I quit my corporate job in February 2015 with $300 in the bank. I had no idea what I wanted to do besides make a living writing. I was 25 years old, and a total newbie in the writing world. There wasn’t a lot of demand for young writers, I thought.
The extent of my experience was winning a third-grade writing contest and getting a book published for my school library. I was motivated, but didn’t exactly have a plan or success mindset to build a profitable freelance business.
I didn’t have a degree, any experience, or, if I’m being completely honest, any idea how to get someone to pay me to write. Call it crazy. Call it youthful enthusiasm. Because it was.
I wanted to build a successful freelance writing business, but I wasn’t sure how to make it happen. Sound familiar?
After a rocky start, I realized that when you approach freelancing with a success mindset, it can have a big impact on growing your business and your income.
Fast forward two years, and I’m making over $100 an hour. And I’m constantly booked out two months in advance.
Here’s how I made that happen…
Does your hourly rate suck?
Mine did. I was starving at first as a young writer — and I found out, I’m not alone. A recent survey of over 300 young writers that Carol did here on the blog found most earn super-low hourly rates.
The typical hourly rate is $10 an hour or less (Hello! That’s below the minimum wage in a lot of places.). Based on the survey results, only 17 percent of freelance writers earn over $25 an hour (basically poverty wages for a freelancer paying all their own expenses). And more than half of the young writers reported they still have to work a full- or part-time day job, while trying to write on the side. Ugh!
For most young writers, freelance writing is more of a hobby — or a dream career you haven’t started on yet — than a big source of income. Only one-fifth of the young writers in the survey are able to support themselves through writing:
Fortunately, there is a way to change that.
Change your mindset to earn more
If your hourly rate for freelance writing looks anything like that chart above, you’re probably wondering what you can do to move up and earn more. And for the record, you can. After a bare-bones start to freelance writing, I managed to turn things around.
How did I do it? It started by developing a success mindset. Don’t worry — I’m not about to go into some woo-woo spiritual lesson here. What I am going to do is tell you exactly how you, as a young writer, can earn big money. It starts with shifting your attitude towards your writing work.
Here are three key ways to change your outlook that open the doors to better-paid work for young writers:
1. Turn your youth into your biggest advantage
When you’re a young writer, it feels like the odds are against you. How will you get people to take you seriously? Is it even possible to get good writing jobs (that pay real money and not with “exposure”) if you’re under 30? Yes, they will and yes, you can.
I decided to make my age work for me, not against me and you can do the same. Start by recognizing the value that you can deliver because of your age.
You have a fresh outlook on trending topics and you know how young people think (and read) — use that to your advantage. Switch your mindset from “They won’t hire me because I’m young” to “They’ll want to hire me because I’m young.”
2. Realize young writers have useful experience
When you’re starting out, you’re not going to have much, if any, writing experience. Or maybe you have writing experience but not in the industry you want to work in. That’s OK.
The mindset change here is to realize you do have experience — a whole lifetime worth, in fact. When I first started pitching clients, I used my experience as a woman to pitch a menstrual cup company. I didn’t have experience writing in that industry but I did have experience dealing with periods. They hired me and I’m now running their content marketing.
Think about everything you’ve done in your life and use that insight in your writing. Maybe you know how to sail, or have experience fixing old cars, or have traveled to interesting parts of the world. These are all experiences that make you qualified to write.
3. Understand your worth
Something that young writers struggle with often is not charging enough. When you’re young and inexperienced, you feel like you need to charge less. But, here’s the thing: You don’t.
As a writer, you are valuable. You bring insight and skill to the table and you deserve to be well compensated.
When you have a success mindset, you start thinking about all the ways your services add value to your clients. From getting companies more pageviews to helping them sell more of their product or service, your writing is helping your clients make more sales. The sooner you realize this and charge accordingly, the sooner you’ll gain confidence, and be on your way to earning big as a young writer.
Carol’s survey showed lack of confidence was one of the top problems young writers face, along with just not knowing where to look to find better-paying clients (respondents could pick more than one answer here):
Developing a success mindset is the first step to earning big for young writers. The more energy you put into shifting your mindset now, the easier it will be to get clients down the road.
This is an ongoing process that even the most experienced writers have to work on. Keep your eyes on the prize! It is possible to earn great money writing when you’re young.
What sorts of gigs are you getting, young writers? Leave a comment and tell us about it.
Christina Vanvuren is an Atlanta-based health and wellness writer. Find her at Christina Vanvuren or check out her course, Earn Big as a Young Freelance Writer. And — congrats to young writer Kristin I., who’s won a free ticket to class!