How to become a high-paid freelance content writer
You can make a six-figure income as a freelance content writer. Many content writers struggle to achieve a consistent income through content writing freelance jobs, so the claim may seem bold and outlandish. However, many freelancers have been able to make not only a decent living but a comfortable one with just a laptop, the internet, writing skills, and picking the right freelance content writer jobs. It is simple to earn through the plethora of freelance content writing jobs, but not easy. You, too, can become a high-paid freelance content writer, but there are some things you must let go of and adopt a new process before you start earning the big bucks.
In the next few minutes, you will discover how to start walking the right path towards your dream income. Let’s dig in!
The Secret Process Of Making 100K As A Freelance Content Writer
360 Mindset Shift + A Few Changes
What is holding you back, the opportunities, your circumstances, or your mindset? If you guessed it was your mindset and events, you are right (brownie points for you). The former one we will deal with in a few minutes, the latter one is a bit tricky, but I may have some advice for you that will help you.
I will not lie to you, and thus I must tell you that privilege has a considerable role when discussing work and crossing from one economic class to the next. Some have many privileges that help them move forward without realising that their circumstances had a lot to do with it. These people propagate the idea that their hard work alone got them where they are, which is invalid.
However, there are ways to circumvent some roadblocks you face due to a lack of privileges. What does privilege even mean? It can mean something as small but significant as living in your parent’s home where you don’t pay the rent or bills. It can be as big as a mental or physical disorder that disrupts your day-to-day functioning.
I cannot give you a tailor-made solution for your current situation no matter how much I want to, but I will help you in one way you are struggling with: finances. You are reading this because you want to earn money either to support your family, pay your bills, or upgrade your lifestyle. Either way, the most crucial tip is to make an emergency fund.
I know, I know, this is not a finance blog, so why am I talking about an emergency fund? An emergency fund is six months of expenditure on basic needs in a bank/cash. If an emergency strikes you, using the fund should be easy, and therefore liquidity is essential. When you are considering becoming a high-paid freelancer, you need to keep in mind that you will run into issues like inconsistent pay and non-paying clients. At that time, your focus should not be on surviving but growing and solving problems.
Thus, to have mental peace (mainly when your peace depends on financial conditions), maintain an emergency fund. It doesn’t level the playing field permanently, but you can focus solely on your business and not your survival for three or six months.
Once you deal with this roadblock, the next one is having a fixed mindset instead of a growth mindset (refer to the image to understand the difference).
I don’t want to blame you if you have a fixed mindset because mindsets are about nurture rather than nature, but once you are aware that your mindset is limiting you, you can adopt a growth mindset instead. A simple way of doing it is to become aware of your thought and reframe them. For example, the clients do not want to pay me; I am quitting freelancing; instead, try; there is something wrong with my lead generation since the leads do not match my expectations, I should tweak my lead generation.
Another mindset shift is to let go of the zero-sum game mentality. A zero-sum game means that there is only one winner and the rest are losers. When you see other freelancers earning enormous sums of money and working with amazing clients, that does not mean that the opportunities are nil. You should ask them how they did it, and if they can share some tips too. Start seeing other freelancers as friends instead of cut-throat competitors.
Lastly, you should understand that you are not just a freelance writer but a business owner. Starting now, your writing skills are your service, and you run a business. You may not know everything about running a business, but most entrepreneurs learn as they go.
After all that heavy talk, let’s move towards building your business.
Build your business
The next step after changing your mindset to a business owner mindset is to start laying the foundation blocks of your business. If you are new to freelancing and content writing, the number one pillar to a successful business is to have a solid set of skills. Keep practising and improving your skill set to build your portfolio first. In the world of freelance content writers, portfolios matter more than resumes since they communicate the style and expertise of a content writer.
If you are a content writer with prior experience, you can start with building your brand. Since the second pillar of a business is the clients, attracting clients would mean creating a personal brand. A personal brand shows your level of skills and services to potential clients. It also helps inform your audience (aka potential clients) of the benefits of your service to make them see how your service helps them.
A personal brand is also about establishing your values, specifically “why” you are a content writer.
People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe”Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
One reason could be to earn more money, but it cannot be your only reason. One reason can be that your natural skill was writing and that you enjoy doing it. Another can be that you wanted to help businesses connect with their audience better and serve them better. Establishing your why is a way to distinguish yourself from others and show your personality and attract clients with a similar reason to work.
