Occasionally, new freelancers or people interested in starting a freelancing business tell me they don’t plan to build a freelance writing website for their budding venture. And when I hear that, my soul cries a little and my ears may bleed.
The truth is that yes, you can technically get your freelance writing business off the ground without a website… but eventually, you're going to want one anyway if you plan to make your biz a bigger part of your life.
Why not start down the right path?
Not to mention, a website gives you a place to:
- Introduce yourself,
- Share your rates (if you'd like – this part is optional),
- Display your writing portfolio, and
- Look professional and show you've got some skills.
Despite what you're thinking, building a website is actually pretty easy and really inexpensive. Here are the basic steps to help you get started on launching your own freelance writing website.
1. Think about what you're going to name your business.
You don't need a fancy business name to build a website. (I once wanted to call my biz “Bold Pen Writing” 🙄 which, I think we can all agree, kind of sucks…).
Start by making a list of adjectives you like that describe your personality or what you want your business to represent. If you know a specific niche you want to write for, maybe consider incorporating that. (Be careful with niches, though, because you don't necessarily want to give the impression you write only for that niche… unless that's your plan, then go for it!)
Once you've got a good list, pull up Thesaurus.com and check out some synonyms for your adjectives. Write down other ones that resonate with you (if there are any).
Now, start pairing the adjectives on your list with words like “writing,” “copywriting,” “content,” and anything writing-related. Keep playing around until you find something you like.
If you don't know what to call your business OR if you just want to be yourself, use your own name! Plenty of successful freelancers do this (including me!) and it works just fine.
2. Search for your chosen website/biz name as an internet domain.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
If you're not ready to pull the trigger on building a website for your business, I recommend simply checking for the URL availability on Google Domains. It doesn't cost anything and will show you whether your website name is available in the format you'd like it to show.
If you're ready to set up your website, I recommend using WordPress.com to set up shop. You don't need a high-powered website with a bunch of bells and whistles right away, so it doesn't make sense for you to sign up for an expensive package from web hosting providers. It's an easy-to-use system and provides you the ability to scale up when you're ready so if you ever need or want more bells and whistles, you can have them.
I recommend going with a “dot com” ending, but sometimes that's not possible. Use your best judgment, but remember you're going to be telling everyone about your freelance writing website. Definitely don't choose something that doesn't make sense, like “dot org!” If you're stuck, try adding a hyphen in your domain name or choose a different ending like “dot io” or “dot co.”
Searching for URLs on Google Domains
Searching for URLs on WordPress.com
Both Google and WordPress will tell you whether or not your clever name is taken (which sadly does happen!) and give you recommendations on how you can tweak yours and get a domain you're happy with.
Below, you can see how this looks on both platforms. I entered the name of this website, KrissiDriver.com (which is of course taken!) to demonstrate the options both platforms will present as alternatives. Google tends to give more realistic suggestions than WordPress… Be careful about using overly-clever workarounds or too many hyphens. You want to be able to tell someone your website URL without having to explain a lot about how to spell it correctly.
Here's what you'll see if your URL choice is unavailable when you're searching on Google Domains.
Here's what you'll see if your URL choice is unavailable when you're searching on WordPress.
I definitely recommend going with WordPress and here's why: You get your domain name for free your first year and your website hosting package (what you pay to WordPress to save your website on their servers) is as little as $48 USD per YEAR. That's less than a month's worth of Starbucks for me!
3. Build your freelance writing website.
Once you've purchased your domain (ideally through WordPress), you can start setting up your website.
WordPress offers all kinds of templates so you don't need to know a single thing about actually “building” a website or how to code. There are lots of free templates or, if you're feeling inspired, you can pay for premium themes (which can be fairly affordable).
Once you've chosen your theme, you can work on creating your pages. You should create:
Don't worry if you're not sure how to organize these or order them. You can always change things later. Taking action is a great first step to getting a website up and running.
As time goes on and you learn more, you can update and improve your pages. Be sure to update your site when you get new pieces to add to your portfolio or when you feel it's time to change your services, raise your rates, or if you're maintaining a consistent freelancing blog.
4. Share your site with the world.
You just built a freelance writing website! You should be freakin' proud of yourself!
Don't be shy – tell everyone. Put a link on your social profiles. Tell your friends and your mom. This is a moment to be celebrated.
