You know you’re a good writer.
You exceed deadlines.
You’ve “got” freelance writing down pat.
So, why are you struggling to find clients?
I’ve been freelance writing for under a year now, and in this time, I have turned my little writer website into a business. And, it didn’t take long to do it.
You need more than knowing how to write compelling copy to have a successful freelance writing career.
Sure, having proper grammar and knowing how to use your words to sell goes a long way in landing clients and generating work.
But, don’t you want to live comfortably from your writing alone?
You can. By taking your freelance writing career to the next level, you can ensure that your business will pay the bills and more. And, don’t think that freelance writing isn’t profitable.
Nicole Dieker publishes her income reports over on TheWriteLife. She recently earned $6,000 in a month from her freelance writing.
Bamidele Onibalusi, a Nigerian freelance writer, is highly profitable making at least $5,000 a month from his business.
If you want to start earning some serious money from freelance writing, check out my course Write Your Way to Your First $1k. I give you my blueprint for a successful freelance writing biz in 7 weeks or less.
And my freelance writing biz is on the cusp of reaching the next level. Not only do I have plenty of clients, but I’m pitching less, writing less frequently, and making more money.
So, I thought I’d share 8 actionable tips to kick your writing business up a notch. Because, who doesn’t want to make more money doing what they love?
1. Identify Your Specialties
I’ve talked about finding a particular niche or two when you decide to guest post on other people’s blogs.
This helps build your credibility and authority as a freelance writer. The same goes for your business.
When you decide what your specialties are, you’ll have an easier time finding clients that fit your requirements. Clients will either come to you because they’ve seen your expert niche content, or your pitch will stand out amongst the other generalist writers.
Writing will also become easier for you. You’ll know where the good sources and statistics are and developing your ideas will be a cinch.
You’ll also learn a ton more about your niche – making you an even better expert.
And, when you have a specialty, your rates will go up. Clients will want to work with you more if you have expert knowledge in a specific industry, topic or product.
So, how can you find your specialty as as freelance writer?
Use Your Past Work History
Were you an event planner before you made the switch? Or, are you in the financial world and doing freelance writing on the side?
Whatever the case is, your knowledge and work history can play a role in growing your freelance writing business.
Use your past work history to land writing gigs in that niche. It will be easy to “sell” yourself as an expert in event planning or financial advising when you have the experience to back it up.
Write About Different Things
If you became a freelance writer because you hated your job, then writing about what you did at your job wouldn’t be very appealing now would it?
So, if you want to get away from your past, the best thing to do for finding what you excel at is to write about many different topics.
Writing about different niches not only helps you discover what topics you like to write about, but it also helps improve your writing.
Excel At Topics You Like to Write About
When you find out you enjoy writing about a particular topic or two, you’ll want to learn as much as you can about your specialty or specialties.
What are the emerging trends? What is the latest research? Is there any breaking news related to your specialty?
Knowing the latest information about your niche will come in handy for client work and they will see how passionately you are about writing in your chosen niche.
2. Grow Your Blog
Are you a freelance writer without a blog? Shame on you.
Nah, I’m only kidding – but really I’m not. Having a consistent blog should be part of your business plan as a freelance writer or blogger.
Not only can a blog help you land better paying clients, but it also helps build your credibility as a writer who’s knowledgeable about writing for an online audience.
Need some help growing your blog? Try these tips:
- Promote your latest blog post on social media. Try to index your post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and StumbleUpon. I find these specific social media platforms to be traffic generating leads.
- Prove yourself on your blog. Be truthful, informative and have shareable content.
- Update your blog consistently. Here are some fabulous freelance writers that keep their blogs up-to-date: Lorraine Reguly, Katharine Paljug, Stacey Corrin (her site theme changes daily it seems!), and Gina Horkey.
- Create Pin-worthy images. I recently started doing this in March, and I’ve seen my traffic jump from 50 people a day to well over a 100 people a day from Pinterest. Throw StumbleUpon into the mix, and my traffic will often jump to 400 people a day.
3. Start a Newsletter – Like Yesterday
Okay, if you’re a brand spanking new freelance writer, then I understand why you wouldn’t have a newsletter sign-up form on your site.
