Can You Really Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer?

Skeptical business womanI have earned a full-time living from freelancing for over 10 years.

There are more than 500 posts on here describing various aspects of how you can make a living as a freelance writer, too. Most of them are based on my actual experience of finding and working with freelance clients, both magazines and businesses.

I’ve documented my most successful freelance year in detail.

Discussed how I built a lucrative paid blogging niche.

Provided detailed answers to reams of questions from freelancers about how to get started and build your business.

I’ve shared chapter and verse on how I’ve used my writer website and social media to get clients.

I have done everything short of xeroxing my client paychecks and posting them here as I share exactly how I have gotten and worked with freelance writing clients since 2008 on this blog.

From decades back, long before me, books have been published and mentors were busy helping writers learn how to turn their craft into a living.

And yet, at the end of it all, I still get the question in this headline. Often asked a bit bashfully, doubtfully, skeptically, incredulously.

But…so…can you really make a living as a freelance writer?

I also get blog comments like this:

Conny-you're a scam

And this:

Sandy-I have no luck

In case you hadn’t heard: I’m a scam.

There’s a basic feeling in some quarters that if you ever sell anything to anyone that transmits your advice, then it must be a ripoff. That if you really earned a living doing the thing, you’d do that thing instead of teach about it.

For people who believe that, there’s nothing I can do to convince you that you could earn a full-time living with your writing, even though probably 90% of coaches in anything coach full time off their knowledge of their past career.

That’s the norm, and I’m the exception as a coach who’s still a working freelancer.

But for some, that is just snake-oil I’m selling, and not anything that could ever be real.

Which is too bad…because freelance writing is a real career. But there’s a catch: You can only be one if you believe that’s true.

I’ve learned no matter how much evidence you give of the many viable opportunities in freelance writing today, there are some people you will never convince.

Here’s why:

The frame of reference problem

As human beings, how we perceive what’s happening depends on our own experiences.

We contextualize information, putting into our own frame of reference as we evaluate whether it’s believable and credible.

Which is why you get comments like this one:

Jacob-conventional wisdom

And this one, in response to my post about how I earned six figures entirely from freelance gigs in 2011:

Conny-I don't believe youWhen the only other writers you ever talk to are on content mills or stay-at-home mom chat boards, and no one you know has ever earned more than $10 an article or $15,000 in a year, it can be hard to believe what you’re doing is a real living somewhere.

You have no context for that.

If you personally don’t know anyone who has figured out how to earn a living as a writer, or you have tried Craiglist or Elance and had “no luck” finding decent-paying gigs, you might think that’s because it’s not possible to do it.

In reality, all that’s happened is you just haven’t discovered where the paying markets are yet, and how to reach them. Chances are you don’t even have a writer website up, and don’t realize no one is taking you seriously as a result.

Your vision of what is possible is narrow. That can only change when you entertain the possibility that the world might be wider than you ever imagined.

When you start to wonder whether the “conventional wisdom on the Internet” could just be wrong.

That you in fact possess the potential to live a life where you are your own boss, and do what you love for a living.

Can you see the potential?

They say the biggest challenge Moses had wasn’t leading the Israelites through the desert for 40 years.

It was first convincing them, after generations of slavery, that they had the potential to be free.

Some people don’t want to hear that they could be freelance writers. Because then they’ll have to do a whole bunch of scary stuff to pursue their dream. Quit the day job, learn to market themselves, fight their way toward the lifestyle they’ve always dreamed of having.

It’s easier to pronounce it all a myth.

But for those who can see over the horizon, I’d like to help.

And I’d like to ask for your assistance with that today.

Share your success

If you are someone who has found good-paying writing work through my advice — whether the free posts here on the blog, or my classes, or from being a Freelance Writers Den member — I’d appreciate it if you would share your success in the comments below.

I’ve accepted that there will always be skeptics, and that I can’t help every writer. Only the ones who are ready to be helped.

But maybe if people see how many writers are full-time freelancers, it could change a few people’s frame of reference about this career.

They could realize this isn’t a scam, but something they could really do, if they have the drive and the resolve to do it. And a road map from someone who’s been there.

To answer the question, can you make a living as a freelance writer? You most certainly can.

I came from nothing, with no degree or connections, and have paid my bills with it since about 1995. And I am definitely not the only one who earns a living this way.

But don’t take my word for it — read the comments below.

Are you making good money as a freelancer? Leave a comment and tell us your story.

 

 

  1. Chris Peden says:

    Scam? I don’t think so. Since joining the Writer’s Den, I have been able to pick up a client, and have ideas for getting several more. What it takes is practice, hard work and sticking to it.

    Keep these articles coming Carol. It’s always good to know there is light at the end of the tunnel!

    Chris
    Chris Peden recently posted..Inventory System: Which One to Use

  2. Dear Carol,

    Henry Ford Said “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right!”

    There is no need to waste time trying to convince someone whose mind is made up otherwise of how lucrative freelance writing can be if he/she works at it diligently. To those of us who believe and listen and act on what you say, your advice is golden. I am well on the way to freelance writing success since I started reading your blog.

    Sincerely,
    Danielle Olivia

  3. Howdy Carol,

    I have an easy solution for you. Just provide an annual income update with more specifics given you already mention you make more than $100K writing. So instead, break down the revenue mix e.g. how much from actual freelance writing, from products on how to freelance, affiliate income, and advertising.

    I think some people fear that you make most of your income telling people how to write. Just prove them wrong with an income breakdown and you’ll probably actually see MORE income come from your product on how to be a freelance writer!

    Cheers,

    Sa
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Should I Get An MBA To Find A Wealthy Husband Or Wife?

    • Carol Tice says:

      Samurai — I already did! I included a complete chart of my freelance clients and what percent of my income each represented in this post.

      But as I say, nothing will convince those who have made up their minds that $20 is the maximum earnings you can get for an article.

      And my bigger point is if now I choose to devote 100% of my time to coaching, that doesn’t disprove that freelance writing is a career. I earned a full-time living from is for several years back in the 90s and now for 6 years from 2005-2011, before my blog really earned much of anything and the Den was created. It is a career. I’m not teaching because freelancing isn’t really a career…but because I can have more impact on the world and help more people.

      The reality is most coaches don’t do their thing anymore, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to keep doing it. I’m just coming off working about 14 hours a day, 6 days a week for two years, running both my teaching AND my regular freelance work. I don’t want to do that forever.

      Those who’re inside the Den know there are great clients out there, because I refer most of the leads I get to the Den job board, so they can see what’s out there. Recently, we had an agency listing where the client was a Fortune 500 office-supply chain! There’s sooo much opportunity if you know where to look (ie not on Craigslist, Elance, or a mill).

  4. Neil Heater says:

    I have seen scams. I should know as I have gotten sucked into a couple in the past.

    I have written some freelance work and have been paid responsibly. The potential is there, but you have to want to believe AND practically follow-through. A wish list is a want list running on fumes….whereas real success comes from being willing to follow known practices and putting your own style and skill into the fray.

    Carol is nothing more than sincerity and experience on the upward track. Those that have lambasted you before never truly tried to get past themselves and their woe is me attitude. This has NOT been a paid endorsement. (Check in the mail? :)

    Carol thanks for your aid this past year.

    Neil

    (PS I still haven’t figured out to get an avatar on this page lol)

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Neil — upload one to Gravatar and I think it’ll suck it over from there.

      Love your saying about wish lists! And thanks for the vote of confidence.

  5. Rob says:

    Wow! Thanks for the heads up! I believed all you were saying. For awhile there, I got suckered into making up to 10 times what I used to make on content mills and bidding sites. Now that I know you’re a scam artist, I’m going to quit working for better paying clients and go back to the $10 treadmill.
    Rob recently posted..Here’s How Rob Schneider Writes

  6. Willi Morris says:

    Hey, Carol: Remember that time I was kinda ticked off at you and then in the *same* email, I pitched a second query to you for this blog? That post generated 100 views to my site that first day, (a lot for me) my highest view count to date. It also got a lot of retweets.

    Why? Not because I’m some stellar writer but because people trust you.

    I spent my whole life being a writer, but being an ex-journalist in the 21st century is hard. I have been out of the writing-for-pay game for years now. Your advice has given me the motivation and encouragement to start over as a freelance writer. I’m not making a full time living, but I’m getting paid more than I thought possible.

    Guys, Carol is a *real person*. She will actually respond to emails genuinely. The reason why I admire her is because she has so much knowledge but still takes time out for semi-newbies like me.
    Willi Morris recently posted..A New Beginning – Welcome to My Freelance Life.com

    • Willi Morris says:

      PS – OMG Make a Living Writing is the NAME of your site! People ask this!?

      PPS – Don’t feed the trolls! :-)

      PPPS – I’ve been writing since before I knew how to spell. But all the talent in the world cannot prepare you for the work involved in being a successful freelance writer. I hope to get there soon.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I didn’t remember you were ticked off…think the good ideas tend to stick in my mind, Willi. ;-)

      And you’re never an ex-journalist. That training gives you an edge in getting a lot of clients!

      Getting paid more than you thought possible…is awesome. Thanks for sharing that!

      Next, enlarge what you think is possible, and then make more than THAT. Lather, rinse, repeat, and you’re there.

      I can tell you when I left being a staff journalist I had never made more than $60K and I thought it would be amazing just to replace that income. It took me a while to realize how much MORE I could make as a freelancer, where your earning potential is unlimited. But once I did, wow!

  7. Jennifer says:

    I completely agree with your post. I freelance about 20 hours a week (plus work only 5-10 hours a week for about 8 weeks a year when the kids are off school) and last year made $40,000. This year I am on track to make about $55,000. Very good for part-time, flexible work that I do from my kitchen table.

    I have found Carol’s advice invaluable, including her job board, weekly calls, boot camps and posts. She is definitely not a scam, but someone who genuinely wants other writers to succeed.

    People often ask me how I got such a great job and how they can find the same gig. And I tell them that I started my own business and made my own job. I then usually talk about how many rejections I got and how many mornings I am at my computer when it is still dark outside. I think that the biggest key is to approach freelance writing as a business. That means having a website, making decisions on what jobs to make, having goals and hiring things out when they make sense.

