Today I want to get into how to make money freelance writing, but with a twist.
I’ll look at it from a personal perspective, based on what I’ve learned from being in the trenches doing this stuff. What I cover here is likely what you’ll discover yourself if freelance writing is the route you choose to your own personal freedom.
So, being a freelancer is a good and a bad thing. Why so you may ask?
Well, on the plus side, being a professional, self-employed freelancer does afford you a lot of personal freedom – that’s for sure.
Again, this can be either a good thing or a bad thing.
Along with personal freedom comes the need for self-discipline. It’s pretty simple really; you don’t work, you don’t get paid!
The (big) upside of freelancing
Okay, so we all know the story.
Work from home, no boss to report to, no daily commute and work all day in your pyjamas if you really want to. I know of a writer who doesn’t even bother with pyjamas when it’s hot, but let’s not go there, really let’s rather not.
The bottom line is, however you choose to approach your work, the work needs to get done.
No work, no pay. No pay, no groceries and a very unhappy Mrs. Freelancer.
Notice in the list of benefits above there’s no mention anywhere of a lack of stress as you might have expected.
You see, there’s this conception that working from home doing the odd bit of freelance writing is a wonderfully stress-free existence. I wish.
Unreasonable deadlines, grumpy clients and the penny pinching 10,000 words for a dollar potential clients (and long will they remain so) all these things are sent with the sole purpose of raining on our work at home parade.
Then there’s the continual stress of having to find more gigs and replacement clients for those that fall by the wayside. At this point a bit of advice to all budding freelance writers, copywriters or anyone about to join our merry band.
The advice is this. If you find a client who sets reasonable deadlines, pays good rates and is a decent human being, treat him like gold dust. Really. Don’t miss deadlines, communicate effectively with that client and give your best – 100% of the time. Nothing less is good enough for this God amongst men (or women).
Back to reality
Okay, that was a bit extreme, I’ll admit…
But, the point is a serious one nonetheless. Holding on to a great client and developing a mutually beneficial, long-term working relationship is way easier than trying to find a replacement.
When things are going well, that’s the time to try even harder.
It’s not just about the work of course.
You are gathering as many testimonials as possible when you turn in outstanding work – aren’t you? If you’re not, you’re either a copywriting genius of serious note who has clients begging to throw wads of cash your way or stupid to the point where you don’t even deserve to own a decent set of pyjamas.
Testimonials are important, collect them. Enough said.
Now to the elephant in the room – procrastination.
Yes, we’re all human and we’ve all been guilty of this mortal sin at some point in our careers.
However you do it, as a freelancer you have to find a way of working that gets the job done on time, every time.
I’ve heard of everything from showering, shaving and putting on a suit before sitting down to write to breathing exercises and standing on your head.
You need to find out what works for you and get it nailed down.
Personally, I’ve come to realize that I’m at my most creative first thing in the morning, so I tend to do much of my writing as early in the day as possible.
Some people are night owls. Where do you fit into the scheme of things?
Work it out, it’s important.
Freelance sites – a waste of time or a golden opportunity?
Can you make money writing on freelance job sites?
There’s a huge debate raging in the world of freelancing about whether you can make money writing on freelance job sites.
The debate centers around freelancing sites such as Upwork, Freelancer, Contently etc. There are plenty of such sites and the quality of opportunities to be found on them varies – a lot!
Many writers I know attack these sites mercilessly. They dismiss them as the pits of the freelance writing world, full of crappy jobs and a waste of time.
I’ll be upfront and admit they have their challenges.
Let’s take one site I know very well – Upwork.
I’ve been on Upwork since January 2015 and in that time, I’ve worked my way up to their “Top Rated” status. I’ve achieved with a 98% success rate in the work I’ve done for clients and have about 40 or so 5* reviews on my profile.
You could say I’ve worked out how to make money freelance writing on Upwork 🙂
Again. let’s be absolutely clear on this – there are crappy (real crappy) jobs on Upwork!
But, that’s really not the point.
There are also interesting, well-paid jobs on the platform. Your job is to find them and land them by differentiating yourself from your competition.
Nobody said you’ve got to apply for the crappy jobs – and quite honestly, why would you?
It takes a bit of effort to find the best jobs on Upwork, but then again, any prospecting for new clients takes effort.
How to make money freelance writing on Upwork
The rewards of sifting through the dross on Upwork and finding the gold nuggets can be huge.
Personally, I make as much as $125/hr on Upwork and have landed clients who pay me $3,000/mo retainers.
None of this is said to boast, just to help you understand what is possible – not from theory but from my own personal experience.
One thing a lot of freelancers don’t realize about Upwork is that easily 90%+ of the competition is terrible.
The number of writers offering their services who don’t have English as their native language is huge. Not their fault, but if you can’t string a decent proposal together, what chance do you have of getting hired – not much?
How do I know this?
Well, I’ve picked up a lot of work from Upwork, but I’ve also hired freelancers as well. You would not believe the quality of some of the applications I got – and in a bad way!
Here’s a link to a guest post I wrote for Jacob McMillen, the Digital Careerist. In my post I set out some valuable tips to show you how to make money freelance writing on Upwork (hope it helps):
I’d also like to thank Gary Harvey for his insightful guest post on his own experience with Upwork, you can read it HERE
One caveat about Upwork:
Don’t rely on Upwork as your sole source of income.
Make sure you have a broad-based strategy for finding clients. Prospecting on Upwork (or any other job site) is just one aspect of how to make money freelance writing, and it should be part of a broader strategy. We can talk about what that strategy might look like in another post.
Some end words
I hope you found my post about how to make money freelance writing useful. I’ve shared my personal experiences with you, none of this is based on theory – I’m in the trenches doing this stuff every day.
If you’d like help deciding your first or next move in your freelancing career, why not get in touch?
We can chat, and I’ll give you my best advice – it may be just the push you need to finally make money working for yourself online.
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