Writers: What Were Your Best 2010 Earning Strategies?

Carol Tice

In freelance writing, I think analysis is good for the soul. No, not the go-see-a-therapist type of analysis — the kind where you look back on the year and analyze what you earned.

Who were your best-paying clients by hourly rate? Who did you earn the most with? How did you meet your best new clients? So often, when I do this review I think I know who my best clients were, but when I do the numbers, it’s someone else. I actually recently dropped a client who represented a major monthly chunk of change, but on an hourly basis…blecch. They had to go.

I recently did an analysis of my earnings this year, and great new clients came from many places — my writer site getting found on natural search, through my LinkedIn profile, sending multi-idea queries, on niche job boards, and at in-person networking events. For me, having a multi-pronged marketing strategy has been key to making this my best earning year ever.

It was also my first year where I started to see meaningful income from my side business/passion for helping writers earn more — through mentoring and offering ebooks and Webinars. I’m excited about the potential there for next year. This was also the year I saw paid blogging for clients take off — along with related consulting work — and become a substantial part of my earnings.

One funny observation about this year: I did some weird projects! I got some unusual offers, and they contributed a decent amount of income. For instance, I wrote a white paper for an employees’ union. I blogged about surety bonds. I got a lot of nibbles about ghosting eBooks…maybe one will pay off next year.

I try to stay openminded when someone brings me something a little outside my normal wheelhouse. You never know when that offshoot will turn into a whole new, great-earning niche. I like to learn and grow and try new stuff, and that tendency seems to contribute to my bottom line, too.

What were your marketing wins and best earning strategies of 2010? Leave a comment and tell us what’s working out there.

Photo via stock.xchng user michaelaw


  1. @newdaynewlesson

    I actually got a new part time job because of my blogging. Aside from nursing I work one day a week in a medical services office redoing their english language website.

    • TiceWrites

      Right on — I think many bloggers aren't aware of what a great audition piece their blog is for getting paying gigs. Recently just did a post on paid blogging on Write to Done.

      And those gigs can help support you on that quest to that day we all dream of, when your blog makes millions on autopilot.

  2. Steve

    Perhaps next year I will be able to do this!
    My recent post Where Do You Write

  3. @worldofhiglet

    I sold a radio play because I had it on my website as a downloadable PDF as an example of my work – if you google 'Short Radio Play' it you will see 'Bumper to Bumper' ranks about 7th on Google.

    A producer from Radio Slovenia was searching, found it, loved it and it's going into production very soon. I made sure that my email address was on the PDF and that's how she got in touch to ask permission to use it and to discuss payment. They are paying for the use of the play and any subsequent repeats, so putting that work online is actually making money.

    • TiceWrites

      Wow! This has me going back to make sure my contacts are on all my products… What a great example of an unusual market many writers probably never think of.

  4. @melaniezoltan

    Carol, you motivated me to write a blog post on this topic describing the difference between 2009 and 2010, but in terms of specific *strategies* I:

    –applied for my 4th try at About.com and got in this time
    –found a listing on CraigsList for an 11-article assignment with PC World
    –had an existing academic publishing client come to me with a rush job at 2-3x normal pay, and with work that was *very* different from the usual work I perform for them (demonstrating flexibility)
    –pitched to an editor I haven't worked with for 8 years, and she accepted the query – print article published in regional magazine this month, and it forced me to cold-email two major medical specialists for interviews (they said yes!)

    More than anything, now I look at where I want to be and which steps I need to take to get there. I accept that I'll be uncomfortable sometimes and I do it anyway (attend networking event, make a cold call, send a book proposal, etc.).

    I quadrupled my earnings in 2010 (2009 wasn't exactly great LOL) and I can now take a long hiatus from college teaching to focus on writing. 2011 should shape up beautifully.
    My recent post 2010 Winning Strategies for Freelance Writing Earnings

    • TiceWrites

      Wow — terrific story of ramping up your earnings!

      I cold-email experts all the time…they usually say yes. Be not afraid and do it more! Thanks for giving me a chance to appreciate that there's one aspect of the freelance writing life that doesn't stress me out that much…

  5. Katherine Swarts

    I've found that one can combine the advantages of real-life networking with those of online portfolios by bringing samples to networking events–provided you treat it as a relationship-building conversation and not as a sales call! (Think of a casual "how's the family doing" chat versus pulling out all the pictures of the grandchildren.) I wrote a related guest post for book authors, "Make Sales on the Spot" (http://www.sellingbooks.com/make-sales-on-the-spot), that might provide some useful ideas for B2B writers as well.
    My recent post Writers- What Were Your Best 2010 Earning Strategies

  6. Linda

    I formed an alliance with two other freelancers with different strengths. We bid for some big jobs together. Our collective strengths are paying off. Since forming our alliance in September we've snagged six national clients and have three more in the hopper. We are handling corporate blogging, news releases, manuals and brochures. We've revamped and rewritten several corporate websites, even written a couple of speeches. We all still maintain our freelance status, but form together as a team to get the work. We have $30,000 on the books as we speak. My first year of freelancing started in 2009 after a long career in print journalism. I made a meager $17,000. This year should easily triple that, but 2011 should blast it through the roof.

  7. TiceWrites

    Have to just say I am LOVING these stories, and the morning is young still! I think this thread is going to form a great tutorial in creative marketing ideas everyone can use in '11.

    @Linda — I know another big freelancer who put together an alliance and now they're getting big government contracts to write projects. Can be a great approach.

