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Here’s Exactly How Writers Move Up and Get Paid More Money

Earn More from Freelance Writing

Even though I’ve put up a lot of blog posts about how writers can earn more, I find there’s still a missing link for many writers. They hear about $800 articles, $125 blogs, $20,000-a-year copywriting clients, and their jaws drop. And they cannot figure out how to get from $20 articles to there.

So today, I’m going to teach you how.

One reader wrote me after reading my post on business blogging that talks about how my minimum contract for small-business clients is $1,000 for 8 blog posts. She wrote:
How do you do this? I just had a conversation with a new client and quoted him $75 per blog post. I really want to charge $100 per blog post. This client wants to try two blog posts per week. I know I’m a great blogger and have the experience to back it up. I really want to charge my rate and deserve it.

Plus, he wants web content writing. The content writing is for eight pages and the words will be from 60-100. I charged him $10 per page last time. I have a feeling I under charged and undercut myself. Any advice?

Oh, certainly I have advice. And my advice is simple: Stop offering to work for $10 a page.

Here is the secret of earning more. Look at your rate now, and raise it. Start saying your rate is $20 a page. Next month, say it’s $40 a page. Then, say it’s $80 a page. Repeat until you find you are earning at least $75 an hour.

So this is the part that terrifies writers. You think if you raise your rate, you won’t have any clients. That is simply not true. You may have fewer clients at first — but that’ll be OK, because you are getting paid twice as much, or soon, eight times as much. So you’ll need fewer clients.

How will you get new, better-paying clients? You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone, and find better-quality prospects.

Who’s a better prospect? A company or publication with something difficult they need solved, that not every writer on earth can do.

They need to explain insurance annuities to an audience of actuaries, or they want articles about technological advances in refrigeration units. Figure out what you know about that not everyone knows, and you’ve zeroed in on your target market for better pay.

Then, when you get in a negotiation, ask for real rates. It’s just that simple. There’s no magic. You’ll actually have to screw up the gumption to ask for good pay.

If they say $300 for this article, take a deep breath and say, “I usually get $500.” And see what happens. Maybe they’ll tell you they can’t go higher. But you’ll be surprised how often you can get more, especially now with the economy improving.

If your client balks, you may have to educate them about why you’re worth it. Maybe they’ll walk away. That means they’re not the right client for you — they’re too cheap.

But this is how writers earn more. They find clients with tough problems, and show they can solve them.

It really works. The writer who asked that question above? After talking to me, she went back and asked for $20 a page, and got it.

It’s a start. That’s how better income happens — one notch up the ladder at a time. All it takes is a commitment to move up from where you are, to begin the climb. The universe will not likely hand you more money out of the blue. You will have to ask for it.

Have you raised your rates lately? Leave a comment and let us know how you found better-paying gigs.

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

Photo via Flickr user borman818

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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6 Lessons Learned from Creating My Make A Living Writing E-Book

ebook readerWell…it finally happened. I sat down with my designer today and the Word files for my e-book and we began the process of getting it ready to publish.

This project seemed to take forever! In fact, it took about 18 months. I’m so excited that it’s finally coming into the home stretch.

I learned a lot in the process of writing Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century Guide. If you’re thinking about writing an e-book — and everybody should be! — here are some of my tips on the e-book writing process:

1. Start small. Why, oh why, did I think my very first e-book should be a broad-spectrum, comprehensive guide to everything you need to know to earn well in the writing biz today? If I was doing this over again, I would have found a chunk to publish first as a stand-alone, smaller first e-book to get something out there while I finished the larger book. As it is, I’ll probably be doing that — I plan to pull out the copywriting section and offer it later as a separate product. But part of this information could have been out there helping writers already — and helping me earn — while I finished the bigger book.

2. Chunkify. This is a phrase I learned from one of my Seattle Times editors. Especially when people are reading online, they need information broken up into small bites. So most of my sections are short or broken out into bullets or numbered items to make them easy to digest.

3. Listen to your audience. If you’re writing any sort of nonfiction, how-to e-book, don’t sit in a vacuum in your office writing what you think people want to know. Find out what they really want to know! I’ve gotten great feedback from my mentees and readers of this blog about exactly what they wanted to know about traditional markets today, emerging writing opportunities and new techniques for finding good-paying clients. The e-book would not be nearly as strong without that critical feedback.

4. Think landscape. E-books lay out in landscape format, not portrait — that is, 11″ wide by 8 1 /2″ high, not the other way around. When I started out, I wasn’t thinking about this. I ended up reorganizing and editing a lot as a result. Landscape format is the shape of  most computer screens (though not e-readers like the one above!) — so it helps to think about that shape while you’re writing and looking at how much will fit on a page.