    The other key I found was to set goals that I am in control of. It’s easy to feel discouraged if you set a goal like get so many things published. So instead I set marketing goals, like send out 50 LOI’s this month or make 10 new contacts. If you do the marketing then the other goals just seem to work out. The other key is to have a set hourly rate that you want to meet and to turn down work if it doesn’t meet that goal. The only exception to that for me is when I will learn a new skill that I can use to make more money with other clients. (For example, I try to earn $75 to $100 per hour on all projects, but I took a copywriting client in January paying only $50. But it is regular work and I have gained experience that I wouldn’t have gotten that I can use to make more money).

    I believe that being a great writer is only a part of being successful and I think you actually only need to be a good writer. The rest is persistence, business smarts, hard work, marketing and treating your career like a business.
    Jennifer recently posted..Why Freelance Writers Should Consider Content Marketing Writing

    • Thanks for the reality check, Jennifer. Some people think that freelancing should be like a regular job, like you’re hired today, start tomorrow, and get paid twice a month. It all goes back that paradigm shift that has to happen.
      Sarah L. Webb recently posted..The Courage to Speak

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing your great success Jennifer — that’s NICE money for part time!

    • You do have to be a bit careful on that minimum-number-of-LOIs, etc., approach–it can be easy to start concentrating on “making quota” at the expense of making each individual letter the best it can be. There’s a quote (probably a dozen of them) something like, “Better 20 well-focused resumes sent to 20 carefully-chosen targets in a week, than 2,000 dashed-off copies thrown randomly in the same week at everyone whom your mind can remotely connect with your interest.”

      On the flip side, better 10 average LOIs actually sent than 50 which are still being polished through “research” six months later!
      Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

  8. Cathie Ericson says:

    Carol is a real person, and a successful and generous one.

    I found MALW when I pitched Carol on one of my PR clients that seemed to fit a niche she was writing about for Inc. magazine. It wasn’t a fit but even better, I discovered this website!

    I have been doing PR for years and was eager to transition more into straight writing. With the help of this website, I have focused on devoting more efforts to finding writing clients and have learned what the right price point is so I can bid with confidence.

    I still maintain PR clients, as I’ve found business clients to be more lucrative than magazines at this point in my career.

    But it uses a very similar skill set since much of what I do for PR clients is writing anyway…it’s just a different tone than journalism.

    Through this website I’ve also been able to learn more about the freelance market and mindset for when I want to pitch my PR clients to freelancers (since I obviously never write about them myself…conflict of interest).

    I just finished my May invoices last night and sent out five figures worth…it’s the first time I’ve cracked that though I come close each month. Yes, a percentage of that is PR but the writing part is growing more and more each month.

    I need to devote more time to developing relationships with editors to pitch bigger magazines, but I also love writing for my business clients and sprinkling in other PR disciplines.

    I don’t doubt for a second there are a lot of people who make six figures as freelance writers. With any business, it comes down to building relationships with your clients (whether they are businesses or editors) and becoming the go-to person for them — and those they will refer.

    • Cathie Ericson says:

      I mean generous with her wisdom and mentoring…though I would imagine she is generous in other ways too. :)

      And the reason she doesn’t mind “giving away her secrets” is that she knows it’s not a finite pie of work. There is plenty of work out there!

      • Carol Tice says:

        Thanks for bringing that up. There are two outlooks on the marketplace, one of a tiny pie of good stuff we have to fight over, and one of a HUGE marketplace with almost unlimited, pent-up demand for our services from businesses where the owner is so overwhelmed they don’t even have time to place an ad.

        I’ve seen up close that the reality is the latter. SO much opportunity. That’s why I can happily refer a lot of leads to the Den. I know more ones will be coming shortly, if I want another client.

        • Lynne says:

          While I’m not writing full-time, that’s because I choose not to. Combining it with another job is more convenient, at the moment.

          That said, I’m _turning down_ work, because I don’t have the time, and I delayed sending out queries during the audited J-school because several large plum projects fell in my lap all at once. (Carol: I’d sent you an email at the time, mentioning one of them. Two more arrived the next day.)

          If you have the skills and the guts to leave the beaten path, you sure can make a living out of this.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Congrats on your first 10K month, Cathie! Doesn’t that feel great? I remember the first time I billed $14K in a month…I was totally staggered.

      Thanks for sharing how you’ve used this site to grow your freelance writing income. I love to see people taking the advice and going out and getting the wins. That’s why I do it.

  9. Wow – some people will say almost anything to avoid taking responsibility.

    I am truly sorry to learn that there are people out there who send you this kind of “stuff”. Not that I know or care if you are a saint, but it is readily apparent to me that you provide real value to your subscribers. And that you care about their success if for no other reason then that your success is ultimately tied to ours.

    Yes, absolutely you can make a living as a freelancer in the service business. I have been doing it since 1974. Writing is one thing you can do. I looked up the term freelance on Wikipedia and came up with this “proof”.

    “According to the 2012 Freelance Industry Report compiled primarily about North America freelancing, nearly half of freelancers do writing work, with 18% of freelancers listing writing as a primary skill, 10% editing/copyediting, and 10% as copywriting.”

    I am generalizing to service business to make a larger point I first absorbed from Bob Dylan’s immortal (and brutally appropriate) phrase: “to live outside the law you must be honest”…

    You must be honest with yourself that no one but you cares about your success so if you want some, you best go get it. You have to be honest with yourself about what you are and are not good at. You have to be honest with yourself that you are going to have good months and bad – and also better years and poorer ones.

    You must also be honest with your clients. About when you will in fact deliver what they have entrusted you to do. What you need from them to get it done. And what you need to get paid to make it worth your while.

    The etymology of “freelancer” says it all. It comes from the word mercenary. A free lance… a spear or a gun for hire. Best to keep your armor on, your weapons sharp and a keen eye out… You are a warrior and you must act like one… Be honest with yourself about that too.

    • Suzanne says:

      Freelance, a gun for hire. Warrior. I love it!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for finding that stat, Christopher! And reminding us all of the real meaning of freelance.

      As one commenter said above, the trick is realizing it’s a business. Most writers I meet haven’t had that realization yet. It’s all creativity and muses striking you and rainbows.

      I was lucky to work as a staff writer for a long time and have to write several stories every week no matter what…that served me well in treating freelance as a business, too.

  10. Suzanne says:

    I feel bad for people with such narrow views of what the future could hold. Kind of hard to let new opportunity in when you don’t believe it exists. I’ve been freelancing for less than 3 months, and am heavily booked with 7 clients. Plus, today my first magazine article, sold to a major regional publication, is due. Most of these clients are not top paying, but well above mills. Next step is cutting loose the lower paying clients to make room for better ones.

    I did buy an online class from someone other than Carol and found disappointment. Look at where and how frequently people have been published to make sure you get your money’s worth. Google the teacher to see if her name pops up in places beyond the personal website. Carol still writes for top-tier mags. That’s enough credential for me.

    Sorry for this long post, but one more thing. Getting clients takes a lot of hard, hard work. It gets tough. It gets lonely. If you have time or energy to whine about how freelancing is impossible, I say shut the heck up and go make some cold calls.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Suzanne — Wow, thanks for sharing your great — and quick — success story!

      It’s amazing what marketing hard can do to shoot up your income fast. ;-)

  11. Debbie Kane says:

    In the 3 years I’ve been reading this blog and participated in Writers Den forums/workshops, I’ve learned valuable tools for running a freelance business, created a writer website, and learned social media skills I would’ve never learned on my own that have enabled me to increase my value to clients. I’ve never written for content mills, still write articles for print publications, and have a diversified client base. My income has doubled since I started my business. Luck? Carol’s knowledge? Chutzpah? Luck may be part of it, but I’ll chalk it up to Carol’s knowledge and willingness to share as well as encouraging chutzpah.

    And if that means I’m “drinking the Kool-Aid” than so be it.
    Debbie Kane recently posted..Thanks for visiting

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Debbie — I chalk it up to you taking action on the information. That’s what makes the difference.

      Love to hear you’ve doubled your income!

  12. Lisa Baker says:

    I’ll be billing $675 for the work I do in my two work days this week. Granted, it’s a good week. :) I’m a part-time freelancer, and I’m still just getting started, but I’ve made more money so far this year than I would have dreamed possible — and it’s only going up. Every cent I’ve made as a writer is 100% thanks to Carol’s amazing advice here and in the Den. And $25/month is a STEAL. The Den is worth four times that. Seriously, every day I’m amazed by all the resources and value there. I tell all my freelance writing friends: the Den has everything you need. If you join and follow the advice there, you will succeed. If you can write competently, you’ve got everything you need — all that’s missing is a little knowledge and a whole heck of a lot of marketing. :)

    Also, I think people don’t realize how resource-rich the Den is! It’s not your average membership site. I’ve been there a year, and I haven’t come close to reading all the resources yet. I haven’t had time — I’ve been too busy with the clients I’ve gotten from applying the advice I did have time to read!
    Lisa Baker recently posted..16 Chores Your Toddler Can Do

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Lisa –

      Love your success story. A lot of women want to work part-time and be a mom, and I love that my advice is making that possible for you.

      And now that our Other Den Mother Linda Formichelli hosts some of our weekly Den Meetings, even I haven’t heard all the Den resources yet!

      What you say is exactly what I expect — that writers SHOULD be too busy getting clients to consume every single recording. The point is to pick and choose the Den resources you need, consume those, and then ACT on them. Just like you’re doing. Keep it up!

  13. Halina says:

    I guess it’s easier to blame someone else for your failure than to look deep within yourself and admit that, yeah, there are some things you could’ve done better. As for Carol Tice being a scam, she’s not the only freelance writer who has made a decent living from freelance writing. Dr. Alan Dove, whom I recently heard at UW Madison (and who is interviewed here http://www.thepostdocway.com/node/99) also makes a pretty decent income from freelance writing. When he was pushing himself to make money from his writing, he earned as much as $75K/year. It is possible. But it’s not going to be possible if you’re just looking to make lots of cash from little to no effort. Of course, that’s where it’s easier to just blame someone else for your own shortcomings.

    On a side note, I joined the Freelance Writers Den May 9th of this year and have already scored a new editing post with AJE and an interview with a blogger through its job board. Thanks Carol!
    Halina recently posted..Catch me at UW’s Taking Charge of Your Career April 6th

  14. Lisa Baker says:

    Also, I find it kind of mind-boggling that you still get this question, Carol! When I saw your headline, I thought it must be a rerun of an old post. :)
    Lisa Baker recently posted..16 Chores Your Toddler Can Do

    • When a blogger continues to reiterate a topic from the past, what it shows is doubt in the blogger’s mind of whether s/he feels legitimate about the subject. It’s the desire for reinforcement by readers. Trust me, I’m a blogging psychologist :)
      Financial Samurai recently posted..Are You A Real Investor If You Do Not Produce Alpha?

