Do you know that you can make over $10,000 per month from freelance writing?
No, I’m not selling you dreams.
This is real! If you don’t believe me, check this out:
Jawad Khan, a freelance writer makes over $10,000 per month just from freelance writing.
Even if $10,000 per month seems like a very big amount to you, you can still manage to make a couple of thousand dollars through freelance writing.
Like Jorden, who built a $5000/month freelance writing business in just 4 months:
Just like them, you can also build a freelance writing business.
And if you’re reading this article right now, you probably:
- Want to learn how to get started as a freelance writer.
- Want to learn how to maximize your freelance writing income.
- Charge pennies for an article and want to learn how to set rates for freelance writing.
Whatever the case may be, this guide will help you in the following ways:
- Teach you how to make money as a freelance writer.
- Show you how to pitch and land high-paying clients.
- Grow your freelance writing business.
Here’s a glimpse of what you will learn in this guide:
So, let’s dive in.
How Freelance Writing Works
I’m sure you know how freelancing works but here’s a clear understanding of freelance writing.
As a freelance writer, you typically work for multiple clients and are paid on the basis of the work. You can be paid per project or per assignment depending on the client.
There are different types of freelance writing jobs available that you can do as a freelance writer.
Types of Freelance Writing Jobs
Freelance writing is not just limited to article writing. You can do all sorts of freelance writing jobs.
Here are the different types of freelance writing jobs that you can do as a freelance writer:
- Article writing
- Book writing
- eBook writing
- Newspaper columnist
- Advertising copywriting
- Press release writing
- Technical writing
- Legal writing
- Resume writing
- Annual reports
- Research writing
- Social media content writing
Honestly, I can’t even fit in all the freelance writing jobs out there. It’s because there are many different types of writing jobs you can find on every corner of the Internet.
No matter what type of writing job you want to take on, you can build a business out of it. Yes, there will be pros and cons of each type of job as some are very common while others are not.
How To Find Freelance Writing Jobs
So, you’re ready to find freelance writing jobs.
Here’s the deal:
Becoming a freelance writing and finding a job is not a piece of cake.
But the hunt doesn’t end there. There are other effective ways that can help you find high-paying clients.
Let’s discuss all the methods.
1. Freelance Writing Websites
As I said above, the first place any beginner would look for a writing job is freelance writing websites.
These websites or marketplaces have a ton of people posting for different kinds of writing jobs. Examples of such websites are Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr.
But here’s an important question:
Are freelance writing websites worth it?
The answer to this question depends on the people you’re asking.
Here’s what I think:
The clients you’ll come across on freelance writing websites (also called content mills) are people who want cheap work.
Most of them don’t really care about the writer’s skill set. All they want is to get their work done without burning their pockets.
For instance, take a look at this job posting from Upwork:
That’s $15 for a 1200-1500 word article. Insane, right?
It’s not just Upwork, you’ll come across many similar job postings on any freelance writing marketplace.
In a nutshell, content mills are a good place if you’re just starting out. But you can’t scale your freelance writing business just through such content mills.
As Ali Luke says in her article, “Content mills are a race to the bottom”. It’s a place for desperate writers who want to get paid regardless of the amount of work they put in.
So, I would say this clearly again:
Avoid freelance writing marketplaces (content mills) at any cost.
There are other great options left and here are some of them.
Everyone in the internet marketing industry is fired up about LinkedIn. More and more businesses are shifting their focus to LinkedIn and are quite active there.
This presents a great opportunity to find freelance writing jobs on LinkedIn. And LinkedIn is no joke. You never know what kind of job you’ll find.
In fact, Lindy Alexander from The Freelancers Year landed a $2000 contract from LinkedIn. It’s no doubt LinkedIn is a gold mine for finding freelance writing jobs.
So, how to do it?
Follow these steps to find freelance writing jobs on LinkedIn.
Step 1. Complete & Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile
The first step is to complete your LinkedIn profile and most importantly, optimize it.
And this begins with a professional headshot for your profile picture. This is how my LinkedIn profile looks like:
As you can see, my profile picture is a headshot of me smiling. Profile pictures like this make you look kind and approachable. A quality your client would want to have in you.
The next step is to have an effective headline in your profile. My headline in the above picture says “Co-founder of Pixify”. This isn’t very effective as it tells very little about me.
So, I changed my headline to this:
Now, this is a headline that says a lot more about me. Here’s how you should write your headline:
Your headline shouldn’t be boring such as “freelance writer”. Add more to it by describing what you write about. Try to tell a story and include a call-to-action.