5. Think about structure and style. One of the toughest challenges for me as someone used to writing articles of maybe up to 3,000 words was organizing so much material. I should have spent more time up-front working with my table of contents to figure out where topics would fit best — would have saved a lot of reorganizing on the back end. On the style side, I kept doing things differently — how to put dashes, how to format lists. Think of a style and stick with it to avoid lots of combing through to change little format problems later.

6. Let it go. At some point, it’s time to call the e-book done. But I found it hard to get there. I got great advice from my online buddy Robert Earle Howells, who told me to just press “send” and move on to the next e-book. It doesn’t have to be perfect,  he said — it’s an e-book. Nonfiction e-books are meant to be timely and produced quickly. He told me he still sometimes goes back in and changes something in the PDF of his book, and that it’s no big deal. That helped me a lot…I probably would have kept tinkering with this forever, until the recession was long over and a lot of it would have needed revising! Wish I’d heard his advice six months ago…probably would have the e-book out already!

Have any questions about writing an e-book? Let me know — if I think the readers would benefit, I’ll answer them here on the blog.

Photo via Flickr user cloudsoup

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My Make a Living Writing e-book, Part II: What’s Missing?

Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century GuideEarlier this week, I shared the table of contents for the first half of my upcoming e-book, Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century Guide. Below is the second half, covering copywriting and earning from your niche blog. Some of you may recognize a few of these headings from previous blog entries I’ve done here or on WM Freelance Writing Connection. They’ve been revised and in many cases expanded for the book, which also includes a lot of new material I have not blogged on before.

Please feel free to leave comments about any topics you don’t see included that you would like to see covered in the book.

Thanks all —

Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century Guide

By Carol Tice




An Introduction to the World of Copywriting

Choosing a niche

Use your life experience

My breaking-in story

Is copywriting “selling out”?

Getting Copywriting Assignments

Seven ways to find your first clients

A sample opening pitch

Two more strategies for getting those first samples

Blogging for business—a great new break-in opportunity

Five signs of a good business-blogging prospect

How to create a great business blog

The mechanics of business blogging

Break in with crowdsourcing contests

What to Charge

Why I don’t have a rate sheet

What to do if a prospect requires a quote

Sample copywriting client questionnaire

Negotiation tips for getting the best rate

Listen in on a client negotiation

Completing Your First Copywriting Assignment

Client meeting 101

Writing your assignment

Submit your work and deal with edits

Turn one assignment into a regular gig

How to Gain Confidence and Move Up

Social media + copywriting = good pay

Team with a graphic designer to earn more

Copywriting for nonprofits

Learn more about copywriting



Blog vs. Article: What’s the Difference?

Why Your Blog Needs a Niche

Best Traits of Successful Niche Bloggers

Nine Ways to Monetize Your Blog

Advice from Successful Niche Blogger Nathan Hangen

Conclusion: Making it Happen

You Gotta Believe

Make a Living Writing: The Sequel


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How Writers Can Get on the Map with Natural Search Results

SEO Guide for Freelance Writers
Earlier this week, Alyssa wrote about search engine optimization, or SEO, for your writer Web site. I’d like to pick up that thread and offer a story on why SEO matters.

I think writers hear about SEO until they’re blue in the face, but many put off working on it because they’re not getting the connection to how it can pay off.

But you should work on your site’s SEO beause increasingly, companies looking for writers Google some search terms and call the writers they find. It really happens. It happened to me last week.

Here’s the story of how a big client found me, and how you can replicate my success:

I got an email out of the blue from a Fortune 500 company based in my town. One of the best-known, still-thriving brands around. They were interested in having me possibly write for a new email newsletter they want to create! As you can imagine, I was ecstatic.

Like any good marketer, before the conversation went too far, I stopped to ask: “Where’d you hear about me?”

Now, in the case of this company, there were any number of ways they might have known my name. As it happens, I covered this company as a reporter for more than six years as a staff writer for a local business journal. They might have remembered me from back then. I currently also write and blog for many business publications…maybe they saw one of those pieces online?

But no. The editor says, “I just Googled ‘Seattle freelance writer’ and looked at the sites of the writers I found.”

I was blown away. SEO win! As it happens, I have been working hard on upping my natural-search results. To keep my site content changing, I try to pick a newly published article at least once a week and add it to my ‘favorites’ box on my landing page, now that my blog has gone off to its own home. I rewrote my landing-page copy to say “Seattle freelance writer” in the heading and body.

Go ahead, Google that phrase right now, and see what happens. Or click that link I left you in the previous sentence. I’ll wait.

Behold! I’m on the first page of results for that search three times out of the top six responses. No wonder he called me!

How’d I do that?

