Ever wonder what smart freelancers are doing when it comes to writing for money?
I did. I thought about it a lot when I was working in retail.
You know, minimum wage, run the cashier, stock shelves, talk to customers. Same shift, different day.
When I finally decided to quit, I thought I had freelancing figured out.
But it didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t keep going without good pay to cover my bills.
I expected an immediate, steady income. I’d heard some really great stories about successful writers and thought I could be one of them.
So imagine my surprise when the new clients I desperately needed didn’t magically appear at my door with handfuls of cash.
It was frustrating. And I knew I had to do something about it if I wanted to stick with freelancing.
Change your perspective on writing for money
Fortunately, Freelance Writers Den was an incredible resource to help me figure out what I was doing right, and what I needed to change to make real pay writing for money, so I could avoid going back to working retail.
When you make the leap to full-time freelancing, unleash a new kind of freedom, and recognize your earning potential, a lot can happen.
I changed my perspective on freelancing and established some new habits. And you know what, I had my first $3,000 month. Boom! And it just keeps getting better. Here are the five changes that helped me the most:
1. Adopt a business mindset
Many freelance writers don’t see themselves this way, but you’re actually the owner-operator of your very own small businesses.
I started acting like a business owner. I realized that writing for money was my only source of revenue, and had to be smarter about time management. This meant:
- Working regular hours instead of wasting time on the Internet
- Scheduling enough time for my work
- Saying “no” to unnecessary commitments
I began tracking my work hours and looking for ways to become more productive. I also started judging my use of time by whether or not it actually contributed to my profits.
2. Increase marketing
How much marketing are you currently doing?
I thought sending a couple LOIs a week was pretty good. It’s a mistake a lot of new freelancers make. But that kind of small-scale marketing isn’t the path to full-time freelancing if you want to make a living writing for money.
If you’re wondering how to earn more from writing, reach out to more prospects with:
- InMail messages on LinkedIn
- Direct messages to prospects on Twitter
- Phone calls
- In-person networking
These are just a few examples of ways to market your services as a freelance writer. Pick a strategy you’re comfortable with and increase your marketing efforts.
I started sending a large volume of LOIs (letters of introduction) that I customized to the recipients. And I didn’t send one or two more–I sent several hundred of these.
Other marketing strategies I started using included asking for more referrals, searching for quality job posts and looking for other sources of new leads.
The increased volume of marketing caused more prospective clients to contact me, ask for samples and offer me trial assignments.
3. Find better clients
When I decided to change my approach to freelancing, I started pursuing higher-paying work from high-volume clients. Here’s how:
- Reject low-rate gigs. I started doing this, so I could invest more time in marketing and writing for clients. Low-paying gigs are a huge waste of time. When you get sucked into a low-paying gig, it takes a toll on energy and creativity. And it leaves you strapped for time to find better-paying clients.
- Focus on quality clients. Instead of pursuing clients I knew would only assign $200 of work per month or only one-time assignments, I began looking for prospects that use multiple writers and produce a large volume of content. I wanted clients that could assign $1,000 each, every month. So I looked for prolific trade magazines, advertising agencies and consulting groups. Groups that use large writing teams can afford to offer more work to more writers.
4. Batch work activities
Productivity was an issue when I was struggling to build my freelance business. I frequently jumped from marketing to client work, email to social media, and back again. And it wasn’t working. Sound familiar?
Batching work activities helped a lot. My tip:
Focus on one client at a time. This approach allowed me to become more efficient, so I began limiting myself to one client per day. By writing multiple blog posts or articles per day for a single client, I was able to “get in the zone” and become more focused on my work. This helped my productivity dramatically. I did the same with marketing by scheduling marketing-only days.
5. ‘Wow’ new clients
You only have one chance at a first impression. When you’re pursuing valuable, high-paying and high-volume clients, it’s a worthwhile investment to give them extra attention and effort.
I polished my work, particularly first-time assignments for new clients. Over the holidays, I also sent “happy holidays” cards with a short, handwritten note to my entire client list, including new clients. And I was meticulous about following any special invoicing formats, writer’s guidelines and special requests from clients.
The path to move up and earn more
When I made these changes and started treating freelancing writing like a business, I started making real money from writing. I had my first $3,000 month. The next month, these great new clients came back with more big orders. And my goal is to keep going higher from there.
If you’re wondering what’s holding you back from writing for money and getting paid well, take a closer look at your approach to freelancing. Change your perspective, make a few changes, and you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.
What’s keeping you from earning serious money from writing? Let discuss in the comments below.
Kaitlin Morrison is a freelance healthcare and finance writer in Moses Lake, WA.