7 Simple Strategies for Getting Paid Big Freelance Bucks

Freelance writer got big moneyAcross the conference table, two business owners sat staring at me, as I explained why they needed to hire me as their writer.

I discussed what they needed — social media, blog articles, employee profiles — and to my newbie surprise, they bought it. All of it. They stood up, shook my hand and eagerly requested a proposal.

I shook their hands, smiled, and nearly collapsed into a puddle of anxiety after I left the room.

This was my first experience with a potential business client, and I had no clue how I’d move forward.

What do I charge? What do I put in my proposal? What do I do next?

Luckily, I had resources, and I put them to work. Here’s what I did to secure my first business client and first big freelance job — at a great pay rate:

 

1. Consult your community

I logged into the Freelance Writers Den and posted in one of the forums. I gave a brief synopsis of the meeting, and asked the community questions about pricing and proposals.

2. Do your research

My Den community provided me with links to articles, blog posts, and recordings. I reviewed everything that was suggested. I took notes and extracted the information that applied to my situation.

3. Follow expert advice

The Den recently hosted a call with Wealthy Freelancer co-author Steve Slaunwhite on setting prices. I listened to that again, and something he mentioned stuck with me: If I wanted to be treated like a professional, then I needed to set professional rates from the start. So I did that.

4. Bid high

All of the advice and research suggested pricing high to leave room for negotiation. If I priced my services higher than what I wanted to make, then I wouldn’t be disappointed if the client came back to negotiate a lower rate.

After considering what I learned from other writers and from my research, I decided on $1000 to set up their social media accounts (yep, just for setup) and $300 per 500-600 word article/employee profile. I requested 50 percent of the first month’s fee as an initial deposit, to reserve space on my calendar. I also decided to ask for a monthly retainer for maintaining the social media accounts.

5. Give yourself a pep talk

Let’s face it — not everyone can write well. That’s why so many freelancers make big bucks writing for business clients. I had to believe that my potential business client needed what I had to offer. My services hold value — and believing that is the key to asking for a livable wage.

6. Hit send

I didn’t second-guess myself anymore. I drafted the proposal and hit send.

7. Hurry up and wait

I knew I had to keep myself busy if I wanted my sanity intact while I waited. I was working on a magazine article at the time, so I set up interviews and started writing. I scheduled extra marketing time. I used the momentum to work harder toward my goals.

So what happened? That client accepted my original proposal. No negotiations — just a signed contract and a check in the mail. I realize this might not happen every time, but how can you get big freelance jobs if you don’t ask for them?

How did you land your biggest project? Tell us in the comments below.

Nicole Slaughter-Graham hopes to move from part-time to full-time freelancing soon. She blogs about reading and literature at Many Hats.

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29 comments on “7 Simple Strategies for Getting Paid Big Freelance Bucks
  1. Karen Briggs says:

    Joining the Den is a great decision! You will get lots of support. You deserve so much more than you have allowed yourself. Stop selling yourself short!

  2. Sid says:

    Thanks Emily. I truly appreciate your encouraging words. I would be joining the Den on Saturday and am confident that will be a turning point in my Freelance writing career.

  3. Hi Nicole,

    This story is motivating. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Sid says:

    Carol I appreciate your advice and I know your course would be a pretty good one. I cannot afford it right now though as I don’t have extra money even to pay for hosting to promote my writing through a site of my own. I have to try and find a way to first make some money so that I can afford your course and any other tools and resource that I may need. I have no idea on how to proceed though.

    • Emily says:

      Sid, Don’t let your lack of a website keep you down. There are lots of places to set-up a free website now–like wix.com for one. You may want to just set-up a free website for the time being; you can always upgrade later. Selling yourself short is the biggest mistake. I know because I did it for years! Thanks to Carol, Linda, and the Writers Den, I realized I was worth more(thanks, ladies!)

      Good luck!

  5. Sid says:

    I am a critical juncture of my Freelance writing career and need to make some difficult decisions. I would really appreciate some help and advice. I have been a freelance writer since 2010 but haven’t made much progress in terms of work or the money I earn. I have only written blog posts and web content for various individual clients. I am currently only writing for a content mill and making some money but not happy with my earnings. I hardly make enough to pay the bills and have no extra money to put into my business to grow it. I cannot even afford hosting so have no website to promote my writing. I have recently created a Facebook page but unable to decide how else I can promote to find potential clients. I am still charging $0.015/word and would love to increase that but thinking am I good enough. I am sure all freelance writers would agree that we get both good and bad reviews for our writing. I have also received them and don’t know if my writing is worth $0.02/word or more or should I stick to my pricing. I would appreciate all tips and advice.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sid, I recently created a class with Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer — it’s designed for people just like you, who don’t understand the range of opportunities open to freelance writers, or how to get better gigs. It’s called Escape the Content Mills. Another resource I have for writers who need to learn other ways to earn more from writing is my e-book Step by Step Guide to Freelance Writing Success.

