*This post may include affiliate links or sponsored partnerships. We get a commission if you sign up with a partner; this commission is at no cost to you.
*This post may include affiliate links. We get a commission if you sign up with a partner; this commission is at no cost to you.(Last Updated On: March 28, 2020)
Let me first start out by saying I’m an average gyal.
I grew up in a super small town of maybe 10,000 people. A fun night out for us was driving around in the rural hills of Pennsylvania singing songs and telling ghost stories. #Sad.
I tell you this because—point blank—if I can make money online anyone can. Especially since I happen to partake in tons of self sabotaging behavior when it comes to money.
Plot twist: I’m someone who’s recovering from not charging what I’m worth. Even with all of these mental roadblocks, I was able to move from $12.50 per story to assignments that pay $300 to $1,500 per story. Who knew that I could actually make money writing articles?
It didn’t come without a lot of hard work, but it’s hard work that anyone who’s skilled at writing can do. I believe that freelancing is one of the fastest ways to earn extra income on the side of a full-time job. Start with freelancing and then you can branch out to other things like starting an agency, building a blog, or selling products.
In this post, I’m sharing with you what I learned along the way in my freelancing career.
First—My Backstory as a Freelance Writer
I’ve always been a writer. In elementary school, I was the kid who was begging the teacher to show me how to write dialogue while other students scribbled illegible sentences on their pages.
I’m not saying this to brag.
I want to let you know that to make it as a writer you do have to love writing. If not, writing professionally is probably going to be a slog.
I started making money writing articles after seeing other people make money online. I figured—why not me? At the time I had created a blog and I figured I could market myself from that blog.
I was also really interested in celebrity gossip at the time. The first client I pitched was a celebrity gossip news site. I negotiated a measly $25 for two stories about Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Yes, this is really what happened.
The pay was veeeeerrry minimal, but it showed me I was on to something. People were actually willing to pay me for a skill that I had.
I started pitching more and more places and landed jobs. The freelance jobs, in the beginning, paid okay. Later I tapped into a much higher paying market.
That’s what I want to discuss with you here.
How to make the transition from an “okay” paid writer to a “well-paid” writer.
Choose a Speciality to Make Money Writing Articles
You can’t write about general self-help and think you’re going to make a lot of money as a freelance writer. You can’t write 500 words about something no one cares about and laugh all the way to the bank.
These are just facts if you want to make real money writing articles. In my experience, people and companies look for freelance writers who do the following things:
Write content that brings people to their site (web content, social media copy)
Write content that convinces people to buy from them (white papers, brochures, sales pages, website copy, etc.)
Here’s the secret: The more money that your content brings them the higher that you’re paid. This is why people who write sales copy can charge so much money. They are some of the highest paid people of the writing bunch because their ad or sales copy is what’s creating sales for a company. Their work leads to direct results.
You may not write sales copy. That’s okay—I don’t write sales copy either.
But you do need to specialize in writing for an industry that DOES make money. Writing content in a lucrative industry means they have more of a budget to pay writers.
Look at the income-generating strategy for the clients you consider pitching. How do they make money? How many customers do they have?
Pitch the bigger fish.
Grow Your Own Social Media Following
In a perfect world, a writer wouldn’t have to express their value to a client in the form of page views and social media followers. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Companies and clients may not come out and say it but they do consider the size of your platform in the hiring process.
I’ve built (and continue) to build my platform with Pinterest.
I LOVE Pinterest because it’s a search engine where people go to find articles and look for information. Facebook and Instagram are where people are looking to interact compared to Pinterest where people are specifically searching for ideas and that’s how people find me. Learn my Pinterest strategy for bloggers here.
My advice for growing your platform is to focus your energy on one or two areas. Pinterest should be one of those two areas—no question.
Grow those one or two profiles and traffic streams first and then move on to others after you’ve mastered it. This way you’re not spread too thin.
Write Irresistible Pitches
I’ve gotten several jobs by cold pitching. Cold pitching is when you make a call (I hardly did this) or send an email (I usually did this) to prospective clients to explain the services that you offer.
Cold pitching is how I got onto sites like The Huffington Post and Madame Noire, a widely popular lifestyle site for African American women.
I have three main rules for pitching:
Get to the point. No one likes a long pitch. People want to know immediately what your idea is and an explanation of how your idea will help them.
Show you can do the work. Share links to your prior work and testimonials. If you don’t have any published work, link back go a REALLY good piece of content from your own site.
Close with a question. Don’t close with a “thanks for your consideration.” Close with a question like, “Do you think this idea will be good for your audience?”
I tried to be an isolated freelance writer for a LONG time. I didn’t want to ask anyone for help because I thought asking for help meant that I was a loser. Who wants to feel vulnerable in front of the competition?
I discovered that networking is key. You shouldn’t think of other writers competition. Other writers can refer you to work and give you insight on clients. Make friends with writers in your industry so you can have each other’s back.
Increase Your Rates
Lastly, you need to continually increase your rates. Starting out you won’t demand something like $1,500 for an assignment like I’ve gotten paid.
I didn’t demand that price in the beginning either. I hadn’t proven myself yet.
Continue to prove yourself with your current clients. Get really great clips and testimonials to add to your portfolio. Then ask to take on more assignments and ask for the raise.
You have to be brazen to get to the next income level.
Ask Your Questions
Trying something a bit different with this post. I want to continue this post by asking whatever questions you may have about earning income as a writer. Answer questions below and I’ll continue updating this post to answer!