Now you have a professional place to point your potential clients and show off your portfolio work when you apply for freelance writing gigs.
If there's one thing I wish I had started doing sooner in my freelance writing journey, it would be to set goals for how much I wanted to earn each year.
When I was new to entrepreneurship, I ran my business like a hamster on a wheel – spinning, spinning, spinning, and nowhere to go.
I had set my rate (kind of…) but I didn't know how much I wanted to make. And because I didn't know how much I wanted to earn, I didn't have any idea of how much I needed to work to meet my nonexistent goal.
Basically, I took on the attitude of “Well, however much work I can find and complete will be great. No need to make plans for these things.”
I was late to the party… But since I started setting income goals (i.e. how much I wanted to make from my freelance work after taxes 😉), things have taken a turn for the better in my business.
Setting goals has been a game-changer and helped me determine:
- How much money I wanted to make and what I might use it for.
- How to set my rate and when I should consider raising it.
- How much work I needed to do each month to meet my goal based on my chosen rate.
Here are a few tips for setting your first freelance writing income goal.
1. Set your freelance writing rate.
Before you do anything, you'd be wise to actually set your rate as a freelancer.
Why do this first? Because you'll need this number to do the math and figure out how much you'll actually have to work to meet your eventual goal. (Moreover, you'll know whether or not you're willing to work that much.)
Let's break this into tangible numbers.
Side Note: I was in the Math Honor Society in high school and any time I get to do actual math stuff excites me. Because I'm a nerd like that. Sorry, not sorry.
Let's say you set your beginning rate at $0.07 per word – a fair rate for a new freelancer. If you write 500-word blog posts or articles (or whatever) at that rate, you'll make $35 per content piece.
Knowing how much you can expect to make per client assignment as you move forward will help you determine how much money you can realistically earn.
2. Pick a reasonable goal number.
Now that you know what your rate is, pick a big amount you want to make over the course of 12 months. Reach high here! Then do the math to see what it'll take to hit it.
Go back to our $35 per 500-word rate example. Let's say you want to earn $1,000 over the course of the year. How much work and/or how many clients are you going to need to find in 12 months to make that happen?
$1,000 ÷ $35 = 28.5 (so let's round up to 30)
You'll need to write about 30 content pieces of 500 words to make $1,000 in a year. That breaks down to:
30 writing gigs ÷ 12 months = 2.5 (let's round up to 3 here)
Three writing gigs a month to make $1,000. Not bad, right?! You could probably do that almost in your sleep.
3. Add at least a third of your goal to your original number.
That $1,000 you want to make? You want to keep all of that, right?
But you've still gotta pay the taxman.
As a self-employed person or contractor, assume you'll be required to pay at least 30% of your earnings back in annual taxes. This is definitely true if you're an American citizen; if you're from somewhere else, there's a high probability that your tax rate is even higher.
So, to be on the safe side, add at least 30% of your “big number” back to your original goal. If you want to be really safe, make it 50%. If you want to be really, really safe (and challenge yourself), double your original number entirely.
Here's our example again:
$1,000 x 30% = $300
$300 + $1,000 = $1,300
$1,300 ÷ $35 = 37.1 (let's round up to 38)
Now we know you have to write 38 content pieces of 500 words to meet your goal and earn enough to pay taxes on it.
4. Incrementally raise your rate to meet your goal faster.
Every time you land a new gig or client, raise your rate a little more. Just a cent or two per word starts to add up. As you gain confidence and credibility, no one will blink when you ask for 10 cents per word. Or 15 cents. Or 20.
Remember to know your worth and don't be afraid to walk away from opportunities that feel like they're not paying you enough. It's your business, so it's up to you whether or not you choose to negotiate your rate with clients. But if you want more money, stand your ground. If someone doesn't want to pay what you ask (not due to true budget issues, but because they just don't see the value in your work), they're likely not going to be a good client anyway.
You might be able to exceed your goal just because you work hard and find great clients. They can be hard to find, especially when you're just starting out – but they're out there.
Taking time to set goals for your freelance writing business is a must because it gives you a clear trajectory to follow and helps you learn how to thrive as an entrepreneur. I wish I'd started setting goals sooner because it would have helped me feel more secure in what I was doing and plan better.
