Writing for Money: The Path to Your First $3,000 Month

Writing for Money - The path to move up & earn more. Makealivingwriting.com

Ever wonder what smart freelancers are doing when it comes to writing for money?

I did. I thought about it a lot when I was working in retail.

You know, minimum wage, run the cashier, stock shelves, talk to customers. Same shift, different day.

When I finally decided to quit, I thought I had freelancing figured out.

But it didn’t take long to realize I couldn’t keep going without good pay to cover my bills.

I expected an immediate, steady income. I’d heard some really great stories about successful writers and thought I could be one of them.

So imagine my surprise when the new clients I desperately needed didn’t magically appear at my door with handfuls of cash.

It was frustrating. And I knew I had to do something about it if I wanted to stick with freelancing.

Change your perspective on writing for money

Fortunately, Freelance Writers Den was an incredible resource to help me figure out what I was doing right, and what I needed to change to make real pay writing for money, so I could avoid going back to working retail.

When you make the leap to full-time freelancing, unleash a new kind of freedom, and recognize your earning potential, a lot can happen.

I changed my perspective on freelancing and established some new habits. And you know what, I had my first $3,000 month. Boom! And it just keeps getting better. Here are the five changes that helped me the most:

1. Adopt a business mindset

Many freelance writers don’t see themselves this way, but you’re actually the owner-operator of your very own small businesses.

I started acting like a business owner. I realized that writing for money was my only source of revenue, and had to be smarter about time management. This meant:

  • Working regular hours instead of wasting time on the Internet
  • Scheduling enough time for my work
  • Saying “no” to unnecessary commitments

I began tracking my work hours and looking for ways to become more productive. I also started judging my use of time by whether or not it actually contributed to my profits.

2. Increase marketing

How much marketing are you currently doing?

I thought sending a couple LOIs a week was pretty good. It’s a mistake a lot of new freelancers make. But that kind of small-scale marketing isn’t the path to full-time freelancing if you want to make a living writing for money.

If you’re wondering how to earn more from writing, reach out to more prospects with:

  • LOIs
  • Queries
  • InMail messages on LinkedIn
  • Direct messages to prospects on Twitter
  • Phone calls
  • In-person networking

These are just a few examples of ways to market your services as a freelance writer. Pick a strategy you’re comfortable with and increase your marketing efforts.

I started sending a large volume of LOIs (letters of introduction) that I customized to the recipients. And I didn’t send one or two more–I sent several hundred of these.

Other marketing strategies I started using included asking for more referrals, searching for quality job posts and looking for other sources of new leads.

The increased volume of marketing caused more prospective clients to contact me, ask for samples and offer me trial assignments.

3. Find better clients

When I decided to change my approach to freelancing, I started pursuing higher-paying work from high-volume clients. Here’s how:

  • Reject low-rate gigs. I started doing this, so I could invest more time in marketing and writing for clients. Low-paying gigs are a huge waste of time. When you get sucked into a low-paying gig, it takes a toll on energy and creativity. And it leaves you strapped for time to find better-paying clients.
  • Focus on quality clients. Instead of pursuing clients I knew would only assign $200 of work per month or only one-time assignments, I began looking for prospects that use multiple writers and produce a large volume of content. I wanted clients that could assign $1,000 each, every month. So I looked for prolific trade magazines, advertising agencies and consulting groups. Groups that use large writing teams can afford to offer more work to more writers.

4. Batch work activities

Productivity was an issue when I was struggling to build my freelance business. I frequently jumped from marketing to client work, email to social media, and back again. And it wasn’t working. Sound familiar?

Batching work activities helped a lot. My tip:

Focus on one client at a time. This approach allowed me to become more efficient, so I began limiting myself to one client per day. By writing multiple blog posts or articles per day for a single client, I was able to “get in the zone” and become more focused on my work. This helped my productivity dramatically. I did the same with marketing by scheduling marketing-only days. 

5. ‘Wow’ new clients

You only have one chance at a first impression. When you’re pursuing valuable, high-paying and high-volume clients, it’s a worthwhile investment to give them extra attention and effort.

I polished my work, particularly first-time assignments for new clients. Over the holidays, I also sent “happy holidays” cards with a short, handwritten note to my entire client list, including new clients. And I was meticulous about following any special invoicing formats, writer’s guidelines and special requests from clients.