      • Carol Tice says:

        Or just that I wanted to officially address this question square-on in a way I haven’t in the past. That this is a real career, for those willing to market themselves. The fact that I keep getting the question made me feel we should discuss it…and judging from the reaction that was a good idea!

    • I thought exactly the same thing! Figured maybe Carol had snuck off on vacation and re-published a golden oldie.
      Sophie Lizard recently posted..How Facebook Helps You Find Freelance Blogging Jobs

      • Carol Tice says:

        I’ve actually not done this topic before, stopping and asking the basic question of whether earning a living as a freelancer is real. You’d think with the name of this blog we already had it covered…but the string of comments I’d gotten questioning whether it’s a mirage made me want to take a day to discuss this more.

  15. Hi Carol,

    I’d like to share a bit about my story as a successful full-time freelance writer. I quit my job a little over a year ago. I had been doing some freelance writing on the side of my day job for a year prior to that, but I saved up and was ready to take the jump to full-time freelance.

    Completely booking myself with work wasn’t so easy for me at first, but I persevered through the first several months.

    Now, I’m basically booked with all the work I can handle. I regularly get paid over $100 per article I write. I’ve had one regular client that’s paid me over $17,000 alone in the past 12 months. I’ve been fortunate enough to have my choice of clients since I’m so busy, and I’m sure I’ll be raising my rates soon.

    Like success in may fields, making a living being a freelance writer isn’t easy. But like you said, I’ve come to believe I can do it, and my income has been increasing ever since.

    Thanks for all your helpful posts and guides along the way. I’m not sure I’d be as successful today without them.
    Jeffrey Trull recently posted..Blogging For SEO: Maximize Results With a Few Tricks

  16. Really? All it takes is a bare minimum google search to find a laundry list of full time freelance writers, so we shouldn’t take these folks too seriously.

    I am a freelance writer. I’ve only been at it for a year, so I’m not making nearly as much money as Carol, but I’m making a living, and thanks to people like Carol, I’m equipped to make more money over the years.

    I just had coffee with a great client that I’m excited to do business with on a project that’ll make me a few thousand dollars!

    I’ll also admit that I am responsible for not fully implementing everything I’ve been taught to do, which may be slowing my progress. But I’m willing to accept that as my fault rather than blame Carol as a way to shuck responsibility.

    Even my imperfect attempts at implementing Carol’s advice have literally paid off, sometimes doubling what I made while cutting my work in half!

    Also, the FREE in freelance, means you can offer whatever services you want as part of your business plan. That includes coaching, affiliate sales, and anything else you’re wise enough to think of.

    AND, how foolish people are to think that just because they can’t do something, that must mean no one else can do it either.

    SMH
    Sarah L. Webb recently posted..The Courage to Speak

  17. Angie says:

    Well, I can’t believe I let you scam me, Carol.

    I let you scam me into ditching content mills and finding the big client who’s paid the majority of my bills for the past three years.

    I let you scam me into using that client as a reference to land another decent client.

    I let you scam me into building up my website and turning into a professional showcase of my writing ability…which led to another client finding me and hiring me for a blogging gig.

    I always thought I was too smart to fall for scams. I’ve gotta say, though…I’ve never been so glad to be so gullible. ;)
    Angie recently posted..A Geek Walks Into a Bar: How Humor Helps You Cope with Stress

  18. At the start of this post I felt personally offended. I have been a paid member of the Den for a while now and I am a graduate of the Blast-Off Class. The Freelance Writers Den has helped me get on solid footing and since joining nine months ago, I make a full-time living freelance writing. I attribute that accomplishment to following the models you and your network teach in the Den, and applying the WORKING principles you promote.

    Then I realized the people making these comments will probably never be happy.

    Everyone wants a shortcut. They want the easy route to a steady income. I guess they assume you’re one of those people who says you can make six figures out of the gate. I’ve followed your story and I know that you are a testament to the benefits of years of solid, hard work.

    It’s sad that there are people who can only cut down the accomplishments of others. I find you and Linda to be nothing but inspiring, and every time I start to feel myself slip, I remember a Den call where Linda said she spent the first years of her career marketing 40 hours per week.

    You get what you give. And some people want to get without giving. It’s sad, but true.

    • Carol Tice says:

      All true, Prudence…I think a common problem is writers are checking Craigslist or their mill dashboard and think they ARE marketing their writing. They don’t know any other way to do it, so it seems pretty hopeless.

      Some of those writers have decade-long staff careers behind them, too! I recently heard from one guy with a long PR staff experience who now writes hundreds of mill articles and is slowly starving. I don’t know why people with experience and a portfolio would go that route, but so many have told me, “Before I read your blog, I didn’t know there was anything except Elance for earning money.” Or Demand.

      Then others you can show all the options, as I do in my Marketing 101 free course, and they still take no action. These are people who are not cut out to be freelancers. I think the dark secret no one dares speak is not everyone is. You do have to be willing to put it out there.

  19. Hi Carol,
    I’m sorry people are leaving comments like that. I’ve been making a living as a freelance writer for 11 years now. At my top, I was making $60,000 a year – not six figures, but a decent salary all the same. My salary has fallen some since the recession and after I moved to another state, but I’m still able to find work that pays my bills. Yes, making a living as a freelancer can be hard, but it’s also do-able. I believe there will always be freelance writing gigs for people who are talented and professional. My guess is the naysayers are missing one or both of those qualities.
    Donna
    Donna Gregory recently posted..Hello world!

  20. When I signed up for Carol’s free marketing course a year ago, I’d just lost a big client and only had a few hours of freelance writing work per week. Next, in July 2012, I joined the Freelance Writers Den. Now I reliably earn $100 or more per hour and I only *need* to work part-time!

    Total scam. Can’t believe you fooled me into making so much money.
    Sophie Lizard recently posted..52 Totally Free Resources for Freelance Bloggers

  21. Erika says:

    I think you’re completely right about the “frame of reference” problem. Like Carrie (and a lot of others) I came from PR background. For me, that was a positive frame of reference. I knew how much my firm was paid, and how much we paid freelancers and consultants. I was already a believer that the money was there. Carol helped me position myself as a writer and from there I found the right clients.

    I work part-time, 15-20 hours a week. I have two steady clients that earn me about 65K as a base salary which is all I need to earn and everything else is gravy – meaning I can choose to do projects if I have time and if they’re interesting to me or will expand my skills in some way.

  22. Clare says:

    Hi Carol,

    Just reading your mail on a well-deserved break after busting my ass to meet deadline for a national newspaper. Two years ago I’s never had a single thing published, and since then I’ve built my freelance business up from part-time, I now have work coming out of my ears and I’m actually paying my bills with my writing.

    It’s been incredibly difficult to get here. Paperwork, taxes, deadlines, difficult clients, trying to discipline myself to actually get the work done, sacrificing free time and saving up the money to go full-time – but it’s all been worth it! And I surely couldn’t have done it without knowing that others have gone before me and not fallen flat on their faces, not to mention having a benchmark to check my latest “crazy” idea against – and find it’s not that crazy after all, and I’m actually NOT doing everything wrong and making an idiot out of myself.

    I don’t know anyone in my city who writes for a living successfully (though I’ve met a few who have tried, failed and become rather bitter!) so these online resources are incredibly helpful. Your posts have been especially encouraging as, like you, I have no degree and half expect to be spotted and unceremoniously booted out of the “writers’ club” any moment. If that ever happens I’ll let you know, but it seems less and less likely all the time…

    So thank you and keep up the good work!!!

    Clare

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Clare — thanks for sharing your great success! I don’t know if I have another freelance writer in my small town, either. Thanks, Internet, for giving us a way to come together.

  23. Joe says:

    Carol, I have come to your site on a regular basis to learn and become a better writer. I don’t write for pay (yet). I have a very steady corporate job, and although it looks secure now, I know that can change on a dime. Armed with the information that you share here, I’m confident I could be supporting my family in 3-6 months selling my writing skills if I ever did lose the job.

    If you have the courage to market yourself and your business, you can sell anything. Your content helps many writers do just that. To hell with the haters.
    Joe recently posted..Chasing Your Version Of “The American Dream”

  24. I have a feeling that if you were scamming people, you would charge a little more than $25 for membership in the Den!
    Katharine Paljug recently posted..Reading Round-Up May 31st

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know, I know people who are charging $47 and more for their monthly communities, but I feel good about $25. But still hear from people who think that’s a ripoff, as you see above. Whatever. Also from people worried I’ll raise the price, but I’m not going to.

      The reason it has a fee, in part, is because what I love most is to work with people who are SERIOUS about their careers and will take action on the advice and go out and get the income. Creating a small financial barrier means the Den attracts those serious freelancers, and I love working with all of you.

  25. I make between 40 cents and $1.33 a word for the work I do for a set of regular clients I’ve built up since I started making a real effort to market my services 18 months ago.

    That translates into between $800 and $2000 per feature-length article. I’ve never written for a glossy, consumer magazine. I would bet the vast majority of people have never heard of most of the publications I write for.

    Some of that success is due to training and experience I had before I joined the Den, but I have been in it since the beginning, and some of that success is due to what I’ve learned there.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sounds like most of the success is due to you hustling your butt off, Elizabeth! Congrats on moving up to better rates.

      • Thanks. I do know that there’s a huge gap between what I could be doing, marketing wise, and what I’m actually doing. That’s one of the reasons I know I can find even more clients who will pay what I’m worth.

        Others have said this, but I’ll repeat it: the Den and this blog have opened my eyes to new markets, new marketing methods, and new niches I had not previously considered. Membership has paid for itself many times over.

  26. I’ve been on the net since 1998 and I’ve seen seen some scams – good grief I have but this is not one of them! I confess that there were times that I started to think that the ‘only’ way to make money through writing was to be telling other people how to make money writing. But instead of lashing out at the people who were doing it, I started to look at my own issues, my own internal voice that likes to chant ‘you can’t, you CAN’T’ because that was what I was told as a child. You know what..to hell with that! I can and I have! I have been paid $100 for a blog post and that was the key that switched my mind-set.

