If you’re like most of us, when you first started freelancing you were delighted with any paycheck at all, no matter how small. The prospect of doing a search engine optimized article (SEO) for $5 or less, the notion of getting $20 or less from your local weekly newspaper thrilled you beyond measure simply because you knew earning anything at all meant you’d become a professional writer.
It didn’t take long, I’ll bet, before those tiny amounts of pay no longer cut it at all. Now you’re trying to figure out how to earn more money, maybe even a decent living, from your freelance writing. Since you’re freelancing part of what you need to know is how to set your fees.
Here are some additional things you need to do in order to get paid more:
Consider if the kind of writing you’re doing will allow for more pay
Be honest with yourself and with a close look at the market. If you’re writing nothing but SEO articles you might be able to push it to .05 or .10 a word, but the nature of that kind of writing is quantity is what’s required, quality is only nice to have. Look over the articles you liked writing the most and start sending queries to magazines that pay at least .25 a word, and maybe $1 or more a word.
If you’ve been writing for a weekly newspaper, contact the daily newspaper in your area and ask if they need freelancers or stringers. With the downsizing of journalism staffs this is becoming a real possibility.
Check Writers Market . They have a section on how much writers and editors are paid for various sorts of work. This time, however, look over the list with the goal of finding higher paid specialties you can do and start working in those areas.
It’s usually much easier to find new clients and charge them more than to raise the rates on existing clients.
It’s often a matter of opening up your thinking. SEO writers can certainly get paid more for trade magazines and maybe even the higher paid consumer publications.
Or maybe you want to explore corporate writing. (The Well-Fed Writer: Back For Seconds A Second Helping Of “How-To” For Any Writer Dreaming of Great Bucks and Exceptional Quality of Life is the place to start learning about corporate writing of all sorts) Or copy writing. Dare to explore
Poorly paid book reviewers can begin to solicit higher paying book review sites and are likely to get at least a trial because they’ve got some credits.
If you’ve been ghostwriting books, keep doing what you’re doing, but the next time a potential client calls, up your rate by $5,000 and see what happens. If you’re bidding for jobs, decide now that at least 25% of your bids are going to be 25% higher, AND that you’re going to bid on jobs you know will pay more even if you don’t have credits exactly in that area.
See what I mean?
About Existing Clients
Look over your client list. Consider carefully what you know about them. Chances are at least a few are at least capable of paying you more. Set those aside for the moment. Contact them and tell them in the next thirty or sixty days you’re raising your rates by 10 or 15 percent. You will probably be delightfully surprised to find at least a couple of them will agree.
Do the same with clients you know are not likely to pay more. Be willing to be surprised. Most, even all of them may say no. If they do, thank them and sever relationships. You can always find clients willing to pay that little, but right now you need to create some space for better paying clients.
Okay, maybe you can’t afford to have any clients quit you right now. If that’s the case, you’d better start saving and expanding your client base so you can begin to expand your income.
You don’t have to settle for poorly paid writing work if you have any writing skill at all. It’s a matter of attitude, and willingness to ask for more that are the real secrets of increasing your freelance writing income.
Write well and often,
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