The path to move up and earn more

When I made these changes and started treating freelancing writing like a business, I started making real money from writing. I had my first $3,000 month. The next month, these great new clients came back with more big orders. And my goal is to keep going higher from there.

If you’re wondering what’s holding you back from writing for money and getting paid well, take a closer look at your approach to freelancing. Change your perspective, make a few changes, and you’ll be surprised by what you can accomplish.

What’s keeping you from earning serious money from writing? Let discuss in the comments below.

Kaitlin Morrison is a freelance healthcare and finance writer in Moses Lake, WA. You can find her online at www.kaitlinmorrison.com.

Grow your writing income. LEARN HOW! Freelance Writers Den

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37 comments on “Writing for Money: The Path to Your First $3,000 Month
  1. John says:

    $3000 for a newbie like me is a way too much. Though I make good enough money with internet marketing, content writing has been my field of expertise. Do you have any guide on how to start as a Writer, it will also help me save few hundred bucks which I spend on my writers.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I didn’t know there was such as thing as earning ‘too much’ money from writing, John!

      I’m confused by your comment — you say you ARE a content writer, but that you hire writers, and also that you want to know how to get started as a writer? Sounds like you’re already doing it. Maybe you can clarify?

      But if you’re looking to learn how to earn more as a writer — or perhaps looking to hire good writers — check out the Den.

      • John adam says:

        Sorry I missed something… It’s content writing has NOT been my field of expertise.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Aha — that makes more sense. Well, I run a community you may see mentioned here, Freelance Writers Den, that is my top way I help folks learn this career.

          If you’re not interested in all-you-can-eat affordable learning, check out my Step by Step Guide ebook up on the ‘ebooks’ tab. 😉

  2. Kriss Judd says:

    Hi Kaitlin,

    As a baby freelancer – only one month old – I can certainly get excited about having a $3,000 month! I put in my time in retail, fast food, pizza, and private security. I wouldn’t take $3,000 a month to work ANY of those jobs ever again.

    On increasing marketing – I’ve had a direct sales business for going on 13 years. I once heard a woman who’s been in the same business for more than 30 years say, “It’s not magic; it’s just math.” As long as our writing is solid, if we send out enough LOIs and queries, the business will come.

    On wowing new clients – I send a thank you note to my direct sales customers, 3-4 days after I send their product to them. Nothing fancy, just “Dear Suzy, Thank you so much for your recent purchase. It’s customers like you who have helped me reach my goals for over 12 years. You count. I care. <3 Kriss." The feedback I've received from just that short note has been phenomenal. Evidently, thanking people for their business has become a thing of the past. I've never done holiday cards before, though; I'll have to add that to my customer service repertoire.

    Thank you, Kaitlin, for such a well thought out post. I'll be implementing increased LOIs immediately, once I find those better clients.

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      Awesome, Kris! Yeah. It seems the little things still do generate great returns. Even if it didn’t, it’s kind to be thankful and appreciate others. Thanks for reading. 🙂

  3. kareen says:

    I am a new freelancer, actually you can call me half freelancer. I have a full time job with immediate salary, only sometimes I sign contract to work as part-time assistant 🙂
    Thanks for the helpful post, Kaitlin. I hope reading your advice is first step to get my first $3,000 Month only only writing for money.

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      Kareen, I think it’s a lot easier to grow your freelancing income if you work a side job. I definitely didn’t leave retail until freelancing was able to contribute some meaningful income. Keep building your business until it makes sense to quit your day job. 🙂

  4. Taseer Ahmad says:

    Thanks Kaitlin and Carol, you both made things the good way. I’m–nowadays–juggling my new freelance writing career with Civil Engineering. I’m an undergrade junior. That’s being said, I’m struggling both ways to get a firm position in freelance writing. But people who I met and those who endorsed my writing skills viewd that I should have persued my career in some arts subject ( maybe creative writing or something else that could have eased my struggle). I wade through your uplifting and objective oriented stuffs on freelance writing to quench my thirst. I got few articles published in lifehack,dumb littleman, aboutleaders and a local newspaper. But still I need that flag of writing career to billow. Maybe most of my queries got a stamp of rejection–and some ended up in rabbit holes–because I’m not a native English writer. But I have to start volume marketing. What you is your kind view on my position?

