Have you despaired of earning a decent living as a freelance writer, in the current tough times? If so, take heart — I’ve gathered tips from ten writers on how to recession-proof your freelance biz and earn well, even now.
Pulled this together, because I wanted to serve up some inspiration. You CAN recession-proof your freelance income.
Know that some writers are busy, fully booked, and commanding top rates. Take heart, and understand there is still opportunity for freelance writers out there.
Why did I choose these particular 10 writers?
Well, they’re all established, working, mid-career freelance writers who earned well this year. Many of them doubled their writing income, from 2019 to 2020. That’s recession-proof freelancing.
That’s right. They grew their business and earned more this year — with Covid, isolation, recession, and everything else. In some cases, a lot more. It’s possible to recession-proof your freelance income.
Did I mention they live all over the world? In Nigeria, Thailand, in big cities and small towns all over.
Some lost anchor clients… and turned right around and quickly replaced them, keeping their income strong.
Still others are seeing their marketing pay off towards the end of the year, and can already forecast their recession-proof 2021 income will be much higher than they saw in 2020.
They do all have one thing in common:
They’re graduates of my Freelance Writers Den 2x Income Accelerator program…
- Which is now available for the first time in a super-affordable, self-study edition.
- FYI, the beta-tester first class (limit 100) is the only one that gets some group-coaching time with me, too. So check that out if 2021 is your year to double your income or recession-proof your income!
What are the recession-proof secrets I taught these writers in Den 2X? How did they keep a positive outlook, and keep finding great-paying writing jobs, even in the most difficult economic scenario of our lifetimes?
Here are their stories, and their tips to recession-proof your income:
Replaced 3 clients in 2 weeks flat – up 212%
What I learned in Den 2X helped me to increase my income 212% from 2019 to 2020. With each module, I could see improvement in traffic to my online presence, especially my LinkedIn profile.
In fact, when I did my strategy retreat this year with my accountability buddies, I found 71% of my work came from inbound, and 60% of that was from LinkedIn.
Not long after my retreat this September, I had the misfortune of losing three anchor clients who were â€œtaking a breakâ€ from content marketing.
Using what I learned in Den 2X (and the LinkedIn Bootcamp), I didnâ€™t panic. I just doubled down on my marketing and replaced my clients within two weeks.
Had I not learned how to target clients, constantly market, and tweak my online presence, I would have had to work a heck of a lot harder to replace the work.
And, by the way, I replaced three clients with two but have improved my monthly income by $3,000. Fewer clients, higher pricesâ€”great way to give myself a raise.
Keep marketing. The most important thing I learned in Den 2X was that marketing isnâ€™t a downtime thing. We donâ€™t want downtime. Downtime means no money.
Marketing is something to be scheduled in if not every day, then one full day a week, like a Marketing Monday. Set marketing activity goals, record them in your calendar or to-do list, or whatever you use to keep your work-life on track. Then, market. Donâ€™t skip it.
Propose new projects. Oftentimes, clients donâ€™t have time to think about all of the different things they need. Itâ€™s helpful for you to think for them and propose, propose, propose.
- If you skip marketing, youâ€™re cheating yourself out of money.
- Lean on your accountability buddies to keep yourself on track.
- Do the same for them, and your whole group will prosper.
- I consider taking Den 2X one of the best investments I ever made in my career!
—Diane Faulkner, dianefaulkner.com.
Doubled rates to $500 per post
I joined Carolâ€™s Den 2x class in 2019 and doubled my rates this year. Before I joined Den 2x, I charged $250 for 1000-word articles. Now, I charge $500 for blog posts, and between $600 to $1000 for articles. I write in logistics and retail technology.
Ask for help with pricing. When I needed to quote, I asked members in the Slack channel for advice. This prevented me from undercharging and gave me the confidence to charge more.
Don’t neglect LinkedIn: My high-value clients came from LinkedIn. I reached out to people in my niche and it has gotten me results.
Follow up with prospects: Some prospects who indicated an interest in working with me kind of disappeared after a while. But my consistent follow-ups with some of them landed me work. Thanks to Carol for creating an amazing community and being an awesome mentor!
— Adebisi Adewusi, writeradebisi.com.
Tripled her income in 2020
My goal since joining the 2018 Den2X class has been to double my income from one calendar year to the next. This was my year! I write in home improvement, sustainable living, and health/wellness.
During 2020, the year of COVID, I tripled my gross income from 2019. How did I do it, despite the pandemic, recession, and all that goes with it? Inbound leads and mindset.