      The rates you’re writing for are appalling. The first piece of prose I ever wrote paid $200, quite a long time back. Please don’t let feedback you get on content mills affect your self-worth — it’s all pretty capricious and random on there.

      As long as you write for mills, it will probably be difficult to raise your rates. You’ll need to change how you pursue freelancing to earn more.

  6. Daryl says:

    Hey Nicole,

    It’s great that you had some significant success with your first freelance client, you’re already WAY ahead of the pack.

    To answer your question, my biggest project actually came to me through a freelance writing bid site, while the next biggest project came from a guest post I had written for a well known freelance website.
    Daryl recently posted…No Gigs, No Problem – How to Make Money From Your Freelance Blog Without Freelance Writing ClientsMy Profile

  7. Raymonda says:

    Awesome story. I’m glad you shared it with us!

  8. Veneta says:

    Great article and insights! Thank you 🙂

  9. Karen Briggs says:

    FANTASTIC! If we don’t treat ourselves like professionals, from the first, we can’t expect those great clients we want to do so. Cut rate prices give the impression of cut rate work. You didn’t let fear or inexperience take you or your business in that direction!

  10. Scott says:

    Nicole,

    First off, congratulations on landing those jobs. How did you wind up getting in front of those folks to make your pitch? Are they large or medium sized businesses?
    Scott recently posted…Attention Editors, MarCom Pros & BloggersMy Profile

    • Hi Scott,

      In this particular case, the business found me through my website. They emailed me and requested I meet with them. They are small in the sense that they have only one office in my local city, but their business spans the nation and they have a large client list.
      Nicole Slaughter-Graham recently posted…Book Review: The Wrong ManMy Profile

  11. David Throop says:

    Nicole,
    This is a great testimonial and motivational at the same time.

    I’m still waiting for the “big client”, my Moby Dick as you will, and the one major obstacle I have encountered has been pitching.

    My main issue with pitching is just doing it. I get cold feet, especially cold calling, even though I know that there are services that I have to offer. Some of this may have to do with the initial successes I had starting out, and the stumbling along that came afterward.

    But as you say, sometimes you just need to hit send.
    David Throop recently posted…The Ballad Of John Walker Is Out Now By Kindle PublishingMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      David – stop waiting!

      I call this “Waiting for the luck fairy to bring you a job.”

      Do a lot of marketing, keep raising your rates, and soon you’ll find yourself hopefully with MORE than one big client. 😉

      • David Throop says:

        Thanks Carol!

        I appreciate the reply.

        Sometimes a kick in the behind is what we need. If we didn’t need that, athletes wouldn’t need a coach to keep them on track!

  12. Tom Bentley says:

    Nicole, I immediately thought of that Goethe quote when I read your piece: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”

    So many good things happen from taking action: not fretting, not projecting negative outcomes, but simply doing the research and hitting send. It took me some years into my freelance career before I felt the freedom of that course—sounds like you’re already there. Congrats!
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Cranky in Hawaii? Tree Yourself/Free YourselfMy Profile

  13. Karen says:

    What a fantastic, encouraging read!

  14. I think the exact same way!!!

    If you charge high rates clients will assume you are a pro and that is the main path to start grabbing awesome projects and put yourself and your work at another level.

    Awesome!
    Regards
    Peterson Teixeira

  15. Elke Feuer says:

    Wonderful inspiring story, Nicole! Thanks for sharing.

    I was blessed to stumble into freelance writing including my clients who were referrals from my first client. My next step is to reach out to clients outside my comfort zone, and these tips will be helpful.
    Elke Feuer recently posted…Spreading the PassionMy Profile

  16. Dyan Fox says:

    I had a company contact me through email and ask for a proposal to redo their online store. I told them when I’d have the proposal back to them, emailed it by the deadline and…nothing. No responses to either email. How long is customary before following up with them?

    • Linda says:

      Hi Dylan – similar purchasing is a routine part of my day job. I would wait about a week but not more than that. This sounds like a big job so I am not surprised that they haven’t moved on it already. It’s probably going through different channels for approval. Following up with your contact after about a week will give them an opportunity to let you know if they are planning to use you or someone else (or if they’re still deciding). Good luck!

  17. Great success story, Nicole, and judging from the way you handled this encounter, the first of many! Linda Formichelli just published a great, post yesterday (that dovetails nicely on this discussion) in which she encouraged freelancers not to worry about what the client can afford. (If you didn’t catch it, I would encourage you to check out the Renegade Writer blog.) Keep those wins comin!

  18. Gina Horkey says:

    Awesome – good for you. Thanks for sharing an epic success story Nicole!

  19. Julie Ellis says:

    Yes, my first business customers appeared roughly the same way. The main thing (in my opinion of course)- do not be afraid to tell the real (and big) price for the work. You will have to work hard anyway, and if it’ll be 50$ for big piece of the work… you know.
    Julie Ellis recently posted…Human Trafficking EssayMy Profile

  20. I needed this boost today! Thank you. For me, it took a year of writing articles and asking if they needed help! 🙂
    Williesha Morris recently posted…Reviving Your Inner WriterMy Profile