Don't make the same mistake I made – set some goals, set aside money for taxes, and start making things happen.
Remote work jobs have taken on even more of an appeal in 2020 as many former full-time employees are making the shift to working from home or, better yet, working for themselves. Freelance writing jobs, in particular, are getting more attention from people now that the Great Resignation is at its height.
While there might be more competition out there today for remote work than there has been in years past, there are still plenty of freelance gigs out there for everyone. You just need to know where to look.
If you’re not having any luck checking the usual freelance writing job boards, don’t fret. Here are 6 unexpected places you can look to uncover your next client.
I know, I know… This seems like a total joke. But Craigslist isn’t just for finding good deals on used furniture – there are plenty of freelance writing and remote work jobs to discover there, too. Many potential clients turn to Craigslist to post their want ads, especially for one-off jobs that have a quick turnaround time.
The benefit of advertising on Craigslist for potential clients is that, unlike using an agency such as ClearVoice, they don’t have to pay any additional fees to find a writer. (That’s also a bonus for you! You get to keep all your pay and not share a cut with the agency.)
The key is to check the boards of all the major cities, not just the ones you live closest to. Clients often post jobs where they’ll find the biggest audience, but you don’t need to live in those places to apply to them as long as the listing is for remote work.
Beware the Red Flags
But like all things associated with Craigslist, it’s important to take every listing with a grain of salt. Watch out for red flags: There are definitely still scammers looking to take advantage of people – even in job listings.
Here are a few examples of red flags:
- Be leery of agreeing to submit any “test” pieces. Even if you’re okay with working for a very low wage (or for free) to build your portfolio, you can’t be sure your “test” work won’t be the “real” work and get published without you getting paid.
- Don’t pay the job lister anything! The whole point is the client should pay you at the end. You’re not paying on Craigslist to be added to some kind of database – there are plenty of legit databases where you do have to pay that are not lurking in random corners of Craigslist.
- Don’t give out your bank information – even once the work is done. Use a system that’s secure to accept payments, like PayPal or Stripe.
- Don’t start working without a contract or other legal written agreement. I cannot stress this enough – YOU NEED DOCUMENTATION TO PROTECT YOURSELF. If money is changing hands, you need a contract. If the client insists on using their own contract, read it through carefully and ask a trusted friend or mentor (or lawyer!) to have a look before signing anything. Be sure the terms are in your best interest.
If you get any weird vibes at all, walk away. It’s not worth your time or energy if someone isn’t willing to meet you halfway to protect yourself.
2. Facebook Groups
Facebook is an amazing resource for freelancers – not just for networking with other people in your industry but for finding gigs as well.
The key is to remember that this isn’t an overnight solution. It will be really obvious if you’re only joining a group to hunt for clients without genuinely connecting with other members.
Here’s how to make Facebook work for you: Join groups that are relevant to your industry and interests. Then you need to consistently participate in the discussions that are happening within the group. You’ll get your name out there by posting frequently in a meaningful way and answering questions. Other members will come to see you as a valuable resource in the community.
There will often be people looking for writing help in these groups and they may post job opportunities! Be sure to follow their application instructions in their post “to the letter” and comment that you’re planning to apply.
Look for groups that are geared towards freelancers, entrepreneurs, people in your industry or writing niche (for example, gardening groups if you primarily write about gardening), remote workers, working women, virtual assistants, etc. Add value wherever you can and keep your self-promotion to a minimum unless someone asks for it or it’s a “self-promo day.”
If you’ve been following me for any time at all, you know I am not a Twitter fan. Despite that, I have to admit it can be a decent place to find some interesting opportunities if you happen to be a freelance writer.
For example, editors of various publications use Twitter to call for pitches all the time. Follow the editors of websites you’d like to write for so you’ll be the first to know when a call goes out. You can also follow your favorite freelance writing job boards on Twitter to stay up-to-date with the newest job postings all day long.
Twitter is also a great place to learn from other freelancers who have been in the industry for a long time and are killing it. Being where your “people” are will help you grow as a writer, too.
Here’s a quick list of a few names and companies I follow on Twitter:
You don’t have to limit your job search to websites that specifically target freelancers. While most people use job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, or Monster to look for full-time, in-office work, plenty of clients (especially larger companies) advertise for freelancers there as well.