    Thanks for the response!

  5. Karin says:

    I am a new freelancer – very new – still getting started. I am freelancing in conjuction with my traditional office job until I build up enough reputation to earn more money freelancing. I’ve done some projects on Upwork to build a reputation but I don’t want to rely on just Upwork. I’ve applied for some remote work on Flexjobs, too. I love traveling and I’ve written some articles but not for money, I have my own travel website which I have google adsense and affiliate links, and I’ve earned a few dollars. I would like to earn money with travel writing and blogging, and I have networked with other travel writers.

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      UpWork and Flexjobs can be tough places to find good clients, Karin. If you’ve already obtained a few pro-looking clips for your portfolio, I’d focus on doing more marketing and networking to find prospects.

      Travel writing definitely sounds exciting. That, and there’s so many different markets. Tourism bureaus, cruise lines, travel mags, etc. That’s awesome! 🙂

      • Karin says:

        Thanks, Kaitlin. Yes, the travel writing does sound exciting, and I am the type who loves traveling.

        What are some suggestions for finding clients other than on these platforms such as Upwork? That’s the part I’m having trouble with. Upwork was good to get my foot in the door, but yes, that’s not something to rely on long-term.

        • Kaitlin Morrison says:

          Right. Well, it ultimately depends on you, Karin. What’s the best marketing strategy? The one you’re willing to do a lot of. For me, that means sending a lot of cold letters of introduction to lists of prospects.

          If you still like using job boards, you could move to boards that generally have higher-paying gigs, like the LinkedIn jobs board. I know of one writer who increased her successes on job boards by including idea pitches in every application. It set her apart.

          My post above has a list of ideas. Whatever you do, you have to be willing to do a LOT of it in the beginning to build momentum in your business. 🙂

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sadly…working via UpWork doesn’t build your reputation, Karin, and in many circles calls you out as someone who takes bottom-tier pay and doesn’t know how to build their business. You might want to check out my “Step by Step Guide” ebook (or join me tomorrow in Freelance Writers Den, where we have a 4-hour bootcamp on which that book is based), to learn about how to build your business the legit way, where you quickly build the kind of portfolio that gets you good clients.

      On another topic, sure if you saw this post on earning well as a travel writer — great guest post I had recently:

      http://www.makealivingwriting.com/earning-six-figures-in-freelance-travel-writing/

      If you want to build that travel blog up to where it earns more than a few dollars, you might also want to check this out: http://smallblogbigincome.com

  6. Janet Wagner says:

    Very helpful tips for new freelance writers. I’d also add that it helps to specialize. For example, your bio says that you’re a “freelance healthcare and finance writer.” Most, if not all, potential clients would rather hire a writer who specializes in their industry as opposed to a writer who writes about anything and everything.

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      Janet, I think that’s a great point! It makes it easier to make marketing decisions and identify prospects, too.

  7. Felix Abur says:

    Hi Kaitlin,

    Wonderful piece. I struggled with bidding sites and content mills for the longest. Then came across writers such as Carol Tice and discovered there are plenty other ways to get clients. And not just any clients, but high(er) paying clients. The marketing can get tough. And churning out those LOIs and pitches is never easy. But when you get a good client, it’s all well worth all that effort.

  8. Neal Eckert says:

    Thanks for the helpful post, Kaitlin! Good to know that the need for mass marketing eventually simmers down at least a little bit. 🙂 All five points of your article resonated with me.
    Neal Eckert recently posted…The Shack: Damnable Heresy or Life-Changing Movie?My Profile

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      I’m glad this resonates, Neal! It’s nice for me to finally spend more time working and less time LOI-ing like a mad woman. 😉

  9. NIcki Lee says:

    Great tips, Kaitlin! (P.S. I love your writer site). In addition to more marketing, I need to work on #4, completing client work in batches. It makes sense to stay in the flow and get it all done at once.

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      Thanks, Nikki! My website does always feel like a work in progress, so it’s good to hear positive feedback about it.

      I find it WAY easier to focus on one client or one type of marketing for a solid batch of time.

      -Kaitlin

    • Carol Tice says:

      It’s a total game-changer. When I started writing monthly blog clients’ 4 posts all in a single day, the efficiency gain was amazing.

