How to client-proof your freelance income

One of the scariest things a freelancer can imagine is losing clients — and income. The good news is that you can client-proof your income. Here are three tips to help you stay on top of the situation and avoid scrambling when one client bows out. (PLUS - it will allow you to fire a problematic client when you get tired of working with them.)

Pitch, even when things are good

Even when you have a full slate, it doesn’t hurt to pitch new clients. Onboarding takes a while, so being prepared with new clients can make a lot of sense.

Another bonus of continually pitching is that you can get new clients that pay higher rates. If you’re too busy to keep all your clients, you can get rid of a lower-paying client.

Members of the Freelance Writer Academy get access to our pitching guide, as well as a template for writing a pitch designed to get you the work.

Build your network

Create a network of other writers and potential clients. First of all, other writers can be one of...

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Create a contract that will get you paid

For years, Miranda relied on email-based “handshake” agreements for freelance work. It worked really well — until it didn’t. 

Here’s the thing. Technically, your email agreement is in writing, and it can be legally enforced. However, it’s much harder to get a client to take you seriously when you don’t have an actual contract or, at the very least, a statement of work.

While many clients are likely to have their own agreements, it can help to have your own template that at least makes it easier for you to get paid. When you have an “official” agreement, clients are far more likely to take you seriously — and pay you on time.

5 things you need in your contract

When putting together a contract (or statement of work), there are a few things to include that can make your relationship with the client clear. Naturally, you need to have a section that identifies you and the client with addresses and other contact information....

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The easiest way to raise your freelance rates

As you grow your client base and become more experienced, at some point you’ll want to raise your rates. This can be a tough conversation to have with current clients, so, if you want to put it off just a little bit longer, there’s an easier way to raise rates.

The simplest way to raise rates is to quote a higher rate for your next client. If you have several clients at one rate, quote your next client a rate that is a bit higher. Consider adding $25 to $50 to your last quote for your new client quote.

If the new client accepts, you’ve got a higher rate, and you can use that as the basis for your next few quotes. When you start feeling overwhelmed by work, raise your rate on new clients again, or drop some of your lower-paying clients.

What about raising rates on current clients?

Lay the groundwork ahead of time. Let clients know, when they start working with you, that you usually review rates after six to 12 months. You can also consider building in a 10% rate...

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3 reasons you should start a blog as a freelance writer

When you think of freelancing, there’s a good chance the last thing you’re thinking about is content for your own blog. After all, you’ve got clients to chase.

Having a blog is a big part of marketing yourself as a freelancer in today’s world, however. If you’re on the fence about starting a blog, here are three good reasons to do it:

 

  • Hone your craft: Use your blog to improve your writing skills. When you write regularly, you can’t help but improve. 
  • It’s the easiest way to start a portfolio: When you apply for gigs, you’re often asked for links to samples. What if you don’t have clients yet? If you’ve got a blog, you’ve got samples. Write posts that focus on your niche, and you’ll have an instant place to showcase your expertise.
  • Attract clients: Believe it or not, clients can find you because of your blog. As you build your portfolio and write about subjects related to your niche, you’ll...
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Make more money by choosing a freelance writing niche

As a freelancer, there’s a temptation to accept All. The. Work. 

It seems counterintuitive, but you’re actually likely to make more money when you choose a niche, rather than being a generalist.

When you focus on a niche, you develop expertise in that area — and can charge more for your work. Specialization can be a great way to increase your rates. When choosing a niche, consider:

  • What you already know
  • Any credentials you have
  • Something you’re deeply interested in

You don’t need credentials to be successful in a niche, though. Miranda started out as a science writer and ended up swerving into finances, even though she didn’t know much about money at first. Today, she’s considered one of the foremost freelancers writing about money. Examine the market and figure out where you might fit.

Being a niche writer doesn’t mean that you ignore everything else. Consider a secondary niche. For example, Kat also writes about pets and pet...

