So, can you make a living as a freelance writer?
Short answer? Absolutely. Freelance writing jobs are more plentiful than ever today thanks to the Internet. Practically every business requires copy written for their websites, blogs, marketing emails, and more, and they’re willing to pay skilled writers to provide regular services.
However, can you make a good living as a freelance writer?
Now, that’s a more complex question. Certainly, there are freelance writers making 6-figure incomes. And there are many more earning a decent living wage that supports their families.
But that’s not true for all freelance writers, especially when you’re starting out. In your early days, you may find yourself working for content agencies or small businesses that don’t have a large budget for writers. When this happens, you need to rethink your business strategy.
Moxie has already offered articles on how to increase your freelance rates and how to ask your clients for a raise. However, there are numerous other ways to make more money from freelance writing, and in this article, we’ll be going over six additional ways to earn that bigger paycheck. Get ready to take some notes—we’ll be covering a lot of ground!
Successful freelance writers don’t just take on any writing gig that comes their way. Instead, they select a writing niche, or a specific area they specialize in like entertainment or legal writing. As they build expertise in their niche, more clients will seek out their services and writers can charge more.
Sometimes, though, your writing niche doesn’t attract high paying clients—or many clients at all. When this happens, you may need to choose a different writing niche.
Profitable writing niches include:
Now, here’s a cool tip: there’s nothing saying you can’t combine your current niche topic with a more profitable writing niche. For instance, if you’re passionate about nonprofit work but find writing for nonprofits and charities doesn’t offer a big paycheck, you can look into companies that produce software for nonprofits. SaaS businesses pay better—and your expert knowledge of nonprofit organizations will actually work in your favor when you offer your services.
If you’re just getting into freelance writing, odds are you’ve created copy for blog posts, business emails, and web pages. These are common types of online content and, depending on the type of industry you work in, they can pay pretty well.
However, there are other forms of writing that pay even better. Consider developing skill sets in the following areas:
White papers are long-form reports or guides designed to present complex issues in concise, informative ways. In business, white papers are often used by marketing or sales teams to showcase facts and logical arguments that reveal the advantages of a company’s products or services. Other times, they’ll examine a business issue or solution typical to their industry to establish their expertise in an area.
For instance, the Google Workspace security whitepaper outlines Google’s approach to security and compliance for their cloud-based productivity suite Google Workspace. Using statistics and in-depth definitions, Google lets readers know why users can trust them with their information. The information from this white paper can then be repurposed into infographics, charts, videos, and other content, increasing its value.
Freelance writers charge anywhere from $3000 to $6000 to craft a well-researched white paper. Specialists charge even more, with some pricing their white papers over $10,000. While certain writers do charge lower rates, businesses are encouraged to pay around $4000-$5000 for a good white paper. So, <tweet-link>if you know how to research a topic and write good long-form content, don’t skimp on your price!<tweet-link>
These days, people don’t just get their online content from blog posts and emails. Many people prefer to consume information by watching short online videos on YouTube or a company website.
However, producers still need copy for a video’s voiceover, meaning writers are still a valued resource. Freelance writers who produce video scripts know how to write tight, easy-to-follow content that hooks the viewer with dialogue, graphics, and sound effects.
Video scripts tend to be on the short side, with many YouTube and corporate videos running only 2-5 minutes long. Because of this, scriptwriters tend to charge by the minute (as in how many recorded minutes your copy will provide the video). $80-$100 per minute is considered a reasonable rate.
If you specialize in writing informative short-form content, creating press releases may be a good fit for you. Press releases are used by companies to announce something newsworthy, like an event or product launch, so a business can get more media coverage and reach its target audience.
Press releases are usually only a page long. Sounds simple, but this does require you to create eye-catching headlines, great opening hooks, and informative copy for a specific audience using only a few hundred words.
If you can do this, you can charge $500 for a 400-500-word press release. Highly skilled writers charge $1000-$2500 (or more) for an excellent press release that gets a lot of attention. Don’t let the low word count fool you though—to produce a great piece, you’ll need to invest plenty of time figuring out how to use each word to its maximum potential.
