You dream of being a successful writer. But instead youâ€™re stuck with freelance work writing for content mills and clients who pay you $20 or less per post.
Deep down, you know itâ€™s time to drop these low-paying clients and find better-paying freelance work, but the thought terrifies you.
Isnâ€™t it risky to just let your clients go? What if no one will pay your higher rates for freelance work?
If youâ€™re struggling to keep up with deadlines and the volume of freelance work for low-paying clients, where are you going to find the time for marketing to get better ones?
I understand where youâ€™re coming from. I was in this very situation less than six months ago. And then I did something that felt a little crazy and scary. I gave most of my clients a swift kick.
What would happen if you let all your clients go tomorrow?
It cleared the way for me to get higher-paying clients and triple my freelance work income. Hereâ€™s how itâ€™s done:
Understand your worth as a freelance writer
Writers often sell themselves short in the beginning just to get a little freelance work. I discovered this the hard way as a new freelancer writing for low-paying clients. Still, it took months for me to acknowledge that I was underselling my services.
How do you know if youâ€™re selling yourself short?Â Here are some warning signs:
- Youâ€™re nowhere near your content writing income goals
- Youâ€™re working long hours, but struggling to make ends meets
- Your clients act like youâ€™re expendable, easily replaced by the next writer willing to do freelance work for cheap
But it doesnâ€™t have to be this way. Remember, you are in control of setting your freelance writing rates. Consider how your services benefit your clients and decide how much you need to earn per month. This will make it much easier to calculate your new rates.
If prospects or clients aren’t willing to pay your rates for content writing, give them the boot or move on.
Punch fear in the face
After realizing I couldnâ€™t make a living writing for content mills, I knew I had to find better clients. But I was paralyzed with fear. I kept thinking of worst-case scenarios:
- Maybe I wasnâ€™t experienced enough to land good content writing clients.
- What if prospective clients balked when they heard my rates?
- What if I let my clients go and never found work as a freelancer again?
Been there, done that? These are common fears that prevent you from getting paid pro rates for freelance writing work. But if you give into to your fears and stick with content mills, youâ€™ll never be a successful freelancer. Once you come to this realization, you can learn to accept your fears and move forward.
Commit to take action
To reach your income goals for freelance work, you need to take action. And that means you can’t keep doing the same low-paying freelance work for clients, expecting your bank account balance to grow.
Here’s what I recommend:
- Join an online writer’s group like the Freelance Writers DenÂ to get support from other writers, learn more effective marketing skills, and put them into practice.
- Send out query letters and LOIs to qualified prospects. Instead of chasing freelance work on content mills, Craigslist, and job sites with thousands of writers competing for work, focus on connecting with good prospects that value professional freelance work. Pitch an article idea to an editor with a query letter. Reach out to marketing managers with a letter of introduction.Â Be consistent. Create a daily or weekly marketing goal.
Going after higher-paying clients is worth the effort
After becoming a Den member, I began emailing LOIs (letters of introduction) to marketing managers and blog editors at tech companies. Dozens of my emails went unanswered. And that gave me a lot of self-doubt at first.
Finally, the editor of a popular design blog responded, offering me the chance to write a trial post. To my amazement, she offered me $200 to write the post. A rush of excitement came over me, and I finally started to believe that I could make it as a freelancer.
Let your lowest-paying clients go
With my new-found confidence, I decided to let the low payers go. You probably don’t want to drop all your clients at once. But landing just one assignment that pays more than any of your current clients will help you make this mindset shift. And you’ll realize:
- Low-paying clients really sap up time and energy
- Writing for content mills is a dead-end strategy that will never pay pro rates for freelance work
- Your time is better spent on marketing efforts to land quality clients in your niche
- It’s not worth it to hang on to low-paying clients when more lucrative freelance work is out there
Go get some higher-paying freelance work
By improving my marketing plan, I landed more clients who understand the value of my services and gladly pay my new rates. After just a couple of months, I tripled my income and reached my freelance business goals.
If youâ€™re tired of working for low payers, these steps can help you manage your fear, take action, and grow your income. Youâ€™ve spent enough time dreaming of being a successful freelancer. Now go and make it happen.
Tara Malone is a professional freelance copywriter who specializes in writing long-form blog content for tech companies.