According to Simon Sinek, when people are in tandem with their reason to work and work with clients with similar values, the working experience is better since there is a thread of commonality between the two. Thus, do not fake your “values” and “why” just because you read them in a blog. Think about it for a hot second and process it because you don’t want just money; you also want a peaceful and growing career. Working with like-minded people will help you not only earn more but have a dream career.
The third pillar of your business would be to establish the services you will offer. Since content writing comprises many sub-services (check the avenues within content writing in this blog), you need to define the service you will provide to your clients.
Marketing your business
Now that you have started personal branding yourself, establishing your values, making a portfolio, and deciding the services you will provide, the next step is to network to market your business. Once you start building a personal brand and sharing your expertise, you need to connect with the right people, so they have access to reaching out to you.
Wherever you are building a personal brand, reach out to your prospective clients on the platform. Start engaging with their content and showing up every day. The more exposure your clients have to your thoughts, learnings, and skills, the more likely they will remember you once they need your services.
When posting content on the platform of your choice, post 10% content related to selling your services. Because if you exceed 10%, you will seem like a pushy salesman, and nobody likes pushy salespeople. Thus, keep the proportion of sales and the education content in mind when building a personal brand. Keep reaching out and networking for at least a month and see clients reaching out to you.
Okay, do not use Phoebe’s technique to get money from your client’s because you don’t want to lose your hard-earned clients (and you’re not a 13-year old girl robbing a 13-year old boy).
But, thinking about money is crucial if you want to sustain your business. Often, it is not the skills that hold the freelancer back but the pricing of their service. They price their services lower than what they deserve, and to maintain a decent income; they take too many gigs. Now, they have too many gigs, and each client’s work suffers due to extra work.
But what if I price myself too high and all my clients walk away? It is a genuine question and one that should be addressed when we are on the topic of money. Since there are no standard rates for freelance content writers (or freelancers of any sort), you can use the LinkedIn salary feature and Glassdoor to see what a content writer in your industry and with your experience earns. You can use that to calculate an hourly rate, which would give you an idea of the minimum amount you should charge. If you want a per word rate, try to write a 1000 word article on a topic and see how much time it took you. It would give you the amount you charge for a 1000 word article.
The next step is to leverage your brand and network to talk to other freelancers in your industry. Ask them what they charge and how you can structure your rates for clients. Please don’t talk to one person; speak to multiple people and ask them why they charge the amount they do for their services. After gathering data, you would have numerous data points to assess and understand what you should be charging for your services. You can even hire a consultancy service from your freelance friend to help you structure your rate card and not get duped when the client says you are charging too much.
The process is laborious, but until you ask these crucial questions, you will either be undercharging or overcharging. The former will not make you a high-paid freelancer, and the latter may scare away your clients. You have to find the soft spot, and thus the process is necessary.
Also, when you do find the right charges for you, some clients will say that you are charging too much, and other freelancers are charging less. You must understand that they can be lying to get a cheaper deal, and these are not the clients you should be working with today or tomorrow. When a client’s primary concerns are your charges and not your skillset, they will always cause you trouble and a great deal of peace. You can politely reply that these are your charges and you will not negotiate further. Do not chase such clients for the love of God and your time.
Speaking of time, you must understand the importance of time. Since it is a finite resource for you and everyone, use it wisely. Do not overload yourself with projects to earn more money (you have an emergency fund in place to avoid this situation). Apart from working, you need to dedicate time to your hygiene, health, ample sleep (8 hours of sleep is a must for you), and socialisation.
Then how do you earn more over time? It is not by taking more projects because that’s not healthy and can lead to burnout. You make more by increasing your rates over time. But you cannot apply the rather lengthy method mentioned above all over again.
Thus, as a freelance content writer with enough experience, you can now A/B test your rates. Increase your rates by 10% and inform one set of new clients. For another group of clients, increase the rates by 20%. See if the clients accept the 20%, and if they do, you can now start quoting those rates. If they don’t, you know that you can increase it by 10% only for now. You can even experiment and mention 15% and see if clients are willing to pay.
Tweaking and experimenting will help you calibrate yourself at each step, and thus you will be earning more by working the same hours as before.
Get to 100K
Whether INR 100K or $100K, you can reach it as a content writer. How? Assessing how your services are helping other businesses. As content writers, our job is to write content that informs the audience and increases web traffic. However, content is also powerful enough to bring sales. If you have been working with a business for a long while, you can ask them for the impact of your content and if they are willing to give you a testimonial.