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3 reasons to take less — yes less — money for your freelance writing

“Ask for what you’re worth.”

This is generally good advice that can help you earn more as a freelance writer.

However, in some cases, you might be surprised to find that it can actually make sense to accept less than your current rate. 

We all occasionally take slightly lower-paying work when it could potentially pay off in the long run. Here are three reasons we might give a client a break and accept less.

1. The hourly numbers work out

In addition to keeping track of our average per-article and per-word rates (Ben’s detailed spreadsheet can be found in the Freelance Writer Academy resources section), all three of us also track hourly rates.

In some cases, easy articles in your niche that don’t require a lot of research can be tackled quickly. For example, Miranda keeps one client that still pays her $250 an article, even though her base rate is currently $400 for 1,000 words. However, the work is easy and she can often bang out an article in 20...

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How diverse is your freelance writing income?

 

One of the greatest feelings in the world is landing a major client. A big client can feel like an increase in stability, as you have a cornerstone for your freelance income.

However, it’s important to be careful about how much you rely on a single client. While freelancing can be a good source of income, it’s not always the most stable. You could lose a client overnight — and then be in trouble.

Don’t let any one client make up more than 20% of your income

Our helpful rule of thumb is to build a stable of clients so that no one client represents more than 20% of your income. If you find yourself doing a lot of work for one client, consider scaling back a bit with that client as you add a new prospect or two. 

You can also diversify your income by monetizing a website, launching a course, writing books, or finding other ways to generate revenue. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that freedom and flexibility are paramount — and that you...

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Stay motivated with a freelancing “why”

We all have a “why” when it comes to our freelance writing careers. Miranda, Kat, and Ben all wanted more freedom and flexibility in their lives — as well as the ability to make more money.

Understanding your own why can make a difference in how you move forward and reach your goals. It’s usually not enough to just make more money. Instead, there’s usually a reason — a why — you want that money. Some common whys we hear from Freelance Writer Academy students and our other friends include:

  • Pay down debt
  • Retire early
  • Go on more vacations
  • Send the kids to college
  • Work flexible hours
  • More time off

Once you have an idea of what you can accomplish with freelancing, and you focus on your why, it becomes easier to send another pitch.

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Can you really make six figures as a freelance writer?

Can you really make six figures as a freelance writer? What’s realistic?

The truth is that each of us make six figures as freelancers. Both Kat and Ben make more than $200,000 a year, and Miranda makes more than $100,000 a year (she’s been cutting back).

How much you can expect to earn as a freelance writer depends on a few factors:

  • How much you pitch
  • The types of articles you write
  • Your niche
  • Whether you’re required to interview people or do research
  • How much time you have to write
  • Other projects you take on

All of us write primarily in the personal finance niche. The types of articles that pay the most are credit card reviews. Those can pay $0.50 to $0.75 per word. Other articles might pay between $0.35 and $0.50 per word, depending on the subject and the intensity of the work. Some work, such as website marketing copy, press releases, or white papers might pay $1 or $2 per word.

In a lot of ways, it’s still the wild west out there. However, if you...

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Get paid! 3 things you shouldn’t do for “free”

Increasingly, it seems like clients are demanding more for writers. And, while there are things you can do to make yourself more valuable, like understanding SEO best practices, it doesn’t mean you should let a client take advantage of you.

Here are three things you shouldn’t do for your clients — unless they’re ready to pay a premium.

1. Keyword research

There are people who specialize in keyword research and SEO strategy. And they get paid a lot. While you want to be aware of best practices, including using keywords in headings and not stuffing them, you shouldn’t be in charge of finding keywords or coming up with a strategy to improve SEO.

As a writer, you’re there to provide content to help with SEO strategy, but you don’t make the strategy. If someone is asking you to research keywords and create SEO strategy, ask for more money. 

In fact, if you’re knowledgeable enough to be doing that stuff, you should be paid for that...

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