Losing freelance writing clients is a real drag, especially when you're depending on them to make ends meet. It can be disheartening and might make you feel like it was something you did… like a sad breakup. But often, it has nothing to do with you.
Yes, losing clients really sucks. But as a freelancer, you'll have to learn to accept that every once in a while, it's inevitable. Things happen, clients change their plans or have their own unforeseen issues and need to pause or stop working with you.
While this kind of thing happens all the time and while there's not much you can do about it, it's still good to know what to do when you lose freelance writing clients.
Depending on the reasons your client offers for choosing to part ways or put projects on hold, you might be tempted to take somewhat drastic measures to try and keep them.
- Maybe you offer to drop your rate. (Hopefully just temporarily…)
- Maybe you offer a new service to take on more work than what you initially signed up for that may or may not really fall into your “wheelhouse” or what you want to be doing. (For example, maybe instead of just writing content, you offer to start planning, organizing, or publishing it.)
- Maybe you beg them to stay. (Don't do this… It's not a great look.)
There are several things you might do. And while I don't want to tell you to never, ever do these sorts of things, that's a decision you have to make for yourself.
But what I can tell you is that assuming a client will leave or pause for a while is a good mindset to have. Because it will happen. Someday. For some reason.
In light of that, here are 4 things you can do to be prepared for the worst – losing a client you were depending on.
1. When you lose freelance writing clients, it's important to stay consistent in marketing yourself.
When you first start your freelance writing business, you should be telling er'ybody! This is not the time to be shy and only tell your mom. Someone you know might know someone that needs a writer. And you could be that writer!
So don't stop consistently hollering about your business. When you're consistent, you will never feel like you're scrambling. But when you only post or remind your circle that you're a freelancer when you need work, you risk appearing desperate.
Instead, post a few times a week about your services and business on your social channels. (Or, if you're feeling really brave, make new profiles for your biz. 😉) LinkedIn and Facebook (no, really!) are great places to post about your expertise and services.
Consider sending some emails to former bosses, colleagues, previous clients, or other professional contacts you have that might help you reach more potential people.
This is a great opportunity to market your services as “exclusive” and show that you don't work with just anyone. Don't be afraid to share that you just had a client spot open up and you're talking with businesses who need help. Make the most of what you've got.
2. Reach out to competitors or similarly-niched businesses and pitch your services to fill your client vacancies.
Now, I say this with a small caveat: Be sure you're not breaking any contractual agreements on this. If your contract specifically states that you will not work with known competitors of your client within a specific time window, do not do this. You could get into big legal trouble.
But if there are no such specifics in your contract, reach out! Give this a try.
Be careful about how you approach these potential clients. You shouldn't mention your client by name, but rather that you have extensive experience writing for that particular niche.
Ask your previous clients for permission to use links for content you wrote as part of your portfolio. Send those links to the client you're pitching.
3. Keep working on your own portfolio with your newfound extra time.
If you enjoy writing for your previous client's niche, keep doing it. Build a strong portfolio of example content you can publish on your own blog or other public profile.
If there are other niches you want to break into, now is a great time to write some examples. This will not only strengthen your writing (more practice = more experience) but give you solid evidence of your ability when you apply for future gigs.
If you're feeling really brave, start pitching your ideas to publications that might publish them. You'll not only have a more prestigious place showing evidence of your work, but you'll get an actual byline and may even get paid!
4. Scour entrepreneur-centric Facebook groups, freelance writing job boards, and LinkedIn for writing opportunities.
If you've been hanging out with me for long, you know that I share a few freelance writing opportunities every week in my newsletters. They come from all over the place and are for writers with varying levels of experience.
Now that you have some idea of where to look for writing gigs, get your search party hat on. Don't sit on your hards! Start looking for opportunities that fit your experience and pay a reasonable rate. Remember that you can also send cold pitches to potential clients you think you’d like to work with, too.
Losing a client might feel terrible in the moment, but it's certainly not the end of the world. There is so much work out there and there are clients who are looking for someone just like you. When you lose a freelance writing client, don't wallow in sorrow for long. Jump back on the horse, get out there, and find a new (and maybe better 😉) client.