Here’s an example that you can use for your LinkedIn profile:
Freelance Writer ➡ Creating Content for SaaS Businesses
This is a very simple yet effective way of telling what you do by clearly describing your target clients.
Next step is writing an in-depth summary. Many people (including me) often ignore their summary thinking that it’s not important.
But, if you want to get clients from LinkedIn, your summary is very important.
Your summary should be short and include keywords to help people find you through search. Here is an example of a great LinkedIn profile summary:
Step 2. Find People Looking for Freelance Writers
When you’re done polishing your profile, it’s time to find people who are looking for freelance writers.
Type your keywords in the search box. Here’s what you should search for:
“Freelance Writer” AND “your industry”
You can use different LinkedIn search operators to narrow down your search. Hit the enter button and click on the ‘Content’ tab.
You’ll be able to see posts from people looking for content writers. You can now reach out to these people and pitch them for the job.
Don’t panic yet. I’ll cover in detail how to pitch to clients later in this guide. For now, let’s move on to the next method to find freelance writing jobs.
3. Blogs In Your Industry
You can find great freelance writing opportunities by searching for blogs in your industry. Finding blogs in your industry is very easy to do.
There are many ways to do it. Here’s the first one:
#1. Search for websites that pay writers
There are many blogs and websites that pay writers for contributing articles. Some websites pay up to $100-$200 for an article.
Finding such websites is fairly easy. Here’s what you should search for to find these websites:
[your industry] blogs + that pay writer
For example – Marketing blogs that pay writers
#2. Search blogs that accept guest posts
You might be thinking:
I need a paid writing gig. I don’t want to guest post.
Here’s the deal:
Many websites that accept guest posts will be likely to hire you as a freelance writer if your content is good enough.
So, find blogs that accept guest posts. Here’s how you can do it:
Your keyword + “guest post”
Your keyword + “this is a guest post by”
Your keyword + “submit an article”
Your keyword + “This post was written by”
There are many other search operators you can use to find websites that accept guest contributions.
Once you find such websites, pitch them and check if they’re looking for a freelance writer.
There are many other ways to find freelance writing gigs. Social media is also a great way to find potential clients.
No matter how you find potential clients, your chances of getting hired are pretty low.
Because you don’t have a writing portfolio. If I were to hire a freelance writer, I would first take a look at their work.
But what if you don’t have any work? What to do if you want to become a freelance writer with no experience?
Then you have to build a writing portfolio.
How To Build A Writing Portfolio
It’s important for you to have a portfolio of your work to get a writing job. This reminds of a good old meme:
Joking aside, here’s what you need to know:
Sending sample files of your work in a word document ain’t gonna cut it.
Every entry-level freelance writer can create a lousy list of poorly written samples.
On top it, no one has the time to check those samples and see if they’re truly written by you. Instead, your pitch will be directly rejected.
So, building your own portfolio is the path you should choose if you want to portray yourself as a professional writer.
And this begins with building your own website or blog.
1. Start Your Own Blog
Let me tell you something:
ALL the freelance writing work I did was because of my blog. Each one of them.
I wasn’t looking for freelance work. My clients found me through my blog and reached out to me.
That’s how powerful having your own blog is.
Here’s how having your own blog helps as a freelance writer:
- Helps you establish yourself as an expert in your industry.
- Allows you to reach an audience that could potentially turn into clients.
- Helps you grow your personal brand that would help you attract more clients.
In a nutshell, your blog can do wonders to help you get freelance writing jobs.
I’m not going to show you how to start your own blog here. There are LITERALLY thousands of articles about this on the internet.
Start Your Own Blog In 5 Just Minutes Using BlueHost
But, if you want quick advice, I would recommend you to start your blog on WordPress. For this, you’ll have to use a web hosting service. I personally use and recommend BlueHost.
It helps you start a blog in under 5 minutes and costs only $2.95 / month.
Once you have your blog set up, you should start creating content.
In the beginning, it will feel a big waste of time pouring so much effort into creating content but in the long-term, it will actually help you build a portfolio which you can then use to get clients.
If this is too overwhelming for you, you can still get high-paying clients without having to start your own blog.
How is that?
By guest posting.
2. Start Guest Posting
Guest blogging is probably the quickest way to find freelance writing opportunities. Freelance writer Elna Cain even turned a guest post into a paid job.
But guest posting for the sake of guest posting will get you nowhere. You need a clear plan to make sure your efforts really bring you something.
