How To Charge More Than $10 Per Article — Part 4
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]
Over the past few weeks, I’ve provided information on how you can charge more than $10 per article, drawing on my own experiences as a developing freelance writer.
My aim was to put everything I’ve learnt down in an easy-to-read way, removing all the parts where I made a mistake or carried out something that was unnecessary and giving you a guide that you could follow in an almost step-by-step way.
Whenever I talk about topics where a lot of information is provided, I like to end with a part whereby I not only summarize what I’ve said, but also look at some of the points which people have made and give you the opportunity to ask any specific questions.
Therefore, although you’ll be able to read this post straight away, it might be a little clearer if you go back and read the first three parts of this series, which can be found here:
Once you’ve read these three posts, the following information should act as a summary and provide you with some further information on how you can charge more than $10 per article.
Foundations are key
In every single process in life, the foundations — or preparations — on which the main process is built upon ensures that things can look as positive as possible from the start.
Building a house is the most obvious example, as solid foundations need to be laid to ensure that the house that is built on them is strong and robust.
Think about when someone is pregnant, too. The baby isn’t simply delivered and everything’s under control straight away — it takes months of planning to ensure that the baby has everything they need to be taken care of.
It’s exactly the same with your freelance writing career and increasing your rates, as whilst you could build a house without foundations and a baby could, in theory, be born without the parents preparing, everything runs so much smoother when plans are created and the proper foundations are laid to give a good, solid base to work on.
Increase your popularity in the freelance writing community — become a well-known name on some of the major blogs, for example — and I guarantee that this will put you in fantastic stead for increasing your rates, as the more your popularity increases, the more other writers will associate you with quality work and the more opportunities there are likely to be made available to you.
Listen to your peers
I’ve been a freelance writer for a few years now and I’ve yet to meet another writer who has been unhelpful, dishonest or outright rude. That isn’t me brushing one or two people aside, either — I honestly can’t think of any other writer that I’ve come into contact with who hasn’t fitted that mould.
If you’ve got a question about freelance writing and raising your rates, all you’ve got to do is ask. Ask me. Ask Sharon. Ask other writers who are commenting on the posts. E-mail writers. Check out other blogs. Do whatever you have to do to find the answer to your question, but don’t ignore any piece of advice you get — you might not think it’s important at the time, but it would be extremely unlikely if you didn’t need that piece of advice at some point throughout your career.
Take your time
As tempting as it can be to go from charging your current $10 per article to $50 per article over night, it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to succeed by doing so.
By raising your rates drastically, you’ll alienate your current clients who have been used to paying your old rates and you’ll find it difficult to gain new clients at this rate as chances are you won’t have built up a sufficient portfolio that would prove you warranted a higher rate.
It’s for this reason why you need to increase your rates slowly but steadily until you’re at your optimum — or ideal — rate. Whether it’s a dollar or two every few weeks or it’s in multiples of tens after you gain a new client, just make sure that you don’t increase your rates massively and you should be able lower the amount of risk involved with the entire process.
I can’t express enough just how important it is for you to be flexible as a freelance writer, not only when you’re increasing your rates, but in general.
Some of the comments made throughout this series stated that specializing in a certain area will automatically bring the high paying work or that if you provide high quality content, there’ll be people contacting you wanting to buy it.
Whilst points like these are true to a certain extent, you need to be extremely flexible to ensure that you aren’t simply relying on one area or topic for your income or that you’re flexible enough to write about several topics and can use your flexibility to step away from being simply a writer and sell yourself as a writer to potential clients.
No matter whether you’re just starting out as a freelance writer or you’ve been doing it for 30 years, you need to be flexible to succeed — it’s the one common denominator that links every successful writer.
Don’t wait for the jobs to come to you
Whilst there’ll come a point where you won’t need to look for freelance writing gigs every day (and as much as you might not believe at the minute, clients will come to you and pay your stated rates without you have to constantly pitch to them), this does take time — a lot of time — and so it’s strongly recommended that you apply for freelance writing jobs that look interesting at your newly increased rates.
You might not get all of the jobs you apply for, you’re unlikely to hear back from every one that you send an e-mail off to and there’ll no doubt be a fair amount that turn out to be particularly low paid or even scams, but if you spend some time looking for freelance writing jobs, you’ll come across a few gems every now and again and these are the ones that are going to help you develop.
This isn’t simply because you can charge your increased rates, either, but because the ability to work at a higher level than you currently have been and receiving more money than previously will put you in an extremely positive frame of mind, something that is particularly useful to any freelance writer.
I also want to touch on a comment made that you shouldn’t undersell your work and that as long as people know what you’re charging for your work, they’ll be willing to pay it.
Although this is true to a certain extent, you once again need to have the experience and portfolio available to show that your rates are worth paying for and the easiest way to gain both of these is by going out there and looking for work — you might find you’re applying for dozens of jobs at first, but that will slowly decrease as the number of people who contact you regarding work increases, until you’re at the level where applying for a freelance writing gig is something that you only do sporadically.
Never stop networking
Ask any established freelance writer you know if they’re networking regularly and I’ll say for certain that they’ll say yes.
Some might network more than others, but every single established freelance writer out there — even though they’re likely to be at the level they want to be — will network to a certain extent on a regular basis.
Becoming known in the freelance writing community is one important aspect of being a freelance writer, but staying there is another and one that is arguably just as important as getting there — and it takes a concerted effort to ensure you don’t fall off the freelance writing radar.
Being a freelance writer, nothing is certain in terms of your work and you therefore need to do your utmost to ensure that the work continues to come in and that you remain known in the community, something which networking allows you to do perfectly.
Increasing your freelance writing rates takes times. Not just a few weeks, but months and months of work — I started taking writing as a career seriously at Christmas 2009 and I’m still developing and increasing my rates.
Sure, you can increase your rates in a matter of seconds, but it’s the amount of work involved in ensuring that you have solid foundations to build and develop your career upon, as well as ensuring that your development never stops, that takes the time.
It will no doubt take longer than you think, but I guarantee that if you keep at it, your persistence will pay off and you’ll be charging much, much more than $10 per article on a regular basis.
Image: Leo Reynolds (Flickr)