    Whilst I am not ‘full-time *yet*, I have been working my backside off building up my website so that when my book is finished I have an audience to market to. I have chosen to follow my own path producing my own ebooks.

    I read your site Carol because you are a constant inspiration. Even though I am not technically freelancing, your posts are inspiration for writers of all kinds who want to simply be paid to write. So thank you for the inspiration and for telling us
    “You can”.
    Leah Whitehorse recently posted..New Moon in Gemini – June 2013 – Two Sides to Every Story

  27. Anthony says:

    Carol,

    You should be ashamed of yourself for trying to trick the entire internet into believing that making a career out of freelance writing is possible. And whoever gave you all of your journalism awards must have totally missed the fact that you’re a “snake-oil saleswoman”!

    Seriously though, I had to comment to share my experiences. Reading your (free) blog posts led me to raise my rates and work on developing my craft (two of the reasons many freelancers don’t earn what they should). The success I found as a result of those two actions led me to join The Den–where I found TONS of helpful advice, resources, and other writers who were/are supportive.

    I enrolled in 4-Week Journalism School and as a direct result of what I learned in your course I got 5 paid blogging gigs with one query letter.

    My only focus now is more consistent marketing, more consistent writing, and getting better at my craft–none of which is Carol Tice’s responsibility–and if other writers spent more time on the activities that are critical to a freelance career (learning, marketing, WORKING, and networking) instead of looking for someone to blame, they would have more results to show.

    Maybe some of these complainers should read the more personal posts where you and Linda F share some of your own challenges that you *still* face as freelancers to see that every writer has problems…but the ones that persevere will find success.

    Anthony

    PS- I don’t know of many scam artists that share their telephone number with their mentoring students and give complimentary mentoring sessions like you did a few months back…..
    Anthony recently posted..Can You Really Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer?

    • Carol Tice says:

      Love hearing the resources helped you get clients, Anthony! And thanks for adding to our body of evidence that freelance writing is a real career…for those who pursue it.

      And I loved doing that free mentoring phone-in day! I’ll probably have to do that again sometime this summer for my subscribers.

  28. Cheryl Rhodes says:

    I thought Conny’s comments were funny! There are scams out there. One of my husband’s scammy friends buys into them all and drags my husband in.

    The $25 monthly den fee more than makes up for it with access to the weekly meetings with writing professionals. Plus access to past recorded events and the forum where we can get help with writing queries, web page presentation, rant, offer advice, and meet others.

    Since joining the Den, through signing up for a J-school class in 2012, it opened my eyes to other writing – mainly writing for businesses which had never really occurred to me. I read past reviews on other Den members letters of introduction to get an idea of how I should approach businesses, and started firing off LOI’s. I’ve got one steady weekly customer, and continuing to send out letters looking to add 3 or 4 weekly clients, and I’m writing more for trade magazines than I did before.

    Mostly I learned from the Den to step up my game and be faster about writing queries and the more I have floating around out there, the higher the chances of getting writing work.

  29. Tom Bentley says:

    Carol, I’ve been freelancing longer than you (with a couple of stints of corporate writing mixed in) and though I haven’t hit six figures, I do well enough so I can spend some time with my fiction writing, getting out and exercising every day, not have to face an arduous commute, and generally make my own choices of clients and workload.

    The resources offered through the Den are flat-out fantastic. The breadth of sound, actionable advice on EVERYTHING related to freelancing—billing, marketing, dealing with client complications, querying, letters of introduction, writer websites, freelancing states of mind—is extraordinary. You have remarkable interview guests from the world of writing who offer great tips. You and Linda answer questions, from beginners and experienced writers, in thoughtful, helpful ways. You never phone it in.

    I could go on about all that the Den offers, and your and Linda’s credibility as working writers with a wealth of sound advice, but I’ll just state the core: The Den is legit, you have massive cred, and as for the mewlings of small-minded carpers, they are imbeciles, best ignored.
    Tom Bentley recently posted..The Viking Origin of Editing

  30. June Whittle says:

    Thanks for this inspirational post Carol. This is the encouragement I need as I’ve recently stepped out as a self-employed freelance copywriter. I must admit, it’s a bit hard to get started and sometimes I feel slightly disheartened. That’s mostly because my youngest daughter just gave birth. She’s living with me and I have to devote a lot of time in helping her with her new baby. Therefore, I’m finding it hard to focus on my writing business.

    However, it’s a temporary thing. I know that in order to pay the bills I will have to buckle down, set goals and work towards achieving them. Your articles have always inspired me and this one even more so.

    I haven’t earned a lot from freelance writing but I’ve been a team member of Writers in Charge for a few months. I get regular income from the posts I contribute to Oni’s blog. I’m certain that my new writing career will only get better from now on. Although I know that I must put in the time and effort to see results.

    I was a member of the Den last year but had to cancel my membership because of lack of funds. But I intend to join again when you next open for registration. I received a lot of information and advice during the time I was a member.

    Thanks again for this valuable post.
    June Whittle recently posted..My Journey From Teaching To Working From Home As A Copywriter

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi June — that’s cool that you’re guesting for Oni! Thought I saw you over there. ;-)

      I’m sure once you have more time to focus on it, you’ll add more paying clients.

  31. I actually *don’t* make most of my money as a freelance writer these days, and just wanted to chime in on that. It’s not because it’s not *possible*, but because I’d rather focus my writing attention on other things – writing and publishing novels, for instance, which takes a lot longer and pays a lot less, but gives me more pleasure.

    Currently my day job is freelancing as a transcriptionist, which is fun work (for me), and pays the bills. It is pretty straightforward and allows me to work from home, which means I can write when I feel like it. It also gives me lots of things to think about, which may one day work their way into my stories.

    I have, however, made 100% of my living in the past as a freelance writer, and it can definitely be done! I have previously written a column for a local newspaper, business profiles for the Yellow Pages’ website, and assorted articles for websites around the world. I currently write for places like Travel & Leisure, Mapquest and Expedia, and although it’s not full time, I could definitely take that into full-time work using Carol’s tips, if that was my goal.

    Carol’s advice is not just smoke and mirrors; she has done most everything she encourages readers to do, which is how she knows these tips work. Why wouldn’t you want to learn from someone who’s been there and done that, and can offer legitimately helpful advice? I guess some people just prefer to sit on the sidelines complaining, or taking the easy way at content mills, and that’s sad, but that’s their choice.
    Laura Roberts recently posted..June Haiku Contest — Write your best summertime haiku

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Laura — thanks for sharing your experience. And funnily enough, when I started freelancing I was doing a lot of transcribing and script typing, too! I enjoyed transcribing as well. ;-)

  32. Carol, thanks for posting this. While I haven’t made the leap yet from paid employee with benefits to self-employed freelancer, your posts encourage me so much. I’ve been gathering my own clientele, and charging $50-$60/hour. I signed a contract as a consultant with an company last week – and I’m pretty ecstatic with my progress.

    And even better…I’m know I’m WORTH it. You’ve helped my confident grow and I will continue taking steps towards making my freelancing a larger chunk of my income. It really is possible.

    As Catherine Kaputa (branding strategist) wrote, “I have found that almost ANYTHING is attainable if you can concieve of and express it.”
    Crystalee Beck (@delighted2write) recently posted..How my mom influenced my writing journey

  33. Unless you believe that you are a writer, you never will be one. I no longer call myself an aspiring writer – that mindset allows me to avoid responsibility for my success. No, I am a writer, and only I can determine whether or not I will be successful.

    I have been reading your blog for several months now. I always come away with something new. I recently had a great opportunity to pitch an article at a writer’s conference. This was my first ever legitimate pitch. I took the risk and pitched a feature piece. I was thrilled to watch his face light up as I related the story I want to tell. I was invited to submit a formal pitch, which the managing director will help me polish prior to sending it to the editor. He wants my story.

    Why was I successful? Because I took the advice I found here and applied it to my pitch. The most important thing I did? I spent several hours researching the magazine. I understood the type of writing they want, I understood the type of story the prefer, I understood the audience they market to. I took all of this knowledge, found the perfect story that few people have heard of, and pitched it.

    What a rush. I have finished the second draft of the pitch. It is percolating right now, but I will finish and submit it tomorrow. I don’t believe I would have been able to do this without sites like MALW.

    So, to the naysayers? Your loss.
    Rhonda Kronyk recently posted..How Not to Foster Your Creativity

  34. Nida Sea says:

    No, you’re not a scam. I’ve been scammed before with plenty of other options and promises of, “Make thousands in a day!” I’ve also been caught up in the content mill race and assumed like many others, that was the only way to make money freelance writing.

    When I decided to actually use my Den membership and try your ideas and suggestions, Carol, I landed a great client and make more money off a few articles a week than I did writing for mills. Now I’m hooked on contacting clients! I call them up like it’s an everyday thing, which it is, and snag more work.

    I can’t say much more than what everybody else has said on the comments here. They’re right. Lots of people want a shortcut, or easy way, or someone to do it for them. I experienced that in college group projects, and it disgusted me to see how many people complained that they couldn’t help with the project because they didn’t know what they were supposed to do. Eh, it’s called ‘reading’, OK? Can’t you read the instructions and follow along?

    That’s a bit off topic. Anyway, my point is you can get all the information and knowledge you need, but if you don’t do anything with it, you can’t blame anyone but yourself. I had to learn that, too, so at one time I may have been a non-believer as well.

    Great post, Carol! :)
    Nida Sea recently posted..How Not To Contribute To a Monthly Savings (And How I blew $12,000 in One Month)

  35. It’s not you, it’s them.

    It can be so easy to get blinded by the content mill/bidding site race to the bottom. When that happens, it looks like these sites are driving the prices down so low that the only way to earn a living is to work 20 hours a day grinding out ehow pieces, one after the other until your eyes cross and your fingers cramp.

    But the real damage the content mills are doing is killing writers’ confidence. Good-paying jobs are out there. They require work to find, but they are there. If you are stuck in the bidding site race, though, you just don’t have the time or energy to see them or go after them.

    A couple of my successes are due to the Den. There is the one letter of introduction that netted me $7,000 in income, which I wrote after taking the How to Make a Good Living Writing Online. Or the ongoing blogging gig for $600-750 per month that you shared in the Den last May. (Yeah, I’ve been blogging for them for over a year now.)

    Much as I would love for everyone to believe that the possibilities for freelance writers are limitless — because they are — that concept of scarcity is deeply ingrained and hard to combat. Keep fighting the good fight for freelancers everywhere.