Instead of randomly finding blogs and writing guest posts for them, you should find only a couple of blogs and write for them.
I call this ‘The Paid Guest Technique’. Here’s how it works:
Step 1. Make a list of blogs in your industry
First, you need to find blogs in your industry and make a list. Add every blog you find that accepts guest posts.
I recommend making a spreadsheet that includes the blog name, contact information, and other relevant information as shown below:
Step 2. Start filtering out blogs
This technique mainly revolves around finding only a few blogs and writing content for them. So, the list you made in step #1 needs to be trimmed.
How you trim the list really depends on the blog and its audience. Remove blogs that do not get much engagement and are inactive.
Inactive blogs are a complete no because they are highly unlikely to accept your guest post request. Also, even if they do, they may not hire you for work.
Active blogs, on the other hand, mean that the author really cares about the blog and is working hard to pump out new content. This is an opportunity as you can reduce their workload by working for them.
In the end, your list should contain at least 10-15 blogs.
Step 3. Pitch your blog post
It’s time to pitch your content to these blogs. Not all of them will respond to your pitches. And even the ones that do, you’ll only be accepted by a few.
That’s the reason why you should have at least 10-15 blogs in your list.
Your guest post pitch shouldn’t be very long. Here’s Elna’s guest post pitch that landed her a paying gig:
These are the elements that make her pitch so great and effective:
- A short introduction about her and how she found the blog.
- Small background information about her and what she does.
- Her experience in the field and the blog’s she’s written for.
Unlike the hundreds of boring guest post pitches, this email is short, simple, and personal.
Step 4. Rinse & Repeat
You have to repeat the process of guest posting for the blogs who have accepted your request. After 3-5 articles, you can pitch the author offering your freelance writing services.
But, pitching is not easy at all.
A bad pitch can screw up many great opportunities which is why pitching to clients is very important.
Let’s take a look at how to pitch clients.
How To Pitch To Clients
Let’s face it:
Pitching is the hardest part of getting a freelance writing gig.
There are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS trying to get the same client as you want.
And the chances of your pitch getting a response are very low.
What do to now?
There are many ways to approach a client.
The most common are:
Here’s the deal with cold pitching:
It works but not as you expect it to be.
Cold pitching only works if you reach out to hundreds of clients at once.
Reaching out to just 20 clients and expecting a response is not the RIGHT way of cold pitching. You should be pitching to 200 people in order to get a response.
Do you see a problem here?
Here it is:
When you reach out to 200 people with an average outreach email, you’ll be straight out ignored.
And the downside to this is that…
… You’ll never be able to reach out to those 200 people again and get a response.
In other words, you’re losing 200 potential clients. The next time you email these people, you’ll be:
- Marked as spam
And as a freelance writer, you can’t afford that.
Instead of sending hundred cold pitches, find people and start networking with them.
Think about it:
Networking and building a relationship with a client will help you land a gig more easily than sending out a hundred emails and waiting for one of them to reply.
Here are the steps you should follow:
The Perfect Pitch
Step #1. Identify people you want to work for
You should begin with finding potential clients that seem fit for you.
I already showed you how to find freelancing gigs and jobs above.
Step #2. Start building a relationship with them
Once your list is ready, you should start building a relationship with them.
Start following them on different social platforms and interact with their posts. This helps you get in their radar.
Also, if they have a blog, start posting valuable comments on their posts. The more you interact with them, the better your chances of getting work.
How To Hack Outreach Using The BFF Commenter Technique
Step #3. Pitch a guest post and offer your services
You already know the drill now.
Contribute a few guest posts on their blog. And once you have done that, you can pitch your freelance writing service to them.
Here’s an outreach email example you can use to pitch your services:
It’s been a pleasure contributing guest posts to your blog. I want to thank you for giving me this golden opportunity.
I also wanted to let you know that I do freelance writing work and if you ever need someone to write articles for your blog, I would be happy to do it.
If you’re interested, I can send you a quote of my servicers.
How To Set Your Pricing
If I showed you a watch, will you be able to tell how much it costs?
That’s the problem with freelance writing too. You know what you write and how good you are at it.
…You don’t know how much to charge for your work.
This is a common dilemma new freelance writers face. But, how much do freelance writers make?
There are so many ways to set your pricing.
But which one is the right model for you?
To do that, you first need to know the three different pricing models:
Pricing Model #1. Per Hour
This pricing model is based on the number of hours you work.
You might be thinking that this model is right for you.
