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!
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!
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.
Freelance writing niches are types of writing specializations, whether it be a specific industry you’re targeting or a unique type of content you’ve mastered.
As a new freelance writer, you may often hear that you should “find your niche” or “niche down” as a freelance writer or blogger… But what does that mean?
Aside from focusing on industries where your writing chops will earn you higher pay, you need to understand the process behind actually choosing a freelance writing niche.
Choosing Freelance Writing Niches
Choosing which niche (or niches) to write for can feel scary, especially when you’re starting out in your freelance writing journey. You may be feeling a lot of pressure to niche down from the beginning and think your decision will dictate your writing career forever.
I’m here to tell you that’s definitely not the case.
In fact, arguably, you don’t have to ever niche down. Is it wise to choose a niche? Yes – and it will often (though not always) result in you commanding higher pay rates. But is it necessary? Certainly not. You can still make great money writing as a “non-niched” writer.
When you’re starting out, it’s best to gravitate toward industries and topics that you have a personal interest in first. You have more authority to write about these simply because you actually know something about them.
Writing about topics you know makes your work more enjoyable because you’re writing about something you’re personally interested in. This is a great way to get your feet wet if you’re new to freelance writing and build up your portfolio: If some of your interest areas aren’t as well-paying, you may be more willing to take them on as “starter” assignments.
5 Profitable Freelance Writing Niches
It’s easier to find high-paying writing jobs if you pick a niche and demonstrate your mastery of it through your portfolio.
However, it can be hard to know what niches are profitable when you’re first starting out in your freelance career. In general, the highest-paying niches will involve clients who are looking for specific content that may need to fit a certain format or obey certain rules.
If you’re not sure which niche you’d like to target in order to maximize your profits, here are 5 profitable freelance writing niches to consider.
You might be thinking I’m nuts to even suggest this one, but hear me out.
Yes, travel writing can be difficult to break into and yes, there’s a lot of competition. But if you look, there are lots of opportunities to write for the travel industry.
This is especially true now that things are starting to pick up after Covid lockdowns. People were cooped up in 2020 and were forced to save their travel dollars. Now they’re ready to spend them and they’re not holding back.
Many luxury travel agencies and hotels are willing to pay a premium price for content that highlights their services. This is a great niche for writers with a creative flair, as it’s important to paint a compelling picture with your words when writing about a new location.
Sometimes travel writing jobs will pay you to actually travel to the place you’re reviewing, and other times you might just be doing research from the comfort of your own home. Either way, if you enjoy writing travel guides, hotel and restaurant reviews, or articles about travel deals, this is the market for you.
Keep in mind, though, that to be considered for many of these jobs, you’ll need to have actual experience traveling. If you’ve never left your hometown, this might not be a great place for you to start your freelance writing job search.
All that said, travel isn’t just a fun industry to write about. It’s a profitable one, too.
As medical and recreational marijuana become legalized in regions around the globe, cannabis clients are looking for writers capable of producing quality educational content. You could end up writing sales copy for a dispensary, cannabis law blogs for an attorney, or articles about marijuana for a health and wellness website.
This industry is tricky because you need to be acutely aware of the legal implications of the language you use, so publications are usually willing to pay top dollar for experts in this area. If you know your stuff, this could be a great outlet.
Finance is a very broad niche that contains a number of very profitable topics you can master. Think cryptocurrency, budgeting, credit cards and scores, personal finance, accounting, the stock market, other investments, and more.
I’d argue that finance is one of the most evergreen, forever-of-interest industries you can write for as a freelancer. (And I’m not speaking from experience here… I don’t write for this industry!)
Why? Because everyone, at some stage in their life, is interested in some facet of finance. After all, money makes the world go round. There will always be opportunities to write about finance.
There are a number of outlets where you can either get published with your own byline or ghostwrite about finance. Of course, getting your name published with your work is harder when you’re just starting out, but if you prove your abilities, you can really make a name for yourself.