Most “traditional” job boards have an option to select “remote” as the preferred location for your job search, so all you need to do is search for keywords relating to the work you do, like “medical writer” or just “freelance writer” if you’re not sure which niche you’d like to target.
Consider looking on actual remote work job boards, too, like We Work Remotely or Escape the City. Some of these, like Dynamite Jobs, actually will allow you to choose which part of the world you’re in and will filter jobs based on your choice.
One of my recent favorites is actually Superpath – a job board created by content marketers for other content marketers. They also have an amazing Slack community where you can ask questions and get updated about the newest job postings on the website. It’s definitely worth checking out, no matter where you are in your freelance writing career.
Why check job boards every day when you can have new job opportunities delivered right to your inbox? There are plenty of newsletters out there that carefully curate legitimate, well-paid job postings for freelance writers and remote workers of all kinds. These newsletters do the research for you, so you can trust that the clients are reputable and the jobs are real.
I’ve already mentioned a couple in my Twitter lineup above, but there are lots and lots (and lots!) of others out there. I subscribe to The Freelance Copywriter Collective, The Writer's Job Newsletter (whom I also follow on Twitter), and Freelance Writing Jobs from Sian Meades-Williams (mostly UK-based, but that often doesn’t matter!).
The Morning Coffee Newsletter is also a pretty well-known newsletter, as are The Freelancer Feed and Funds for Writers. I don’t personally subscribe to these, but they may be of interest to you!
Avoid Newsletter Overwhelm
Like I said, there are so many job posting newsletters out there. It can be tempting to subscribe to all of them… But when you’ve got a million job postings in your inbox, it can also be overwhelming.
And while all of these newsletters are a great resource, you usually have to act fast if you see something you’re interested in. It’s likely you’ll be competing with thousands of other subscribers for the same job openings.
Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week is a similar newsletter you have to pay for and there are other “paid” options out there, too. But the limited audience means you have less competition for the jobs that are featured. It’s pay-what-you-can, so it’s a worthwhile investment no matter your budget.
Heck, I even share a few job listings from around the web in my own weekly newsletter! I want you to see how many, many, many freelance writing jobs there are out there and how different they are from one another. Plus, I send out a few tips! 😉
The key here is to check out a few newsletters, see what they're like and what kind of jobs they send your way, and unsubscribe when you don't feel like they're right for you anymore. There's no harm in unsubscribing if it's not a good fit. You won't hurt anyone's feelings.
6. Cold Pitching
Just because you don’t see your dream job posted on any of the usual websites doesn’t mean it’s not available. Many freelancers have more luck with pitching the clients they want to work with directly rather than waiting for a posting to open up.
And frankly, this is how you make the most money – by going directly to the source.
This can work in two ways:
- You can pitch individual article ideas that, when published, are attributed to you with a byline – meaning you’re given full credit for your work and have an opportunity to share links to your website or social profiles – or
- You can send a pitch to a company or small business to ghostwrite content for them on their website, blog, social media profiles, and so on.
The Truth about Pitching
Pitching to publications often doesn’t pay much (or anything, depending on the platform). But having your name published and a link back to your website and social accounts is still incredibly valuable. Plus, you can publicly say you’re published on your own website and share your article on those same social channels with your followers!
The second option is trickier. While you may be reaching out to suggest helping make positive changes to a brand or small business’s written content, no one wants to hear about what they’re doing wrong. There’s a balance to this, but again, it can really pay off.
If you’d like to go the first route, most publications have guidelines posted about how to pitch them. Do your research first before you send a pitch. If you can’t find any, however, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out to their editors via email or social media with a well-crafted pitch.
You might be surprised at how many gigs you can find just by asking.
Although the most popular remote work jobs move pretty quickly, there’s a huge demand for freelance writers if you know where to look. With a little creativity, you can land well-paying jobs in your niche without ever leaving home.
Not sure where to start with a freelance writing business? I can help with that! My 6-week freelance writing course, The Write Hustle, will teach you everything you need to know about setting your freelancing rate, designing your site, building your portfolio, finding clients, staying organized, and running your business. Check it out now!
When you start out, deciding how to set your freelance writing rate is intimidating. I’m speaking from experience, here. When I first branched out on my own, I didn’t know what to charge clients.