Let me tell you this:
Charging per hour is the worst way to make money as a freelancer.
Charging per hour traps you in a cycle you can never get out of.
Hourly pricing is unpredictable and over time you make less money as you get more efficient.
Here’s an example –
Let’s say there are two freelance writers A and B who charge $30 hourly.
Both are assigned to work on an article of 2000 words.
Writer A completes the work in 3 hours and ends up making $90 for a 2000-word article.
On the other hand…
…Write B completes the work in 1 hour and makes only $30 for a 2000-word article.
I hope you see the problem now.
Hourly pricing limits your earning capability and you are crippled by your own efficiency. The better and faster you write, the less you are paid.
Can’t you just raise your rates then?
You can. But how many times you will do that.
In conclusion, hourly pricing will limit your income potential.
Pricing Model #2. Per Word
This is a much better pricing model as it doesn’t limit your earning potential. It’s also easy to quote a price on per word basis.
Also, it’s an industry standard.
I usually charge per word for most of my clients as it is efficient for me and my clients. It also doesn’t have all the hassles of hourly pricing such as time tracking.
Pricing Model #3. Per Project
When the scope of the work isn’t clear, this model saves the day.
Consider this example:
A client approached you and asked you to write a guide on a topic. But the client doesn’t know the word requirement.
And the client asks you for a quote.
What do you do now?
You can’t quote your per word price when you don’t even know how many words the piece of content will have.
In this case, you need to treat the work as a project and charge accordingly.
So you now know the three pricing models.
It’s time to set a rate.
The biggest mistake freelance writers make when deciding their rates are not taking into account how much money they want to make.
You should set an income goal for your freelance writing business and align your rates according to your goals.
C. McBride describes this beautifully in his article where he talks about reverse-engineering your rates based on your goals.
Here’s a bite-sized explanation:
Let’s say you want to make $75,000 in a year.
And you will plan to work 50 weeks or 250 workdays.
$75,000 / 50 weeks = $1500 a week
$1500 / 5 workdays = $300 a day
If you work 6 hours a day, your hourly rate should be:
$300 a day / 6 = $50 per hour.
There it is.
That’s your hourly rate.
But Ahfaz, didn’t you say you shouldn’t charge an hourly rate?
Yes, I did.
What we just calculated above is the hourly rate that you should use to set your per word or per project rates.
Sounds confusing but hear me out:
You have found an hourly rate that will help you accomplish the $75,000 income goal.
Let’s say it takes you 1 hour to write 500 words.
That means you need to charge $50 for 500 words.
In other words, your rate will be $0.1 per word.
This way, you can easily calculate and set your rates as a freelance writer.
Freelance Negotiation Tips
So you’ve set your rates.
How are you going to negotiate and make your client agree to pay you what you want?
I’ve used some clever negotiation tricks that work well in landing a client for the price you want.
Picture this situation:
A client approaches you and says “I want a 2500-word article on the topic of machine learning”
Someone who’s not a good negotiator would say something like this:
“It will charge you $200 for this article.”
This is not the right way to negotiate.
Here’s what you should say instead:
“An article like this would cost you around $200-$300. How much are you willing to pay?”
See what I did above?
I gave a price bracket that establishes a budget range to the client.
The client now knows that $200 is the lowest bar and he won’t be able to negotiate below this rate.
Price bracketing works very well as it gives you a chance to quote a variable price that will be in your favor.
If you take a look at that answer again, you would see that I ended with a question.
Do you know why?
A question asking for the client’s budget will help you position yourself properly and help you understand the scope of the project.
Point blank, ask your client this:
“What’s the maximum amount of money you’re willing to spend on this project?”
Having a clear understanding of your client’s budget will help you reevaluate your pricing.
Still, if the client is not budging, you should be prepared to walk away.
How & When To Get Paid – A Freelance Contract
It’s important to discuss how and when you will get paid. To do this, you need to create a contract.
A contract helps you to be on clear terms with your client.
Here’s what a freelance contract should include:
#1. Name, Contact Information, & Roles
Any contract or agreement should have the name of both the parties including the contact information such as their email address and phone number.
The contract should also include your role and responsibilities. List all the deliverables and your responsibilities for completing the work.
#2. Payment Information
You should explicitly include the payment terms, method, and the deadline. If the project is very big, I’d recommend receiving 25-50% of the amount upfront.
#3. Other Terms
Other terms include warranties, ownership rights, authorship, and more.
Not all clients will ask for a freelancer contract but it’s a good measure to make sure nothing goes wrong.
