Eight Ways to Boost Your Income as a Freelance Writer
One common problem for freelancers is not making enough money.
Maybe you’ve landed a bunch of gigs – but they’re all low-paying ones, and although you’re working long hours, you’re not making nearly as much money as you want.
Or maybe you’ve got some gigs that pay pretty well – but you don’t have enough work to fill your time.
Perhaps you’ve got plenty of well-paying work, but it’s taking you ages to get through it – so you’re not making money as fast as you’d like.
Situations like these happen to many freelance writers. They’re certainly common when you’re just getting started, but they can often crop up even for experienced writers.
So how can you turn things around and increase your freelance writing income?
Eight Different Ways to Boost Your Freelance Writing Income
All of these tips have worked for me at some point, to some extent. Several have been incredibly impactful.
I can’t be sure which will work best for you – so I’d encourage you to pick a few ideas that appeal and give them a try.
#1: Set Yourself a Specific Income Goal Each Week
It’s hard to earn more if you don’t have a clear goal you’re trying to meet. And if you have a big, long-term goal – like “earn $60,000 this year” – then it can be hard to figure out if you’re on track week by week.
Each week, set a specific income goal. You’ll want to make it realistic, but also push yourself to make a little bit more money than normal.
Your goal doesn’t need to be the same each week. Let’s say you want to earn $60,000 in a year. You could divide that by 50 weeks to get $1,200 per week (which allows for a couple of weeks’ holiday). But you might prefer to aim for $1,500 most weeks so you’re able to take more time off and have more flexibility. Then, if you make $500 – or $0 – some weeks, you can still hit your annual goal.
#2: Track Your Income Every Day
This goes hand in hand with the first tip: if you want to hit your income goal for the week, that means figuring out your income each day.
Even if you’re not setting a specific income goal for the week (perhaps that feels too pressuring or it’s really tricky to figure out what’s realistic as your workflow varies a lot), it’s still helpful to track what you’re making every day.
You’ll hopefully find that doing so:
- Helps you notice which tasks are bringing you in the most money per hour or day. You might have one client at $0.08/word and one client at $0.12/word, but if the posts at $0.12/word take twice as long, they’re actually less profitable. This can become more obvious when you’re tracking tasks and income on a daily basis.
- Keeps you motivated, particularly at the end of the day or if you’re struggling to focus. If you want to bill an extra $50 to hit your daily income target, you might push yourself to write that extra blog post today rather than tomorrow.
#3: Raise Your Rates for Your Current Clients
Want to make more money without finding any new freelancing gigs and without needing to squeeze more work into the day? Raise your freelancing rates.
If you’ve been working with a client for a while – especially if it’s been over a year – then you can probably ask for an extra 10% to 20% and get it agreed easily.
Let’s say you’re currently on $0.08/word. Asking for an increase to $0.09/word isn’t a big jump for your client – but if you can bump up all your rates by a similar amount, it could mean quite a bit of extra money for you every single month.
Not sure what you should be charging? Check out my Start Freelancing course, which covers how to set your rates and whether to price on a project/hourly basis.
#4: Welcome Referrals from Current Clients
One of my best sources of new work in recent years has been referrals from my existing clients. These tend to come naturally – a client knows someone who’s looking for a writer, and asks me if they’d like me to pass their name on.
If you’re in a similar position, make sure you let your current clients know that you welcome and appreciate their referrals! I know that sounds obvious, but simply saying “Thanks so much for connecting me with X, we’re getting on really well” might mean you’re the first writer they think of next time they’re looking to refer someone.
Of course, you can also let your current clients know that you’re actively looking for more work. You might say something like, “If you happen to know anyone else who’s looking for a writer, I’d love to be put in touch with them.”
#5: Offer to Take On Extra Work for Your Current Clients
Another way to get more from your current clients is to offer to take on extra work. You can do this in a low-key and routine way – e.g. letting them know when you invoice that “I’ve got some space in my schedule over the next couple of months if there are any extra [articles/blog posts/etc] you’d like me to work on.”
You can also look out for opportunities that your client may not have realised you’d be happy to take on. For instance, I write article briefs for several of my clients as well as producing the articles themselves. They’re happy to pay separately for the briefs. Perhaps there’s a task like this that you could take over for your client.
#6: Pitch Specific Ideas to Publications
I’ve applied for plenty of freelancing gigs over the years, through jobs like ProBlogger’s Jobs Board, and it can sometimes be a rather dispiriting experience! While there are plenty of solid opportunities out there, there are also quite a lot of very entry-level jobs to wade through. Plus, the well-paid positions get so many applications that it’s common not to hear anything back.
I’ve had a better success rate from pitching specific ideas to publications. Some blogs are open to freelance pitches all or some of the time – this is how I got to write for Craft Your Content, multiple times.
Fewer freelancers are doing the legwork of finding magazines or websites open to pitches, coming up with ideas, and contacting the editor, so you’ve got a better chance of landing a paying piece. You might then be able to turn that into an ongoing relationship (like I did with Craft Your Content) – or use the piece to boost your portfolio.
#7: Get Your Name Out There
One of my best clients in the past couple of years came to me because he’d read some posts I’d written for Copyblogger and he liked my writing style.
The interesting thing about this was that I haven’t written for Copyblogger in many years. The posts he’d read might have been easily a decade old.
Getting your name out there means clients will come to you, at least sometimes, rather than you needing to continually hunt down clients. I don’t do much guest posting at all these days, and 90%+ of my freelance work is currently ghostwriting (so those pieces don’t carry my byline). Even so, the efforts I made early in my career are still paying off.
Some great ways to get your name out there are to:
- Seek out lots of different freelance gigs: the more places you appear in, the more chances there are that a potential client will come across your work.
- Look into guest posting (writing pieces for free for large blogs/websites). Of course, you’ll want to balance this with paid work – don’t spend too much time writing for free – but it can be a great way to get your name known.
#8: Stay Focused When You’re Freelancing
One reason why you might struggle to bring in the freelancing income you want is if you’re procrastinating a lot.
Although some freelancing gigs may pay better than others, the more hours you spend on paying work (and seeking new gigs), the more money you’ll be bringing in.
But a lot of things can get in the way. Perhaps you struggle to concentrate, so each piece you write takes you two or three times as long as it should. Or maybe you find that you’re getting interrupted a lot.
There aren’t always any easy fixes for these issues, but you might want to try some of the suggestions in my post on how to focus … and refocus if you get off task.
If you’d like to go further, check out the Supercharge guides for tons of in-depth advice on how to focus and make the most of your writing time, whatever type of project you’re working on.
As a freelancer, I know how easy it is to get caught up in the day-to-day rush of getting everything done – only to find, at the end of the month, that I haven’t billed nearly as much as I wanted.
If you can manage to take a step back and think strategically about how to increase your freelancing income, that can make a huge difference.
Start by picking one idea from the list above to try out next week. Spend at least a few minutes at the start of each workday putting it into practice, or planning how to implement it. If it’s working for you – great, stick with it! If it doesn’t seem to be having an impact, pick a different idea to try the following week.
Drop a comment below to let us know what you’re trying … and don’t forget to come back and share how you got on. 🙂
I’m Ali Luke, and I live in Leeds in the UK with my husband and two children.
Aliventures is where I help you master the art, craft and business of writing.
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