I’m still hesitant to say it out loud. I find it hard to give myself credit for the work that I’ve done. Yes, I struggle with imposter syndrome even now that my biggest project to date is finished. Or maybe it is the fear of coming across as a braggart. Because, lo and behold, how dare you feel proud of something you have achieved! (I grew up in The Netherlands, where bragging is often frowned upon).
But I’m going to shake off that typical Dutch Calvinist mentality and say loud and proud: I wrote a book!
Yep, I did it! And what a journey it was.
Writing a book is so personal. You have nowhere to hide. And in my case, that meant self-doubt was always lurking around the corner. At times, my self-doubt would make me second-guess myself and the book. In the worst times, it would put me to a standstill, unable to write.
Although I still find it hard to compliment myself, my feelings of inadequacy didn’t stand in the way of finishing the book. On the contrary, I allowed episodes of self-doubt to come and go. I embraced them because I realized it allowed me to create better work.
Say what?!? Yep, that’s right. I believe my self-doubt resulted in better work. Bear with me. I will explain.
Embracing My Self-Doubt
You know those days when you fall into the social media rabbit hole, comparing yourself to people you don’t know? You spiral and start to doubt yourself. You feel useless and insecure and tell yourself you will never be able to achieve what that other person has achieved.
Or what about those days you wake up, sit behind your computer, and all you want to do is cry because you feel worthless and incompetent?
As writers (or anyone who creates something), we all struggle with moments of self-doubt. Thanks to social media allowing everyone to share their opinions, the angst of being criticized or rejected is huge. The fear of failure takes over. We tell ourselves we are not good enough.
But…there is a way to use it in your favor – to turn self-doubt into something positive.
You know what I did on days when my self-doubt had the upper hand? From a writing point of view, not much. Typically, on those days, I couldn’t write anything sensible. I decided the best thing to do was to allow myself to feel blue. I would do something else, slow down, rethink things, and often spend time researching specific topics in more detail.
And then, the next day, I would wake up with a new sense of positivity, determined to talk to myself with a kinder and more positive voice. And that doubt-inspired work from the previous day? It allowed me to work with ease. Unwinding made me rethink some of the work, giving me better focus.
The Myth of Confidence
Of course, we all want to write with confidence. But maybe we shouldn’t.
What if confidence makes us complacent, lazy, or even uninspired? A healthy dose of short-term self-doubt (you know, the one that fades with time and experience) isn’t that bad.
Self-doubt can keep us sharp. Questioning ourselves occasionally can result in better decisions, reflections, and thus better work. For me, self-doubt pushed me to be more focused, to write with more clarity, and allowed me to grow as a writer.
And you know my favorite part of embracing self-doubt? It allowed me to listen to it better. Not to the negativity, but the triggers behind it. Often, the self-doubt was a way for my body (and mind) to signal that I needed to slow down – that I was overwhelmed.
Although I initially found it hard to allow myself to give in and relax (mainly because we often hear people say things like “write every day'”or “push yourself”), I did just that. I would do something else for an hour (or a whole morning). I would relax and not think about writing. And yes, the downside is that writing the book took me much longer than anticipated.
The upside? When I wrote, I was excited. I was happy, and I loved writing my book!
Let me clarify that I’m not promoting negative self-talk! On the contrary! A chronic form of self-doubt is insidious. Of course, you don’t want moodiness to take control of your life. But a light version of self-doubt that comes and goes doesn’t have to be that bad. And although popular media recommends us to “free ourselves from self-doubt” or “overcome it,” it's unrealistic. It makes for a nice headline, yes, but it’s misleading.
Self-doubt will always be there, lurking under your desk. And if self-doubt is only an occasional visitor, we shouldn’t fight it or ignore it. Instead, when positivity has the upper hand, there is no shame in allowing and embracing insecurity and self-doubt on some days.
So next time when self-doubt pays you a visit, try to reflect on it. Use it to your advantage. Like me, you may find that embracing self-doubt will enable you to create (much) better work.
Charlotte Rijkenberg is the author of Let’s Move Abroad: The all-in-one, no-bullsh*t workbook to moving abroad (coming soon!) and the founder of Let’s Move Abroad, a platform that inspires people around the world to move abroad and live their best life.
