How freelance writers make a living has been a burning question for a long period of time, but to the surprise of many, there is a simple solution: make more, write less. Of course, this solution can be difficult to wrap our heads around: how can you make more while writing less when it is already hard to make money as a writer?
The key is to work hard, but especially smart. To increase your income while shortening the number of articles, blogs, and essays you have to write, it’s vital to master these three things: successfully pitching to higher paying publications, making your writing process faster and easier, and getting loyal clients of the same niches.
1. Go for the Higher Paying Gigs
If you’re starting out as a freelance writer, it can be daunting to send your pitches out to publications that pay a lot of money. The fear is understandable: higher-paying publications tend to have higher standards, are more specific about what they want, and take a long time to respond. If you don’t feel confident pitching to these publications just yet, you can start small with content mills or your local newspaper, and then eventually work your way up as you gain more experience and clips.
A helpful note: if you’re currently writing 500-700 word high-quality blogs for $15, realise that many publications would pay you $200 or $1000 for pieces of nearly the same quality and length. For instance, when I first started writing blogs for my local newspaper’s website, I got paid $15 for writing 500-700 words and eventually received raises. At the same time, Cracked pays $100 for accepted pitches and increases the rate to $200 by your fifth article. The Writer’s Market lists Newsweek as paying $1000 per 850-900 word piece. Consequently, it’ll be worth your time and effort to try your luck and maximize your chances of increasing your income.
2. Write What You Know
It can be tempting to take on assignments you know little about to pay the bills, but to work smarter, take Mark Twain’s advice of "writing what you know.” Mark Twain meant that you should write about topics you’re interested in and have some expertise on. If you don’t have clients giving you assignments on topics you love, start looking for those that will. When you write about things you care about, you’ll be more productive: instead of spending your time doing research on what you’re writing, you’ll be able to write your pieces with more ease and finish them faster.
3. Find Clients in the Same Niches
Writing what you know will help you write faster and more efficiently, which is why, to make more while writing less, you’ll need to acquire many clients of the same niches. This will allow you to write what you know more frequently, which will increase your efficiency and develop your knowledge.
A word of advice is to only focus on 2-3 niches. Writing frequently about a smaller number of topics will help you produce more specialised work. Specialisation is always a good thing for any writing career, as you’ll be able to charge higher rates in exchange for your knowledge. Furthermore, becoming an expert will make you more attractive to potential clients looking to hire a contractor. Many are adamant about hiring someone with in-depth knowledge on a topic rather than someone who can only touch the surface.
Certainly, the freelancer’s journey towards increasing his income while writing less doesn’t happen overnight. It’ll take a lot networking, diligence, and focus, but getting paid a lot for working a little less is priceless.
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