I was afraid of making one of two rookie mistakes: Either
A) Setting my rate too low and being grossly underpaid for my work, or
B) Setting my rate too high and risk getting laughed out of the room.
But fear not, gentle Write Hustler. I’ve come a long way from my early days of freelance writing and I’m here to help.
If you’re not sure what to charge clients as a new freelance writer or if you’re looking to increase your fees, you’ve come to the “write” place. (See what I did there?) Here are my personal tips to help you set your rate as a freelance writer.
But first… Rule #1: We don’t work for “free.”
Let me say that again for the ladies in the back who can’t hear.
[[ Ahem ]] We don’t work for free.
When you’re just getting started as a freelancer and you’re working on building your portfolio (so that eventually you can feel like a badass and make the big bucks), you may decide to work for next to nothing. Or nothing at all.
To this, I say tread carefully and set a time limit.
There are a few instances where this might be okay, and here they are:
- Your name is being published to show it’s your work and a link or other instructions to get in touch with you included, OR
- You’re allowed to use that content as part of your portfolio and if asked, the client will give you credit for writing it.
That’s it. The only times you should agree to do any kind of work for free is when you will be recognized and “paid” for it in some direct or indirect way. And in some cases, even this might be a stretch. Unless you’re 100% sure your content will actually be published, you run the risk of writing something for literally nothing.
You’re worth more than that. So if you do decide to travel down the “free” freelance writing road, choose a stopping point. When you reach that point, don’t take on non-paying gigs anymore. They only serve you for so long.
Even as a new freelance writer, you still deserve to get something in return for your effort. So let’s dig into how to actually set that rate.
Tip #1: Think about what you want your rate to be.
Take a moment and dream. What, to you, would feel like “making it” as a freelance writer? You need to know your goal rate before you can even think about what to set as your starting rate.
Do you dream of making some extra shopping money from your side hustle?
Paying off your student loans or other debt?
Perhaps you want to make a career of writing and pay all your bills. It’s possible, but it doesn’t happen overnight.
Now, we can’t all be J.K. Rowling or James Patterson (and we’re not all writing novels, for that matter). But we can all work to make a living from writing. You may not make millions, but you can work toward making 6 figures.
Determine where you ultimately want to be so you have something to reach for. This will help you along the way as you gain more experience. Remember, your starting rate is just that – a starting rate. At some point, you’ll be able to raise your rate because your work will be worth more. And that’s how you’ll reach your “dream rate” – whether you’re getting clients through a freelance writing agency or running your own show.
Once you know what you want to strive toward, it’s time to choose your bottom dollar (or cents, in this case).
Tip #2: Choose a reasonable (but not lowball) starting rate.
Please hear me when I say that you are worth this rate and much more.
There will be some people out there asking for writers to cobble something together for less than what you’re asking… But you’re better than that. People who ask for lowball rates get what they pay for and they’re not looking for a professional. That’s just a fact.
I generally recommend new writers start charging no less than $0.05 USD per word. If you’re a native English speaker, you’re worth at least 5 cents per word. If you’re confident in your writing skills, use proper grammar, and understand the ins and outs of tricky punctuation, you’re probably worth more than 5 cents.
This initial rate should be your “bottom dollar” rate – the least amount of money you’re willing to accept for your work.
Whatever your “bottom dollar” rate is, be it 5 cents or 10 cents or even 15 cents, stick to your guns. Resist the urge to drop below your starting rate. If you’re asked to write for less than that, walk away. Someone who doesn’t respect your chosen freelance writing rate won’t be a good client, period.
The one and only exception to this rule is if you’re looking for early freelancing gigs that will help you build your portfolio. If you’re offered a bit less than your “bottom dollar” and you’re comfortable with that, you do you, girl.
Do the math. It'll help you find a rate you're comfortable with.
Think about it this way: You’d never ask a roofing expert for a quote to replace the shingles on your house and then, upon hearing their estimate, bargain with them to lower the cost, would you? You might “shop around” and get a few quotes, look at said experts’ previous work and talk to their past clients, and then make your decision. But you certainly wouldn’t ask them to charge you less because you don’t think what they quoted was fair. (At least I hope not!)