Will testimonials from your clients help? Yes, they will. When you buy something from Amazon, you look at the star ratings and the product’s reviews. Bad reviews and good reviews help you make a decision. Similarly, when businesses hire freelancers, they would be motivated to hire you more if you have positive reviews. You can politely request a testimonial on LinkedIn or a video testimonial. These testimonials are better since anybody can fake testimonials, so when the person can see that the review is not fake, they are much more likely to trust the testimonial.
Another step to getting paid more is to diversify your clientele base. Sometimes freelancers come across one gig that pays them more, and thus they drop other gigs to work less and get paid more. Do not make this mistake because as soon as this contract ends, you will have no clients, which would mean hunting for leads all over again. Instead, have 2-3 clients at least. You can have more, too but do not overload your plate.
Moreover, frequently raising your rates and testing them on your new leads will help you scale your business faster and get closer to the 100K mark. Once you start getting more clients and feel that hiring people will help you with the load, start hiring other freelance content writers. Remember, you are a business and therefore hiring writers when you have a steady flow of work will help you earn more and provide opportunities to other writers.
Remember to make the content writers sign NDAs and contracts to safeguard your intellectual properties and client poaching. Keep working on your personal brand to bring in more leads and eventually get international clients. Since international clients pay in dollars, you will see a jump in your earnings once you onboard international clients. A detailed blog on how to get international clients is here. You can use the method mentioned in the previous section to understand your service charges because there is a massive difference in how you charge local and international clients.
More Ways to make 100K
- Start a blog
As a content writer, you are aware of the advantages of writing blogs for your business. Since people Google all the time to avail themselves of services or buy products, you can also use it to market your services. A blog will attract leads while you are sleeping, and this is a great way to attract clients that are not on social media. You can even hire an SEO expert to help you with the technical aspects of SEO. Ad revenue is also a passive way of making money from your blog, and thus starting a blog as a content writer should be something you think about when you want to earn 100K.
- Niche down
People are looking and willing to pay experts to write for them and therefore niching down eventually should be on your mind due to the possibility of earning an insane amount of money. If you are confused about which content writing niche to pick, we have a blog for you. You can also change courses and become a resume writer, proofreader, editor in any niche.
- Start Guest Blogging
Many blogs are open to guest posting, and thus guest posting will help you increase the reach of your business to new audiences. Plus, international clients ask for published articles, too, and you can send them a link to your guest blogs.
- Join Facebook groups
Facebook groups are perhaps one of the easiest ways to get clients due to the carelessness of most writers on the platforms. You can use this guide to help you get gigs quickly on Facebook groups.
- Cold outreach
What if your potential clients are not googling your services or following you on social media. How do you reach this audience? Emails are the only way (except calling them, but it would be creepy if you had a stranger’s phone number) to reach these customers. You can send cold emails either to show them the benefits of your service for their business or the whereabouts of their competitors’ content strategy and how they are missing out. But cold emailing is intimidating, so we also have a guide on cold emailing (you are welcome).
- Offer a combination of skills.
What if you gave your client all the services they are looking for? They would save time and money, and you could charge higher for your services. Thus, offering a combination like SEO + content writing, Website development+Web copy, etc., is a great way to touch 100K.
Ghostwriters do not take credit for their writing and therefore can charge exponentially more than content writers. Ghostwriting is typical for books (and pays well), but many people want to publish blogs under their name but cannot write. Therefore they opt to hire ghostwriters to write for them. If you can write books or are interested in writing books, go ghostwriting for other people.
- Make additional sources of income.
As we said about diversifying your income sources by having 2-3 clients, you should also make extra income streams like ebook royalty, consultancy, course, sponsored content, blog ad revenue, etc., to further lower the risk and generate passive income.
Summing it up, it is possible to earn 100K through shifting your mindset from a fixed one to a growth one. Moreover, an emergency fund to help you sustain yourself when you start freelancing will help you stay clear of the financial stress that can come with inconsistent income. Furthermore, you need a business mindset to start earning the big bucks, and you need to work on growing the business through a personal brand, marketing, and networking.
Next, you need to set your rates by talking to people. Finally, to get to 100K, you need to diversify, book international clients, niche down, and build other sources of income too. We hope the blog was helpful, and you should follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter to stay updated.