The Easy Way to Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer (No Marketing Required!)

Easy moneyHave you wondered if there’s a point at which the freelance writing life gets easier? I get asked that a lot.

Writers get sick of the hustle and grind of trying to scare up more gigs. Or they tire of being broke all the time.

Isn’t there an easier way to earn more money as a freelance writer?

As it happens, there is.

There is one great way to earn more money as a freelance writer that doesn’t rely on marketing. It’s my favorite way to earn more, too, as it does not involve working any harder.

Bonus: Now is the perfect time of year to lay the groundwork and make this happen.

What do you charge?

The simplest way to grow your income as a freelance writer is to get paid more to do what you’re already doing. In other words, get a raise from your existing clients.

No marketing needed — no auditioning, writing sample articles, answering ads, going to networking events, sending queries, nothing.

It’s so simple! Yet so many writers fail to take advantage of this great opportunity to earn more.

It’s true that for this to work, you need to already have clients. And they need to be the right type of client — the kind where you can get a raise — not a content mill where they’ve been paying $15 or $20 for articles for years, and it’ll never change. Or a revenue-share situation where you earn pennies for ad clicks. Only a miracle will earn you more at these sort of places.

My experience in mentoring hundreds of writers is that new writers often bid too low, and then rarely ask clients for more money. Even though over time, their expertise in that client’s business and their sector usually grow dramatically.

Often, all you have to do is get more is simply to ask. If you’ve been writing for a client for 60-90 days, you can often get a raise at that early point. That’s enough time to make yourself indispensable to the client. You don’t have to wait a year or more!

Some writers tell me they don’t feel ready to ask for a raise yet, or they need to gain confidence that they’re worth more.

Let me help: You’re worth more. Yes, I can tell from here.

Why is now the best time to get a raise? Well, my proven approach to getting raises takes six weeks to execute. Six weeks from now, it’s a new year. That’s why this is the perfect moment.

6 Weeks to more money

If you give your client a lot of notice near year-end, it’s fairly easy to get a raise. I’ll demonstrate why. It takes six weeks for this method to play out — here are the steps:

1) Notify your client this week that your rates are going up starting in 2015. I suggest a simple script along these lines:

“For some time now, my rates have been rising, but I’ve kept your rate stable because I love working with you. However, at this point I won’t be working at this rate in future. I’m writing to let you know that starting in 2015, my rates are going up from $X to $X (usually 10%-15% more).”

2) Client gets note. Scans it. Sees it says something’s happening in “2015.” Client makes a mental note that this isn’t something urgent that’s happening this week. They don’t have to think about it right now. They can go back to the million emergencies they’re dealing with because it’s almost year-end.

3) If you don’t hear back, you’ve got two options. Get back in touch and insist they sign a revised contract, or simply start charging more on Jan. 1. You know I recommend having a contract, but your call. I’ll admit I’ve used the sneaky approach in the past, and it’s worked out.

4) If you haven’t gotten confirmation yet, remind them right before Christmas that your rates are going up.

5) Client is headed out the door for the holidays, and realizes time got away from them on this one. Now, they’ll never find a replacement for you before Jan. 1. They think about it and realize they like your work, and it’s probably not worth the effort to break in a new writer — it’s easier to just pay you a little more.

6) When you bill for January work, you’re at the higher rate.

One tip: I’ve found asking for a modest raise pretty foolproof. But I also know writers who were being radically underpaid, who asked for and got 50%-100% raises. So consider your situation and your client, and think carefully about how big a raise you want to shoot for.

Small raises increase your odds that clients will simply agree without giving it a lot of thought, but sometimes the pay is so low you should either quit or get a substantial raise.

When you can’t ask for more

There’s one big rule of asking for a raise from an existing client: You can’t do it unless you’re ready to walk if they don’t agree.

If they say ‘no’ to the raise and you stay, they’ll never respect you again. This client is now a dead end. You’ll never earn more here.

If you’re absolutely petrified about asking existing clients for a raise, or simply not in the scenario where you can risk losing the client, you can still help yourself earn more.

How? Raise your rates for new clients.

Grandfather in your old clients at your existing rate, but anybody new pays more. Then, gradually replace those older clients with the higher-paying ones as you go. Once again, this doesn’t add to your marketing workload — it’s just part of what you tell prospects.

Will you raise your rates in 2015? Leave a comment and tell us how you’ll make it happen.

 

 

 

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19 comments on “The Easy Way to Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer (No Marketing Required!)
  1. This advice is grossly underutilized. I charged a client a pittance for months, and only asked for a raise after I read advice online (from this blog, oddly enough). The new rate was double what I had originally writing for. I nervously waited for an angry phone call or email, but instead I got one word: “okay.”

    It was so anti-climactic! And the frustrating part was that I should’ve done that much, much, earlier!

    So yeah, excellent advice Carol.
    Patrick Icasas recently posted…Productivity Tips that Never Work (For Me)My Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing your story, Patrick!

      I’ve heard this more than once, that if you’re really underpriced, you might try going for a serious raise. Sometimes, the client simply has no idea what market rates are. They know they’re paying a pittance, and if you ask for $50 a post instead of $25, it’s probably still pin money in their marketing budget.

      Meanwhile — 100% raise for you!

  2. Samar says:

    I have a slightly different take on how to end the relationship when the client doesn’t agree to a raise rates.