Writers, sadly, are often under-appreciated and it can be tempting to take this bait. I’m telling you right now to stay strong. Respect yourself and others will respect you in return by sticking with your “bottom dollar” rate.
Let’s do some quick math here.
If you’re writing a typical 500-word blog piece or email or whatever, charging $0.05 USD per word will land you $25.
At 10 cents per word, you’ll earn $50.
If you don’t have a professional portfolio of published work or a reference you can share, there’s no shame in starting here. These rates are low, yes, but they’re not so low you won’t be taken seriously or ignored completely.
Starting at 5 or 10 cents per word keeps you in the running for first-time jobs that are already highly competitive. Be sure to ask for permission to share the content with other potential clients as you finalize your agreement. That way, you’ll have something concrete to show next time you apply for a writing gig.
Yes, it will take a while to earn much at this rate. But the point is that you’re just getting started. We’re only greasing the wheels of your hustle here, not trying to pay the mortgage yet.
Tip #3: Increase your freelance writing rate with every new gig or client (or every few).
Unlike other jobs where you start at a certain rate and every few months or years you get a raise, freelancing allows for more flexibility. You set the rate and you ultimately decide what you’re going to accept.
As you land more writing jobs, you can begin increasing your rate by a few cents per word. If you’re feeling nervous about this whole “charge what your worth” mantra, mini rate increases may give you the boost of confidence you need.
Remember to stick to your “bottom dollar” – don’t accept work that dips below that rate. As you gain experience writing for more clients, add a cent or two (or three!) to your rate per word. Every new gig, your rate gets a little higher and you get closer to hitting your “dream rate.”
This is a well-known practice among freelancers everywhere and for good reason. Incrementally increasing your rate helps you build confidence in your own craft and worth.
Tip #4: Find a comfortable position and hold it for a while.
Depending on how you choose to set up your business, you may not always have the ability to simply raise your rate with every new assignment.
When you accept one-off jobs, you can easily increase your freelance writing rate from new client to new client.
However, if you’re like me, you enjoy taking multiple assignments from the same clients. This means you’ll have to choose a rate at the beginning and stick with it for a while. After all, your clients assume when they hire you your rate will remain consistent for at least a little while. This should be stipulated in your contractual agreement.
PRO TIP: It’s smart to include some kind of wording in your contracts that your rate is subject to go up. This covers your butt for when you’re ready to increase your rate with long-term clients.
All of that to say… there is a ceiling. Even if you’re more into single-serve jobs, finding a comfortable rate and sticking to it for a while is a good practice. It keeps you aligned with other writers who have a similar amount of experience and helps you build a name for yourself.
Having a constantly fluctuating rate can come back to bite you. If you’re fortunate enough to have clients recommend you to other business owners, you don't want to quote wildly different rates. While you’re still a “newbie” writer, you also don’t want rates so high that you can’t compete for decent jobs. Those are the gigs that will help you build your portfolio.
Beginner vs. Intermediate vs. Expert Freelance Writer
It’s good to know where your rate ought to be in terms of your experience level. This helps you know how best to market your skills.
If you have a good feeling about how you measure up in terms of experience, you can continue to inch your way toward the next experience-level bracket. Little by little, you’ll get closer to your “dream rate” and achieving your goals.
As a beginner freelance writer – meaning you have little or no freelancing experience or published work – I recommend maxing out somewhere around 15 cents per word. Once you have a solid portfolio of at least 3-5 content pieces you can show as proof of your skills, you can probably level up and consider yourself an “intermediate” freelance writer.
If you're an intermediate freelancer, it’s safe to charge upwards of 25 cents per word. You should have a rather substantial portfolio and/or several past clients who have given you testimonials you can use as social proof.
Once you hit the “expert” level, you can charge north of 50 cents per word. This likely means you’re super, SUPER niched down and write for a few specific industries or have specific content types you specialize in and do well. You need to have concrete examples to show your clients before anyone takes you seriously at this rate.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to charge $1 or more per word. It takes time, but people do it!
Tip #5: Consider negotiating a rate on certain opportunities.
As a beginner, I recommend being open to negotiating. However, as an intermediate or expert writer, I say take it or leave it. There are a couple of big reasons for this.