But, if you’ve been a freelance writer for over a year and you still don’t have an email subscription form on your writer website, then I’m here to ask you, what are you waiting for?
Email marketing is a huge business and it is a big factor in growing your business. I mean, not that many people stop using email. Once you have an email account, you tend to keep it.
Well, it’s true for me. I still have my email account that I made over 15 years ago!
So, besides it being a great marketing tool, having a newsletter is great for:
- Creating loyal readers of your blog. You can tell your email subscribers about your latest blog post or give them special privileges that your blog readers don’t have.
- Having potential customers. Once you have people signed up to your email list, they can become a customer – should you one day write an eBook or teach an eCourse.
- Networking. If your newsletter is made up of mostly freelance writers, you now have a huge resource of potential leads, referrals, gigs, guest posters, etc..
So, once you decide to create an email list, how do you ensure people will actually sign up to your newsletter?
No one is going to sign up to your email list if you offer nothing. Sure, you can offer them an email of when your next blog post is published, but you won’t get many people signing up.
People LOVE free stuff. So, why not package something valuable and offer it as an incentive when people sign up?
Here are two articles that helped me with my freebie eBook:
If you need help adding an Opt-In Box on your WordPress website, take a look at this video tutorial. It’s super easy to do!
4. Create a Product
Now, up until this point, I’ve been giving you actionable advice to help you either get more readers or better clients. Now, I’m telling you how you can monetize your writer website.
What’s great about being a freelance writer is how easy it is for us to write! Businesses today are using eBooks as a lead generating tool, so why can’t you?
Take your career to the next level by becoming a successful author. An eBook or course is a perfect product for a freelance writer.
It will probably take some time as there are lulls to every freelance writing career. The key to writing a guide or course, though, is knowing your target audience.
Are they only freelance writers? Or, are they bloggers, work-at-home moms, solopreneurs, or just people interested in being a freelance writer?
Once you figure out who you want to target, you can narrow down what you want to write about. As long as it’s useful, honest and provides unique information, people will want to purchase it and learn from you.
Currently, I don’t have an eBook for sale, but I eventually want to have an eBook that I can profit from. But, I don’t mind packaging up my content into a free guide to give away to new subscribers.
I’m actually planning on bundling up my latest blog series on freelance writing jobs and will use this as an incentive for new subscribers – possibly in May or June. So, be on the lookout for that!
5. Don’t Just Be a Writer
Have you noticed when you visit other freelance writers’ websites they are not only a writer?
Businesses today need the whole package – content, marketing and blog management. So, why not be the person that can do everything? You’ll be able to offer service packages and earn a higher rate.
You’ll also find you won’t need many writing clients because you will have different streams of income and not have to rely on only writing to provide you money.
This means less writing for you and more time to devote to growing your business. Take a look at some other online services you can offer as a freelance writer:
Wouldn’t you like an editor for your blog posts and client work? I’m often lucky enough to have an extra pair of eyes go through my content before I publish it or send it off, but many people don’t have that luxury.
Sure, there are proofreading and grammar-checking applications, but they rarely pick up awkwardness in your writing style or lack of flow in your concept.
Many business are run by solopreneurs. Wouldn’t it be a great idea if you can also edit their content or their website?
There are many types of editing services you can offer as a freelance writer:
- Basic editing. This involves proofreading for spelling mistakes, punctuation, basic facts and basic syntax. This type of editing is usually the last step before publication. Some business might just need a once over before it’s approved to go live.
- Heavy editing. Most business would need this type of editing service. Heavy editing checks for content flow, irregularities in your wording, transition flow and other content related issues. Because this is more involved than proofreading, you can charge more for this service.
- Developmental editing. The most “intrusive” of edits is the developmental edit. This type of editing deletes, moves, adds, or re-writes sentences or entire paragraphs. Businesses may hire cheaper freelance writers and will then hire an editor to spruce up the writing, making it more conversational and engaging.
If you’ve been a freelance writer for a while now, I’m sure you’re starting to familiarize yourself with WordPress themes and plugins.
While you may have a fast learning curve in figuring out how to create something like a testimonial widget, other solopreneurs and businesses may not be as quick to pick this up.