You can use this ready-to-use template for creating freelancer contracts.
My Writing Process
You got your first writing gig and the real work begins!
…How do you get started?
Do you just start writing? Or…
…Is there something else?
As a new freelance writer, you’ll have confusions around how to begin the writing process.
You’ll juggle around different ways and won’t have a clear process.
And to help you with that, I’m going to share the EXACT writing process that I use to write content for my clients and my blog.
It all begins with an outline.
1. How To Write An Outline
You MUST create an outline before you start writing your first draft.
An outline gives you an idea of how to approach the topic you’re writing about.
It helps you navigate through what needs to be written and what should be ignored.
An outline helps your client get an idea of what to expect from you.
There are three types of clients you’ll come across:
- Clients who want an outline from you.
- Clients who will send an outline to you.
- Clients who don’t care about the outline.
Thankfully, I’ve come across all three types of clients.
And here’s what I learned:
No matter whether your client wants an outline or not, you should still create an outline for your own sake.
Here’s a five-step method I use to create outlines:
Step #1. Understand your topic and create a list of main ideas
You need to create a list of the primary ideas of your topic.
I’ll show you how:
Let’s say you’re writing an article about ‘How to build a social media following’. The first thing I would do is to check what the top ranking posts are for this topic.
Check the top 5 posts and make a rough outline of the ideas they covered in the article.
Sometimes, you can find the outline at the very top in the form of a table of contents:
Step #2. Research each main idea of your outline
Do a Google search of each main idea of your outline. Now, you’ll find articles about that one main idea of your outline.
Curate and add your own sub-ideas for each main idea.
This is a sure-fire way to quickly gather ideas and create an outline.
We’re not done yet.
Step #3. Let your brain do some work
So you have a rough outline with ideas.
You might be thinking:
Didn’t I just copy the main ideas of what was ranking on top for that topic?
You kinda did that.
But hear me out:
This gives you free air to add more and improve upon what’s already out there.
Your outline can be improved by adding your own ideas.
And, here’s where your brain should do all the work.
This is why choosing a niche where you are experienced/passionate about helps a lot.
Creating an outline requires your understanding of the topic. It helps you decide how you should structure your content piece.
What’s left now is to send over your outline for approval.
Step #4. Getting your outline approved
Sometimes you may come across clients who’ll ask for multiple revisions of an outline.
In such circumstances, you’ll probably have to cut down parts that you feel should be there in the content piece.
…Instead of just handing over the outline, you should send an outline like this:
This outline contains comments explaining why each part of the outline is included and why it should be there.
This helps A LOT in getting your thoughts across and getting the outline approved.
2. Writing Intros & Conclusions
If you’re still reading this guide, it can be because the introduction got you hooked.
Writing an irresistible introduction helps the reader stick to your content. As a freelance writer, writing introductions is something many people get stuck at.
As a result:
You’ll end up not starting the writing process.
You can take two approaches to begin writing.
Approach 1 – Write the introductions and conclusions first and then work on the rest of the article.
Approach 2 – Write the article first and then work on the introduction and conclusion.
No matter what approach you take, here are some tips that will help you write great introductions.
Tip #1. Use the APP Method
The APP Method is a great strategy for writers to write an irresistible introduction. Here’s what it means:
APP Stands for:
A – Agree
P – Promise
P – Preview
You begin with making the reader agree with a problem. This brings you and the reader on the same page and makes the reader relate to you.
Then, you make a promise and claim that their problem can be solved.
You preview the content you have for them that will solve their problem.
Here’s how Brian Dean uses this technique:
This technique is really effective and can help you write irresistible introductions.
Tip #2. Begin with a question
Do you know that the first sentence of this guide was a question?
It was an intriguing question that probably evoked some curiosity. Here’s why beginning with a question works well:
When you ask the reader something, the reader either know the answer or doesn’t. And if the reader doesn’t know the answer to the question, it will make them find out the answer.
And that will happen by reading the rest of the content.
I have discussed more writing introductions and other writing strategies in this article:
Writing Strategies: How To Persuasive & Engaging Content
But what about conclusions?
Here is my biggest tip:
ALWAYS end your article by asking the reader to take some action. It can be to leave a comment, answer a question, or download a freebie.
The conclusion should match with your end goal of the article. If you want the reader to sign up for a free resource, your conclusion should focus on that.
But that’s not the only thing conclusions are for.
Your conclusion should end the story you started in the article.
3. The 500 Rule
As a freelance writer, you’ll often get fatigued by the amount of work you have to do.
