Do you wonder sometimes if it’s really possible to make money writing? I’m talking good money, not the kind that barely covers a weekly latte.
I meet a lot of writers who believe reliable writing income that truly pays your bills is an urban myth, like alligators in the sewers of New York.
But I can assure you, it’s not. Real writers just like you can start out earning small, and ramp up to six figures. Or more!
How do I know? Because I’ve been coaching working freelance writers on how to double their income for several years now. My Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator program has grads who routinely earn $80,000-$120,000 per year.
Recently, I sat down with two of my top earners — Laura MacPherson and Emily Omier — at a monthly mastermind call for my Den 2X program grads.
With Laura’s and Emily’s permission, excerpts from each of their insight-filled interview videos are included below! Along with show notes on exactly how each of them discovered how to make money writing.
Laura and Emily didn’t start out with any special advantages. They were just hardworking freelance writers who weren’t earning enough. In fact, Emily had a lot of life struggles to overcome, which she recently wrote about here on the blog.
Get ready to change your worldview on what writers can earn, because here are their insights into building a $100K+ freelance-writing biz:
Make money writing — no matter what
It was about two weeks into her Den 2X class when Emily, then pregnant, dropped a bombshell on her group: “My husband has cancer.”
As you can imagine, her road to six-figure income was a rocky one. More tough blows were to come. But she used her Den 2X resources to prevail and build her dream freelance-writing career.
Watch the video for all the details on how she made it happen, against all odds:
Emily’s Show Notes:
- She joined Den 2X making just $2,000 per month, and it had taken years to get to that level.
- Her husband was diagnosed with cancer while Emily was pregnant, their daughter was born, her husband died shortly after her birth, leading her to not work at all in 2016. Her mother was also diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after this. (!) As a result, she ended up moving several times.
- She came back to work doing just a little, perhaps 5 hours a week. In spring 2017, she began sending LOIs again and started rebuilding her business in earnest.
- By fall 2017, she was billing $7,000 per month, with the support of her 2X community.
- Built authority in a tech niche by writing for a trade magazine software developers read, to gain a higher profile in their industry. Article sources, advertisers, and trade-show sponsors in the field became clients.
- She transitioned to writing for businesses, leveraging topics she’d covered as a journalist and life experience including working for an immigration lawyer.
- Her first major business client was in immigration-law software.
- Her law background allowed her to bridge into writing on tech.
- This client said her past work experience made her the ‘needle in the haystack’ they were looking for, the only candidate who had anything relevant to say about their industry.
- She used lists of startups that had recently received venture capital to look for prospects.
- She took in-person meetings when possible — and in some cases, that seemed to make a difference in getting hired.
- She focuses on a tech sub-niche: writing about developer tools. Few writers know this space, so she’s in-demand.
- Emily attracted clients by building authority through writing for a trade publication her clients read. Two new clients saw her byline there and hired her, and some article sources she interviewed also became clients.
- Total retainers currently are just under $10,000 per month, and two new clients she’s just ramping may turn into retainers, too.
- Marketing method of choice: Sending soft-sell LinkedIn connection invites. She mentions that she’s a freelance writer who knows their niche, and just thought it would make sense to connect. Sometimes customized if she spots something in theirr profile they have in common. Several clients came this way.
- Her project mix includes case studies, white papers, blog posts, and editing. with a growing focus on the higher-ticket items.
- Pitch companies in your niche that are headquartered in a low-glamour city (she did San Jose, Calif.), where it may be hard to get good staffers.
- She now uses a rate sheet for easily defined projects such as case studies and white papers, to simplify her life.
- When she thinks of bidding low, she asks herself, “What would a white man charge?”
- Her tip: Send out a LOT of marketing.
- Set high goals and target companies that are flush.
- On track to exceed $30,000 per quarter this summer… and still working on growing her income further.
- Did I mention she only works 30 hours a week?
I’ll be honest — I got some tips for my own freelance biz from this interview! Packed with goodies.
Build up to full-time freelancing
Laura built her freelance career on the side of a day job, and then made the leap to full-time freelancing. What drove her income over six figures? Watch and learn:
Laura’s Show Notes:
- Laura ramped her freelance income up until it equaled her day-job income, then quit. Low-risk!
- She used letters of introduction (LOIs) and focused on SaaS companies nationwide.
- Then, she focused on pitching companies with very similar offerings to existing clients, so her clips were highly relevant.
- Key decision: she tripled her rates.
- She realized small jobs were killing her and established a $1,000 minimum for first projects.
- Focused more on larger projects such as white papers.
- Grew her confidence to pitch big-ticket items such as a white paper as a first project.
- Schedules everything in Google calendar, including home chores.
- Allows extra time for writing-biz tasks, just in case.
- She participated in a Den 2X 100-pitch/30-day challenge — and rapidly built her freelance client base.
- 3 big recommendations: Jack up your rates, take no small projects, and bid on a project basis for higher-ticket projects, where hourly rate can top $300/hr.
- Now projecting $150,000 for 2019 income!
Make more money writing
You know, they say a parent’s proudest moment is watching their kids outshine and out-achieve them. And that’s exactly how I feel, watching Den 2X grads like Laura and Emily!
I personally felt maxed out at $100,000 a year as a full-time freelancer, but they’re both doing me one better — working smarter, charging more, and showing that six-figure freelance writing is achievable. It’s not hype: you really CAN make money writing… and lots of it.
Need to grow your writing income? The only Den 2X Income Accelerator mastermind of 2020 begins in January! All the details on this 6-month coaching program are here. (Got questions? Ask in the comments.)