Freelance Writing Jobs: The Secret Sauce to Working for Solopreneurs

The Secret Sauce to Freelance Writing Jobs. Makealivingwriting.comAre solopreneurs good clients for freelance writing jobs?

If you’re shaking your head (no), I get it. There’s no shortage of one-person business owners out there who are barely scraping by.

Is the person selling widgets to their family and friends a good source for freelance writing jobs, referrals, or a potential client that will pay professional rates. Probably not.

Then there’s the solopreneur who says they’re starting their business on a shoestring…in their parent’s basement…with no money. Not a good prospect for freelance writing jobs either.

But that doesn’t mean you should cross solopreneurs off your potential client list.

Solopreneurs can be great clients. I earned about $15,000 last year writing for solopreneurs, which represents about one-fifth of my total income.

In fact, the right soloprenuer client can be a dream to work with, compared to a larger company with a staff of employees, bigger budget for freelance work, and bureaucracy that slows everything down.

So what’s the secret sauce to finding solopreneur clients that will pay you pro rates for freelance writing jobs? Here’s what you need to know:

Work with soloprenuers to get freelance writing jobs

When it comes to finding good clients, we often talk about targeting companies with at least 50 employees. With the exception of well-funded but small start-ups, I personally only market to medium-to-large companies.

However, solopreneurs can be good for your freelance writing business.

Why? In my experience, the right solopreneur is:

  • Prepared to pay professional rates
  • Easier to work with than most companies
  • Prompt about paying on time
  • Understands how client relationships work

In other words, the right solopreneur will treat you as a valued professional and as a peer who has the skills to help him or her expand their business.

3 reasons soloprenuers are better clients than big companies

Before diving in to how to spot a good solopreneuer client, let me discuss some of the ways working with solopreneurs can be easier than working for larger companies.

1. No payment B.S.

It seems like I have some kind of payment issue with almost every client. It almost never malicious, and often the person hiring me wants to pay me promptly.

However, my contact is not in charge of accounts payable. Sometimes he or she doesn’t know what the company’s payment policies are, if they process invoices on a certain date each month, what payment platform they use for contractors, etc.

Delays are usually about miscommunications between the person who hires me, any other people who need to “approve’ my invoice,” and the individual who is actually in charge of making the payment.

This is a non-issue with solopreneurs. The person who hires you is also the person writing the checks. My solopreneur clients are my promptest payers. And if there’s an issue, solopreneurs don’t have to “get back to you,” about what’s wrong and spend hours of their time tracking down the right person to hassle.

When a payment is delayed, I’d rather hear, “Oops! Sorry, I forgot to schedule the payment. I’ll take care of that now,” than “Let me get back to you after I figure out who in accounts payable is responsible.”

2. Gang edits

Some writers stipulate in their contracts that all feedback has to come through one individual. Otherwise, you can find yourself opening up a draft to find four or five people have made comments you’re expected to address—and they contradict each other.

Solopreneurs do not have office politics playing out in your writing assignments. You only need to make one person happy. This dynamic makes working with solopreneurs more fun, as well as a lot faster. And faster=higher hourly rate.

3. No turnover risk

Editor churn does offer the possibility of doubling your clients. But it can also be a big pain, especially if it happens mid-project.

If your client is a solopreneur, you know that as long as you’re writing for this company, you’ll be dealing with the same person. That means you won’t have to deal with changing procedures, changing expectations about voice/tone or internal power struggles.

Even though there are clearly benefits to working with solopreneurs, there’s a reason Carol and others recommend against it. Many, perhaps most, solopreneurs are not willing to pay professional rates.

But high-quality solopreneurs do exist, and they are easy to spot. Here’s what they look like:

Their time is valuable

There are plenty of people in high-earning professions who are solopreneurs:

  • Lawyers
  • Counselors
  • Physical therapists
  • Doctors
  • Freelance software engineers
  • Executive coaches
  • Consultants

These people earn enough to be able to afford professional rates. It also makes sense financially for them to pay someone else to write for them. If they could make $300 per hour in their practice, paying $200 for a blog post is entirely reasonable.

The live in an expensive area

People in New York City and San Francisco are used to paying their dog walkers, hair stylists and accountants pro rates.

My personal experience is that the best solopreneurs live and work in parts of the world that are expensive.

That means the rates for their own services are likely higher than in lower-cost areas and they consider high-dollar fees for services a part of doing business… or a fact of life.

They invest in their business

If you talk to a solopreneur prospect, it’s pretty easy to see how much he or she is investing in the business.

For example: One of my solopreneur clients started our conversation by mentioning that she was working with an SEO expert. She wanted a writer to help her implement this consultant’s recommendations.

Ding! The fact that she was already working with a paid professional to help build her business was a good sign.