Finance writing tends to be very specific and actionable, so you need to really know the right terminology in order to succeed in this industry. It definitely helps if you’re interested in the topic. Still, if you know a decent amount about finance and can write about it in a way that appeals to industry experts, you’re set.
This is another broad field. But if you’re a tech geek who’s passionate about the latest trends or devices, there are lots of possibilities for you in the technology industry.
Technology is ever-advancing. And like the finance industry, there’s always going to be a need for informed, well-spoken writers to explain the ins and outs of the “new cool stuff” to the laypeople. (And to the experts, for that matter.) If you’re able to turn jargon-heavy information into understandable content for non-technical people, you’ll have a fairly easy time finding freelance writing gigs in the tech industry.
Likewise, tech experts need to inform other experts and outlets of what they’re doing. If you can write in a way to help everyday people understand, you can most likely write for the professional audience, too. There are two sides to this industry and both need clear, concise voices.
You might end up writing about the latest Apple releases, advancements in virtual reality, tutorials on building or repairing computers – the possibilities are endless.
5. SaaS – Software as a Service
This is kind of connected to the technology industry but given its prevalence these days, SaaS bears getting its own mention in our lineup.
“SaaS” is a term you’ll often see on job boards, and you might assume you’re unqualified for the job if you’re unfamiliar with what it means.
But SaaS isn’t anything scary – it’s an abbreviation for “software as a service.” SaaS refers to software that’s hosted online rather than downloaded as a program on your computer, like Google Drive or Canva.
This industry is growing constantly as we continue to develop better technology. As such, there are so many writing opportunities available for this niche. SaaS startups are often looking for writers to help them craft their forward-facing image and, if they’ve got the funding, can be a great place to target for these gigs.
If you love highly technical language and know a lot of software jargon, this might just be the industry for you. SaaS clients want writers that understand the industry inside and out, so you’re not likely to get away with writing fluff pieces. If you’re experienced with software marketing, there’s money to be made in SaaS writing.
Bonus: Content-Type Niches
There’s more than one way to “niche down” as a freelance writer.
If you’re overwhelmed with trying to narrow your focus, don’t worry. Niches don’t have to be industry-specific. You can also choose to specialize in writing a particular type of content, and that can be your claim to fame no matter what industries you decide to write for.
For example, well-researched long-form blog posts, white papers, video scripts, and case studies are all content types that clients are willing to pay higher prices for, as not just anyone can write them well. They’ll take longer to write than a typical blog post, but with that extra time comes a higher price tag.
Personally, this is where I consider my niche to be. I love writing long-form blog content and researching the topics I’m writing about. This is where most of my freelance writing income comes from, though I’ve also written email newsletter content, website copy, social media blurbs, and more.
I’ve written content for all kinds of industries and while I technically could choose to specialize in any one (or a few) of them, my personal preference is to keep my industry options open and instead, focus on writing great copy for businesses that don’t necessarily need an expert. There are plenty of those out there, too, just as there are industries that need well-informed writers.
While it takes time to master your chosen niche – whether it be an industry or a content type – once you’ve got a few high-quality portfolio pieces under your belt, you should have an easier time finding clients. If you’re curious about a specific industry or copy format, it’s worth your time to dive in and learn more about it. You never know when a high-paying gig will come your way!
When you’re designing your website and writing blog posts to promote your business, there’s a term you need to keep in mind: search engine optimization, also known as SEO. Not sure where to start? Don't fret: Let's take a quick look at SEO for beginners.
There are entire books dedicated to mastering SEO, but the good news is you don’t need to be an expert to get started. Search engine optimization determines what page of Google or another search engine your website can be found on. A good SEO strategy can help your website get found by your ideal clients and customers. Here are 5 steps to set you on the right track.
1. Think like a client.
While optimizing your website and blog posts, it’s important to think like a client or whomever you’re trying to attract to your site. You might be familiar with some of the jargon of your industry (if you’re a freelance writer, for example, it’s common to see acronyms like SEO, B2B, CTR, etc.). However, your ideal customer might not be as familiar with the lingo that insiders use.