  36. The real scam is the one people run on themselves when they decide that if they just find the step-by-step details of what worked for someone else, and follow it perfectly themselves, they can experience the same level of success without having to do the extra work involved in customizing the principles to YOURSELF. I know. I was one of those for years–though I didn’t blame anyone except myself, and maybe fate, as I came very close to concluding I was just born to fail. That is, mind you, coming from someone who has an M. A. with a GPA of over 3.9, and a near-flawless record of dependability when working to parameters someone else has set; but there’s something very frightening about accepting primary responsibility for the “bigger picture” of your life direction.

    The primary lesson here? Talent alone doesn’t guarantee success; diligence will only take you so far in itself (and only if it’s aimed in the right direction). PASSION and ENTHUSIASM–loving and believing in what you do–are the only things that will lead you to phenomenal success. And those can come only if the path you choose is customized to your unique temperament.
    Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

  37. Hi Carol,

    Loved reading the comments in the post. Any writer worth their ink has a pretty good BS detector. Reading your posts and subscribing to your blog is an online privilege. That someone takes time to hang a ‘scam’ tag is pretty funny.

    Thanks for being so honest and up front about freelance writing.

    David
    David Gillaspie recently posted..Life And Death In Boomer Portland

  38. Jordan Clary says:

    I’m certainly counting on your advice being solid! I have one week left of an incredibly poor paying staff writer position at a newspaper and will be going full time freelance. I DO have some work lined up already so am not jumping off a cliff. I have a masters in English, clips and am still terrified, but this site was a big boost in giving me the confidence to take the leap.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing how my blog helped, Jordan!

      With a Master’s under your belt and newspaper clips, you’re miles ahead of so many writers who are trying to freelance. You’ll be surprised how many magazines and businesses will value that training…just get out there and ask!

  39. AM Roach says:

    I was under the impression that I was earning great part-time income writing for content mills until I got dissed a few times too many. One company I worked for, making $800 a month (woot), simply went out of business with no notice except an email that read something like “You’re out your paycheck.” Then, I tried getting work for other content mills only to experience being demeaned for $2.00 – $11.00 a piece provided I passed tests “qualifying” me to write them. I only hold a Bachelor’s Degree in English, but still I have been published in small magazines (which friends edit, so that helps. I didn’t get paid, but my goodness, I know I can speeell at least). The rules were ridiculous, the demands even more so, but the pay – cruddy to say the least. Now, with this blog I have at least ventured out into the writing world with a new blog of my own, a Google plus profile and plenty of places to research getting decent paying gigs from. Yes, I may have to wait but I understand a new book out there mentions something called a “greedy algorhythm” where you want to hurry up and make money (ie through a content mill that will pay you next week) but it causes you to lose sight of the bigger picture (put the time and effort in and find work that not only pays well, but feeds your writer’s soul). I say, thank you for this newsletter and blog because it’s a tremendous resource for learning!
    AM Roach recently posted..I forgot free speech was undergoing a change online

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks AM — and I so agree with that greedy algorithm problem — I wrote about it recently here: Why Writing For Free is Better Than Writing for $20

    • Maybe it’s not greed so much as fear–like the girl who marries an abusive philanderer because he was the first one to propose and she thought “this may be my only chance and I probably couldn’t do any better anyway.” Too many people in all areas of life have jumped at obviously bad choices because they believed they weren’t worth what they really wanted and that the poorest semblance of it was better than nothing. That same line of thought keeps them trapped in said choices.
      Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

    • You know, there’s a theory that finding good work–I mean the sort that provides fulfillment beyond JUST sustainable income–is at least 80% a matter of figuring out what DOES feed your soul. I got that from someone who has quite a few years of experience in all manner of businesses, including both writing and the coaching of salaried-job seekers–Dan Miller at http://www.48days.com, if anyone is interested. Not a for-writers site per se, but it does have a ton of resources on finding your personal best path.
      Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

  40. Steff says:

    Some people will never be satisfied. If they can’t do it, it must be a scam. Unfortunately, nothing you or we say will convince them otherwise.

    But on the plus side, look at all these amazing testimonials you’ve got for the Writer’s Den! I’m definitely thinking of getting myself a membership now!

    I went down to part time hours at my job last year, and spend about 15-20 hours a week writing. I live in New Zealand, and the majority of my clients are overseas. I make about $20,000-$25,000 a year freelance writing, and I am so unbelievably HAPPY that I get to wake up two days a week and flip on the computer and do what I love. I’ve more than replaced the monthly income I lose through dropping those days. And things are only getting better – I’m now speaking at conferences and teaching a community writing class, I recently landed my first $1,000 magazine assignment, and I’ve also landed a contract for my first ever book!

    I’ve read this blog religiously for several years now, and always find the advice useful and timely. I know if I want to learn more about a particular freelance subject, all I have to do is browse the archive or search one of your ebooks.

    So thank you, thank you for your dedication to helping writers succeed!
    Steff recently posted..When is it Time to Raise Your Rates/Prices?

  41. This site is not a scam, nor it is about how to pick up $5 gigs.

    It’s an excellent resource with a lot of strategies, but you have to enact the advice and get moving. Building up a professional writing business takes effort, skills and planning.

    I think writing is like anything else – you can spin your wheels or get serious. You decide how much you want to earn as a professional.

    So far, I’ve helped with 2 abandoned blogs and the clients were happy to have me help. It was in the realm of communications consulting and professional writing. I’ve actually been so busy, I haven’t been inside in a while.

    There are a lot of guest speakers as well who are experts in their niche.
    Amy Dunn Moscoso recently posted..How to Not Blog Like Alabama: Write a Business Blog Strategy

  42. Kim Slowey says:

    I must have started this post 10 times already, and I keep ending up in a sea of my own snark. So I’ll stay positive and just state that I joined the Den about three weeks ago, and, since then, I’ve been motivated to put a lot of energy into a website and blog (if anyone visits, it’s still under construction!), make a few contacts and start approaching fulltime freelancing as a business, not just something to ponder as a wouldn’t-it-be-nice daydream.

    The resources in the Den are phenomenal and practical. There’s no useless fluff, bountiful on so many other writers’ sites. It’s also not a mutual admiration society. Don’t get me wrong. There’s oodles of support and enthusiastic advice, but the Den isn’t the place to go if you’re looking for a rubber stamp on your writing, your approach to business or anything else. Surprise, surprise, not everyone welcomes constructive criticism. :-)

    Carol, I’m so grateful to have found the den, and $25 is a steal.

  43. Chris Klein says:

    Count me as a freelance healthcare writer for almost 20 years. My annual income exceeded $50,000 for most of those years, and exceeded $100,000 for three years. Last year I lost a major client so am rebuilding now. But I still expect to hit $50,000 this year. Hope that helps the skeptics realize it IS possible to make a living from home as a writer.

    P.S. Carol, your regular emails, and the webinars in the Writer’s Den are like a daily boost of confidence that I’ll get back to earning six figures again soon.

  44. Jasmine says:

    I’m so happy to say that I’m earning a living as a freelance writer. When I graduated from college 2 years ago, I felt like the world was mine and I was just going to go have an amazing career in education. Then I got sick. I was 23 years old and doctor’s were telling me there was a possibility I would never be able to function well enough to work full time.

    I didn’t like the sound of that and in order to cope with everything that was going on I wrote… a lot. And I remember one day a crazy thought just hit me…what if I could make a living working as a writer? I could work from home, I could set my own hours for the most part. It was just the kind of flexible job I needed in order to make money and stay healthy.

    Carol’s blog was the first resource I began using heavily and it really helped me turn my life around. I’m starting to sound kind of mushy, but it’s all true! This blog and Linda with the Renegade Writer stuff have really helped me start to earn a living as a freelance writer. I never had to rely on content mills. In fact, because I came to trust Carol so quickly through this blog and the Den, I never seriously considered writing for content mills as a major part of my income.

    I still have those months where I’m stuck in the feast or famine cycle but I have implemented some new money management strategies that have really helped me figure that out.

    It’s just really great to see all the people who doubted that I would be able to support myself and say HA! In your face! (in a totally adolescent way). But, yeah, it’s totally doable and I’m making it work!
    Jasmine recently posted..3 Uncommon Signs of Academic Trouble

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Jasmine — thanks for sharing your inspiring story. If I’ve helped one writer stay off the mills and go straight to better clients, I feel it’s all worthwhile.

  45. Courtney says:

    I’m not a full time writer yet, but the Freelance Writer’s Den is full of fantastic information and gave me the boost of confidence I needed to get back into writing. I applied for a blogging gig through the junk-free job board and after submitting some writing samples I was offered a contract to write at $75 per post for edcetera.rafter.com. It’s not huge, but it’s real money and I’m actually writing again. I’ve also found support through the den when I needed help getting interview subjects to respond to my requests. This website is invaluable and I have to give it some credit for my small successes. I have no doubt that if I put the work in, I will be able to write freelance full-time.

  46. I, too, would like to join the Hallelujah chorus for the benefits of this blog and the Freelance Writers Den. Since finding these fabulous resources at the beginning of this year, I have totally transformed my freelance writing business–I’ve done a complete overhaul to my website; have embraced a new approach to LOIs and queries; have created snappy new business cards; and have discovered a warm, welcoming community of fellow freelancers who are more than willing to share their discoveries, opportunities and more.

    And what have I got to show for my efforts? A $2,000/month blogging gig, contracts with several new magazines (including one national consumer pub) and an infusion of enthusiasm for the practice of freelance writing.

    Let the naysayers bray, Carol. You do a *tremendous* service to this community through your blog posts, webinars, personalized feedback, introductions to other ‘movers and shakers’ in the field, all of it. You’re incredibly generous with your time, knowledge and experience and continue to astound me with your seeming ability to squeeze 28 hours out of every 24 hour day. You give your readers the tools they need to succeed, but the onus is on us to make it happen for ourselves, and if you take the work seriously, you can make it happen.

    Don’t let the turkeys get you down–you’re fans far outweigh your detractors!

  47. Jan Hill says:

    Carol is no scammer!! Her advice is sound, and it all has one common thread – hard work! She has worked her tail off to get where she is, and while her advice can help shorten our journey to better paying gigs, we still have to work hard and put the time in to make a career out of freelancing.

