Professional Writing Win: How A Young Writer Ramped to $5K a Month

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Professional Writing: How A New Grad Earns $5K A Month. Makealivingwriting.com

Professional Writing: How to Earn $5K a Month. Makealivingwriting.comWhen I started professional writing as a freelancer, things were hard.

I’d just graduated high school and needed a remote job, so I started freelancing. But after working for a year, I was only making $800 a month.

I thought professional writing was supposed to pay well, but that definitely wasn’t enough to live on. Something needed to change. I needed a win.

Sound familiar?

Maybe you’ve got a few professional writing clients or landed some assignments, but you’re not making enough money.

Or maybe you’re just starting out, and have a lot of questions about professional writing, finding clients, and how much you should charge.

When I was really struggling, I signed up for the Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator program to get help from Carol Tice.

That’s where I learned how to ramp up my professional writing career and my income. Now I’m consistently making over $5,000 a month as a 20-year-old freelance writer. Many months, that number is over $7,000.

You can do it, too. Wondering how? Check out these key strategies I used to build my professional writing business and my income.

Meet freelance writer Hailey Hudson

Professional Writing: Hailey Hudson

Hailey Hudson

Dream big. Freelance writer Hailey Hudson starting thinking this way when she was a kid. But she wasn’t sure where that would lead her…until now.

Once she learned how to ramp up her professional writing career, everything changed.

She moved out of her parents house into a luxury-dream apartment. She gets paid well writing for clients, enjoys the freelance life, and helping other writers move up and earn more. Here’s what she recommends to grow your professional writing business:

1. Diversify your skill set

While writing makes up the bulk of my work, I’ve discovered that the more skills I have, the more valuable I am.

I can upsell my clients and make more money. You don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades, but it can be extremely helpful to keep a few carefully-chosen additional services up your sleeve to offer your clients:

I have clients who pay me additional fees ($50 per hour) to perform the following tasks:

  • Write copy for their social media platforms
  • Create video tutorials for their YouTube channels
  • Do extra research pre-writing on big projects
  • Upload articles into WordPress

2. Know when to let go

I’ve learned a lot about the art of dropping a client and why it’s helpful. You should drop clients when you no longer feel that what they’re paying you is worth it for the time you spend doing the work.

The truth: Every time you drop a low-paying or hard-to-work-with client, you’ll feel a sense of relief, because you’re free to pursue other higher-paying clients with work you enjoy.

Don’t be afraid to (politely) give a client the boot if you have a gut feeling it’s time to move on. Many times, a feeling of resentment toward the client is your warning sign that you need to leave.

3. Keep moving forward

I do a lot of marketing, and I’ve learned one important thing:

Don’t get hung up on any one job or any one lead.”

I send an LOI or a job application, and then I forget about it. If they respond, great! If not, that’s okay — because I’m busy talking with plenty of other companies, too.

Here’s an example: I first got in contact with a B2B publication last January. They didn’t get back to me until 10 months later. But when they did, they had a $400 assignment for me. I’d completely forgotten about my application, but now I’m thrilled to get a chance to work with them.

Want to ramp up and get ahead? Don’t set your heart on any one prospective client. Send LOIs. Write query letters. Connect with potential clients, and keep marketing and moving forward. If a prospect does convert, it’s a pleasant surprise.

4. Get retainer clients

It’s a game changer that will create financial stability in your professional writing business.

Here’s how it works: You do the same amount of work for a retainer client each month for the same amount of money. Cha-ching! It’s so much easier to have three to five “anchor clients” who pay a fixed price every month rather than patching your income together from dozens of smaller clients.

Tip: Don’t waste your time with low-paying one-off assignments. Instead, get your clients to commit to monthly retainers. That way, you can plan your budget month to month. And plus, the longer you work with a client, the better your work for them will be.

5. Learn to write fast

I have a few clients that don’t pay amazing rates. But because the articles they assign me are so easy, I can write a full article in an hour or two and still make a hefty hourly rate. And thanks to the volume of assignments I get per month, these clients are worth it.

How can you write faster? Try doing your research ahead of time and making an outline before you sit down to write. This prep work ensures that you’ll be more efficient when it’s time to write because you can focus on just that: writing.

6. Find mid-level clients

When it comes to the size of the companies or magazines you work with, a happy medium is best.

Don’t settle for the $0.05 per word jobs found many places online, but don’t waste your time pitching only national publications, either.

The sweet spot? I recommend going after mid-size B2C or B2B companies that have strong content marketing programs and can afford to pay their freelancers well, even if these companies aren’t household names.

7. Keep your creativity sharp

Recently, I needed to pull back from freelancing, so I stopped accepting new clients. At first everything was going great. But then something happened that I didn’t expect: I got bored.

I discovered that in order to keep my creativity sharp and make sure my writing was top-notch, I needed new clients that would give me fresh assignments to stimulate my mind.

Tip: If you find yourself bored by doing the same client work every day, mix it up! Branch out into a new type of writing or find a client in a sub-niche that you want to learn more about. New work equals more creativity, which results in high-quality work — and that means more money.

Work to win at professional writing

Professional writing takes a lot of hard work…I won’t sugarcoat it. But you’re on the right path! By educating yourself about strategies for landing (and keeping) clients and then applying those strategies in real life, you too can earn thousands of dollars each month through freelance writing.

Ready to get paid well for professional writing? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Hailey Hudson is a full-time freelance writer based out of Atlanta, Georgia.

