Writers are portrayed in the same group with starving artists. They are pinned alongside painters and potters who are begging for a sale and complaining that others just don’t, “see their vision.”
For the past 10 years, I have told people that I am a freelance writer, and that has earned me looks of pity or stupidity. Sometimes people will ask things like, “So you blog for fun?” or they will say, “I wish someone paid me to write reviews all day.” The bottom line is that freelance writing is grossly misunderstood and lucky for you and me, it can be much more profitable than others think.
Follow these habits to ensure you earn more money with your words.
1. Kill the Artist
I know this sounds harsh, but trust me. If you want to be successful, you must be a business person first, artist second. If someone is paying you $300 for an article, it will be to your disadvantage if you take 10 hours trying to craft the most perfect and beautiful piece.
Furthermore, when an editor suggests revisions or changes, just do them. It is useless defending your craft when the editor has specific needs or preferences. You will just end up breaking ties with that editor or publication.
There have been editors that I didn’t see eye to eye with and shredded me down as a writer and person. At that point, I took the $750 for the assignment, took the verbal harassment humbly, and went on to a different client. The piece I created for this big brand was quite popular with their readers, so I am guessing the problem wasn’t really me.
2. Never Quit Hustling
Always keep looking for new clients and work. There have been so many times that I have found the dream company to work with, and then the company switched to an in-house writer or cuts a whole section altogether, leaving me jobless.
While it hurts to lose a dream client, every time I had connections already in place that were then able to fill the financial gap that the job loss made. My constant hustling led me from making $12 an article to over $300 an article (and sometimes over $700 an article). Each time I got a higher paying client, I would end a lower ending contract on good terms.
3. Don’t Waste Time on Low-Paying Gigs
I used to kill myself to make $1,200 a month through writing $12 articles. I was fast and could write four of these lower-quality pieces in an hour, but that is still 100 articles a week. I was exhausted, always in a rush, and not getting better in my craft.
I realized that I wanted to work less and make more, so I slowly started replacing my clients with higher paying ones. In 2012, I was excited to start making $25 per article, which then turned into $50, and then $100. I now make $300+ per article and work less, while making $3-5K a month part-time.
The problem with low-paying gigs is that they burn you out quickly. Since you are burnt out, you aren’t putting your best work forward, so you get stuck in a loop of low-paid writing gigs.
Break the cycle. You need to start charging more for your words. When you start writing for a rate that you are happy with, you start to create work you are passionate about – even if the topic is dry.
4. Don’t Get Writer’s Block
Writer’s block, is it real or not? As a beginner writer, I struggled with writer’s block a lot. Now, not so much. What changed? It’s not that I found the secret to unlocking writer’s block; instead, when assignments are due and paychecks are on the line, there is not much time for writer’s block.
I have found that the more you write, the easier it gets. I realized that I was not penning the next greatest novel or award-winning articles, which means I shouldn’t spend too much time pondering the perfect lead or conclusion. I also discovered that rewriting is a lot easier once you actually write something. It is hard to edit work that is still in your head.
Am I an amazing writer? I don’t think I am better than most writers out there. The thing that sets me apart from beginning writers is that I don’t stop at one assignment or let criticism bring me down. I just keep hustling, and you can do the same. Making money isn’t about who is the best. It is about who doesn’t give up.
Want to get started as a freelance writer and earn more money? Sign up for my free email course, Land Your First Writing Gig.