    @WorldofHiglet — Thanks for coming on down to the blog! Saw you tried to post twice. I'm still wrestling with Intense Debate's moderation parameters…but if you join IntenseDebate or WordPress you can post direct without waiting for moderation.

  8. StephanieMojica


    You know some of this part of my story already but I'm suspecting a lot of fellow readers/writers don't πŸ™‚

    I attended the Native American Journalists Association conference in July in Minneapolis and met several print newspaper contacts, one of which has become a regular client. I also got the entire trip for free because I volunteered with the convention newspaper project πŸ™‚

    But the most successful aspect of 2010 was getting on Guru…I have several ghostwriting blogging clients. My average hourly rate has exceeded $100 an hour (maybe I should update the title of my eBook accordingly) and has been as high as $300 an hour.

    I also FINALLY started my own blog, but time will tell how that goes!

    My recent post Use Your Creativity To Spark Inspired Action

    • stasey

      I am on Guru, but after a couple of gigs it fizzled out? Any advice?

      • StephanieMojica

        Sure, here's some quick advice:

        1) Bid only on projects that don't have a LOW budget for a lot of work. Most of the "article writing" opportunities on there are geared more toward people working overseas for 1 cent or less a word.

        2) Click only ad headlines about blog writing (some goodies there,) press releases, editing projects, creative writing, etc. Again, anything that has to do with "SEO" is more often than not a waste of your time.

        3) Be consistent. Set a goal of how many bids you will place a day. My goal right now is three, but I have multiple streams of immediate and passive income. I placed three bids at about 10:30 a.m. today and by noon one of the clients had already hired me for horoscope writing. (I also have another horoscope writing client on there.)

        4) Deliver early or on time to build your "feedback."

        5) If you can translate to/from foreign languages or format eBooks/Kindle books you're also WAY ahead of the average Guru bidder and can come out with even more opportunities.

        Good luck!

        I am working on a guest post for Carol with more tips
        My recent post How To “Marry Your Muse”

  9. Ahlam

    So far, in my short treck into freelancing, the best strategy that's worked for me is repeat business. I try to do a great job for a client that they're simply hooked πŸ™‚
    My recent post The New Year and the Magic of Starting Over

  10. Paul Callaghan

    My own blog has led to some regular paid blogging posts and more followers on social networks. One of my twitter followers has just requested ongoing editing for her blog. I am shortlisted as blog writer/editor for a new startup with NZ's biggest website due to my blog and my abilities with twitter and facebook. I'm not buying a Ferrari yet but maybe 2011 is the year πŸ™‚
    My recent post My 3 Top Tips for Editing Your Writing

  11. @dkanenh

    I met with my largest client to discuss a pay increase and also came into the meeting with some suggestions on how they could reach out to a larger customer base. I spent time with the client discussing her needs and then brainstormed a few ways that I could help her solve some of her problems. Bingo — she was really excited and asked for a formal proposal. We'll see what happens next.

  12. @apdakin

    Great to get ideas here for my 2011 marketing strategy. My best strategy has been to join teams as a consultant, so that I'm tapping into a wider network and diverse talents, with one project leading into another. Was really grateful this year to a graphic designer colleague who recommended me highly to a team. I want to get a few more solid projects/clients and have been collecting ideas here about where to list my skills. Some things I want to do: a) Go to Harvard and Wesleyan alumni events for networking — good idea to bring a sample of work that's easy to show (in comment above). b) Do more guest blogging — just pitched Copyblogger on an idea. c) Speak on panels to share successes and lessons in blogging and online strategy.
    My recent post VIDEO- Facebooks Sheryl Sandberg at TED on Why We Have Too Few Women in Leadership

    • TiceWrites

      Hi Adriana –

      I recommend all of the above! I'm always amazed at people who have high-toned degrees and aren't working that alumni network. And I find speaking on panels a great way to connect with a lot of people in one shot. Thanks for commenting!

      • StephanieMojica


        Teleseminars are another great way to get your name out there…Google "telesummits" and find one related to your area of expertise.

        My recent post How To “Marry Your Muse”

  13. Jenn3y

    There is so much multimedia to weed through. It just takes a while to get going sometimes. It has become a realistic possibility to earn online without going to a job and just stay at home, gotta love it for those who can pull this off.


  1. Tweets that mention Writers: What Were Your Best 2010 Earning Strategies? -- Topsy.com - [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Erika Dreifus. Erika Dreifus said: RT @TiceWrites Writers: What Were Your Best…
  2. [WATCH]: Brian Tracy, How To Reinvent Yourself – Part 2of5 - [...] Freelance Writers: What Were Your Best 2010 Earning Strategies? [...]
  3. Top 10 Articles for Writers -- December 2010 - [...] contest for the best 2010 earning-strategy story ends tomorrow morning. There’s still time to add your entry. Winner gets…
  4. Why Your Writing Journey Matters - [...] and tell us about your travel plans.Congratulations to the winner of Monday’s contest for the most interesting marketing strategies…
  5. FreelancerPro Interview: Making a Living Writing with Carol Tice - [...] analysis of where I got clients in 2010, and each came from a different type of marketing. Have a…
  6. FreelancerPro Interview: Making a Living Writing with Carol Tice - [...] analysis of where I got clients in 2010, and each came from a different type of marketing. Have a…

Related Posts

LinkedIn Round-Up

LinkedIn Round-Up

Successful freelancers use LinkedIn daily. After all, it's the only social media where it's socially acceptable to talk about work. In honor of our upcoming bootcamp, LinkedIn Profile Mastery, we wanted to give you a round-up of all our posts on the topic of LinkedIn....