Rank for key searches. My website and LinkedIn profile rank on the first page of search results for my target keywords. And, once a prospect finds me, I impress them with evidence that I have the chops to work with $1 billion companies by including a â€œproof barâ€ of logos, testimonials from happy clients, and easy-to-navigate instructions for how to work with me.
Be confident and charge your value. In the 1970s, Lâ€™Oreal started using the tagline, â€œLâ€™Oreal: Because Iâ€™m worth it.â€ Since Iâ€™ve learned that Iâ€™m worth charging professional rates for my work, I convey the value of my services when meeting with those inbound leads.
Having self-confidence and knowing that Iâ€™m the best person for the job, and sharing the value I bring to the table, generally leads to closing the deal.
â€“Carol Alexander, www.linkedin.com/in/caroljalexander
4X in 2020 with print-magazine wins
When I signed up for Den2x, I only had one client. They were taking up all my time, and paying me barely enough to scrape by. I was miserable and desperately needed help.
I was surprised that the first month was all about getting into the right mindset, but thatâ€™s where the wheels really started turning, even if I didnâ€™t realize it at that time.
One year later, I’m thrilled to say Den2x has literally changed my life.
Milestones of the past 12 months include:
- Iâ€™ve had my first magazine feature article and cover
- Had my work shared by TV presenters
- Attended (and reported on) some of the largest trade shows in my industry
- I regularly get published in trade magazines.
A few months back, I had my most profitable day ever, earning $1,200. Since I finished Den 2x, my income has grown four times over. And the best part is that Den2x has given me the knowledge and skills I need to keep growing my business.
Stand strong on rates. I learned to go into a client meeting and know what you’re worth, and to be prepared to walk away, if they attempt to negotiate your rate down.
This gives you a huge advantage. It keeps you focused on larger goals and keeps you from wasting time that you can better spend marketing yourself to better paying clients.
Be published in publications your prospects read. Something else I learned over the past 12 months was to find out what magazines and websites your dream clients read, and how to get published in those places. Approaching the head of marketing of a multi-billion-dollar company becomes much easier when theyâ€™re familiar with your work.
Bigger clients helped stay the course
I signed up for the 2X income accelerator because I was ready to focus on building my business. I discussed it with my husband, we signed my toddler up for full-time daycare, and I took the plunge.
My goal for 2020 was to 2X in 2020. Little did we know what 2020 had in store for us. So, I only ended up sustaining my income in 2020.
However, being in the program gave me the confidence to go after bigger clients and different assignments than I would have otherwise.
The access to coaching and advice made a big difference for me. I quoted what I was worth and kept moving the needle forward. With the advice of other 2Xers and Carol, I tackled assignments I’d never tackled before.
Leveraging everything I’ve done this year, I’m gearing up to hit over 60k next year. I have several quotes out to clients that are being finalized that could put me well above that target, and the year hasn’t even started!
Boldly go. Don’t be afraid to take on projects you’ve never done before. Have confidence in your skills and bring that to your marketing efforts.
Think big. Pitch your dream clients. You never know who needs help!
–Danyelle Overbo, denvertechnologywriter.com
Double the income — by October 2020
Being part of Carolâ€™s 2x group during the first half of 2020 definitely contributed to my being able to double my income by October of this year. It didn’t even take all year.
I think the key thing was that I didnâ€™t shut down in panic when COVID hit the world!
This is because Carol kept reminding us that there are always businesses that thrive, even when others struggle during a recession (or any other crisis).
Having freelanced through a previous recession, she’s ‘been there, done thatâ€™ and her experience was reassuring.
Hard times mean more marketing. Instead of slowing down, I increased my cold email pitching. LinkedIn matters. Following Carolâ€™s advice, I improved my LinkedIn profile â€” and soon gained a new client through that channel.
Convert one-off clients to retainers. I also turned a lead into my first retainer client.
You need a network. Being able to get advice from Carol and the 2x group members when doing this for the first time was invaluable. A writer I met in the group had too much work on his plate at one point, so he passed some on to me!
–Zena Ryder, zenafreelancewriter.com
Found over $60K in new business: ‘biggest year ever’
In January 2020, I lost a big client. My biggest client. My longest-standing, most-reliable, â€˜anchorâ€™ client that had made my life as a freelancer so solid and fruitful and safe.
No hard feelings, itâ€™s just business, one of those things. But I suddenly had to figure out how to replace $5,000 per month of freelance income. I write in tech and finance. I quickly reached out to Carol Tice and signed up for Den 2X Accelerator.