Let’s look at an example for a freelance writer: Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client. Would the average person know to search for those terms when looking to hire you? Chances are, while a small business owner might be familiar with those phrases, they would probably search for something much more simple when trying to find you, like “freelance ecommerce writers.”
If you’re a blogger, the same idea rings true. Think about how your ideal audience or followers might search for things related to your niche or blogging topic on Google. Whatever you come up with, see how much you can simplify it. That’s probably what people are most likely to search for.
Once you have a few terms in mind that your clients or readers might search for in order to find your site, we’re going to take them to the next level.
2. Do some keyword research.
When you have a good idea of what your clients are looking for, it’s time to get specific. Using tools like Ubersuggest, Google Analytics, Ahrefs, or Moz, you can see exactly what search terms you can use to maximize your optimization.
The exact process varies depending on which keyword tool you use, but essentially you’ll want to type a good, generic keyword into the tool to start. Any of the phrases you came up with in step 1 will work. If you make and sell crochet hats as a side hustle, it can be as simple as typing “crochet hats” into the search box.
Once you’ve done that, there should be a list of suggested keywords for you to view. The first thing you’ll notice is that the term “crochet hats” isn’t very specific, and a lot of people are using that term on their websites. It will be pretty difficult for a new business to swoop in and appear on the first page of Google for a term that broad.
However, you may also notice that it helps to be specific. A lot of the related search terms have to do with patterns for crochet hats and not hats for sale, so if you tweak your keyword to be “crochet hats for sale,” you won’t have to worry about the wrong people stumbling on your website.
The more specific you can get, the more likely you are to attract the right people to your website. Of course, it’s a good idea to sprinkle in some of the broader terms when they’re relevant, too. Make a good list of keywords to keep in mind as you write your web content, but don’t get started until you consider the next step…
3. Write with “user experience” in mind.
Throughout the years, companies have been using different strategies and techniques to improve their search engine ranking. But ultimately, Google’s algorithm boils down to this: What pages are going to be most relevant to a client’s search and what pages out of those are easiest to read, navigate, and use?
This means that although you have a list of keywords you want to target, you don’t want to force them into your text where they won’t make sense. The algorithm has gotten a lot smarter in recent years and it can tell when you’re trying underhanded tactics, also known as “black hat SEO” or “keyword stuffing.”
Use your keywords where they naturally fit but don’t overdo it. You want your content to be accessible and make sense to the humans that are reading it. Keep in mind that you’re writing for a person, not a robot.
Take this article for example. The keywords I'm hoping to rank for in Google search results are “SEO for beginners.” You might notice that if you do a page search for this (go ahead and try it if you're reading from a computer – click “ctrl + f” on a Windows computer or “command + f” on an Apple computer), you won't find that specific phrase more than once in the body of this text. That's because it doesn't really fit naturally.
The point here is to not force things, even if you're tempted to. Stick with a conversational tone and easy content. The Google algorithm will see right through any “old school” tactics.
4. Format correctly.
There’s more to SEO than just what you write. It turns out that your formatting matters, too. Using proper headings, breaking up big chunks of text with paragraph breaks and bullet points, including images and videos, and adding images and graphics where relevant can all make the page more visually interesting and appealing to readers.
In addition to the formatting of the page itself, you’ll need to make sure any images you use are optimized as well. Each image needs an alt tag, which should be a brief description of the image that helps search engine crawlers know what the image is. While this won’t be seen by your readers, it’s an important step to remember.
5. Update old content.
The best part about SEO is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to boost your site traffic. Search engines like to see that content is timely and relevant, so if you’re stuck for new ideas, why not give some of your older content a refresh?
Adding new links, updating outdated information, including more images, and sprucing up the text are all things that show search engines your website is up-to-date. It’s a good idea to go back through your old content at least once per year to keep it fresh, but you can update it more frequently if your analytics show your page views dropping.
Although there’s always more to learn about SEO, the basics are more than enough to help you build your website and write killer blog posts that will help your business or website get noticed. With a little research and some strategy, you can put yourself lightyears ahead of your competition.