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23 comments on “Professional Writing Win: How A Young Writer Ramped to $5K a Month

  1. Jim on

    I started freelance writing about a year ago now. In reality I haven’t been very active with it because I got very discouraged by the content mills, which still haven’t paid me for my work, and the one online publication I wrote for strung me along for about five months with promises of publication right up to the very last day. They told me that they had reconsidered my article and wouldn’t publish it. So, I kept on writing a bit until I stopped completely. I still write on Facebook and Quora but up to now I have been totally unable to make any money whatsoever from freelance work.

    When I read of people earning thousands it cuts deep. All I would like is to earn a little cash to supplement my meagre wage but I have been unable to get this much. Talk about discouragement is laughable.

    Reply
  2. Deb Belluomini on

    I get what Hailey means about getting bored. I have this problem. In fact, in my high school yearbook the quote that is attributed to me is: “I’m bored!” That was a long time ago, but today it’s why I struggle with niching my services. I have this crazy curiosity that is both exciting and incredibly distracting. I’m still learning how to tame that dragon.

    Reply
    • Hailey Hudson on

      That’s so funny! And yeah, niching down was a HUGE struggle for me at first because I’m interested in everything, haha. Eventually I realized that there’s lots of space to play within different niches. For instance, one of my niches is fitness–and since that’s pretty broad, that can mean anything from writing about CrossFit WOD’s to the benefits of youth sports to the best Pilates instructors on YouTube.

      Reply
  3. Cynthia on

    Congratulations to Hailey on her success at such a young age! Her writing is excellent and her determination is admirable. This post was inspiring and informative even for someone like me who is middle aged and has been writing for decades.

    If I can ask her a question, I’d like to know if she faced opposition from her parents when she decided to start her writing career instead of going to college. If so, how did she overcome their objections before she had to income to prove that she was on the right track?

    Reply
    • Hailey Hudson on

      Thanks so much, Cynthia–that means a lot! My parents were very supportive about my decision. When I initially graduated high school, I was going to just take a gap year; during that year, I started dabbling in freelancing. After that year I decided to jump into Den 2X, which started producing results pretty quickly, and then the next thing I knew we were looking at apartments. It was almost a frog-in-the-boiling-water type thing… I don’t know if there was a specific moment I said “I don’t want to go college, I want to write.” My parents both went to college themselves and I guess it was always the assumption that I’d go to college too, but when I decided it wasn’t for me, they were okay with that. (Or at least, they never expressed it in front of me if they weren’t!)

      Reply
  4. Jeff on

    Hi Harley,
    Have read through your writing it’s such an interesting write-up. I am quite encouraged to be a professional writer just like you. Please can you help me with the websites where I can be able to get jobs as a freelancer? Thank you as I look forward to hear from you.

    Reply
    • Hailey Hudson on

      Thanks for reading, Jeff! If you’re in the Den, I definitely recommend the job board in there. JournalismJobs is good too and I use Mediabistro occasionally. And making a profile in LinkedIn if you haven’t can be hugely helpful to start making connections and networking with potential clients.

      Reply
    • Carol Tice on

      Jeff, the mentality that becoming a freelance writer means finding ‘websites where I can get jobs’ is probably the #1 reason people fail to become freelance writers. Remember that mass job board ads often get 500 responses. Or more. What are your odds of success there? Upwork stats recently showed that 93% of people signed up on the platform as writers, as I recall, had never earned ONE DOLLAR on there.

      Note that Hailey says she got STARTED with ads from a couple (better quality) boards, but from there, she learned in Den 2X how to go out and target and pitch the clients she wanted. THAT is where you earn most of the money.

      Reply
      • Carol Tice on

        Exactly what I was about to say — listen to the passive voice in ‘I don’t get any opportunity.’ This isn’t a career where you sit and wait for someone to drop work on you… not if you want to eat. 😉

        Freelance writers go out and proactively FIND their opportunities. We research and locate opportunities to help clients, and reach out to them.

        Reply
  5. Myrtith Monroe on

    Very inspirational. I’m a beginner and each proclamation seems almost virtual. I have yet to begin the inquiry process, but I feel far more alert and assertive than I did initially. I’m very appreciative of your insight, and I’m glad to have joined the Den. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Lydia on

    Hi there
    I am Lydia i have started freelancing, just then i got i client and gave me a writing website project.. I did what i thought was right for the content two times but she never accept them.
    Well am stuck and i don’t no what to do to make the content better, i need a mentor who can direct me well please.

    Reply
  7. Megan on

    Hailey,

    Where did you go to start finding your first clients and get that all important experience everyone seems to want?
    And when you started diversifying your skills, did you get training in those different areas first or did you learn as you went?
    Thank you so much for sharing! As a young person myself, it’s exciting to know that being a full-time freelancer can happen at a young age!

    Reply
    • Hailey Hudson on

      Hi Megan! If I remember correctly, I got my first few clients on FreelanceWritingGigs.com a couple of years ago. I also got a few of my early clients by pitching magazines and then being invited to come on in a bigger capacity rather than just one article.

      In regards to acquiring different skills, I did both! I’ve done some learning and courses on my own; I’ve had some clients help me out with training, such as one client who put me through an SEO workshop; and I’ve definitely just jumped in and gotten the hands-on experience for some things as well.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  8. Kaitlin L Morrison on

    Great tips, Hailey. You are an inspiration and your work is proof that being “too young” isn’t a barrier to a successful freelance career. Often, we writers set obstacles in our own paths. If we’re looking for excuses not to try, we’ll usually find them.

    Reply

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