What You Need To Do Today To Become a More Successful Freelance Writer

freelance writing jobs

To land and get paid for freelance writing jobs, you have to be able to write. Freelancers must have strong communication and grammar skills, the ability to review and incorporate feedback from clients and editors and enough computer skills to navigate various platforms without having a complete breakdown. Those are the prerequisites for making money with your words, but that’s not what this post is about.

This post is about what you can start doing to set yourself apart from the pack, consistently land higher paying freelance writing jobs and be confident in the fact that you will have enough work next week.

[ctt template=”4″ link=”8BU2E” via=”no” nofollow=”yes”]Are you a successful #freelancewriter or just another in the crowd?[/ctt]

Stop Making Work Decisions Based on Same-Day/Same-Week Pay

Instant gratification can be addicting, especially when you work in the relative isolation of the freelance world. Immediate approval and payment makes me feel good, and let’s face it: the general economic climate for many of us today isn’t stellar. Fast payment is sometimes needed to cover a car repair or even ensure rent is paid on time.

But if you let paydays dictate the work you do, then you become a slave to the pay period. You’re so busy taking work that will pay you tomorrow, you don’t have time to complete work that’s worth four times as much but pays out in a few weeks. The constant churn of low but fast-paying work has other negative consequences besides limiting your income potential.

  • Constantly writing thousands of words daily just to keep up leads to burnout
  • Scrambling to constantly complete that much work doesn’t leave time for honing your craft
  • It’s easy to get caught in a cycle where you have to write whenever work is available —€” even if that’s at 3:00 am on a Sunday morning — reducing schedule freedom, which is one of the main perks of the freelancing

Breaking away from the pay cycle can be hard, but once you get your personal financials in order and start working a month or more out for income purposes, you open yourself to a variety of work opportunities. One of the best ways to ensure you have work next week is to create a situation where you aren’t relying on this week’s work to pay the rent.

Related: 4 Ways for Freelance Writers to Stay Productive from Their Home-Based Office

Bonus Tip: Work for the Hourly, not the Per Word

I know many freelancers who say “I won’t write for under X cents per word,” but the most successful writers and editors I know say “I won’t work for under X dollars per hour.” That leads them to question assignments not on rates and word counts but on difficulty and time invested (it’s called validating return on investment). They ask questions like:

  • Is the subject something I already know about?
  • How much research is involved?
  • What type of platform will I be working on?
  • How complex are the project requirements?
  • Does the client expect extras, such as image sourcing?

It takes some practice, but if you track how long jobs take you, you’ll become more accurate at estimating your hourly. A job that pays 5 cpw might seem lackluster, but if it only takes you 15 minutes to complete a 300-word piece, that’s $60 per hour. In comparison, a job that pays 12 cpw but requires enough extra care that you only average 500 words per hour pays the same hourly rate. By applying this reasoning, one full-time freelancer I know almost doubled her income the first half of 2017 by taking more “lower paying work.”

[ctt template=”4″ link=”87NY3″ via=”no” nofollow=”yes”]Successful #freelancewriters learn to make niches work to their advantage.[/ctt]

Become a Specialist

Clients pay for a variety of things, including fast turn-around time, quality writing and creativity. Many also pay for expertise. Becoming a specialist doesn’t mean you can’t write across all types of niches —€” I’m a specialist in healthcare revenue cycle and project management, but I write plenty of product descriptions and delve occasionally into lifestyle and humor.

I just tend to get paid more when I write within my niche because I can create unique thought leadership pieces that are valuable to my clients. My expertise comes from previous job experience, but you can turn any of the following into a specialty:

  • Work experience
  • Education or a degree
  • Professional or organizational certifications
  • Volunteer work
  • Demonstrated passion for a subject (such as bylined articles or a well-done and maintained blog)

It’s not enough to have knowledge and experience, though. You have to communicate it. I manage writing projects for Crowd Content in a freelance capacity, and that involves communication with a lot of writers. I recently worked with one writer who wanted to start landing nonmarketing work; up until that point, I only knew her as a stay-at-home mom who wrote lovely product descriptions. It turns out she has some extremely impressive professional cred and a very specific, unique degree — a degree that could have landed her high-level writing work earlier if anyone had known about it.

Make sure any of your bios and profiles make your specialties known, and don’t be afraid to drop project managers or clients a line with information on how your experience might help them.

Related: 4 Tips for New Freelance Writers to Hit the Ground Running

Act Like a Business Owner

Finally, act like the business owner that you are. Many platforms in the industry refer to writers and editors as “workers,” but the reality is that you own your business and you have a personal brand to maintain. Take time to decide what that brand is, and then ensure all your communications, marketing, writing blogs and profiles support it.

Acting like a business owner also means staying professional, even when you feel the heat rising in your cheeks and you want nothing more than to slay someone with your words. Trust me: that obscenity- or insult-laden email isn’t good for your brand, and the freelance industry is much smaller than you might think. Protecting your image helps you land the best freelance writing jobs now and in the future.

Sarah Stasik

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Sarah is an experienced writer and copyeditor with a background in project management. She’s Six Sigma Black Belt certified and leverages her knowledge of statistical analysis, process improvement and content marketing to help clients engage audiences and increase conversions.

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