Everyone wants to make more money, but wishing isn’t going to make it happen. If you want more money, you have to earn it. Unfortunately, as a freelancer, it’s easy to feel like the cards are stacked against you. Since you get paid per assignment, your income is limited to how many assignments you can take on and what type of assignments people give you. Right?
Not exactly. It’s possible to earn more money with your writing, regardless of your current situation, and without necessarily taking on a greater quantity of work. There are three main types of strategies you can use to do this:
- Broaden your skill set to make yourself more valuable.
- Optimize your client base to maximize the number of assignments that pay the best.
- Manage your time so you can do more work without a greater time investment.
Now let’s take a look at each of these categories individually.
Broaden Your Skillset
Your first group of options comes in the form of broadening your skill set. More experience means more money, but because you can’t force the development of experience (it has to come naturally), these tactics focus more on incorporating new skills than advancing old ones.
There are a handful of key ways to do this:
- Work in new niches. General topics are easy to develop skills for, but as a result, the pool of freelancers available is overcrowded, and prices tend to drop. Specialized niches tend to offer higher rates per assignment, so start learning the ins and outs of a new industry. With niche experience in something like criminal defense law, you’ll easily outperform the competition for those higher-paying gigs.
- Adopt multimedia proficiency. You’re a writer, but that doesn’t mean writing should be your only skill. Today, content marketing includes a number of other mediums, especially imagery and video. Sharpen your design skills, or work on your videography prowess. These additional skills can make you a hot commodity worth far more money.
- Cater to specific strategies. Aside from targeting niche industries, you can develop your skills for specific applications. For example, you might learn more about SEO, or about how to build a following on social media. This will help you present yourself as a kind of cross-media specialist, making you available for more jobs and higher pay.
Optimize Your Client Base
Next up, you’ll work on optimizing your client base to make you the most amount of money. Start looking for new clients who pay higher rates, and gradually phase out clients who pay lower rates. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to become complacent with lower-paying clients (or clients whose work you loathe doing).
Again, there are a few distinct strategies here:
- Attract higher-paying clients. On paper, it sounds simple, and conceptually, it’s not difficult at all. Start going after wealthier, higher-profile clients that can afford to pay writers higher rates. To do this, you’ll need to beef up your portfolio, but if you’ve tackled the strategies from the previous section, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- Change or drop lower-paying clients. Once you start building a higher-profile client base, you can start cutting the dead weight that’s dragging you down. After all, why would you write for $0.04 a word when you could write for $0.08 a word? Tell your clients you need to raise your rates, and if they can’t afford to keep you on board, you need to gently end the partnership (just don’t burn any bridges).
- Diversify your client base. It’s a good idea to have a number of different clients, from different niches and different backgrounds, in your portfolio at any given time. This allows you to “hedge your bets,” protecting you against sudden changes, and helps you ride the tides of rising and falling trends.
Manage Your Time
Finally, you’ll work to maximize the amount of money you make for every minute you spend working. How can you do this?
- Stop wasting time. Your first job is to stop wasting time. Browsing Facebook doesn’t count as work. If you’re in a dry spell, start working on your portfolio or applying for new gigs. If a client isn’t reliable, cut them out.
- Track your efforts. If you want a better idea of how much time you spend (and how you spend it), use time tracking software to keep track of your actions throughout the day. This will help you figure out where your efforts are most spent, versus where they should be spent.
- Develop a system. Different systems work for different writers, but you need something in place. For example, you might do all your research and outlines up front and then hammer out the writing portion assembly-line-style. You might also have a timing rhythm, working in single-hour chunks with 10-minute breaks in between. The key is to have some kind of a consistent system you can perfect over time to maximize your efficiency.
With tactics in place from these three strategic groups, you should have no trouble making more money from your work. Don’t be fooled that it’s a simple or easy process; it isn’t. But if you put time into making yourself a more skilled, more efficient worker with better, higher-paying clients, you’ll pull down bigger paychecks without killing yourself with work in the process.