  10. Evan Jensen says:

    Hi Kaitlin,

    Thanks for sharing your story. Such a great reminder that there is no substitute for consistent marketing (and lots of it) to be a successful freelance writer.

    Evan

    • Kaitlin Morrison says:

      That’s for sure, Evan! I can’t believe how much of this is a numbers game. More chances to win certainly don’t hurt.

      It’s so much work that a lot of people never even start. But it’s so worth it and totally helps writers stand out!

      -Kaitlin

  11. Susie Rosse says:

    What’s keeping me from jumping in is the large scale marketing. I don’t mind doing a lot of it for say the first year, but wouldn’t I have to keep mass marketing every single year? Contracts run out, so I’ll always need new clients.

    • Hi Susie,

      I hear ya! I still don’t really LOVE mass marketing. 🙂

      Thankfully, though, you usually don’t have to keep up a frenzied pace of marketing forever. Clients that love you will keep sending you work and will renew your contracts with them rather than try to find another writer to replace you.

      Of course, you’d have to do SOME marketing to keep it going, because people do leave and some clients don’t work out.

      It sounds tough, but it’s really just the beginning stage. I learned in the Freelance Writers Den how to market to clients and it’s totally changed my career.

      -Kaitlin

      • Carol Tice says:

        I agree — once you have happy clients, they start to refer you, word gets around, and your proactive marketing doesn’t have to be as aggressive. Also, if you build a strong INBOUND marketing machine over time, with your writer website and LinkedIn, you start to get more inbound leads.

        I’m going to take a flier and say that what’s keeping you from jumping in, Susie, is…you. When you really want to do this, you just start doing it. You experiment. Make mistakes. But you keep going.

        And…also, some writers NEVER do large scale marketing! They grow their businesses more slowly. They do it part-time. There’s a flavor for everybody, on how to do this.

        I actually just graduated a Den 2X Income Accelerator member who doubled her income, while doing a very modest amount of marketing and working part time at a museum! She was too stressed trying to do it full time, and decided that worked better. Once she had the PT job in place, it took a lot of stress off, and she was able to do more marketing, be pickier about prospects, and it all worked out better for her. She ended up making way more WITH the PT job on the side than she had doing it as her whole business. So…different strokes.

        Kaitlin’s approach is just one great way to build your freelance biz to a nice monthly income…not the only way. 😉

        • Kaitlin Morrison says:

          This type of business IS super customizable, Carol. That’s one of my favorite things about it! I never had much flexibility in my retail jobs. 😉

        • Susie Rosse says:

          Thanks you two. I tried to Google about it, but couldn’t find any posts; so Carol, do you have anything about part time freelancing?

          • Carol Tice says:

            Susie, what a great example of a challenge you could brainstorm a lot of great ideas on inside Freelance Writers Den — you know we’re open right now, right?

            We certainly have several recordings on productivity, and on juggling responsibilities including day jobs and family…and the opportunity to ask 1,000+ writers how they’re doing it. We certainly get many members who are still working towards their goal of quitting their jobs!

            • Susie Rosse says:

              But you have a big waiting/email list right? It sounds like fun, but not for me. Thanks…

              • Carol Tice says:

                Susie, I have a waiting list, but we are taking all comers in this particular open, up through tomorrow night. You can join here:

                https://freelancewritersden.com

                The Den is not set up for ‘fun,’ it exists to help you earn real money, and has over 300+ hours of trainings inside. You’ve been haunting my blog comments asking question after question after question…I think the Den may be the support solution you’ve been looking for. 😉

  12. Todd says:

    I relate Kaitlin. I never had a nice corporate job. I did the retail thing and I did the call center, customer service thing. Never made much. The downside is I didn’t have a windfall when I finally went full-time freelancing.

    I decided a couple years ago to begin investing in myself. As a result, I tried various types of things including the Freelance Writer’s Den.

    Another thing you have to have a whole lot of is patience. It helps to have more than your share of energy too.

    Nice job!
    Todd recently posted…Being secure with public WiFiMy Profile

    • Hi Todd,

      Working with the public in retail or another customer service gig sure is challenging, isn’t it? I think we can use these skills in our work as freelancers, too. You’re absolutely right about patience and energy!

      This isn’t easy, but freelancing is MUCH more in-line with my goals than my old retail gigs ever were. 🙂

      -Kaitlin