open to remote work, and if they’re well-funded, they pay well for people who know what they’re doing.)

I made a detailed spreadsheet of company names, their needs, who to contact, LinkedIn pages, and message dates, to keep track of the sheer amount of marketing I was sending out.

A lot of people didn’t respond, but many did. And from the ones that did get back to me, I was able to fill out my calendar with high-paying clients (some even higher than the mean editor – hah!) that wanted regular, recurring work from me.

And you know what? They’re all nice to me. They love my work, recognize my expertise, and work with me to make effective content for their business instead of against me.

Plus, because I’m working for people who are more friendly and easier to predict, it takes me a lot less time to complete their projects and do any requested revisions. Client management is a dream when you start with quality clients.

The projects I landed

By January, my plate was so full that I had to work nights and weekends to keep up with demand! By February, I learned that I had to start saying “no.”

A quick look at my bank account showed me that my monthly freelance writing income had grown to three times the rate it was in November.

Not bad, huh?

Here’s a sampling of some of the work I landed:

  • 4 blog posts per month for an IT education site for $150 each, $600/month total
  • Basic editing duties for a podcast for $1,200/month
  • One feature post per month for $650
  • Weekly consulting for $120/hour of phone time, or $480 per month
  • Large writing projects for one client, ranging from $300 to $700

As you can see, that more than makes up for the $400 per month I lost from the mean editor.

And you know what? I’m still getting those passive leads from the mean editor’s posts, that I cared so much about when I got that gig.

The biggest lesson I learned was that a difficult client simply isn’t worth the hassle, no matter how seemingly reputable they are.

If you’ve got the talent and drive to land one reputable client, then you can land as many as you want–as long as you’re willing to put in the time and marketing effort to make it happen.

Have you had a mean editor? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Chelsea Baldwin is a web marketing consultant and business writer. Check out her blog Broke Girl Gets Rich.

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