Young Writers: Earn Big With These Vital Mindset Changes


How young writers can change their mindset to earn more.

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.

Young writers pay 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!

Young writers day jobs

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:

Young writers income from 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):

young writers top problems

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!

Earn Big as a Young Writer A course for young writers who want to make REAL MONEY! LEARN MORE



  1. Rohi

    Hi Christina,
    Kudos! Your post reminds me of my favorite line of poetry – “The days of our youth are the days of our glory;” (Lord Byron, All for Love)
    All the very best to you and all the other young writers out there.

  2. Zoey

    No gigs, I’m afraid.
    I’m 18, and most jobs I see online are for “writers with at least 3 years of experience in *insert subject here* “.
    I do believe I have a lot to offer *because of* my young age. So no, I’m not experienced in the technical sense but I have a passion for writing and I (try to) believe in myself.
    Writing is all I have and writing is what I want to do.
    Just because it’s hard, just because it feels hopeless sometimes, doesn’t mean I’m going to give it up.
    Right now all I have is determination. And maybe that’s enough.

    Thank you for this post. It’s always so inspiring hearing success stories. It makes me want to try harder (:

    • Kaitlin Morrison

      Zoey, like you, I was initially scared away by the “need for experience” ever-present in most job posts. But that’s the beauty of freelance writing…you can find your own clients and build a business that isn’t dependent on job posts. Most clients really only care about your writing samples, and if your samples show that you’re a good writer.

      In the Freelance Writers Den, we try to encourage people to look beyond job posts where you’re competing with thousands of other writers and it’s often a race to the bottom on pay. Plus, no matter how good you are at writing, the competition is fierce for posted jobs.

      Finding your own clients takes more work, but in the long run it’s absolutely worth it.

      • Susie Rosse

        Is there any better method to finding clients besides cold emailing? The response rate can be really low.

        • Carol Tice

          It can be really low…when you don’t know how to do it, Susie.

          But there’s no one best marketing method — there’s just what works best for each individual writer, as I discuss here:

          The best form of marketing is always…the kind you’re willing to DO. We can teach you about sending marketing emails all day, but if you’re too scared to send them, we’re wasting our time. I know writers who get all their gigs at in-person networking events, and others who get them all shmoozing editors on the phone. It’s highly individual.

          In Christina’s course she talks about how to connect effectively on social media and other methods for marketing — hope you can check it out!

          • Susie Rosse

            Thanks for the link!

    • Carol Tice

      Zoey, I hope you can join Christina for Earn Big as a Young Freelance Writer — her system totally gets around the ‘experience’ problem.

  3. Jessica Jacob

    My biggest issue is that I research the lowest I should charge and the highest I could charge and place my fees around those areas. My actual paying clients have all come from word-of-mouth referrals with the sites I used to try and gain more clients, I always get declined on. I’m trying my hardest to figure out what I’m doing wrong. It’s hard to pitch myself to people who don’t know me.

    • Carol Tice

      It’s hard…but it’s what you need to do to get better gigs. Hope you can join Christina and learn her system for this, which works like a charm for younger writers.

      As long as you rely on referrals from the big online sites, you’re competing with thousands of other writers for every gig, so it’s not a surprise that you don’t get most of the jobs. You have to get beyond that — and Christina lays out exactly how to approach big brands and win them over.

      • Jessica Jacob

        Thank you! I hope to be a part of it as well. I’m so glad that writing is my love regardless of my success at it.

  4. Dwight Stickler

    These challenges are probably faced by all writers who are young in the profession. Including myself. It is easy to make excuses for not sending pitches to publishers. For not researching paid opportunities. And for signing up for services that offer to pay very little. Thanks for posting this.

    I look forward to working harder on the things that will get me paid going forward.

  5. David Throop

    Hi Christina,
    This is a great reminder that we writers DO offer value, especially when we think about the client’s readers and the benefits that our writing is going to provide them. I know personally, that my best assignments are the ones where the reader is the emphasis rather than just getting the content done – such as on a content mill.

    It’s important that we understand the value we provide, but only from the end result, i.e. the reader. Keep that in mind while pitching seems to be like a magic bullet.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  6. cheshta

    Great post.
    I’ve been working as a freelance writer, editor, and proofreaders, and yes, I do have a team of 7-8 writers as well. The thought of inconsistency in getting regular freelance work literally haunts me. Above that, it’s harder to get good paying clients who value your writing skills, and pay a handsome amount for your efforts and dedication. I’m thinking to switch from freelance writing to blogging (with zero expertise) due to long-term revenues. Kindly guide whether I should go for blogging, or focus on expanding my freelance writing career only. This will be a great help. Thanks

    • Carol Tice

      Cheshta — what sort of freelance writing are you doing, and what does it pay?

      In general, blogging tends to be at the lower end of the payscale within the world of freelancing, though I am seeing opportunities to earn $400 a post and more. But most work is much lower.

      You might check out Christina’s course, which goes into a lot of detail on exactly how to get better clients as a young writer.

      This isn’t generally the type of work you can sub out to 7-8 other writers…quality is highly important.

      • cheshta

        I’ve been writing various blog posts, product descriptions and reviews, and articles on various niches. And the pay out for one write-up, say of 500 words ranges between $5 and $7.5. The only reason I’m going to switch to blogging is its consistent and passive returns in the long-run. But then finding a great niche with which I can serve my readers becomes a daunting task. Just because of low paying clients, and not-so-stable writing opportunities, I want to go for blogging. In case, I can manage making up to $1500-$2000 via freelance writing (by handling projects on my own), I’ll leave the thought of setting up a blog indeed. Rest, you guide.

