Three Magical Words That Help Writers Earn More

Freelance Writing MagicIt’s been a long time coming…nearly two years. But last week, it happened.

A prospect called to see if I could do some writing work for them. I took a deep breath, and then I uttered three magical words that unlock the key to making more money as a freelance writer.

Do you know what those words are?

“I’m fully booked.”

That’s right. At the moment, I am not spending time sifting through online job ads, obsessively trying to make new LinkedIn connections, or beating the street at networking events. I only had time to blog once for MALW last week, because I’m so busy. I have all the work I can handle, nearly all of it at very nice rates. I’m really overbooked, but I’m  hoping I can somehow figure out how to make the workload manageable again in July, once a couple of big new clients ramp up and get going.

It took a heck of a lot of marketing to get to this point, and later this week, I’ll tell you about what worked for me in marketing my freelance writing business. But for now, let’s return to the three magical words, and why they’re so important and magical.

What happens to your business when you’re fully booked?

You relax. The anxiety of starting each month with open time still on the planner is gone. I’m now starting each month with enough work booked to be confident I can pay my bills, and even take my family out for an occasional meal. Being more relaxed makes you more effective and creative, so your work gets done faster, allowing you to make more.

You gain confidence. It’s an ego-booster to realize you are in demand.

You get picky. In the depths of the recession, I took a lot of crazy assignments. One-off projects. Small-business clients with not much money. Quickie articles that paid $100. Stuff I never would have considered in 2007. Now, that’s over. If someone doesn’t fit my image of an ideal client, I can pass.

You start dropping clients. Now you can look at your client list and identify your biggest problem child — you know, the client that pays in over 90 days, is a whiner, never satisfied, wants a committee to edit your work, won’t return your emails for two days, or simply doesn’t pay enough. The next good client that comes down the pike, it’s time to swap that loser out. Repeat this process until you have only top-drawer publications or companies on your roster.

You become more valuable. When you’re fully booked, it’s like smoke signals go up. You start to attract great new clients. When you tell some prospects you can’t take them on because you’re too busy, they are impressed. You must be a good writer! They want to hire you even more. Sometimes, they offer you more money in hopes of getting you to kick someone else off your schedule to make room for their assignment. Sometimes, you say yes.

Your rate starts to rise. Besides all the reasons already stated above, your rate starts to go up when you’re fully booked because you don’t have to spend as many hours marketing (but don’t stop!). You have more productive, billable hours, so that translates to more income.

Are you fully booked? If not, maybe you want to take a look at my mentoring page and think about whether you could use a boost to get your freelance writing career moving forward. There’s a lot of work out there now — the economy is thawing, new magazines are starting, companies are ramping up marketing budgets, and now’s a great time to make new connections and find  new clients.

Photo via Flickr user Bohman

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