How To Charge More Than $10 Per Article — Part 3
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]
If you’ve been following this series and have implemented the different techniques and methods, whether it has been a week or two or a few months (assuming that you’re not reading these posts as soon as they’ve been published), you should have seen an increase in your popularity within the freelance writing community and you should have increased your freelance writing rates.
With the first aspect acting as your foundation for the second, the third aspect that needs to be looked at is how you go about charging more than $10 per article to new clients.
Many freelance writers are of the belief that a good quality writer shouldn’t have to be submitting pitches to potential clients every day and that their reputation should speak for itself, with clients coming to them.
Whilst I do agree with this, the one thing that building a good quality, extensive reputation requires that no one can do anything about is time. It can take several years for you to get to the point where you’re being contacted regularly by potential clients and I know several writers who even though they’re at this stage, continue to send out the occasional pitch.
Therefore, whilst building your reputation is important and the ideal scenario is for clients to come to you, every writer has to start building their reputation somewhere and the following five points, if followed, should allow you to not only increase your client base and general popularity, but take on new clients at your increased rates.
1. Scan freelance writing job websites
Before you read any further, go back and read the sub-title again.
And once more.
It says ‘scan freelance writing job websites’, not ‘trawl freelance writing job websites’ or even ‘read freelance writing job websites’.
It might only sound like a small, simple piece of advice, but it is one of the most important pieces I’ve received as a writer.
I used to spend hours going through the numerous freelance writing job websites every day, opening up any job that sounded even vaguely interesting and then sending off an e-mail to any of those that were offering a rate that was relatively close to what I was asking for.
This took hours out of my day, detracting from more important parts of my freelance writing career and it wasn’t until several months into this process that I came across a piece of advice which explained that a lot of the jobs on these websites are either poorly paid, scams or are applied by so many different writers that you stand a better chance of winning a million dollars on a lottery.
However, there are some absolute gems of jobs available on these freelance writing job websites and so it’s a matter of scanning through the websites every few days, picking out the ones which seem to stand out.
It can take sometime to be able to weed out the good jobs by just looking at them briefly, but if you’ve been looking at the available jobs for a few weeks, you’re likely to already have a good understanding of which ones pay well or which are suited to you.
And by way of confirmation that there really are some quality gigs available through these websites, I landed two of my highest paying freelance writing gigs through Craigslist, both of which have been incredibly beneficial to my portfolio, as they’ve given me the opportunity to work with a number of national, international and global brands.
2. Get on Twitter
Having recently celebrated its fifth birthday, Twitter is a social media resource that has taken the world by storm since it launched on 21 March 2006.
A hive of activity for what seems like absolutely everyone, regardless of their occupation or industry in which they work, Twitter has become a platform where people can have conversations that can be viewed by others, something which means if you’re following the right people, you can get some fantastic hints, tips and information for free — including job openings.
Freelance writing jobs and projects are regularly talked about on Twitter and whether you do a search for a phrase such as “writer wanted” or you simply take note of what other writers are saying, it’s guaranteed that you’ll see at least a handful of freelance writing jobs being discussed each week.
Twitter is actually how I came to write for Get Paid To Write Online — I saw Sharon was looking for a blogger, I dropped her an e-mail and a little while later I’d published my first post.
3. Check in with your existing contacts and clients
OK, so when you raised your freelance writing rates initially, you contacted your existing clients and explained to them that your rates were increasing.
Did you get in touch with your other contacts, however?
It might take a similar role to cold calling, but every now and again I drop an e-mail to a few contacts — either people I’ve met through freelance writing discussions or clients who I’ve produced one-off pieces for in the past, for example — and explain that I’m available for work, occasionally asking them directly if they have any writing work that they need completing or whether they know anyone who requires a writer.
Sometimes I get a project out of it, sometimes I don’t — either way, I’m ensuring that I maintain that communication link and continue to keep my name in people’s minds.
Furthermore, if it has been a few weeks since you increased your freelance writing rates, it would be advisable to contact your existing clients and ask whether they have any additional work available.
What I find works well is if you can provide them with a proposal of work that you could carry out in addition to the work that you’re already doing, in essence upselling your services.
The worst that’s going to happen is that they say they aren’t interested at present, but what’s important is that you make that contact and plant the thought in there mind that there is extra work which could be carried out to develop their business.
Before you increased your rates, you should have started to establish yourself in the freelance writing community by getting involved in discussions on blogs and forums and utilizing social media websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
One of the mistakes I made — and to a certain extent still do make — was once I’d increased my rates and gained some new clients, I neglected the networking side of my career.
Being a freelancer brings very little certainty to your income and it’s imperative that you continue to network at all times, as the more you develop and increase your presence, the more people will associate your name with quality writing and the more jobs you’ll be offered or hear about.
Whilst this isn’t directly related to helping you find jobs, what I also find useful is making relationships with writers and other colleagues on more than just a business level, where possible.
I don’t mean that you have to take people out for meals or send them birthday presents, but by moving past that initial business relationship phase, I’ve found it particularly useful when I’ve got a bit of a predicament or I need to throw some ideas around — just be willing to return the favour at a later stage.
5. Go local
I’ve been lucky enough to find the majority of my freelance writing work through recommendations online and haven’t had much need to look elsewhere.
Over the last few months, however, I’ve become particularly intrigued about the possibility of carrying out work for clients closer to home.
At first, I honestly didn’t think there would be much work available, something I think was partly due to the fact that the area where I live is mainly heavy industries and the majority of my clients are white collar companies.
After some research, simply put, I found that the potential workload was — and still is — massive and that there are numerous local companies requiring the services of a writer.
From one-off press releases for small businesses through to helping set up and run blogs for larger companies, you do have to think a little outside of the box sometimes, but there’s no doubt that there’ll be a huge market available in your local area.
The problem with a lot of online based businesses is that they have often heard that you can get cheap writing carried out for $5 per piece, for example and so there are business owners who are, somewhat wrongly, averse to paying more, even though the quality will be a whole lot better.
What I found pleasing about working with businesses from my local area is that they were happy to pay what were now my increased rates because they valued the importance of quality and didn’t have that thought that cheaper, lower quality content was available elsewhere.
It’s important to keep in mind that I’m not saying freelance writers need to constantly contact potential clients asking for work and the truth is, just like any business, clients should be coming to you when they need the services of a writer.
The issue is it takes time to build up your experience, portfolio and reputation to get to the point where you’re well-known enough as a writer for clients to come directly to you — it will happen, but it could take months, if not years.
Until you get to this stage, you need to be actively looking for freelance writing jobs and projects and utilizing the points from the previous posts in this series, continuing to develop as a freelance writing and increasing your freelance writing rates until they’re at a level at which you’re pleased and comfortable with.
Image: Leo Reynolds (Flickr)