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.
Everyone knows how Instagram works, but not everyone knows how to make the most out of it. Sometimes, it’s quite challenging to keep up with updates, write Instagram captions, and post content that will get the algorithm’s attention.
That said, it’s not surprising that many people overlook the importance of Instagram captions. After all, it’s mainly a visual social media platform and for many users, it stays that way – a place to share a funny video or a few photos with friends.
However, as a freelance writer, you can use Instagram to represent your (or clients’!) brand and get visible. This is where Instagram captions come into play.
Why Instagram Captions Are Important
The obvious main purpose of Instagram captions is to describe a picture or video. An Instagram post with no text can look dull and uninteresting. Adding an effective caption brings more context and life to your posts.
With that in mind, here are 3 reasons every business or brand should include relevant and strategic captions with Instagram posts.
You get a chance to tell your story.
Storytelling is a must when it comes to branding.
A well-written story inspires, encourages, and sells. It attracts the right audience, creates an emotional attachment, and turns people into loyal followers. A story makes you human.
The key, however, is to make sure you’re writing a relatable story for your audience that creates a deeper connection with them.
Captions give you the opportunity to show your unique writing and brand voice. This is a chance for you to stand out in the social media crowd and share your authentic values. All this creates space for a higher engagement and gives you a better understanding of your followers’ thoughts and needs. Which, in return, creates a better offer.
You become more visible.
Instagram’s search engine optimization (SEO) system works the way Google does. If your text contains searchable keywords related to your brand, you can easily get discovered through a simple search.
Not only that, but your posts will also appear in your target audience’s feed if they like or engage with similar content. (This is especially true of Instagram reels.) Ensuring your posts include well-thought captions can give you a significant chance to stand out among other businesses and similar posts.
You get higher engagement.
A good photo attracts, but what makes people stay is your photo description. It makes them keep reading, follow, and engage with your content. The more time a user spends hovering on your posts, the better it is for the Instagram algorithm. That leads to a higher chance of attracting more eyeballs to your content organically (i.e. without spending money to advertise).
In addition, if you’ve written a caption that invites engagement – maybe you ask a question or make a specific call to action like “save this post” or “send this to a friend” – your followers are more likely to engage and do as you ask.
No caption, no chance for much engagement.
How to Write Engaging Instagram Captions
So how do you write engaging captions that attract followers?
Let’s get to the juicy details.
Make your first sentence stand out.
When people scroll through their feed, they don’t see your post as an entire text. They see only a picture and the first sentence at the top of your post. That means…
Your first sentence is extremely important.
I can’t stress this enough: Your first sentence is CRUCIAL.
Remember that your goal is to write a sentence that will make people stop scrolling and start reading your post. Open up your caption with a hook that’ll catch your reader’s attention. It should deliver the main idea of the entire text, but not overwhelm or bore a reader. Keeping your first sentence simple, short, and on-point is the way to go.
From a follower’s perspective, it’s always nice when a brand asks for their opinion about products or services. This is a great way to do market research, invite engagement, and form a relationship with your audience at the same time.
Your primary focus should be on keeping your sentences as natural as possible. Nothing turns a reader off more than forced and robotic writing. Likewise, “fake” tones are always obvious and unappealing. You don’t want to sound too sales-y or too laid-back, either.
Consider your brand voice: Is it funny and punchy or is it serious and precise?
Think about the ways your voice may affect your audience’s decisions about the products or services you’re trying to sell. How do you want your audience to perceive you? What do you want them to feel when reading your content?
Keep your tone and style similar throughout all your written content to maintain your brand identity.
Don’t “water down” your captions.
Prioritize quality over quantity when deciding on the length of your captions.
Instagram provides you with a limit of 2,200 characters per single post. There’s no right or wrong length for your captions, but use the space wisely.
Here are a few key points for writing the main body of your caption text:
1. Add all the important information you want your audience to know. The key is to keep it interesting for your audience to read. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind, but keep your text readable and easy to digest.
2. Provide value through your text. This is the quickest way to win your target audience. After all, people come for the interesting and entertaining content but stay (and come back!) for the valuable information.
3. Do your research prior to posting. Before claiming expertise on a topic, make sure to proofread for any misinformation and controversies. Be sure you know what you’re talking about.
4. Don’t forget to add keywords for better search engine optimization. You get discovered via the words you write in your caption and hashtags. Take the time to optimize your captions when writing.
Add a question or a call to action in the end.
To engage your audience with your content – meaning keeping them reading and commenting on your post – add a question at the end of your caption. The question could be anything from asking their opinion about the topic to encouraging them to tell their story that relates to the content of your post. People like talking about themselves; give them a chance to tell their story.
Another way to keep their fingertips in your comment section is to add a simple call to action at the bottom of your post. You can tell them to follow the account, leave a DM, or check a link in the bio. It’s a simple way to boost both engagement and the click rate on your account.