When you're starting out, you’re still building your portfolio. Arguably, you need the experience more than you need the money. If you’re extended a great opportunity or are in talks with a great client, it’s probably worth agreeing to a lower rate in the long run. This is particularly true when they're willing to let you link to the content as part of your portfolio.
But once again, knowing your “bottom dollar” is going to play a part here. No matter how great the opportunity, stand firm in your starting rate and don’t dip below it. Remember your worth.
As an intermediate or expert freelance writer, you may want to be open to negotiations for the same reason: Certain opportunities could really enhance and strengthen your portfolio. However, don’t be tempted to always “drop your pants” and give a lower rate just to get more work.
Even when you consider yourself a seasoned freelancer, you should still have a “bottom dollar” that aligns with your experience level. If you decide to negotiate and write for a lower rate, it still needs to be worth your while.
Tip #6: Learn to know when you’re too high or too low.
There may come a time when, as you’re increasing your rate, you get carried away. Or maybe you don’t have the portfolio to back up the rate you’re asking.
Alternatively, you may be selling yourself short if you’ve been handing over excellent work and not raising your rate often enough.
Take the rate hints subtly (or unsubtly) offered by your clients into consideration.
If you’re losing clients or getting turned down for new gigs, your rate may be too high.
Remember that you need to honor your contractual agreement with your long-term clients. Raising your rate with these folks may come as a bit of a shock depending on how much more you’re charging. While it’s important to take this into consideration, don’t let that stop you from charging more when an appropriate amount of time has passed, like 6-12 months.
To get a feel for what your client can and can’t afford, do some sleuthing online. Check out their social channels, personal social accounts, and their website, if applicable. If they look like they’re raking in enough money, confidently raise your rate. If they look like they might be struggling, consider negotiating a temporary deal until they can meet your new rate. If you like your clients, flexibility goes a long way.
(To be clear, this is all pretty subjective. You can’t really know what’s going on in your clients’ bank accounts purely based on what they do on social media. However, it can give you a great insight into whether a “sob story” is true or just an attempt to save money. We all try to save where we can, right? Your clients are no different, and that’s okay!)
The competition may be playing a part, too.
If you’re getting turned down for new one-off jobs, it may be because your rate is too high compared to other people pitching for the same gig. You might still be marketing yourself as a beginner, for example, when you should be marketing yourself as an intermediate writer instead.
Alternatively, you just might not have enough experience to show for the price you’re asking. That’s okay, and you can always adjust your rate based on the opportunities you get and don’t get. Build up your portfolio a bit more and come back to that rate later.
PRO TIP: Also remember that everyone can’t be your client. Just because one client doesn’t want to pay your rate doesn’t mean someone else won’t, either. We can’t please everyone. Before you drop your rate, grow some thick skin and tolerate several “nos.” You might just be catering to the wrong clientele and need to market to a different, more cash-rich audience.
If your clients rave about you to others (or to you personally!) or you can’t keep up with the amount of work you have, it might be time for a rate increase.
When clients talk about your rates being “affordable” or – and this has happened – lower than other writers they’ve used in the past, it’s probably pretty safe to raise your rate at the next opportunity.
People who willingly sing your praises and enjoy working with you enough to recommend you to others are more likely to accept a rate increase. In fact, they may think (or realize) they’re getting a smokin’ hot deal and feel your rate is actually low for the work you provide.
Likewise, if you’ve got so much work that you can’t really afford to take anyone else on, you’re literally leaving money on the table. Raising your rate gives you the ability to make more money for the good work you do.
All of this to say… listen to your clients! If they’re very happy, you can confidently assume your work will make other clients happy and that you can likely charge more. So charge more. At your next opportunity, increase your long-term rate with your clients or quote a higher rate to a new client and step into that abundance, baby. You earned it.
If clients don’t want to pay your higher rate, don’t be scared. That simply means it’s just not a good fit anymore. “Losing” them is actually a blessing in disguise because it opens an opportunity for you to find a higher-paying client. And just like that, you’re making more money!
Setting your freelance writing rate isn’t an exact science.
It’s different for everyone – some come to the table with a concrete idea of their work’s worth and others have to feel it out. I was certainly the latter for a long time.
Try a few rates on for size until you find an amount you feel fits and reflects your work’s worth. Don’t let money cloud your enthusiasm for getting started as a freelance writer.