In 2016, my writing career took off. I made at least $4,000 per month, with some months surpassing that considerably. Debts were paid off and our situation changed to allowing both my husband and I to be home with our girls.
I did it all with freelance writing. My affiliate marketing income hasn’t taken off in the way I’d like yet, and I made this money with private clients.
You can do it too. Instead of sharing a few arbitrary tips for freelance writing, I’m going to share the tips that helped me become a professional writing making at least $4,000 per month in 2016. You can follow these exact tips to make a living writing online.
I Stopped Dreaming and Took Action!
The first thing to do is stop dreaming about your goals. Sure, dreams are good. You need some sort of writing dream to know what you want to achieve. But it’s so easy to just dream.
One mistake I used to make is sit back and wait for things to happen. I wanted to improve my life and my writing career, but I had didn’t take the action. I had the odd excuse: my kids, my part-time job, my husband’s income that meant I could make $1,000 per month and be satisfied with that.
But I wasn’t really that satisfied. I was just existing and keeping my writing business alive.
So I started to take action to reach the income goals that I set. I initially just wanted to double my income and then get to the next $1,000 mark. I didn’t think within the space of six months I could have quadrupled my income. And it is only going up from here!
Take action. If you just keep dreaming, you’re not going to achieve anything.
I Created the Social Proof
It’s all about getting your name out there. You need to be a name that your clients know or have heard of.
This isn’t going to happen overnight. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a solid writing income.
You just need to prove that you are a worthy name. This means creating the social proof to help spread your name. I got myself published on The Huffington Post and Hidden Remote, among other well-known sites. I got my work shared on the Entertainment Weekly Facebook page and got my name in various social media groups.
I made it clear that I was a writer to follow. Now I can “brag” about this when it comes to getting in touch with clients.
I Set a Bare Minimum I Was Willing to Work For
There are writer coaches out there who will tell you not to go below a certain amount. They tend to say $50 for 500 word blog posts, but I’ve also seen people say $100 or $200.
The truth is you can set your own bare minimum. You don’t need to listen to that advice. These writers will set their minimums based on their own circumstances. They may have a lot of outgoings or be focused solely on the money that they make.
I don’t follow their rules. I set my own for my own circumstances.
One thing that I did do though was set my own bare minimum writer rate. This is essential if you want to make sure you create a profitable business. I shared how I set my minimum hourly rate to help set my project rates last year.
Now I don’t both negotiating if a client isn’t willing to pay my bare minimum. And this isn’t my starting point. This is just what I know I can accept if I really want to work on a project. Most of the time I never ever reach that minimum, because potential clients know the true value of my content.
The only time I will write for less is if it works in my favour. I wrote at The Huffington Post for nothing for the exposure. But I limited myself to the amount that I was willing to write to make sure it was in my favour.
I Contacted Clients and Companies Directly
There’s no point waiting for someone to get in touch with you. Unless your website gets the number one position for every single possible search term, business and blog owners aren’t going to find you.
Some won’t even search for writers. They don’t think they need writers for hire until they realize what they’re missing. It’s up to you to make them realize that!
I got in touch with clients and companies directly. These were clients within the niches that I was most interested in and already had proof of my work within. I shared my samples and the places that I’d been published on.
By getting in touch directly, I was able to work with higher pricing points. They hadn’t already set some sort of budget and could discuss their options more objectively. If they couldn’t afford my rates but were interested, we could discuss other options.
Some emails didn’t get answered. It’s just so important to get yourself out there and send at least 10 a day to different companies. Research your perfect markets—the people who are more likely to pay your rates.
I Never Put All My Eggs in One Basket
I’m always ready for a client to decide they don’t want any more content. I’m ready for writing teams to be disbanded and blogs to fold.
Back in 2011, I made a major mistake of having all my writing eggs in the one basket. The site folded and I was left without anywhere to write. My income took a dive.
So I made a few changes. I vowed never to let that happen again. I don’t have my eggs in one basket.
This was a good thing. In September 2016 I unexpectedly lost a client. While others would have panicked, I grumbled and then moved straight onto looking to fill that void, knowing that I had enough coming from other clients.
I Didn’t Give Up on the Content Mills
This will surprise a lot of people, but I don’t rule out content mills completely. They are there in my back pocket if I ever need them.
After all, me not being on them isn’t going to stop them from existing. There will still be clients who want cheap content. If I don’t do it, someone else will. What’s the point in letting someone else have that money when it could go towards my income?
Okay, that can sound a little selfish, but that’s part of the way of business. There are many other writers who will have this same view. You just have to look at some of the content mill forums to realize just how many writers do have this view.
I don’t use the content mills every day. Sometimes they just bring in a little bit of extra income at strategic points of the year. But they are there. I will never completely rule them out!
I Listen to My Writer Mentor
There were mistakes I was making in writing. At the start of 2015, I decided to hire a writing mentor and listen to what she said. I’ve since moved on and have a business coach, but I still listen to the things they say.
Why make mistakes that others have made when I don’t have to? I’ve learned so much over the last two years. My income has grown considerably and now I’m offering my own services as a writing coach and mentor.
You can make $4,000 per month and more, too. We can start small and work on $1,000 per month if you want but I can get you to the point where you’re making a living writing. It’s time to own your title as freelance writer extraordinaire.
Get in touch today to discuss how I can be a writer mentor for you. I’m available for a quick chat to find out more about how I can help and then we can move on from there with writing coaching packages to build your business from the ground up.
Note: this post is an update on an old post about becoming a freelance writer. It’s my throwback Thursday post for the week and you can read the original for more tips on becoming a professional freelance writer.