Offering Instagram Caption Writing Services
If you’re looking to start a freelance writing career (or add a new service), writing for social media is something you can consider adding to your portfolio.
Many businesses lack excellent copy on their Instagram because they’re not “good” (or comfortable) writers or don’t have time to devote to writing strong captions. There are plenty of business owners who are willing to pay someone to write captions for their brand!
If it’s something you’re interested in trying, simply add a spot on your services page with a short description of what you’ll offer. Start working on growing your own Instagram following to prove your worth.
To increase your rate, keep track of the metrics of your own posts. Once you have some solid data, you can market yourself as an experienced social media content writer.
As a freelance writer, you’re already primed to write amazing Instagram captions for your clients. It’s an incredibly valuable copywriting or content writing service. With experience and data to back up your expertise, you can build another lucrative side to your freelance writing business.
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.
If you’re thinking about starting a side hustle or own a fledgling business, you might be so concerned with the day-to-day that you forget to plan for the future. But if you don’t have a road map in front of you, how will you know where to go? It’s important to set goals for your business to keep yourself on track, especially in regards to income.
Setting income goals for your business will help you achieve sales and find clients beyond what you ever thought possible. However, if you set random goals without strategic planning, you’ll risk throwing off your trajectory.
Here’s what you need to know about setting income goals for your side hustle.
1. Set business goals first.
Before you can set an income goal, you need to know what to expect from the business itself. Where do you see your side hustle a year from now? Five years? Ten years? There’s no shame in keeping a side hustle as just a hobby for a little extra pocket money, but if you want it to become your full-time job, you need to set some business goals as well as income goals.
In order for your business to grow over time, you’ll need ways to “scale.” This is a term that’s thrown around often in the entrepreneurial world and it’s often misunderstood. When we’re talking about “scaling” a business, we’re not talking about starting or even growing a business. “Scaling” means being able to take on more work without sacrificing much in terms of income or in other areas, like time management or working yourself to death.
Brainstorm additional products or services you can offer in the future as your business expands. If you anticipate hiring other team members or contractors, how many, and when? Will you want to offer any special bonuses to your team? All of these will factor into the income goals you will need to set in order to succeed.
2. Check your history.
Next, take a look back at your business’s sales over time, if any. How much money have you been making so far? What seems realistic to expect for next month or next year if things stay the way they are?
If your projected income based on your sales at this point isn’t as high as you hope, don’t worry. This is just an estimate of what you can expect if your business continues at the level it’s currently functioning at. Your goal should be to grow!
3. Factor in expenses.
For this step, we’ll need to look to your past as well as your future. What have your expenses been so far? Don’t leave anything out, no matter how small. Even the tiniest expenses can add up over time, costing you money and throwing off your estimates.
Now think about new expenses that you can anticipate as your business scales. Those new hires we thought about in step 1? This is where you’ll need to think about how to pay them. If you want to rent a spot in a coworking space, how much would that cost in your area? Do some research and pull up realistic figures so you’ll know what to expect.
4. Pick an end goal.
After you take those expenses into account, it’s time to think about the fun part: Profit! How much money do you want to be making from your side hustle per year in an ideal world?
Add your profit to your expenses and factor in some leeway for emergencies. Be sure to take year-end taxes into account, too, based on your country’s taxation laws. You’ll need to pay taxes on your earnings every year.
Add all these things up and the final figure is the amount you’ll need your side hustle to make each year in order to meet your goal.
5. Create milestones.
By this point, you might have an end goal so large that you can’t imagine ever reaching it. That’s okay! Even the biggest goals can be achieved if you just put one foot in front of the other. The key is to divide your end goal into smaller milestones that are easier to achieve.
You can choose quarterly goals, monthly goals, or even weekly goals if that’s feasible for your business. The key is to match up these income goals with your business goals so you’re growing your business over time. What can you do this week, month, or quarter to find more clients and boost your income?
6. Write it down.
It’s no secret that actually recording your goals somewhere makes it more likely that you’ll actually work toward and achieve them. In fact, it’s science.
Once you’ve gotten much of the background information worked out, write down your goals. I would even go as far as encouraging you to literally write them somewhere you can see them. In this day and age, it’s easy to record something digitally on a spreadsheet, in a Google doc, or an iOS note. I’m particularly guilty of this myself.
But physically writing things down helps us to better remember whatever it is we’re trying to remember and give it more power.
Putting these things somewhere you’ll see them often will further reinforce those goals in your mind. You’ll be even more likely to put in the work needed to make things happen. Trust me – it’s made all the difference for me in my business.
While setting income goals for your business can feel overwhelming at first, the key is to do your research and use real numbers in order to project the final figure. No goal is too lofty to aim for.
As the saying goes, shoot for the moon! Even if you don’t hit your goal, striving for greatness will lead to more success than you could otherwise achieve.