Often times, I have to write an article but I cannot get my ideas out of my brain.
In such circumstances, I follow the 500 rule.
What’s the 500 rule?
Glad you asked.
The 500 rule is simply writing 500 words at a time.
Let’s say you want to write a 3000-word guide. To make it worse, the topic of the guide is something you are unfamiliar with or you hate it.
Sounds daunting, right?
Here’s when the 500 rule comes into play.
Instead of writing the complete article in one go, break the content into chunks of 500 words.
Now, your 3000-word article is broken down into 6 chunks of 500 words.
Write the first chunk of 500 words and take a break of 10-15 minutes. Then write another 500 words and so on.
This makes it very easy to write articles that you feel you’ll never be able to complete.
I use this technique all the time when my energy is totally down.
Here’s the 500 rule in a nutshell:
4. Editing & Revisions
Let me make something clear:
Don’t EVER send the copy your first draft to your client. That’s a sure-fire way to get rejected.
You should always do some editing work and make revisions to your work until it’s good to go.
Editing work can go parallel with your writing work. As you write, you edit it as well.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea but professional writers like Lorraine Reguly does this with her work.
Here’s what she says:
Editing doesn’t take me too long (10 minutes) because I edit as I write.
On the other hand, many writers edit after the first draft. And that includes me too.
After completing my first draft, I take some time off and let my work rest for a while.
When I get back to it, I get a fresh outlook on my work and it helps me realize the mistakes I made.
Giving a second look also gives me ideas of what else can be added to the content.
Here are some quick editing tips that will help you:
1. Streamline similar sentences
Often times, some of the sentences in your article are similar. Readers can quickly notice this and that’s why you need to streamline them.
Restructure such sentences so that it doesn’t sound like you’re just repeating what you just said.
2. Does the outline match your content?
Make sure your content has everything you had initially planned in your outline.
3. Check Grammar
Ah! Those pesky little grammar mistakes are not only embarrassing but also put a bad impression to your client.
Always check your content for grammar and punctuation errors.
5. Delivering The Content
So you’ve completed writing the content.
It’s time to deliver it to your client.
You have to make sure you deliver your content properly and make it easy for your clients to publish it.
Here are some tips that will help you deliver your content properly:
- Send your content in an online word processing tool. This makes it easy for the clients to make comments and ask for revisions.
- Always give a proper name to the images you include.
- Use proper headings and subheadings in your content.
- Send images in a .zip file.
That was my writing process.
Let’s take a look at Mahi Chauhan‘s writing process. She just started her freelance writing career back in October 2018 and so far has been able to make decent money from this business.
I start with research and checking out other blogs that write along similar topics.
Then I try to think of a structure while finding the inspiration to start the piece. I mostly find inspiration in a particular word or a subset of the topic I’m writing about. And I use that to begin.
After that the writing flows and that’s how I get the first draft. I prefer not doing a lot of revisions while coming up with the first draft.
The editing and changes and marketing are all imbued in the piece afterwards.
Tools for Freelance Writers
Here’s the best part of freelance writing:
You don’t need to have an expensive tool to make money.
All your work can be done using simple free tools. Here are the tools I use to manage my entire freelance writing business.
First, let’s discuss the writing tool that I use.
1. Google Docs
I write all my content on Google Docs. If you’re using an offline word processing tool like MS Word, I’d recommend you to ditch it.
With Google Docs, I can access my work from anywhere. On top of it, I can easily share the work with my clients.
Lastly, you get the benefits of different online extensions that can be used with Google Docs.
Speaking of extensions, here’s one that I have started using and helped me a lot.
2. Word Counter Extension for Google Docs
This is a simple real-time word counter extension that shows you the word count as a marker in Google Docs.
Instead of pressing Ctrl+Shift+C all the time to check the word count, I can simply see the marker showing me the word count.
As a cherry on top, it also adds a milestone marker every 500 words. So, it gets very convenient to follow the 500 rule.
I can’t even describe how much Grammarly has helped me. This is a life-saver for anyone who writes online.
I check all my content on Grammarly before sending it over to my clients.
You can install the Grammarly Chrome Extension to use Grammarly anywhere. It now also works on Google Docs. Pretty sweet!
Project/Client Management Tools
Client management is a crucial part of running a freelance writing business. As you get more clients, it will get difficult for you to manage everything.
That’s why I use project management tools to manage my work.
Trello is my go-to tool to manage clients. You can create boards and manage your work easily using Trello.
