The other day, a guy I know who just started a digital-marketing agency told me he’d like to broaden his income stream with freelance writing. It’s a great idea because freelance writing can be lucrative if you know where to look — that’s why so many lawyers, doctors and other professionals write on the side to bolster their reputation and fatten their bank accounts.
He was curious about the kind of people I write for and asked for advice on finding clients. I do most of my freelance writing for marketing agencies and a financial research firm, but my advice to him applies across the freelance-writing spectrum. It goes like this:
When you’re starting out, you really have to ask yourself just three things:
1. What do I know that other people don’t know?
2. Who do I know that hires writers?
3. How can I turn my knowledge into articles that will pay better than $75 an hour?
The trouble with freelance writing is there are abundant opportunities to earn minimum wage, and a small number of opportunities to earn $75-plus per hour. But the great thing is that most of the writers chase the penny-ante crap because it’s easier to find. They soon find it is hard to keep because it’s too much effort for too little reward.
What you want is work that is hard to find but easy to keep.
Hard to find keeps competitors away; easy to keep ensures recurring revenue, the manna of every freelancing business.
These come together when you deliver expertise nobody else has and produce content that’s way better than your clients can produce themselves. It’s easy to keep these clients so long as the writing is good enough that they would not consider hiring somebody cheaper, even if such a person were easy to find.
The main thing to keep in mind is there is no reason on earth a commercial writer should be paid less than a plumber, who gets anywhere from $75 to $150 an hour. And don’t waste your time on any work that pays less, no matter how tempting.
I know a guy who gave up a big-dollar consulting business because he found he could make great money and better manage his lifestyle as a freelance writer.
If you’re a marketer with a writing background or a writer with a marketing background, it’s almost impossible to go hungry. In fact, it’s quite possible to make good coin.
Just remember to treat it like a business and leave the labors of love to the broke dreamers.
Post author Tom Mangan is a great example of someone succeeding as a freelancer. I run occasional posts from people like Tom who are very good at what they do. Tom is the founder of Verb Nerd Industries based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He writes and edits for clients in higher education, technology, industrial B2B, fitness and content marketing.
Do you agree with Tom? Anything you want to add? Tell us in the comments below!