So, why not be their web designer or blog designer? If you become familiar with a theme, like the Genesis theme framework, you can virtually help any business using the WordPress platform. Check out Stacy Corrin’s web design services to get an idea of what you can include.
If organizing and planning is your thing, why not become a virtual assistant for someone?
You might notice a client of yours struggling to keep up with email communication. When you find opportunities where clients are struggling, this is a good time to ask them if you can help.
While a VA can do a variety of tasks, typically a business might have you take over:
- Checking emails and handling the inbox
- Manage the content schedule or other schedules
- Going through old blog posts and making sure they are up-to-date
- Managing their subscription list
If you have time to help another business, becoming a VA can prove to be a perfect fit for you – it also can be profitable.
There are many more services you can do such as being a freelance writing coach, social media manager or blog manager.
6. Don’t Ignore Your Writer Website
When you do, potential clients can quickly assess if you are the right person for the “job.”
So, make sure your home page has the following information:
- A head shot of you
- Your name and who you are
- What you can do for businesses
- Links to other pages on your site
- A “call to action”
I’ve talked about it before, but your About page isn’t all about you; it’s about telling prospective clients why you’re the one to hire.
So, don’t mention your love of cats and how your cat growing up prompted you to be a writer. Instead, mention how compelling your content is and how it can generate business for the client.
Lastly, don’t forget about your Contact page. Provide more information than what the default template gives you. Your social media profiles, a phone number and something personal or unique helps show prospects that you’re a real person who you will get back to them.
For more tips, Freelancer FAQ’s has an awesome 30+ page eBook about rookie mistakes you make on your writer website that I co-authored with Alicia Rades. You can have it free when you sign up to their newsletter.
7. Increase Your Rate With Every New Client
Who says you have to stay at the same rate for every client? Each writing task is unique and the more clients you take on, the more valuable your time is.
Gone are the days where you could spend three hours on social media. Each hour is a billable hour, so it only makes sense to increase your rates as you land new clients.
How much you increase is up to you. I started making $.15/word. Now, less than a year later, I can command up to $.25/word.
Pretty soon, you can drop your lower paying clients and keep your higher ones, but don’t be too quick to drop some clients. Sometimes, the lower paying ones are the most consistent in giving you content and the easiest to write for.
But, as a freelance writer with your own business, you have the luxury to set your rates and pick which clients you want to work with.
So, look at your rates and know that you are worth it. When a business approaches you, give them a rate that will make you blush. Go ahead, do it – when you do, you’ll take your career up a notch.
8. Hire Sub-contractors
It’s a great feeling when you’re faced with a “good” problem – having too many writing clients than you can handle.
As a freelance writer, you know there will always be highs and lows to having consistent work, so you never want to pass up new gigs.
But, now you’re faced with a hard dilemma – keep writing for your existing clients and run the risk of having them let you go – or land a few more clients, but work like a dog to complete your new writing projects.
Well, if don’t want to pass up new writing opportunities, a great way to scale your business, make more money, free up some time and add to your client base is to sub-contract your freelance writing.
You’re not hiring them as an employee; you’re subbing out part or all of a client’s work to this person. You are still responsible for client communication, collecting payment and looking over the work before passing it on to the client.
That’s why it’s important to have a network of other freelance writers you can call upon.
If you know a writer that would like some extra cash and you trust them to produce the same caliber of writing as you do, then why not hire them to write for you?
It’s a win-win situation for both of you. You can keep on accepting client work and your sub-contractors will have consistent work.
So, how do you make sure they represent your voice and style of writing?
The best thing you can do is find writers that have a similar writing style as you do. You can also infuse your writing style to the finished project before you pass it on to the client.
Ultimately, you have to give it a stamp of approval before you hand it over to your client. I recently had the opportunity to hire a sub-contractor for some writing projects and I couldn’t be happier.
Although you will be spending time managing your sub-contractors and editing their pieces, you will ultimately have more time to spend on your current client base or even on yourself.
You’re On Your Way
You know you want to move up in your freelance writing business. Whether it’s increasing your rates, selling an eBook or hiring sub-contractors, taking your writing business to the next level is on your agenda.
With these eight simple ways, you’re on your way to solidifying your writing as a full-fledged business. So, what are you waiting for?
Tell me, what are you doing to push your freelance writing business into the next level?
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