The best part?
Your board can be used for any purpose.
For example, here’s the board one of my clients uses to work with me:
Ritika Tiwari creatively organizes her work using this Trello board:
In a nutshell, Trello helps you manage both the client side and your side of the business. You can personal boards to manage your freelance work and you can also create shared boards to manage your clients.
If you do hourly work, then you’ll love Timecamp. Timecamp is a time tracking tool that will help you track your work.
It lets you track your work and create billable timesheets based on the hours you work.
I don’t use Timecamp anymore but I can surely say that it’s great at keeping track of how much you work on different projects.
3. A To-Do App
I have used so many to-do apps that I can’t even choose a perfect one.
Still, if you’re looking for a recommendation, then Microsoft To-Do is a clean to-do list app.
If you’re looking for a tool with more features then you should check out Asana.
Managing your freelance business is not just about tracking your time and assigning work.
You also have to deal with managing your finances, contracts, and proposals. Here are some business tools that I use and recommend to freelance writers.
This is the only app you need to manage your finances. From creating invoices to managing your cash flow, Waveapps has got it all.
You can use it mainly to create beautiful invoices like this one:
You can connect your bank accounts with Waveapps and get details of your freelance income.
Here’s the best part:
The tool is completely free!
Prospero is a tool that lets you create beautiful proposals quickly. It also lets you generate invoices.
As a freelance writer, sending proposals is going to be part of your work and this tool helps you do that in no time.
3. Bucket App
Do you want to set an income goal for your freelance writing business?
Well, then Bucket is an app you’re going to love.
Bucket is actually a savings app but you can use it to create an income goal. Here’s how I use this app:
I created a bucket named ‘Freelance Income 2019’ and I added the amount of money I want to save.
Whenever I make money from my freelance work, I add an entry to that bucket. This way, it’s easy to track how close you are in achieving your goals.
Managing Client Relationship
One big reason why many freelance writers fail is that they let their clients break them mentally.
Here’s the truth:
Not all clients are good. These clients do nothing but bring stress to your life. So much so that you might end up quitting early on.
It’s better you know the different types of clients you will come across in your freelance writing career.
Types of Toxic Client You’ll Come Across
Here’s an overview of the three toxic clients you’ll come across in your freelance writing career:
1. The Complainer
You will come across your clients that will ask you for revisions. Maybe once or multiple times.
…There’s nothing wrong in it.
There are some clients who will complain about every little detail and will tell you how to do your job.
These are the types of clients you MUST avoid.
They will end up annoying you and will suck your valuable time.
2. The Bargainer
These types of clients bargain every time you send them an invoice.
Here’s why these clients are bad:
After setting up a contract and fixing rates, if a client bargains you, it’s simply disrespectful.
You don’t need clients who are just trying to save their money and can’t see the value you’re providing them.
3. The ‘Get It Done Quickly’
These are the types of clients that rush you to complete the work quickly. They set unrealistic deadlines and expect you to submit your work within the deadline.
Such clients are a complete NO.
Well, they take the fun out of it. If you’re a freelance writer, it’s mainly because you like writing and enjoy it.
….Someone who rushes you hinders not only your productivity but also your creativity.
With a close deadline, your focus would be on completing the work regardless of the quality of your work.
So, it’s better you avoid such clients.
How To Handle Toxic Clients
What will you do if you identified that your client is toxic and has the characteristics of the types of clients mentioned above?
Well, handling toxic clients is not easy.
Here’s how you should handle toxic clients without putting your reputation at stake:
Right from the beginning, establish some boundaries with the client.
Here’s what this means:
You decide and fix your rates right from the beginning. Also, explain to the client your work process and what to expect from you.
False expectations are the biggest reason for friction between you and the client.
Things like setting deadlines, payment methods, and everything in between should be decided.
If things don’t go your way, learn to say ‘No’. Don’t make crazy compromises to make ends meet.
This only begins a toxic cycle which your client will use it to get more from you.
If you see things going nowhere, it’s time to fire your client.
How To Fire A Client
If your client doesn’t seem to be the right fit for you, you’re free to fire them.
You should fire your client without burning any bridges.
The way you fire your client should be graceful and kind.
Here’s a backstory:
I fired my dream client. Someone whom I always wanted to work with.
Do you know why?
Because I was being underpaid and the work became constant stress.
Let me tell you the whole story:
I came across my dream client while doing email outreach for my content. The client liked my work so much that I got a paid gig.
The pay was very low compared to what my usual rates were.