Besides working on my site keywords and keeping my site content fresh, I also got on Google Local, the feature where you can enter your business on their local maps. See it in the graphic above?

Being in Google Local shot me right into the top few listings, as Google promotes itself by putting that map first in results that mention a city name. I’ve also got not one but two other natural-search links, to my main author site and one of my popular blog entries.

One little bitty freelance writer really can do this simple SEO stuff for free and get noticed online by major companies looking for writers. Being tops in search makes you look insanely pro.

I can even also track the natural-search results I’m getting through Google Places. It says I appeared in their search results 238 times last month, and five people went to my site as a result. Wahoo! And the most popular phrases they searched on that turned me up were “blogger,” “mentor,” “freelance writer” and “freelance writing.” Useful, free information for future SEO efforts.

One nervous-making aspect of using Google Local was it wanted an exact address, which I didn’t want to provide since like most of us it’s my home. But I discovered the feature will settle for a general description of where you are, which worked for me.

Have you Googled yourself lately? Googled common search terms for your market? See what you find, and then start working on moving up in natural search. It’s really worth the effort.

I have to conclude this article by giving props to my mentee Lindsay Woolman, who blogs on WM as well, for cannily taking the URL BoiseFreelanceWriter. SEO doesn’t get any better than that for getting local clients! Wish I’d thought of it, but somebody in my market’s already locked that down.

This post originally appeared on the WM Freelance Writer’s Connection.

Graphic via Flickr user Ethan Bloch

My Make a Living Writing e-book — What’s Missing?

Make A Living Writing Table of ContentsSome of you may have seen me mention that I’ve been writing a comprehensive how-to e-book about breaking into paid writing. Well, about a year later than I imagined it would happen, Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century Guide is shortly headed to the designer for layout.

Wow, am I thrilled to be saying that! What a slog it’s been, trying to get this material written and organized inbetween all my regular writing assignments and all that other life stuff that happens when you have a family with three kids.

But I’m pleased to say the e-book table of contents is ready for review. I invite MALW blog readers to take a look at the table of contents this week and leave comments about any topics they don’t see being covered in the book that they’d like to see me add.

Please keep in mind this e-book is intended mostly for new or low-earning writers looking to learn how to break in and start earning well. I’m planning a sequel with more advanced tactics for moving up to higher-paying writing work, so if I think a topic doesn’t belong in this e-book, it may end up in the sequel.

Today, I’m sharing the table for the introduction and part one, which is all about breaking into writing for publications, either print or online. Later this week, I’ll share parts two and three, which are on copywriting and earning from your blog.

Appreciate your feedback, readers! And hope to have the book ready for purchase soon.

Make a Living Writing: The 21st Century Guide

By Carol Tice




Let’s Get Started

Who am I to give advice?

Freelance writing today

Myths about getting published

Three ways to make good money from writing

What’s your goal?

Watch for unexpected opportunities

The 7 Habits of Successful New Freelance Writers

PART I: Writing for Publications

Get Ready to Write

LOOK IN: What do you know?

Choose a focus

Finding the time

LOOK OUT: 7 Steps to Your First Paid Writing Assignments

1. Identify your writing type

2. Find your rung on the ladder

3. Start marketing your writing

A baker’s dozen ways to look for writing work

Research and The Writer’s Market

4. Use social media to build your writing career

Social media do’s and don’ts

5. Find places to get your first few clips

All about writing for Internet content sites

Six problems with content-mill writing

6. Find editors to pitch

7. Create your pitching toolkit

Your resume

Your bio

Your Web site

Three reasons to organize your clips on your own site

What if I don’t have a Web site?

Your blog

Your in-person pitch

Get Set to Pitch

Finding and developing story ideas

Evergreen article ideas

Submitting unsolicited, completed articles

Preparing your query letter in three easy steps

Step one: Know your publication

Writer’s guidelines and editorial calendars

A look at an editor’s life

Step two: Define an angle

Step three: Match your pitch to the right publication

Online articles vs print articles

In the back door: Online articles for print magazines

Crafting your pitch

Two foolproof approaches to writing queries

Query don’ts

Case study: Pitching Kiwanis

Send the most queries in the shortest time

Three ways to pitch editors

1. Pitching via email

Don’t help your editor rip you off!

2. Pitching on the phone

Sample script for a phone pitch

How to leave a voicemail for an editor

3. Pitching via snail mail

Should you nag that editor about your query?

Go: Writing your first assignments

What to know before you start writing

What determines writer pay?

Finding sources and interviewing

Twelve interview tips

How to find facts for your article—fast

Timesaving tips for fast article writing

Seven tips to beat writer’s block

Making your article great

Getting paid

Final thoughts on writing for publications


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