    Sometimes you just don’t know whether the client will agree or not but you’re at a point in your career where you need to earn more – no matter what.

    So you tell them you’re raising your rates any way – even when you’re not ready to lose them as a client.

    If they come back saying no, you tell them you can’t work on your current rates for much longer and can continue writing for them till (give a time frame). Specify that it should give them sufficient time to find a new freelancer.

    This way you don’t abandon a client mid project and give yourself time to find a new client.
    Samar recently posted…21 Marketing Tips for Freelancers From The Most Successful Women in the IndustryMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well, I guess I think that’s what I’m saying too, Samar — “I’m willing to write at this rate for 6 more weeks, then I’m at a higher rate.” They can try to find a replacement during those six weeks…but my experience is few businesses have time to do anything like that during the last 6 weeks of the year. 😉

      I definitely don’t advocate dropping the client on their head or leaving them mid-project…that’s why it’s 6 weeks’ notice. You look like a good person for giving them so much time. But in reality, they’ll be highly likely to suck it up and give you the raise, because it’s such a difficult time to add “find, audition, hire, and train a new writer” to their to-do list.

  3. arundhathi says:

    Dear Carol,

    Thank you so much. Yes, this works. So far I have been giving a credit period of 10-30 days for clearing my invoice.

  4. Mayre Press says:

    I write a monthly e-newsletter and post weekly to Facebook for one of my clients (an elected official). I’m going to raise the project fee by 20% or $50 and tell her it’s effective in 2015. Didn’t raise my fee at the end of last year and realized it has been the same since Feb 2013 (my bad). She raised the fee by $25 increments a couple of times since I started in 2012. I agree if you don’t give yourself a raise, then you can’t complain about being underpaid. Also plan to link to the alderman’s Facebook page when I market my services to potential clients.

    • Carol Tice says:

      That’s a pretty steep raise on a percent basis, but also only translates to $50…so sounds like it’s a pretty small base. I’ve seen writers succeed with this before, so good luck!

  5. Allen Taylor says:

    I have had clients with retainer fees, or subscriptions, for years. One way of raising prices that seems to work for the cheap ones who have proven they don’t want to pay more is to offer less but keep them at the same rate of pay. Instead of writing three blog posts per week I’ll drop down to two. I usually give them a choice. Raise the rates for the amount of work or reduce the work I do at the same rate. Either way, I get a raise.
    Allen Taylor recently posted…How To Start A Freelance Writing BusinessMy Profile

  6. Hi Carol

    Because I haven’t been going that long, I’ve only put my rates up a couple of times.

    And so far, so good – I’ve had a bit of natural wastage (i.e. lost some work) but gained more money overall and freed up the time spent working on lower paying clients.

    But rather than use the words ‘Price increases from XX’ to my clients, I say ‘New rates from XX’. Somehow the latter doesn’t sound quite so much like an increase – but more something positive and progressive.
    Kevin Carlton recently posted…10 super simple strategies copywriters use to find a sizzling-hot USPMy Profile

  7. This is a smooth idea for all of us, Carol. Sooner or later, whenever the time is right in our own minds and in our growing careers, we’ll need it. This post gets printed for future reference. Thanks!

  8. Sabita says:

    Cool advice Carol.

    I’ve been using a tuner strategy to increase my rates with existing clients. It worked with even a content mill client way back.

    I agree 100% that one has to ask. And asking high from new clients is a great advice.

    Do you think its a good move to publish the rates on my writer website or negotiate that with clients?

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m not a fan of posting a rate sheet, Sabita — each client is unique, and you don’t want to send any away before they have a chance to talk to you.

      • Pete Boyle says:

        Would you recommend posting a minimum rate on your site.

        Such as ‘Rates begin at $X.XX per word’?
        Pete Boyle recently posted…The Single Most Important Tool In a Freelancer’s Toolbox is…My Profile

        • Carol Tice says:

          I don’t, Pete.

          The point of your writer website is to get the prospect to pick up the phone and call you. Stating rates may drive some prospects away you might have been able to work out a deal with, and may also force you to work for too little in situations where you would have wanted to charge more.

          I just don’t see an upside to it, unless you’re finding your time wasted with a LOT of bottom-feeders and want to post a minimum to send those away. I think rates are a conversation you want to have once you know ALL about the project.

  9. Elna says:

    Great advice Carol.
    I’m at a different point in my career. I have many prospects but nothing is quite flourishing. I do, however, have a high authority website interested in my services (blogging), but have no idea what my rate should be. I don’t have fear, it’s more like I need validation in my ability. Also, having this client would look good on my portfolio and I don’t want to scare them off if I ask outside of their budget for hiring a writer.
    What’s too low and what’s too high? They are an authority automotive site so that says something right?
    Once I have clients, I will definitely employ this tactic for getting a raise.
    Elna recently posted…Find Out the One Thing That Can Ruin Your Freelance Writing CareerMy Profile

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  1. […] The Easy Way to Earn More Money as a Freelance Writer (No Marketing Required!) | It’s no secret that I love anything and everything Carol Tice writes about on her blog. I’m with Linda (of Renegade Writer) who says she “religiously reads” Carol’s blog. This post is sure to help a few who have landed blogging gigs, but can’t seem to make more money. […]