    Once stuck in content mills, without Carol and the Den, I would have given up long ago. Instead, I just snagged a blogging gig ($100/post) off the Junk Free Job Board, using negotiation skills I learned from the Den. Carol is the best!
    Jan Hill recently posted..Casey Anthony’s New Path – a Paralegal Career?

  48. Annie says:

    I had to step in and say something here. First of all, Carol is no scam artist. I don’t know her, I am not friends with her, we have never worked together and I am not a member of her Writer’s Den either – so I have no reason to make this statement other than the fact that I know it’s true.

    The reason I know it’s true is that I am a freelance writer and have made my living doing it for the last five years. Granted, I am not nearly as successful as Carol but, I am doing it and things are getting better.

    Carol’s advice is sound and obviously based on experience – sorry but anyone out there who thinks she is faking it, hasn’t really tried to become a freelancer. Checking Craigslist ads and getting no results doesn’t make you a freelancer.

    I think the detractors are likely people who don’t understand first and foremost that as a freelancer you are self employed. You have to have a boss/business owner mindset – if you don’t and you walk around still thinking like an employee you won’t make it. No matter who is giving you advice.

    And I’m sure the reason Carol ‘gives advice’ and has a ‘business’ that helps writers is not about greed, but about wanting to help others and give back. That’s what generous and successful people do because they know how hard it was for them and it’s important to them to try to make it easier for those coming up in the ranks.

    Anyway, didn’t mean to spout off so much but I had to come to Carol’s defense. She is a stand up kind of gal and I admire her quite a bit. She gives great advice and I hope for the sake of we freelancers out here who know the score, that she continues to do so.

    Annie
    Annie recently posted..How Always be a Broke Writer

  49. Jessi Stanley says:

    Carol,

    I’m not making money yet, but because of your posts, i know that I can make a lot more than I ever hoped to.

    I think that a lot of aspiring freelancers don’t understand the writing business or the amount of old-fashioned selling required to be successful. Even though I’m just getting started in freelancing, this is something I’m very aware of. And, luckily, I love sales. I think writers who just want to write might be better off exploring other employment options.

    You and Ed Gandia have become my online mentors. Please keep doing what you do!

    Thanks!
    Jessi

  50. Carol,

    I would first like to say thank you!!

    Thank you for giving me a place to go to read about what I have always wanted to do! Thanks for showing me it IS possible and for giving me the CONFIDENCE to actually pursue my life-long dream of being a writer.

    I am not a member of Freelance Writers Den,…YET,.. but I have been following your blog and reading just about every post and comment for the last few months!

    Without your guidance and wisdom I would not have picked up my first BIG client! I was asked to write a 200 pg e-book, when I quoted a price they came back and offered me $1200.00 MORE than I quoted!!!

    Before coming here I was thrilled about getting $10 for a 1000 word article! HA! Now I wouldn’t dream of it!,.. Even though I may not be swamped with work YET I am getting my own clients and being paid what I deserve and what I am worth!!!

    ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!!!

    Kepp up the great work! And to those that think she is a scam,…BLAHHH!!!! Find someone else to bash,..or better yet maybe find another profession because if you really wanted to be a writer you would see the wisdom in her words,..and all the words of her loyal followers and friends!!!!!!!
    Margo Johnson recently posted..~My Baby Girl~

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Margo — sorry, I just found you in the spam! Apologies for the delay getting your comment up.

      I LOVE when clients up your quote. That’s a sign you found the right kind of client. ;-)

      So glad I could help with that. More money for writers…yessss!

      • That’s Okay. I have actually made a few comments on a few different posts recently and don’t see any of them..lol I assume they all went into the spam.

        I honestly do appreciate you and what you do for freelancers. It really upset me that people would say you are a scam. And the fact that she said she ‘did her homework on you’ LOL if she had she would find an amazingly talented woman who is trying to share her wisdom.

        I hope you don’t mind but in some of my posts I mention you and this blog, giving the link.

        Keep up the great work and I will keep reading and actually taking your advice.

        I have to let you know that when I find ad’s saying people are looking for a writer to write for them and they need xxxx amount of 500 word articles and they pay $2 for every 500 words I laugh! What a joke.

        I think that as long as people allow themselves to be paid below what they actually deserve that companies like Elance will keep making their $$.

        I thought Elance was great, and I will be honest, I still go there occasionally to see if there is anything of interest to me there, but the pay is way to low, and then Elance has to take their cut of course, for connecting you. I also noticed, while reading their TOS that if you connect with a client through their platform that you are not ever supposed to work with that client outside of Elance and if you do Elance still gets their cut which is $1.75 out of very $20.00 you earn. (I don’t know how they would know,..lol)

        I have only done a couple jobs on there in the past, but I was only paid for one. The one I didn’t get paid for the woman accepted and posted my articles that I wrote, there was 8 of them 1000 words each and I never received payment.

        I contacted elance about this and even gave them the links to where my articles where, and they also had the copies of my uploaded work in the work room so they could verify it was mine, and there was nothing they could do to get my money. I tried to give feedback on the clients page but wasn’t able to. This woman still has a profile and is still hiring on Elance. I have basically given up on getting my money from her, and I think that is what turned me off about elance.

        I highly recommend, if you are new to elance read the TOS first, and MAKE SURE YOUR ESCROW is funded before you begin. I didn’t know that, and the client hired me and needed the work done right then and there,.. I was just happy to get a job I didn’t protect myself and now I am out $$.

        I have decided to do nothing but private clients. I may go to elance or another service like that if i am in a bind and I have no other choice.

        I have also implemented a new policy if I take on a new client, these are some of the terms…if the total job is under $200.00 I get my pay upfront and will not begin until pay is in my paypal account, and if the job is more that $200.00 I require NO LESS than 25% UPFRONT before I will begin. I have not had a single client who is bothered by this.

        I do have one question for you….
        I received an email the other day, in response to one of my ad’s, from a college student who wanted me to write his thesis (doctoral in criminology) and several other papers. I didn’t do this for a couple reasons. Reason one is because he needs to do these papers to graduate and needs to actually know the information, and reason two I don’t think he could have afforded me.

        Was I wrong not to do this job?

        Thank you so much for your guidance;-)

        I look forward to your reply;)
        Margo Johnson recently posted..Freelance Writing IS a Real Job!

        • Carol Tice says:

          Hi Margo — sorry to hear that about the spam!

          Hopefully now that I put you in once it’ll stop tossing you out of the comments. Glad you kept trying!

          I’ve heard a lot of stories like yours about Elance.

          If you’re talking up the blog, you should sell Freelance Writers Den as an affiliate and get paid for it! You don’t have to be a member…check out the affiliate page on the Den.

        • The “writing someone else’s thesis” question actually came up on another MALW post a month ago; just from the post title, “Don’t Take These 3 Types of Unethical Writing Assignments” (http://www.makealivingwriting.com/2013/05/06/types-unethical-writing-assignments/), you probably can guess that by this community’s standards, you were right. Read a little further, and you’ll see that “Essays for College Students” is the first in the list of no-nos. In fact, it’s just barely short of illegal and no college will give a student credit for a thesis found to be acquired in this manner. Passing someone else’s work off as your own, when you are the one to be judged on its merits, is a case of deliberate misrepresentation even with the writer’s consent.
          Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

  51. Cara says:

    Hi Carol,
    I just wanted to chime in with my experiences and how your advice has helped me. I’m actually a book-finisher (editing and design), not a writer, so not all of your advice applies. Still, you’ve said a ton of stuff that’s helped me immensely. After almost two years of stumbling around in self-employment attempts, I’ve finally found something that actually works: freelancing.

    This month, for the first time, I earned enough to cover all of my business expenses and personal bills. Yes, it looks like you can really earn a living this way! :)

    I think the most valuable thing your advice has given me is a broader view of what’s possible. You taught me about charging professional rates. On my own, I never thought anyone would pay that much, but they do, and amazingly, the clients who pay more are also better to work with.

    In fact, even more is possible than you sometimes imply. Although there are a lot of crap jobs and cheap clients on Elance, there are also a select few that are awesome and pay well. Although I’m still working on my business website, I’m booked solid for the next month and a half with clients from Elance, and every one of them is paying me more per hour than I made at my first job as a programmer. And that was during the dot-com bubble!

    Being a bookwright is a dream come true for me. Some days, I still can’t believe I’m doing it. I still have some room for improvement as far as my rates and how I manage my business, but it’s working, and it’s awesome. Thank you for your part in that.

    Cara

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Cara — thanks for sharing this! Certainly you can find a few gems in the Elance mine. I just found when I analyzed my marketing that it was more efficient to prospect for my own clients than try platforms like that or Craigslist ads (where you can also occasionally find that needle in haystack winner).

      • Suzanne says:

        Yes, I just came back to this page to comment on this very topic — online job boards. Craigslist has a lot of crap on it, but I’ve got some of my very first, decent-paying clients on there — $40 and $50 blog posts that won’t make me rich, but help put dollars in my pocket while getting going. The really good clients definitely have a longer buying cycle, and it’s nice to get the self-esteem boost from feeling busy with early clients — as long as you don’t fully book yourself and keep time available for additional marketing. I’m really grateful for my CL clients. They’re great to work with, pay on time and offer consistent work. I feel really strongly about this, so wanted to return and comment. Thanks!
        Suzanne recently posted..Work when you work, play when you play

  52. Great post.

    Here’s my two cents. (You often provide actual numbers, so for the sake of this post I will, too.)

    I have 42 blog assignments in June, each at $95 or more, and 26 static content assignments at $50-150 each. Plus several projects in the works.

    Yes, I do make a decent living freelancing and I can tell you the secret.

    The secret is that I have excellent writing skills and plenty of willingness to learn how to run a successful business. If you have poor writing skills, no amount of business acumen will land you regular gigs with reputable clients for high dollar amounts.

    Those who are most deeply disappointed should figure out what is stopping their progress. This site, IMHO, is most valuable for people like me. People who can write well but need some guidance with regard to pricing, marketing, pitching and so on.

    By all means, if the Den does not have value for you, stop paying!

    • Carol Tice says:

      Wow, nice schedule coming up Kim! Honestly, this has been an amazing day for me, having a chance to hear about all the ways Den members and blog readers are benefiting from what they’ve learned.

      I so don’t want to be talking up my sleeve ever, or feeling like what I’m saying won’t work for the average writer out there…so it’s very helpful to me to see I’m on track and giving out information that works.

