I’ve written on how to earn more and move up quite a bit. But clearly, it’s not enough. Writers need more information on where the good-paying jobs are.
After my dissection of Demand Studios’ IPO filing, one DS writer on another chat site asked me to stop criticizing DS’s business model and instead, “Lead the people to high paying, lucrative writing assignments. I couldn’t find them.”
So today, I’m going to tell you how to find better-paying clients this very month.
It will require radical action on your part. But if you do it, you are highly likely to change your situation and start earning a better hourly rate.
First, think about where have you been looking for writing work — on online job boards? On bidding sites? On content-mill dashboards? On some combination of these three? (Or, substitute whatever it is you’ve been doing to find writing gigs that hasn’t translated to earning well.)
OK. Here is the experiment to try: Don’t look for work in any of those places.
For a whole month, don’t ever go on those sites, for a single minute.
I can hear you freaking out from here. What will I do? I won’t have any money!
And maybe for one month, you won’t. (If you don’t have one month’s reserves to use in advancing your writing career, read this.) But if you want to put more money in the bank between now and the end of the year, it’s time to change how you look for clients.
At the risk of stating the obvious, if you keep doing what you’ve been doing to market your writing business, you will probably keep getting the same result.
Try something else. Try new, more active ways of marketing your writing. Go where fewer writers are looking.
Look for clients who are not interested in paying the least they can. Instead, they’re interested in getting writing work done that’s amazing.
How can you find these clients? Here are seven proven ways to consider for finding good-paying writing work:
1. SEO your writer Web site. I recently had a Fortune 500 company hire me at $2 a word after finding me through a Google search for “Seattle freelance writer.” (Go ahead, do that and see what happens. I’ll wait. Interesting, huh?) More and more major companies are simply letting their fingers do the Web searching when they need a local writer. Learn more about how to get found online here.
2. Pick up the phone. Make a list of companies in your city that you know are doing well, take a look at their existing marketing materials, come up with an idea for a marketing piece they could use in addition to those (white papers? a brochure? case studies? a blog?), and just call them. Ask for the owner at a smaller company, the marketing manager at a larger one. Introduce yourself, and ask if they use freelance writers. Everyone I know who does this says that somewhere in 20-30 calls, they get at least one client, at professional rates.
3. Meet live humans. Leave your desk and go to networking events. Go to one daily if you can find that many. Meet many people and describe the type of writing work you are looking for. Making in-person connections is a powerful way to find good clients. I’ve rarely attended a networking event without coming away with at least one good new job lead.
4. Find high-exposure writing opportunities. Get your work onto the highest-traffic, most popular, well-regarded sites you can, even if it’s for free. I get a lot of clients who call me after reading high-visibility articles and blogs I’ve written previously. Write quality, and you can find yourself on the front page of big Web sites. When that happens, prospects will call.
5. Query. I know — it’s so old school! But you know what? Query letters get writers really good-paying assignments in both on- and offline publications. I’ve gotten $6,000 in assignments off a single query. Study your targets, and send them story ideas that are perfect for their audience. If you’re not getting results, learn more about how to write great queries.
6. Build your online networks. OK, here’s one thing you can do online — use your social networks to actively put the word out about the kind of clients you’re seeking. Make new connections and chat them up about what they do and who they know. Find every editor you have ever worked with and learn what they’re doing now. Search on LinkedIn for publishers and companies you want to target. Contact them through LI with InMail, through connections, or just by giving them a call. DM people on Twitter. I’ve met two new editors on there recently that have given me assignments.
Just as I was writing this, I got a friendly message on LI from a Seattle writer-friend — he said he’d had a project fall through and was looking for fill-in work, had I heard about any jobs that I didn’t want? Nothing pushy, just a shout-out that listed his expertise areas. I don’t know of anything this instant, but I thought he was so smart to proactively put that out there. I’m fully booked, so I might well hear of something I’d pass on and could refer him. Bet he gets a gig through that great outreach!
7. Write and market your own products. I’m prepping an e-book for sale, and most smart writers I know are doing the same. If you hate pitching editors, spend your free time creating products that could be an ongoing source of passive income for you.
If you aren’t earning well, maybe it’s time to break out of your old habits. Reach out in new ways. Change your marketing strategy. Find what works for you and brings you the writing work you really want, the kind that pays a real, living wage.
Try it, and maybe a month from now, you’ll find you don’t need to go back to your old prospecting habits, because you have better-paying work.
What forms of marketing are finding you good-paying writing jobs? Leave a comment and let us know.
This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection. About 50 of my WM posts, 35 more posts from my old CarolTice.com blog, and much of what’s appeared over the years on Make a Living Writing are all available organized by topic in the Freelance Writers Den. Learn more:
Photo via Flickr user AMagill