How To Charge More Than $10 Per Article — Part 1

By Dan Smith

[Editor’s note: when this was originally published there were still writers earning less than $10 for a piece of web content. Though I’d like to think that these days, your starting rate would be at least $50, the rest of the advice is still valid - Sharon]

A few weeks back, I wrote a post called ‘Why A Change In Perception Can Make Freelance Writing Progression All That Easier’. There were some great comments left and I received some really positive feedback.

The comments that were left, however, weren’t the ones that I was expecting, as — perhaps naively — I assumed that the readers of Get Paid To Write Online were already at a certain stage in their writing career, specifically charging more than $10 for a certain piece of writing.

Much of the feedback I received on the piece revolved around not just how a writer is able to charge more than $10 per piece, but how they actually achieve $10 for a piece.

I’ll be completely honest — I was a little surprised. Not so much that people are writing at these rates — I was there a little over a year ago — but because these writers are obviously trying to break into higher paying writing as they’re reading blogs like this one and it seems like all they need is a little more guidance.

And it’s that which I’m hoping to be able to provide.

Before we start, please keep in mind:

  1. A lot of the posts and resources online about how you can raise your rates or succeed in writing for clients who pay more are particularly vague. I’m hoping to be as specific as possible, so just bear that in mind if parts of the information seem tedious or lengthy.

  2. I’m not just going to give you quick fixes or false information that says you can go from $10 to $100 a piece overnight — all of the information, whilst not perhaps directly, will ensure you are able to raise your freelance writing rates so that you receive more than $10 per piece.

  3. The information provided won’t just relate specifically to increasing your rates and gaining new clients at these rates, but also taking on higher paying gigs through, for example, job adverts.

  4. Due to the fact there’s a lot of information to get across, I’m going to split it up into a few posts.

  5. For arguments sake, I’m going to be referring to $10 for a 500 word article in general, primarily because this is where a lot of writers start out.

  6. The information is based around how I developed my freelance writing career and whilst it may need tweaking for you as an individual, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be able to succeed as a freelance writer if you follow the information provided (I’ve cut out the bits where I made mistakes and have put things in the order they should have been carried out, meaning it should be an easier, smoother process for you).

Got yourself a coffee and a notebook and pen? Let’s begin.

1. Look at your writing at present

I’m a massive fan of getting advice from others in fields where I want to succeed. Regular readers will know that I have a love for expanding my knowledge and therefore if I want to know something or become competent in a certain field, I ensure that I not only research it, but where possible, I ask established professionals in that field for advice.

When I started to make a concerted effort to raise my rates as a freelance writer and make writing a career rather than a hobby, I took as much advice as I could.

I took it from other writers who I would complete work for (more on this later), clients who would give me honest feedback and even my family — I remember on one occasion my Mum was reading through my blog that I’d just setup and she spotted a few typos.

Speak to others writers and ask them if they’d mind having a look through a few pieces of your writing — you might not hear what you want to hear, but if it’s negative feedback, you’ll know exactly what you need to do to ensure that you improve your writing and give yourself firm foundations to build your writing career on.

2. Stop spending hours on forums

When I first started out wanting to make money online, I would spend hours each evening after my day job reading through thread after thread on webmaster forums, most notably those over at Digital Point, something which I did for over two years.

Whilst I do owe a lot to those forums, I wasted a lot of time there that could have been better spent elsewhere, specifically reading the numerous freelance writing blogs that are available.

I’m not saying give up going to these forums all together, but limit your time on them to a few hours a week rather than a few hours a day.

3. Start blogging regularly

One of the very first things I did when I started to take freelance writing seriously as a career was to setup a blog and update it regularly.

I didn’t just want to setup a blog where I talked about me or random things and I wanted to do something that would mean I had to interact with other writers, resulting in me setting up FindANewBlog.com.

The aim was simple — review a new blog every day. I’d find a blog online or review blogs that people had e-mailed me, provide a link to the blog and a day or two later I’d more often than not have a link back from their blog to mine.

As work picked up, I found less and less time to update it, but I owe a lot to that blog as it not only got me into the habit of writing regularly, but it allowed me to develop my writings skills as I was ensuring the content I provided was interesting and attractive to readers.

What’s more, it allowed me to interact with other numerous other people, something that helped to increase my confidence as a writer tremendously.

4. Talk to established writers

After reading through some of the freelance writing blogs for several weeks, I contacted Jenn Mattern of AllFreelanceWriting.com.

I started off explaining about my new blog, how I’d like to review hers on it and from then on it spiralled into me sending across e-mail after e-mail on freelance writing.

I wasn’t begging for Jenn to help me become a freelance writer and I wasn’t asking really in-depth questions about earnings or contacts — I was just looking for some advice on how I should move forward, something which Jenn provided in large quantities.

What was also particularly great about this contact was that I got my first blogging gig out of it (which lead to another blogging gig with Jenn that I’m still working on) and a referral to a client who I continue to provide work for occasionally.

I’m not saying that you need to go out and bombard a writer who’s established in the industry with e-mails and I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll get something from contacting them, but what you need to keep in mind is that the only difference between new and established writers is that the latter are simply further up the career ladder.

It’s easy to put writers on a podium and idolise them, not wanting to contact them for fear of being laughed at or thinking that they simply don’t have time to respond, but if you’ve got a question that you think a certain writer will be able to offer advice on, what’s the worst that could happen if you drop them a polite e-mail?

5. Become known in the freelance writing community

I’ve used this analogy previously, but it works so well and explains the importance of getting your name known in the freelance writing community.

I’m a fan of classic rock and heavy metal and I have some friends who are in bands that play the local circuit regularly. Covering around 10 different bars, whilst each bar is slightly different, you can almost guarantee that the crowd is always going to be made up of 90% of the same people that were in a different bar watching the band the week before and who’ll be in a different bar watching the band the next week.

Whenever I’m wanting to chat about classic rock or heavy metal, I go to one of these gigs. If I have something that’ll be of interest to the classic rock or heavy metal community, I go to these gigs. If I ever wanted to start my own band (again!), I’d be at these gigs.

Now imagine the bars as freelance writing blogs and the crowd as freelance writers.

There are around a dozen popular freelance writing blogs that are regularly visited by freelance writers and whilst there are some writers who stick to just one blog, a large percentage of those writers who comment can be found on a number of the blogs and they’re all doing one thing — establishing themselves in the freelance writing community.

I’ve said before that I made a massive mistake in reading through blogs for months without commenting, as if I’d started getting involved from the very start — even when I didn’t actually consider myself to be a freelance writer — I strongly believe that I’d have progressed a lot quicker than I did.

As an example of how useful commenting can be, as soon as I come here to look at new comments, I automatically assume that it’s going to be one of a handful of people, such as Ivin Viljoen, George Angus and Christina Crowe, but I’m not surprised if it’s Cathy Miller, Danielle McGaw or Dana Prince.

Commenting on blogs and getting involved in discussions doesn’t take a lot of effort, but it really can make the difference in how fast you develop as a writer.

Summary

I know that there isn’t any direct information on how you can charge more than $10 per article in this blog post, but all of the information here needs to be fully understood, taken on board and carried out to ensure that you have a good solid writing base — once you do, you’ll find that when you start to charge more and look for higher paying writing gigs, the whole process will be a lot easier.

Image: Leo Reynolds (Flickr)