I went along thinking the potential opportunities I could get working for such a big influencer (Rookie mistake).
I started the work but then I started facing this problem:
I got a call every time my client made changes, added a new topic, or approved my content.
As a college student, this annoyed me a lot.
Most of the time, I received calls when I wasn’t able to answer. This obviously put a bad impression of me to my client.
Secondly, after having informed my client that it would be much convenient to converse through emails, I used to get a call every DAMN time.
If your client cannot understand your situation and still ignores you, it’s a clear sign that your client is toxic.
This one problem on top of how underpaid I was made me fire my client.
If you ever come across a toxic client, here are some email templates you can use to fire your client:
For low-paying clients –
It’s been an immense pleasure working for you for the last 7 months.
It not only helped me improve my work but also gave me the opportunity to scale my work.
That being said, I wanted to reach out to you and let you know that I’m pursuing higher-budget projects and therefore have to let you go.
However, I would be happy to complete the 3 pending articles within the next week.
For demanding deadlines that are hindering your other projects –
Hope you’re doing well.
I wanted to reach out to you to inform you that I have to let you go as I’m working on a lot of projects right now and the demanding deadlines of your work has hindered me from balancing my workload.
But, I will still complete the pending articles within the next two weeks.
Also, I’d be happy to help you find a new writer.
How do you NOT burn bridges if you’re firing a client?
Here’s what you can do for them to avoid burning bridges:
1. Offer them to find a replacement
Your client will really appreciate it if you offer them to find a replacement. If you know someone with the same expertise as you, you can recommend them to your client.
2. Complete the pending work
Don’t just leave your clients hanging.
Tell them that you’ll complete the pending projects so that they don’t feel betrayed. In case there is a lot of pending work, you can ask your client to choose any 3-5 projects that they want you to complete.
3. Give them a notice weeks before quitting
This will give your client plenty of time to find a replacement.
Often times your relationship with the client isn’t toxic.
But, it’s not working properly either.
This raises a question:
What to do in this case?
The answer is pretty simple:
Raise your rates.
If you feel that your work will be justified if you get paid more, then you should definitely ask for a raise.
How To Raise Your Rates
As a freelancer, you WILL have to raise your rates one day. This is inevitable and something you’ll have to grow your business.
How to do it?
Here’s the truth:
Raising your rates is very risky because of the following reasons:
Your client ends up hiring someone else.
No one hires you at your new rates.
I’m sure you don’t want that to happen.
Here’s how you should raise your rates.
#1. Raise Your Rate For New Clients
This is a no-brainer at all.
Since your new clients don’t know about your old rates, you can easily raise your rates for them.
#2. Offer Packages
Raising rates right off the bat is something not all clients will like.
Create a new package for them with some added benefits so they can also justify your new rates.
For example – If you do content writing work for someone, you can create a package that also includes writing the meta description for the article and a featured image.
Such packages can help you raise your rates easily.
#3. Use Social Proof
You use social proof to justify your new rates to your client.
It not only boosts your authority but also tells the clients why your rates need to be raised.
Moss Clement uses social proof cleverly to land new clients and also helps him raise his rates for existing clients.
But, how to get testimonials?
Let’s dive into that.
How To Get Testimonials?
Testimonials or social proof are the essential elements of growing your freelance writing business.
Whether you want to raise your rates or get new clients, testimonials help you a lot.
The best way to get testimonials from your clients is to ask them politely.
Here’s an effective method by Denzil that helps him get testimonials. He says:
When I’m sure I have produced pure gold, I ask politely for a testimonial. An example of how I once did it:
I must confess it’s been nice working with you.
Considering the positive impact I have made to your business, I would humbly ask if you’d leave me a genuine testimonial.
It would help me to serve you and my future clients better.
Thanks in advance.
This method works like a charm as evident from the testimonials you can see on Denzil’s website:
There are many other ways you can ask for testimonials.
If you have a great relationship with your client, you can even ask for a video testimonial. A video testimonial can do wonders for your business.
But here comes a stopping point:
How do you get testimonials when you have no clients?
In this case, you can use the comments on your blog posts and guest posts and use them as social proof.
Now It’s Your Time To Start Your Freelance Writing Journey
There you have it:
The COMPLETE guide to freelance writing.
We went from finding freelance writing jobs to growing your business.
Now it’s your turn:
I’d like to hear from you what’s the first step you’re going to take to begin your freelance writing journey?
Are you going to start building your own blog?
Or maybe you want to give guest posting a shot.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.