One Simple Way Freelance Writers Can Earn More

Carol Tice

By Adam Green

If you’re not earning enough as a freelance writer, you’re certainly not alone.

Just look at the scores of freelance writers on sites like Elance and Guru. Then look at the paltry sums they’re paid to write articles, most of which go to buyers looking for keywords, not quality.

Although I hate to admit it, I, too, used to find gigs on Elance.

Freelancing was something I did part-time to earn extra money. It never occurred to me that I was running a business, and I knew nothing about setting the appropriate rates for different types of work.

Then I found Carol’s blog. It was actually a post on Make a Living Writing that made me question how little I was charging – a post about explaining the value your writing delivers to clients.

This blog helped me realize that I couldn’t keep working for offensively low rates. I learned what freelancers typically charge for different services, and I calculated what my daily rate should be.

Then I put a fee schedule in place that reflected what I was really worth, which is definitely more than Elance’s standard $10 per article – much more.

I also set up a Website and started marketing my services. I knew it was only a matter of time before the first fish would bite, and I knew what my rates were so that I could provide an appropriate estimate. There was only one problem:

I was nervous about giving that first quote.

When you go from charging $20 per hour to $65 per hour or more for even the most basic kind of work, it’s easy to be anxious about a prospective client’s reaction – especially when you have no idea what she was expecting to pay in the first place.

But when I did get that first call and got my first real client, I realized there was just one simple thing any struggling freelancer can do to earn more.

It’s actually very easy, and it involves minimal effort. All you have to do is decide to say something to the client and then say it.

Ready to hear what it is? Here goes:

Simply ask for more money.

That’s it!

For all the time I spent writing content for Elance buyers, I could have been editing internal documents for multi-state insurance carriers, creating foundational Web copy for environmental organizations, or writing sales emails for an online university – just a few exciting projects I’ve worked on in the recent past.

I earn a full-time living from freelance writing now. And it’s all because I started asking for more money.

You see, the best clients for your writing business are not the ones whose main concern is how much it’s going to cost.

They’re the ones who understand how valuable it is to work with a professional. They’re the ones who know that a great writer can make their copy sing instead of stumble.

Basically, they’re the ones you want to work for.

If you’re still working for less than you know you’re worth, know that you’re not powerless. The key to earning more from your writing could be as simple as asking for it.

Adam Green is a full-time Atlanta copywriter and part-time backpacking enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @AdamGreenMedia. If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss any upcoming tips on how to earn more from your writing — subscribe to this blog.


  1. abbey

    I am a novice writer and currently working with online writing jobs like elance. AS I read your aricle it really inspire me to do more. Thanks for the advice, I’ll definitely sign up with freelance writers den..

  2. Ruth Zive

    I completely agree. I have never had a client balk at my rate ($125/hour). That said, I think you also need to know your market. I work in the technology sector, with a lot of start-ups and enterprise software companies. I was nervous about sharing my rate at first, but then I started to think about my fee in terms of the value that I am delivering. A $1000 Case Study could move a multi-million dollar prospect through my client’s sales pipeline. Money well spent.

    • Carol

      Damn straight!

      Most writers don’t think of it in terms of the HUGE return on investment businesses can reap off their writing work… But they should.

    • Adam Green

      Right! And it’s a great idea tell them that. Some clients need you to demonstrate the value of your services in a very explicit way.

  3. Leah Whitehorse

    I was talking about just this issue this today!
    A friend of mine is a graphic designer. He went freelance a couple of years back. Over this time his confidence and business has grown. In the last couple of months he put in ‘cheeky bids’ (his words), i.e. asking more than he would usually ask from potential new clients – both bids were accepted! My friend is an excellent graphic designer and well worth what he’s been paid. The point is he began to believe that he was worth it and understand that the clients who are willing to pay well are clients who will come back for more. Whilst he isn’t a writer, the issue as freelancer remains the same.
    Having done ‘writing for peanuts’, I’m also building up my courage and confidence to price what I do to equate with the knowledge and experience I have. I’m writing my own e-books and I’m finally building a list of potential publications to query in my niche. It’s exciting and a little scary but I’m ready.

    • Adam Green

      Excellent! Go for it and don’t go back to working for less than you’re worth.

  4. Ali's writer blog

    Hey Carol, I cant find ‘Contact Me’ option on your blog?

    • Carol

      It’s the envelope graphic above, next to my social buttons.

  5. Ali's writer blog

    I have switched from bidding sites to my own blog to find gigs just a couple of weeks ago… a couple of “fishes” came but they never replied once I quoted them my “new” price… 🙁

    • Adam Green

      Ali, My advice is to keep it up and don’t back down from your prices. Not everyone is going to be able to afford you, and I still do have people tell me it’s too much. If they’re the right kind of client, however, price should be a secondary (or tertiary) issue.

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