You can find more of her down-to-earth and pragmatic advice on her platform, Let’s Move Abroad and on Instagram.
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.
This article may contain affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
If you have a freelance writing business, you need a web presence. While some writers try to get away with netting all of their business from applying to job postings and cold pitching clients through email and job boards alone, you’ll have a much easier time if you have your own website where you can direct potential clients.
Creating your own website requires a little time up front, but it can pay off in dividends down the line. Here are 6 reasons why you need to have your own freelance writing website.
1. A freelance writing website is a one-stop shop.
Having your own freelance writing website fulfills multiple purposes. Not only will it show potential clients that you’re serious about building your business, but you can use it for networking, too.
Linking to your website in your social media profiles and email signature is a great way to encourage others to connect when you interact with them online.
While you’re at it, get some business cards printed! Moo is a great place for unique, quality business cards and they’re super affordable. Adding your website to your business cards allows you to direct all of your contacts to one convenient place.
Whether people are interested in your services or just want to get to know you better, once they’re on your site, your work will speak for itself.
2. A freelance writing website doubles as a portfolio.
Literally every writing job you apply for will want to see writing samples before hiring you for the gig. That’s just a fact.
Sending PDFs or Word documents as email attachments is clunky and looks unprofessional. It’s so much easier to send a potential client to a sleek, well-curated portfolio page on your very own website.
In addition to your portfolio, the content on your website and any blog posts you write function as a “live” demonstration of the work you can do: Your entire website is a stand-alone portfolio in itself. This is your chance to shine!
You have arguably unlimited online real estate with your own website, so use it wisely. Set up pages that are examples of the services you offer, like a mock landing page with sales copy, a case study, and multiple blog posts.
An impressive, well-rounded website shows potential clients you know your stuff.
3. A freelance writing website attracts clients when you’re off the clock.
For the most part, you’re not going to find a freelance writing job unless you’re out there looking for it. With a website, however, sometimes the jobs can find you.
If you link to your website in your social media profiles and engage in places where your potential clients are likely to be, such as Facebook groups or LinkedIn comments, your target audience might stumble across your website even when you’re not actively looking for them.
The more you get your name out there, the greater the chances you’ll attract attention.
4. Having a website helps you stand out.
Although websites are incredibly useful tools, many freelancers simply don’t have the time, energy, or know-how to create one. Or worse – they don’t care enough to bother.
However, setting up a website is much easier than you might think. Anyone can do it with a little perseverance.
Having a freelance writing website shows you take your business seriously. Plus, creating your own website will put you miles ahead of the competition that can’t be bothered to set one up. You can showcase your technical skills (if that’s something you’re interested in offering) while also showing your clients that you mean business.
You can also tailor your brand and voice to the niche you’re targeting, making it even easier to win over your dream clients.
Potential clients want to know that you understand their industry, so if you can show you’ve done your homework, it will be much easier for them to imagine working with you.
5. You’ll gain useful web experience.
Some clients will want you to have experience posting blogs or web content to a platform like WordPress before they hire you. In this case, having your own website will give you a leg up over the competition.
When you build your own freelance writing website, you learn so much about how the process works. Depending on how you set up your site, you might gain a deeper understanding of how to write copy for landing pages, website pop-ups, and more.
Your website should have what I call the “pillar pages” every respectable website has: A “home” page, a personalized “about” page, a “work with me”-type page outlining what you do, and a “contact” page.
Writing copy for these pages not only teaches you how to do it but it’s another way for you to showcase your abilities and your unique writing voice.
In my opinion, if you plan to offer website copy in your service lineup, having your own freelance writing website as an example of your work is a must.
While you don’t need to have any coding or web skills to make a website, you might pick up on the basics as you go through the process of writing and publishing your own content.
6. You can showcase your personality.
With so many freelancers on the market, a website allows you to establish yourself as an individual. The content on your site gives you the opportunity to inject some personality into your business offerings and let your clients get to know who they might be working with.
This is especially true if you’re working through a freelance writing agency or other gig platform like Fiverr (which, by the way, I don’t recommend for most new freelancers). While yes, you can create profiles for your businesses on these platforms, being able to link to your own website gives you a quick leg up over the writing competition on those sites, too.