A solopreneur who mentions building his or her own website using a free WordPress template? Not a good sign.

Write for soloprenuers + larger companies

To be entirely honest, I don’t market to solopreneurs. But I do follow up on referrals and inbound leads related to writing for solopreneurs, if it smells right.

And I don’t hesitate to ask my solopreneur clients for referrals if any of their colleagues need writing.

Maintaining some solopreneur clients helps me keep a diversified client portfolio. My solopreneur clients have also generally been long-term clients, so having a couple on board provides some income stability.

The secret sauce: Don’t market exclusively to solopreneurs. But don’t immediately discount a referral or inbound lead from a solopreneur, either. The right solopreneur client can be a great source for freelance writing jobs to boost your income.

Do you write for solopreneurs? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Emily Omier is a freelance content marketing writer. Her solopreneur clients include mental health counselors and personal finance experts.

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15 comments on “Freelance Writing Jobs: The Secret Sauce to Working for Solopreneurs
  1. Richard says:

    Haven’t heard that solopreneur as a term before, love it! As someone who is a solopreneur, engaging freelance writers is my go-to and have had writers say they loved how easy it was to work with me. Definitely understand the writer’s side of the article.

  2. Robin says:

    I’m my self a solopreneur. We don’t have employees and any help we need, we engage freelancers. Most of us make it a point to pay promptly because, we want our customers to be good paymasters too. Good read!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I wish that were true, that most solopreneurs were great payers…but so many are flakes. Gotta qualify those carefully and make sure they have the funds to pay a writer!

      • Emily says:

        I think this is exactly the case with GOOD solopreneurs—they see you as a peer and treat you as they expect their clients to treat them. It certainly isn’t all solopreneurs, but some.

  3. Nicholas says:

    Thanks for this post Carol. Soloprenuers are many online today, and they have jobs for freelance writers. But lots of them don’t pay professional fees. I only pitch them when I don’t have much assignment to cover my bills.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’d never pitch them, I target much larger enterprises with my marketing…but sometimes do get approached by ones that have the backing to make it make sense to work with them.

  4. I’ve been on both sides of this. As a freelancer, when I’ve worked for larger corporations, I’ve waited months to get paid. But as a solopreneur, I respect the fact that the people I hire want to be paid promptly. Also, something else to note, often solopreneurs are working at full-time jobs as well (as I am right now) and their business is a “side hustle.” Or they’re working F/T as they build a business. In that case, they probably do have more financial resources to pay freelancers.

    • Emily says:

      I generally wouldn’t work for a solopreneur working on a side hustle… I think the chances of it being a good gig are lower. However, it can work—just pay attention to if the person is making money and is located in an expensive spot! Really, it depends on how serious the solopreneur is about investing in his or her business.

  5. Jan says:

    Good points! I also write for a couple solopreneurs, and they are both extremely low drama and great to work with. They are also very receptive to pitches from me and flexible regarding deadlines. A definite win-win!

  6. Mark Ellis says:

    I wrote a sales page for a solopreneur once. He paid me $500 to write a sales page for his website. He was a retired programmer who was starting an online venture.

    Like you said, great to work with and very low hassle.

    As always- an excellent post!

    • Carol Tice says:

      I did a nice $2,000 project for a solopreneur starting a realtor-training program and getting his website up, just a couple years back. It can work well if it’s the RIGHT solopreneur. This one had his own business in the past and was sort of re-starting with something similar, was a very successful broker…so I knew he had the funds to pay pro rates.

      • Emily says:

        What I didn’t say in the post is that I made $15k last year from TWO solopreneur clients, $10k from one and $5k from the other. Both clearly had the funds to pay and were willing to do so to invest in building their own business. Plenty of individuals out there for whom $500 is pocket change! But you have to vet carefully.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Nice! And totally agree. I find having a ‘floor’ for the minimum size gig you accept helps cut wheat from chaff, and saves your energy for the people who can afford us.

      • So, is there a list of things you make sure are in place before you work with one of these folks? I think I was just lucky with the guy I worked with. I was new to writing advertising copy, so I really didn’t know what I was doing yet.

        I had another guy that owned a mattress company contact me not too long after that and he wanted me to work for free until he made more sales. I told him I don’t pee without getting paid. (Got that line from Harland Ellision’s “Pay the Writer” video on YouTube.)

        Since I’ve started listening to you, Carol, I’ve been a lot pickier about whom I’ll work with.

        • Emily says:

          Hi Mark! Technically, someone who runs a mattress company isn’t a soloprenuer—he probably had employees, right? That’s a small business and it’s another can of worms. My experience is with solopreneurs, people like a consultant who don’t have employees (or have very few, like a doctor might have a receptionist) but might contract with others for work.