When you’re just starting out, the thought of writing 500-1000 words a day may sound overwhelming. As you develop a writing routine, however, you’ll be amazed by how fast you get. That 1000-word blog post that used to take three hours to write and edit can be done in just a single hour once you get comfortable with the format and research requirements. This frees up more of your day and you can accept additional projects (which you can also complete faster).
One great way to improve your writing speed is by developing a writing template for your copy. For instance, most blog posts are written in sections divided by subheadings (just look at the way this blog post is split into six different ways to make more money writing). Once you realize each section only requires you to write a couple hundred words, filling each part of your article becomes less intimidating and you’ll create copy faster.
Incidentally, this is why freelance writers tend to charge per project and not per hour. Once your writing speed improves, that $150 blog post that used to take you three hours to write may only be worth $50 if you’re finishing it in just one hour.
By charging per word, you’ll increase your hourly wage while also saving more time for yourself. Win-win!
On a related note, if you increase how much you charge per word, you’ll enjoy significant increases in income. Many beginning writers start by earning only $0.10 per word at content agencies. However, seasoned freelance writers can charge their clients $0.30-$0.50 a word. Some specialists even charge $1 per word (or more!).
Seen from this angle, it’s not unreasonable for you to ask a new client for $0.15 a word ($150 per 1000 words) or even $0.20 per word once you’ve gotten some experience and built a portfolio of published clips. If you get a long-term contract with a client, see if they’ll agree to a higher price per word once your contract expires and you can negotiate future payment terms.
The nice thing about charging more per word is that it protects you from changes in content requirements. If your clients suddenly decide they want more short-form content, you’ll still be earning a decent amount per article thanks to your higher rate—and it’ll probably take less time for you to write!
While most blog posts run about 500 to 1000 words, it’s worth noting that long-form content (or online articles that run around 1000-7500 words) tend to rank much better on search engines.
This is because long-form content tends to provide valuable, in-depth information, which makes them (and the businesses that provide them) more desirable for online readers. Why waste time scouring the Internet for a bunch of short articles on fundraising activities, event planning, and website building when you can find a single “Ultimate guide” that covers everything someone needs to host a successful fundraiser?
Point this out to your clients when it comes time to plan your next writing assignments. As they see how many business leads they can attract with long-form content, they’ll be more open to giving you assignments with higher word counts. You’ll get paid more—especially if you raised your per word rate—and as you get more comfortable creating this kind of content, your writing speed will increase.
Keep in mind that writing effective long-form content doesn’t mean stuffing a lot of extra words into your copy. You’ll need to spend adequate time researching your topics and providing the kind of in-depth information shorter blog posts don’t offer.
If you find some of your clients need your services on a regular basis but don’t always have a lot of projects each month, asking for a monthly retainer can be beneficial for both you and your client.
A monthly retainer is a contractual agreement where you agree to set aside a given amount of time each month to work on your client’s projects in exchange for a set rate. Depending how your contract is set up, this might mean creating a set number of words your clients can use toward any number of blog posts or online articles each month. It may also mean delegating a certain number of hours toward any projects a client may have for you. The nature of your assignments will affect your retainer, which could be anywhere from $1000/per month to $3000/per month (or more).
The nice thing about monthly retainers is you’ll be paid a set amount of money each month regardless of how many projects your client has for you. This could mean a very nice paycheck on months where your workload is light (allowing you to take on projects from other clients). On the other hand, you may find yourself heavily invested in that client during months where they need a lot of copy from you.
One of the greatest things about freelance writing is its flexibility. Not only do you get to work on different projects, you also get to generate income in multiple creative ways.
See which of the strategies above work best for you based on where you are in your freelance writing career. You may find you can incorporate them into your next contract negotiations and generate a better relationship with your clients. You may also find you want to experiment with different niches or types of writing, altering your current career path.
Whatever you choose to do, remember that you’re in charge of your freelance career. With all the writing opportunities available today, every freelancer can develop a business strategy that lets them earn the money they want doing the tasks they most enjoy. The possibilities for building your ideal writing career are greater than ever in today’s Information Age, so take advantage of everything that’s available to you!
Ready to take your freelance career on a more successful trajectory? Moxie Academy and Moxie guides offer amazing learning modules and guides for all freelancers, not just writers. Learn more about the online resources available to you by researching them today!