Although it’s certainly possible to find freelance writing gigs without a website, there aren’t many cons to making one. At the end of the day, the pros might mean the difference between finding a client or having them pass you by.
A freelance writing website is necessary if you want to build your freelance writing business and stay on the cutting edge of your niche.
Not sure how to best to create your freelance writing website or don’t know where to start? 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!
This article contains several affiliate links to brands I know, use, and trust. I receive a small commission when you purchase services through these links.
If you’ve spent any time reading blog articles for either entertainment or research, you’ve probably seen plenty of examples of affiliate marketing at work (though you may not even realize it!).
What is affiliate marketing?
“Affiliate marketing” is the process of linking out to certain products or services in exchange for a small commission. This happens when someone uses your special tracking link to make a purchase. The buyer doesn’t pay more for the product, but you do get a small kickback from the seller for “referring” a new customer to them through your link.
Although the commissions aren’t usually very sizable on their own, they can add up over time, especially as new readers click through your blog posts. It’s a great way to make passive income, or money that you keep earning without having to continue to work for it.
All you need to do is use an affiliate link when you mention a product or service (and disclose when affiliate links are used). When someone clicks on your link and buys the product or service, you earn a percentage of the price. Even smaller blogs can see a little additional income each month from affiliate links when done correctly. Here’s what you need to know.
Affiliate Marketing for Bloggers and Freelance Writers
To get the most out of your affiliate marketing, be sure not to overwhelm your readers. Even if it’s not your product you’re advertising, no one likes reading a “salesy” blog post. You should work to incorporate affiliate links naturally within your content when appropriate. Don’t force them in just for the sake of it – your readers will be able to tell!
That said, the best affiliate programs are ones that relate to your niche and work effortlessly within your content. Here are some examples:
- Your website hosting service or domain provider. If you have your own website, you have a great opportunity to plug an affiliate link whenever you mention the service providers you use. SiteGround, WordPress (those are two of my affiliate links!), GoDaddy, DreamHost, and many of the big-name domain and hosting services offer affiliate programs that are easy to plug on your site or in a blog post.
- Your website elements. Did you have a graphic designer create your logo, or buy a custom theme to use for your website? Many of these businesses have their own affiliate programs! Even if you purchased from a smaller company, it’s worth asking to see if that’s something they offer. I create all of my website graphics and images myself with Canva and built my websites with the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes. (As you probably guessed, those are both affiliate links.)
- Amazon. One of the most common affiliate programs to join is Amazon Associates. It’s easy to sign up for and super flexible: Not only do you make a commission when someone buys a product you linked to, but you also make a commission when a user purchases anything from Amazon after clicking to the site with your link, even if they don’t buy the original product.
- Any websites whose products or services you use regularly. This will depend on your industry, but if there are any tools or products that are necessary in your niche, it’s worth checking to see if the store or platform you bought yours from offers an affiliate program. You can make money just by recommending products and services you already use and love!
- Online classes or courses that you recommend. Many online learning platforms like Skillshare also have affiliate programs, which is great because you can appeal to a wide variety of audiences when you recommend online classes.
Words to the Wise
Affiliate marketing programs often have strict rules about how and where you can use their links. If you break those rules, you risk being banned from the affiliate program altogether. Make sure you understand the rules of any affiliate program you join and keep track of the regulations to stay in the green.
In addition, as I mentioned at the beginning, you need to disclose when you’re using affiliate links in order to abide by FTC regulations. Check out the FTC website to make sure you’re doing it correctly.
Although it can feel salesy to announce when an affiliate link is being used, a simple explanation of what those links are and why you’re using them can go a long way. After all, your readers don’t pay anything extra to use your affiliate link.
The key is to use affiliate links only for products or services you really, truly stand behind. The last thing you want to do is recommend things you’re not sold on in the name of making an extra buck. Your readers will appreciate your integrity, and they’ll be more likely to click when they see an affiliate link on your blog.
While it takes some time to make serious money from affiliate programs, it’s a low-effort, no-cost way to give yourself additional streams of passive income each month. Even if you don’t have a sizable following, affiliate programs are worth pursuing. After all, you never know how quickly your business will grow, and one day you’ll be grateful those links are there!