    • Suzanne says:

      Kim, how long have you been freelancing for? Congrats on your success. I hope to be there one day!
      Suzanne recently posted..Work when you work, play when you play

  53. Joyce says:

    I think the problem is that most people don’t want to have to work hard to get to the point where you and many others are at. I just quit my day job two months ago to work full-time as a writer. I have learned a lot along the journey. It takes two things to be successful (besides some writing talent), persistence and an open mind. The persistence keeps you going when things don’t work out right away. The open mind allows you to listen to others more successful and learn from their wisdom.

    The key is that you have to believe in yourself if you want to be successful. If you don’t believe it will happen, it won’t. I’ve never doubted it and now, two years later, I am living the dream.

  54. Andrea Osmun says:

    I worked for several newspapers, two of which laid me off and one that was going bankrupt. After I left the last one in 2009, I decided never to go back. I wanted to be a freelance writer and never have to worry about losing my job again.

    The problem was, I didn’t know how to market myself very well. I knew how to write query letters and contact editors through the Writers Market guides, but I didn’t realize how much opportunity was out there beyond newspaper journalism.

    I found the Freelance Writers Den through The Renegade Writer website. I put it off for several months because money was tight. Then, I decided to make it work somehow, even if we were short. I wasn’t making any money and had no clients at the time.

    One month into my membership in the Den, I made a great connection that helped increase my workload. In just three months, I’ve gotten more work than I ever have as a freelance writer. I’ve made three times last year’s income in just three months.

    I still have a lot of work to do. As you can see, I’ve set up a writer website for myself that is still under construction. I also have beefed up my LinkedIn page, made a ton of connections, and even reconnected with a former editor who just gave me my first assignment at her new mag.

    I’m getting started, but I totally believe freelance writing is possible. Yes, it takes a bit of faith and hard work, but I’ve met so many people, including my college professor, who have made a great full-time living doing it. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else with my life. So I’m going to work at it until I get to where I want to be.

  55. Lauren says:

    I left crappy minimum wage jobs behind in 2010. Writing had always been a “side job,” but, in August of that year, it became my sole source of income. Actually, it became THE sole source of income for myself, my guy, and our cat.

    I admit that the past couple months of 2013 have been a bit slow (it’s been the “famine” part of the “feast or famine” cycle for me recently), but I have no doubt that things will pick up again soon. They always do. Always.

    It sounds a little mean to say it, but, the people who don’t believe that a living can be made from freelance writing either don’t want it enough or aren’t working hard enough to make it happen.

    Perseverance is key.

    And your advice definitely helps. Thanks for everything, Carol.
    Lauren recently posted..Thinking of Yourself as a Product

  56. Lee J Tyler says:

    Yeah, Carol. You slaved away in journalism for years and raised your kids with your secret desire to stiff people as your dream job. I’m onto you.
    I read a lot. A LOT. Not just fiction, but online writing. That’s my job; writing, and of course it goes without saying, reading as well. Your articles contain more energy, pack more punch and get my mind going than any other articles I have read. And that’s not just hyperbole. It’s way you are so inticing (pardon the pun) and have such a great following. The trolls are just deflecting. Deflect them by forgetting about them.
    Lee J Tyler recently posted..Traditional Publishing Services Brought to Indie Authors

  57. Hi Carol,

    I spent five years in-house and have been freelancing for 11 years after that. As a freelancer my income does fluctuate but that’s due more to my lack of focus than anything else and the bottom line is that for over a decade I’ve made a living as a freelancer. To pull $100,000 plus is a big ask but looking back at my freelance career I can see there were several months when I invoiced $8,000 +. If I did that 12 times in a year instead of just one or two I’d be very close to $100K and to be honest one of the reasons I signed up to your blog was to try and motivate myself so I avoid the feast or famine roller coaster ride.I do find that networking, email prospecting and warm calling (like a cold call except I know someone who knows the person I’m pitching for work) are still the best ways of landing work, Nevertheless, I followed your advice and reworked my LinkedIn profile and got off my ass and put up my writer Website and I’m finding these are increasingly becoming a source of leads such as the advertising agency who called me yesterday and asked if I could write eight blog posts on a highly technical subject which I’m familiar with. If nothing else, being able to refer prospects to my Website is a heck of a lot easier than having to email through a bunch of clips.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Darren — thanks for sharing how the inbound marketing is working for you! I think a lot of writers don’t believe sculpting a LinkedIn profile will get them found…until it happens to them. And then the light goes on.

  58. Pinar Tarhan says:

    Hi Carol,

    I just wanted to say that it is funny how the commenter that did “digging” didn’t see how much work you’ve put into your blog posts, design and everything else. With your audience, even without your own products and credentials, anyone could see you would make quite as much.

    Oh well.

    My writing blog is pulling in some affiliate sales, despite it hasn’t gained a huge audience because I review products that I find useful- and want to make everything clear about them to my readers.

    It’s all about putting in the work, even though a lot of us tend to neglect the business aspect of it at times.

    What I’m not making is on my lack of planning, or time not being putt in. What I do make has a lot to do with everything I learned and am applying, your blog being one of my favorite resources:)

  59. Scam? These people are not checking out the loads of useful content in the Den with fresh webinars and info added weekly. I’m thrilled with the growth of my freelance career and I owe it to the practical, real-world, advice in the Den. My first dollar-a-word article? Came from a successful Letter of Introduction I wrote to a trade pub based on Den tips. My first 4+ figure article? Same. Long term clients? Repeat customers? Referral business? All the result of what I’ve learned about marketing in the Den. Let those naysayers go someplace else. That keeps the Den for the positive freelancers who love to learn and earn!

  60. Andrew Selby says:

    Hi Carol,

    It looks like I’m about the 110th person to chime in, but reading this post hit me at the perfect time yesterday.

    Back in September, I started a meetup style group for myself and four friends who I thought would be dedicated to earning an income online. Three of them didn’t even make it till Christmas.

    They are now the type of people claiming that “it’s not really possible” and that makes me sick. They just didn’t put in the time or the effort that I did, and now they want me to feel sorry for them as if I just got lucky.

    I’m with you on this issue. I’m tired of people complaining. If they really wanted it to work, they would find a way. Just like every successful person has had to do.

    Keep the great posts coming!
    -Andy
    Andrew Selby recently posted..May 2013 Income Report

  61. Anita says:

    Your blog is an awesome resource, and even people who can’t afford the Den membership get a lot of guidance from you for free. Thank you.

    I’ve especially benefited from advice about not letting a rejection letter or two stop me. I think I needed to hear it about 20 times from you and other writers commenting here before I really believed it. That strategy combined with more focused research on each publication has made a difference for me.

    I also think that you’ve done people a favor by helping them realize what the fair market value is for their writing skills. I worked for a while in two different sweatshops of the writing world. I started out thinking that was as good as it got for people like me without connections… but you and others helped me to think about connections in a different way and to tap into the resources around me as well as build on my previous professional experience more than I had been before.

    Thanks for all you do.

    Oh, and about those 40 years the Israelites wandered in the wilderness? Let’s not forget it was the nay-sayers and complainers who got them into that situation.
    Anita recently posted..digging up dandelions

    • Carol Tice says:

      True…but first they had to have that flash of insight, that their lives could be transformed and they could leave enslavement behind. The analogies to how so many people feel about cubicle life and a day job are hard to avoid…

  62. Fiona says:

    I’m astounded that people have to continually bring others down to make themselves feel better for their own failings. If your ‘detractors’ spent as much energy on their writing as they do on commenting on your blog (and more than once by the looks of it) then they might be making better money.

    Besides, why the heck should you have to justify and account for each cent you earn to prove your worth?

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” ~Aristotle
    Fiona recently posted..Crazy days, crazy weeks.

  63. Elizabeth says:

    First off I am overjoyed to have found your site Carol and I must say it is, no joke, the best I have subscribed to in the writing niche, PERIOD. Second I do make a living off of my writing and as a freelance photojournalist, although I would like to scale. Thirdly, most writers and people in general suck at marketing. It is the major flaw in most businesses and the cause of demise for many. And as many people have stated above, the problem is that some don’t consider writing a business and treat it as a hobby all the while complaining about how they wish they were making money. Business is hard at first, as is learning the marketing ropes. But I can say after years devoted to learning IM that is works and is the key component of a successful freelance writing career.
    Elizabeth recently posted..Black Isle Blonde

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Elizabeth — Well, I’m happy you found it as well!

      And you do point up a basic truth. I rarely meet a freelancer who’s doing regular, proactive marketing who is not finding clients. And when I say marketing I mean beyond hanging around Elance or Craigslist, where the good clients are very rare.

  64. Kristi Hines says:

    I’ve been reading this blog for awhile, and thanks to tips I’ve implemented in my business, I made six figures last year (barely, but still pretty good). And I’ve only been at this for two years focused on it full time. Also, as a reference point, when I started taking on freelance clients about four years ago, my first client was paying $150 per post. Now I make significantly more. :)
    Kristi Hines recently posted..10 Ways Strengthen Your Twitter Community with Commun.it

  65. Paul says:

    Carol, I like the tone and focus of your advice. As a (currently inactive) writer-editor, the first things I notice about online advice for freelance writers are:

    1. Writers write fiction. “Writing” for a living means creative or literary. If you don’t want to do novels, short stories or screenplays, you don’t exist as a writer.

    2. Writing requires ripping your heart out and having it thrown right back at you. Every day of your life. Your chances of compensation depend on this constant trauma. Again, fiction-based advice, and advice meant to make most of your readers think, “This is not for you.”

    You seem to have uncovered a secret, or more likely, something people know deep down, but have been convinced to overlook.

  66. Lo Sbandato says:

    Honestly, I think you’re taking this kind of bog-standard butt-hurt internet mule-whining a little too seriously. Sniping like this is everywhere on the web, and i falls into to broad categories: the bone-idle “I put my $20 in, where’s my deluge of easy money?” layabout, or the deeply-cynical-bordering-on-paranoid “If you’re system (or blog or what not) is so successful, why would you want to share it with us?” bundle of bitterness. Needless to say, even a pile of audited and notarized bank statements will disabuse these folks of their dearly-held delusions, but at least you got a useful post out of it, right?

    It’s a stale truism, but you can’t buy motivation. If someone has a bad enough case of want-to, they’ll succeed eventually. You can certainly offer useful practical advice, even some spark when the fires run low, but you can’t turn a lump of coal into a diamond just because someone signs up for your workshop. You also can’t stop people from believing that’s what your offering, no matter how often or loudly you say you’re not.