        • Carol Tice

          OK…$5 is not a professional rate. The rule around here is don’t take any post assignments below $50 a post.

          Not sure what ‘consistent passive returns’ you think blogging would bring you — believe me, I’ve been at this 8 years and there’s little that happens without work in this biz. If you’re thinking you could blog and stick up some ads and be wealthy…let me tell you, those days are long gone.

          Finding a niche is important, if you’re looking to build a blog that earns, and you’ll need to learn how blogs really do earn today, especially ones that don’t have a gigantic audience or huge subscriber list. Have you checked out my Small Blog Big Income ebooks? They’re my resource for that, where I unpack the steps to building a successful blog.

          • cheshta

            $50 a post seems like a dream to me ma’am. The clients are not ready to pay that much, instead they prefer hiring somebody else who is willing to work at this low rate. With passive income, I meant ‘affiliate marketing’ once my blog gets some recognition.
            I would like to ask 3 questions:
            1. How can I find great paying clients locally, and internationally?
            2. Stuck between choosing freelance writing, and blogging! Freelance writing requires no investment ideally, while blogging requires huge investments in the long-run, and it’s not confirmed that you’ll get returns in it.
            3. Is it viable to create a free blog under wordpress first, post content, get some good number viewers (friends, family, and their known ones), and then redirect to the paid platform?

          • Carol Tice

            Lots of questions there!

            Your CURRENT type of clients wouldn’t pay $50 — you’ll need a completely different type of client…the kind you prospect for and find yourself. Not the type you find on Fiverr or Upwork or Craigslist or somewhere like that. You might check out my Escape the Content Mills course to learn how to leave $5 clients behind.

            The dream that affiliate marketing will pay all your bills…that doesn’t happen. Almost nobody who earns well only affiliate sells others’ products. Most of us primarily develop and sell our OWN products, and do some occasional affiliate sales. I mean, you need a HUGE and enthusiastic audience to earn a full-time living just in affiliate sales — an audience size most of us (including me) will never have.

            1. You need to learn to actively prospect. I have a ton of resources on this, check the tabs at the top of this blog.
            2. You don’t have to choose one or the other! You’re free to pursue both. I wouldn’t say blogging requires HUGE investments, and you can scale that up as you go.
            3. You CAN create a free blog first and migrate it later…the problem is that no one takes free blogs seriously. Investing zero in your blog screams ‘dabbler.’ So it’s hard to attract an audience. And the ‘good number’ views you need extend far beyond what you could get from friends and family, if you want to affiliate sell. But yes, you can always move a blog. This blog started as a tab on my writer site, and later spun out on its own.

            Hope that helps!

          • cheshta

            Thanks a lot ma’am.
            Your guidance has been a great help for me.
            I keep on exploring your posts from freelancing, and blogging categories. I’ll be doing a bit more research before starting up my own blog, and will continue with freelance writing too. I’ll check ‘Escape the Content Mills’ course too now.
            Thanks again. 🙂

  7. Priya Modi

    Hi Carol,

    Do you have to be a fast writer in order to be a successful one?


    • Carol Tice

      That really depends on the types of writing assignments you take, Priya. A lot of writers are trapped in the content-mill world, where you have to write many, many posts at $5 apiece to make it add up to a living (see Cheshta’s post above). I think there, speed is key.

      • Ravi

        Yes. I’m also trapped in a content-mill. When I increased rate, only one order I got in 10 days. Afterwards, changed the rate to back.

        One of the reason I didn’t try to submit big publications is I’m not from a native place of English. Recently I asked a proofreader to tie-up with me. I will try to pitch big publications in December.

        Is my idea a good solution?

        • Carol Tice

          Using an editor is definitely a good idea, Ravi!

  8. maria

    I was put on a waiting list, does this mean spots are filled? I really wanted to get in.

    • Carol Tice

      Sending you an email, Maria.

  9. Joni Stark

    A writer cannot accomplish anything without first learning the craft. Sure, you can have something important to share, and others may help you put everything together. But being a successful writer is no different from being a successful painter, athlete or lawyer. The mindset starts with learning the trade. It seems that too many aspiring writers want to skip that step nowadays.

    • Jessica Jacob

      I had to come back on just to tell you that I LOVE what you just said.

    • Carol Tice

      Joni, my experience is that writers don’t need as much help writing — they love doing that part — as they do learning marketing.

      • Joni Stark

        My experience, after buying numerous articles from freelance writers over the years, is that some are very good at getting their name out there, but can’t really deliver.

        Maybe those are the ones who don’t “love to write” but just “love the imaginary shortcut to money”. 🙂

        I have the “buyer’s” perspective on this. I think there was a time when you could get away with almost anything as a “content” writer. Those days are gone.

        Today, companies I work with are looking for writers with a personal voice and meticulous writing. Such writers aren’t always easy to find. So you definitely got a point with the marketing mindset.

        I think a good idea for aspiring writers is to reach out to people who may be interested in buying their work. Preferably face to face. Talking to other writers is also a good idea.

        A writer should never forget that writing is a craft. Succeeding and making a living out of it takes more than just “the love of writing”.

  10. dang

    love this article, nowaday vital content from youtube and picture are much more popular, they use everytime to get reader

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