Freelance writing comes in two basic stripes; the stuff you do for free to get started and the stuff you get paid to do. Once you’ve started moving out of freebieland and into the paying gigs, it gets more complicated. Low paying gigs, high paying gigs…every freelancer’s dream is to move into that dollar-a-word zone where you earn the same kind of cash for one article as you do for all the work you’re currently putting in now.
A buck a word is a great goal, but until you are working for publications or editors who are willing to pay that, consider a few strategies to help you earn more money with the gigs you are able to land at your current skill level. Here are my current five favorites:
5. Manage your time as well as you manage your money. If you are working on a low-paying pro blogger gig to supplement your income, make sure it doesn’t eat more time than the money is worth. I once wasted about six months writing for a blog that kept reducing the pay and increasing the expectations. My actual hours spent researching and writing grew disproportionate with the actual pay. In the end, I cut the blog loose because I spent far more time on it than on better paying gigs. It turned out to be one of the best moves I made that year. I started working fewer hours and making more money just because I dumped a timewaster.
4. Spend at least an hour a day looking for higher-paying gigs offered in your skill level. Are you currently writing low-paying articles and doing web content? If you write for a website that pays $10 for $500 words, try searching for a similar gig that pays more than you are making. You may discover that an extra $5 to $10 per short article is available with a bit of research. If you write ten of those a week, you’ve upped your bottom line by $400 a month.
3. Look for repeat business. If you spend a lot of time writing one-off pieces for a variety of publications, go back to some of those editors and see if you can submit on a more regular basis. Predictable income is one of the best things a freelancer can have. Try to make your income more predictable by increasing your output with editors you already know. Even if you only publish with them on a quarterly basis, at least you know you can count on them once a quarter for some extra cash and publishing credits.
2. If you use Craigslist to search for writing gigs, look outside your city. I am always shocked at the freelancer who expresses surprise when I tell them to look in other states for paying gigs. Why this never occurs to people, I will never know. Try it, you’ll like it. It’s the computer age, people. Don’t limit yourself. I write freelance pieces for banks in Texas, for news websites in New York, and editing and management work for a startup in Boston. I haven’t written anything for New Zealand or Taiwan yet, but it’s just a matter of time, really.
1. Look for high-value clients. High value clients are NOT always the ones who pay the most. They are the ones who have the highest paycheck amounts PER YEAR in your “In” column. The editor who pays you $25 per article and gives you $5000 worth of work in a given year is more valuable than the editor who paid you $500 but only gave you ONE paycheck that year. Do the math and gravitate towards anyone paying you high numbers when you total the year’s paychecks. Those publications and editors are your ace in the hole.