Then in March, the pandemic hit, and it kinda broke my brain. I was just struggling to get through each day and take care of my kids who were now home with no school or activities. BUTâ€¦
Even with all the burdens of 2020, I somehow managed to replace that $5k per month of income with a variety of awesome, inspiring new clients. 2020 will be one of my biggest years of income ever.
I am glad to still be in touch with Carol Tice and be part of the 2X community. If my workload ever starts to slow down, Iâ€™ll know where to go to recharge my marketing again!
Level-up on LinkedIn. By doing things differently with LinkedIn, getting more deliberate and proactive about posting links to my work.
Tap current and past clients. I reached out to current and former clients to ask for new projects and referrals.
Reposition as needed. Finally I just re-thought how I describe my services and how I position myself for opportunities.
— Ben Gran, freelancewriterbengran.com
2X with a better retainer client
I only had one client at the beginning of the year, and that was for around $800 a month at most.
A combination of things in Den 2X helped me:
- Help with my LinkedIn profile was part of it.
- Part of it was just the materials — they gave me something to refer to. And when those were not enough I could present a problem to the group.
I have a few different clients now. My best client is at $50 an hour for quite a bit of work per month, around $2,000 dollars or so usually. I did beef up my Linkedin profile, which gave me some additional work.
Keep pitching. Put yourself out there. Even if you get a million rejections or no responses, you wonâ€™t succeed at all if you donâ€™t keep going!
Find writer friends.Â Your fellow writers are your friends and can give you tips and encourage you.
— Annie Keller, https://www.linkedin.com/in/annie-keller-health-writer/
From 1 client to 4
I began the year with one client and ended up with four, effectively doubling my income through various methods.
The two things that helped me double my income this year were working with a current client and polishing my LinkedIn account to snag a new one.
At the beginning of the year, I raised my rates for the first time in three years. This meant asking my current client for a significant raise, but I was in a position to do so. I did a lot of work for them and they were happy with it. I reminded them of my value and they agreed to the raise.
Iâ€™m on track to find one or two more clients in the same vein next year, and will 2x my income again when I do!
Raise your rates with existing clients. I hadnâ€™t done it in three years and was way overdue. I effectively doubled my income with just that one move. Itâ€™s scary to ask what youâ€™re worth, but nothing is worse than working hard for too little pay.
Qualify prospects. I upped my marketing game, which I did by using Carol’s methods in the Den 2x course. That included defining my ideal client, learning how to tell if a client was worth my time or not, and cleaning up my LinkedIn profile.
Track trends. I followed a trend into online course building. This is a skill I had developed for another client, so when the platform started offering to pay content creators to help out with their customer backlog, I pitched in. The pay wasnâ€™t great, but it allowed me to pitch my writing services to their customers and I got a client that way.
Improve your LinkedIn profile. With my new LinkedIn profile, I got a cold call from an ideal client. I ended up with an ongoing contract paying me my higher rate. Having their name on my resume puts me in a position to get better, more high-paying clients. It was a step up the ladder for my business!
Up 50% — 2X-ing in 2021
Despite the craziness that was 2020, I’ve been able to grow my income by more than 50% this year, and am on track to 2X my income in 2021. Now, more than ever, retainer agreements are the key. I’m booked out into 2021, because I prioritized clients who have ongoing work.
I write in SaaS & IT. I joined 2X in 2018, right after college, the year I decided to pursue freelancing full-time. At the time, I was only on track to make $20,000 that year, but ended up way more than 2Xing.
2X was my first mastermind and the accountability was HUGE for me. I still regularly chat will my â€œaccountability buddyâ€ from 2X.Â Iâ€™m on track to do over $150,000 in 2020.
Avoid one-offs. It’s okay to start with a test project, but don’t let clients with small budgets continue to suck up time in your schedule.
Don’t stop pitching. The world may be a little uncertain right now, but one thing is not: clients still need writers. Many people are shying away from selling right now because they “don’t want to bother people.” Don’t let yourself get into that mindset. One pitch could lead to thousands of dollars in client work.
–Alyssa Goulet, freelancingflow.com
Recession proof your writing career
Pretty uplifting, yes? You really can still do this, as a career. And now, there’s a light at the end of this Covid tunnel to recession-proof your freelance income.
In 2021, I’m expecting there to be a ton of marketing activity, as companies reopen, reposition, merge, acquire, and otherwise adjust to what comes next. And that’s an opportunity to recession-proof your income.
Hope these tips help you earn more from your writing — and if you need help with that, check out the new self-study version of Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator.
What’s your plan to grow your writing income in 2021? Leave a comment and let’s talk strategy.