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s true that all you can do is give tools. It’s up to the reader whether they’re going to pick them up and use them, and I can’t come over to your house to make you do that.

  67. Dawn Witzke says:

    How is FREE advice a scam? As to the Den, no one is forced to use all the tutorials, networking, job leads, advice, critiques and awesome support that is available in the Den. If people aren’t getting anything out of it, then maybe freelancing isn’t for them. Because, honestly, for less than the price of a weeks worth of lattes, you have everything in there for a person to succeed.

    While I’m still not a full-time writer (I like my day job), I wouldn’t be freelancing today if it wasn’t for you. You were the person who convinced me to give freelance writing another try after I crashed and burned a couple years ago. You provide way more than just writing advice, you provide support and generally care if others succeed. If that is a scam…then I’m all in…hook, line & sinker.
    Dawn Witzke recently posted..5 DIY Website Mistakes That Will Cost You Business

  68. Elke says:

    There are so many pros and cons about being a freelance writer for a living, I guess it all depends on YOU. But you mustn’t think that it was the fastest way to make an easy living…
    Elke recently posted..Kind hat Zahnschmerzen im Urlaub – was zu tun?

  69. Great post! I just wanted to add to the comments that I’m into my first year as a full-time freelance writer after four years of freelancing part time, and I’m making just over $30,000 a year. It’s not six figures, but it’s about as much as I would make as a writer in an office job for my skill level, and I get some pretty awesome flexibility in my hours. Plus, I’m expecting that as I gain more experience and find those lucrative clients, my annual pay will continue to increase.
    Ashleigh Mattern recently posted..Homegrown company gains a global reach

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s terrific for a first year, if that equals what you’d make full time, I think…and you have so much more flexibility, sanity, and quality of life.

  70. Kelly James-Enger just published the second edition of “Six Figure Freelancing,” which is all about making a really *good* living as a freelance writer. She interviewed something like 20 highly successful, long-time freelancers and found that 18 are still as successful now as they were ten years ago. The two who aren’t as successful are still relying on the same business model they were using ten years ago.

    (She’s also speaking to the Den later this month.)

  71. Kai says:

    It’s about people being too lazy to market themselves. That’s what it is. And I know, because I recently realized that is what it was for me. It’s hard to market yourself when you don’t know how to go about it, and finding out takes a lot of effort–especially if you’ve been working a 10 hour day at a content mill.

    Maybe lazy is the wrong word; after working 10 hours at a content mill, people are just tired.

    But what I’ve learned is that if you don’t market yourself, you get nowhere. Unless your luck is extraordinary.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Mill writers definitely can’t be called lazy, Kai! I can’t believe the experienced writers I’ve heard from who get laid off and then think the mills are their only option…until they realize how non-sustainable that work is.

      You’ve figured it out though — it’s all about proactive marketing. I’ve never met a writer who’s aggressively marketing their services for any sustained length of time who does not get clients. There is SO much pent-up demand in the business side for good writers it’s not even funny, from business owners who don’t have time to find a writer or figure out what help they need. When you show up, they’re thrilled and relieved. But you have to go out and find them.

    • “Lazy” is a word that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and misinterpretation. There are people who find the energy to work twelve hours a day in the old model (or anything else they already know how to do) but “don’t have time” to learn anything new. Then there are the people who “have so much to do that they start every day with three hours of prayer” (attributed to Martin Luther, but there are plenty in other religious traditions who use various meditation practices on the same principle) and have the whole world wondering how they ever accomplish as much as they do. There’s a lot more to “laziness” than staying in bed past seven or overstretching one’s coffee breaks–and it’s NOT always the people who spend less time in obvious motion who are lazy.
      Katherine Swarts recently posted..Confused and Misused

  72. A. Cam says:

    I can’t find the words to say how important this post is…seriously.

    As a young writer if it weren’t for folks like Carol taking the time to share her advice and accomplishments, I wouldn’t know that my creativity and knack for writing could pay the bills.

    It’s because of this blog that I know I can make six-figures as a writer and that I can negotiate for a living wage.

    That I can find markets that will pay me to write about topics that make my heart beat fast.

    Do you know how empowering that is?

    The work of this blog is so important to Gen Y-ers like myself who are oh so impressionable and so clueless when it comes to charting a career path that we have no frame of reference for.

    We’ll often believe what the most prominent and/or popular people have to say about a topic simply because they are prominent or popular.

    So when a senior editor at a prestigious publication like The Atlantic writes an article that says that its okay for a writer to go w/o pay as long as their publication gives them a platform, we’d believe it if there wasn’t another voice saying differently.

    (More Here: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/03/i-didnt-think-about-being-ripped-off-i-thought-about-whipping-ass/273937/)

    Or when a really intelligent writer says that there will never be enough money to employ all artists and that he thinks its noble when artists reject the idea of using social media to promote their work, you believe it.

    The trope of the starving writer is a box that creatives and society have been socialized into believing and sustaining.

    Creatives don’t know the true financial value of their work and they often believe that business is evil, so they aren’t keen to learn the basic business principles they need to stay afloat (i.e. cash flow, unique selling proposition, marketing, contracts, etc.).

    And because artists don’t understand business this leaves them open to being cheated by people who are business savvy and are out to make a killing on someone else’s back.

    And then we say that it’s not realistic for someone to try to support themselves as a writer, visual artist, sculptor, or filmmaker without really thinking about why things are the way they are.

    [steps off soapbox]

    To end my tirade, I will say that this post motivated me to put the good advice posted on this blog & others like it to use so that I can show other people that its possible to make not just a living but a killing as a free lance writer.

  73. I don’t feel you are a scam either. Having said that, I didn’t join with the idea that you were somehow going to hand me a pot of gold. I joined to pick up tips that I could use to make myself more successful. Have there been things I felt didn’t apply to my type of writing? Yes. Do I have a healthy skepticism about there being dozens and hundreds of businesses out there looking for MY preferred type of writing? Yes. That being said, I wanted to explore other markets and learn how to approach them and I feel I have gotten that information. I am now a contributing editor to Charity Channel Press, and I doubt that would have happened without learning more about how to pitch an editor, and I got that from your site. Will it increase my income to six figures? Who knows? I am who I am, and my writing style and choice of client may not be compatible with that, but that’s my problem, not yours. Am I smarter than when I joined? Absolutely.

  74. Angela says:

    The “frame of reference problem” is an excellent observation. Too many people, particularly those stuck in the content mills, can get tunnel vision and become convinced their situations are the only ones out there, in terms of making any money from writing.

    What has puzzled me for a while is how passionately some will defend [insert whatever mill name here] to the point of starting flame wars with anyone who dares point out anything negative about the mill in question. I’ve seen this kind of thing go on and on for multiple forum pages until the admins have to step in and shut the thread down. Talk about a waste of time and energy! And to think those writers could have been using their time productively improving their writing and seeking better work from private clients! It just makes me shake my head.

    Each of your posts keeps giving me a bit more motivation to submit more to magazines, work on my own blogs, look for guest blogging opportunities, anything but crank out more for pennies on the content mills.
    Angela recently posted..An Alternative to J-School for the Online Writer

    • Carol Tice says:

      My favorite is when you see mile-long threads on the topic “Is mill X better or mill Y?” News flash: They all suck. They each have their own special flavor and way of sucking, but there is no magical mill platform where you earn great money and are socking it into the 401(k) and going on cruise vacations.

      Get off mills if you want to earn more!

  75. Chad says:

    Hi all,

    I have started working on these content mills and been depressed in the low salary I make, i’m trying to take it up to the next level though!

    I already built my website http://www.contentperfectionist.com

    I’m working on how i can better approach clients with pricing and what not but I hope i can start making some money soon. But im beng optimistic because as I write im about to be a father (my gf is in labor) and I need a steady job online to help pay for the new bils

    • Carol Tice says:

      Hi Chad — Mazel tov on the baby! Hope all goes well.

      Given your circumstances, you might want to consider a part-time or even full-time day job for now, while you ramp your writing income.

      Freelancing is the worst way to try to make money quickly…it takes time to build your business. A “steady job online” that pays for a family of three is probably not realistic in the short term. And you’ve already discovered content mills are not a way to make a real living.

      Having a steady paycheck would allow you to work on finding quality clients rather than wasting time on mills. That would let you build your writing business to higher pay faster than if you’re desperate and taking anything you can find…great way to get trapped in poverty and working with a lot of dysfunctional, low-paying clients.

      Best of luck with it!

  76. Jennifer says:

    Hello Carol and All,

    I am not a member of the writer’s den…yet. Nor have I taken advantage of any of your offers here…yet. Sadly, this is only because my banking account is at $0.00 at the current moment. However, I do want to say a few things to those who think you are trying to scam people. This angered me quite a bit.

    I was very impressed with your website today; and this is my very first visit. I, however, noticed something different from those “scam” websites. In my opinion, if you were really trying to scam people, you would charge for more than the writer’s den, mentoring, and so forth.

    For example, most scam websites would not list 100+ writing resources for free. They would expect you to buy their e-book for possibly $100-plus – possibly even charge a $1 per source. Furthermore, they wouldn’t turn around and give guest bloggers $50 for each post. Instead, they would claim that if the visitor posted something, their sources (or rather non-existent) clients would find them.

    I believe you are genuinely trying to help people get into the freelance business; and I also believe what you do charge for certain options is well deserved. After all, you are taking time out of your freelancing schedule to offer advice and mentor individuals. If the ones who are quick to call you a scam would stop to think about it, there is little difference than paying you for your services than paying someone else for the same services. The only difference is you offer your services over the Internet.

    I have also heard about many people making a living by being freelance blog writers and so forth. It is called being dedicated to the work, and like you said, finding the right sources.

    Anyhow, enough of my rambling. I am going to add your site to my favorites.

    Thank you for all you do.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’re welcome, Jennifer!

      It’s true that there are many other places where you have to buy information like lists of paying sites. But my mission is to help the most writers earn the most the fastest, so I try to keep info like that open. For folks who need more in-depth help, there are my courses, the Den, mentoring, and e-books.

      Speaking of which, watch for an e-book version of my Den bootcamp “How to be a Well-Paid Freelance Blogger” to turn up shortly at a very low price…want to offer even more options to people to learn who might not find the paid community model right for them.

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