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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How to decide whether a freelance writing client is worth it

One of the questions we get all the time is this: How do I know if a client is worth it?

There are different ways to evaluate whether a client continues to serve you and your freelance writing career goals. Some of the different measures can include:

Rate of pay

One of the easiest measures is the rate of pay. How much are you getting paid for your work? Rarely does it makes sense to accept an hourly rate for freelance writing, but it can be one way to measure whether a client is worth your time. 

 

  • Per-word rate: Some writers like to gauge how well a client pays by their per-word rate. After all, if you can get between $0.35 and $0.65 per word, that’s not too bad. And for some work you can get $0.75 to $1.50 per word — or more. When you have enough other clients paying higher rates, it can make sense to drop the client with the lower rate.
  • Per-article rate: Similarly, you might decide to base your assessment on the rate you get paid for each article. You can...
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6 things to include in your freelance writer bio

New clients usually ask for a bio they can include with your work. This is an amazing opportunity to showcase who you are — and potentially even find gigs as would-be clients see what you’ve done.

As you craft your freelance writer bio, here are six essential tips for making sure you portray yourself in the best light.

One-sentence summary of what you do

Start the bio short and sweet, with a succinct summary of what you do. Miranda’s bio usually leads with some version of, “Miranda Marquit has more than 15 years of experience as a freelance financial writer, specializing in content related to investing, small business, behavioral economics, and long-term financial planning.” Any potential client immediately knows what I’m good at and understands that I have a lot of experience.

Professional headshot

Find out what parameters are needed for a headshot, and then make sure you have something that looks professional. A good headshot portrays confidence...

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How to track your progress as a freelance writer

We all like metrics that help us understand our progress — and that can help us evaluate where to go next.

If you want to track your progress as a freelance writer, there are some different ways to measure how you’re doing, and see whether you’re moving forward.

Metrics for tracking freelance writing career progress

 

  • Hourly rate: Keep track of how much time you spend on an article and divide what you’re making by how many hours it took to finish it. Over time, a higher hourly rate can indicate that you’re working smarter, not harder.
  • Number of articles written: Track the number of articles you write each week and/or each month. Figure out an average that makes sense for your schedule and situation. Are you doing more work, or less work, than you want to do?
  • Average rate per word: Some freelancers like to figure out how much they’re making per word. Divide your fee by the number of words you wrote. Over time, work to increase your...
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How to set goals for your freelance writing career

Whether you're starting a writing career from scratch or looking to boost your income, setting good goals can help you. It allows you to think concretely of what you want, what you need to get there, and keep you motivated. 
 
This is a worksheet you can use when planning out your goals. Some things to keep in mind: 

Make it SMART

SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. "I want to make a lot of money"-- not SMART. "I want to increase by income by 25% in 2022 by expanding my client list and raising my rates" is. 

Think about your why

Your "Why" is what motivates you on this journey. It's what should be top of mind so that when motivation ebbs and flows, you could stay focused. For example, your why can be so you feel financially secure, have more work-life balance, or more flexibility. 

Break it down

One year-long goal can be overwhelming. Instead, break your goal down into five or six chunks....
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When to fire a client

 

As a freelance writer, it’s hard to say goodbye to a client. After all, we need the money!

Sometimes, though, the money just isn’t worth it. 

3 red flags - it's time to fire that client

Increasingly unreasonable demands

Maybe the gig seemed like a decent idea at the start, paying just fine. Now, though, you’re being asked for more revisions, longer posts, and maybe even additional fact-checking requirements — without seeing increased pay. If you’re being asked to do more and more without being compensated, it’s probably time to move on.

Unprofessional interactions

Is the client unprofessional? Do they interact with you in a condescending manner? Those kinds of interactions can take a toll on your mental health — and it can spill over into other areas of your life, causing problems with your other relationships. 

You dread doing the work

Anytime you look at your calendar and see an assignment from a client and immediately cringe,...

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What you need to accept if you want to make money as a freelance writer

We all love freelance writing here at the Freelance Writer Academy. After all, it’s led us to lives of flexibility and freedom. 

BUT, it’s not always a cake walk and there are some hard realities you need to face if you want to be successful in the long run. 

The writing isn’t always fulfilling

We become writers because we like writing and we want to Write Important Things. However, the writing isn’t always fulfilling. Sometimes you’re writing to SEO and just paying the bills. As a working writer, making money isn’t very glamorous all the time. Sometimes you just need to pay the rent and buy groceries.

Get used to rejection

Not everyone is going to work out. You’ll be told no. You’ll be let go from jobs. Miranda is considered one of the foremost personal finance writers out there and she still gets told no. It’s hard not to take things personally, but remember that rejection isn’t personal and that there are other...

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