Since posting my last freelance writing income report, I have received a few emails asking if I ever outsource projects. In other words, do I accept work from clients, have others complete the project, and then split the earnings? Generally speaking, I do whatever I can to avoid this. In fact, I have only outsourced two or three projects over the course of my career, and even then I didnâ€™t want to do so.
Is there something wrong with outsourcing? While there is nothing â€œwrongâ€ with this process, there are two reasons that I try to avoid it at all costs:
1. I like to write, and outsourcing would cut back on that. If you are going to outsource a lot of your work you will find that you are writing less, and managing others more. Personally, I only like to accept projects that I have time to complete on my own.
2. When you outsource you never know what you are going to get. Do you know how difficult it can be to find a good freelance writer? Although they are out there, and you can find them if you put your mind to it, it may take some time. Additionally, you never know what your workers are going to do, either right or wrong. For instance, if you outsource a project and your writer plagiarizes, who is on the hook with the client? The answer is you. By completing my own work I know exactly what I am getting.
Over the next few months I am going to be working on a few projects in which hiring writers is essential to my overall success. I plan on taking this time to learn a bit more about outsourcing, the pros and cons, and what goes into finding quality freelance writers.
Do I suggest that you outsource your freelance writing work? If you do not mind managing others and have quality writers to work with, this is an option to consider. But if you enjoy the writing process and trust yourself more than others, you will want to personally complete 99 percent of the projects that you accept.
By increasing freelance writing referrals you will be able to increase your workload and income. Of course, this is easier said than done. Referrals are a great way to take your business to the next level, but you must first learn how to get current clients to pass your name along to others.
Here are three tips for increasing referrals:
1. Ask! Does it get any easier than that? If you want a current client to refer you to others, ask them to do so if they get the chance. If you and your client are on good terms they will not have any problems trying to help you out when they can. Just remember, unless you ask you probably wonâ€™t get what you want. Sure, some clients will pass along your name without being asked to do so, but a reminder will definitely increase your chances.
2. A client will only refer you if there are happy with the results that you deliver. High quality naturally yields referrals. Your clients have a reputation just as you do, and they do not want to jeopardize this by referring somebody who does not offer quality work. No matter how big or small a job, you want to make sure that you do your best. You never know when a client will have a larger job for you, or when they will pass your name and information along to others.Â
3. It is important to make it as easy as possible for a client to refer you. Make sure that they have your email address, website address, and phone number. Most referrals will send an introduction email stating how they heard about you, but I have also had some call me on the phone. Make it easy to be referred, and easy for others to get in touch with you.
With these three tips you will increase your chance of receiving freelance writing referrals. The more clients that are referring you to others, the more inquiries you will receive. All in all, it is nothing more than a numbers game!
Querying publications as a freelance writer is a lot of fun. This is when you get to talk about yourself, and hopefully land a new project that you have been chasing. Of course, more times than not you are going to get rejected. Is this fair? Well, it doesnâ€™t seem like it, but it is simply the nature of the industry. With that being said, if you know the reasons that a publication says no, you will be able to increase your chance of future success.
1. Some publications already have a pool of freelance writers that they use. This is not to say that you have no chance of becoming one of them, but it can be very difficult when they are already set in their ways. If an editor tells you that they have no room for another freelancer, you may want to ask if it is okay to follow up in the future. You never know when something will go wrong, and the editor suddenly needs a new writer to fill a slot.
2. Magazines work in advance. For this reason you may find that a publication has enough material for the upcoming months, and is not accepting new ideas at the time. If this situation presents itself, attempt to find out when the editor will begin to consider new ideas. By knowing this information you will have a leg up on the competition because you can be ensured of submitting your query letter/idea at the appropriate time.
3. Time after time I receive responses from editors telling me that they like my idea, but they just ran a similar story. There is not much that you can do about this except take your idea to a similar publication and see if they have room for it. This is a common reason for rejection, and one that you should shrug off and forget about.Â
4. Simply put, there are going to be times when an editor does not think that you have the background and/or knowledge to handle the topic that you are interested in writing about. Personally, I run into this about once per month on average. The best way to avoid this is to stay within the subjects that you know best. But even then, you will still come across editors who are skeptical about your ability to write a certain piece.
In the future, you should be able to use these common reasons for rejection to your advantage.
Over the past few weeks I have had several freelance writers attack me via email for working too many hours. They seem to be doing this because they feel that I am not a â€œreal freelance writerâ€ because I often times work long hours in order to make time to take on jobs that are less than what they consider high paying.
This leads me to the question of: how many hours per day should a freelance writer work? In my opinion there is no way to answer this question. If you can work a few hours per day and earn a full-time living, you should go for it. On the other side of things, if you like to work longer hours or need to do so in order to achieve success, that is fine as well. Unlike an office job, there is nobody telling you that you have to work eight hours between 9 and 5. The great thing about being a freelance writer is that you can work when you want, and for as long as you want. If you get your work done and make your money, there is no reason that you should change what you are doing.
I think that every freelance writer should run their career in the way that they best see fit. Sure, I can offer tips and suggestions, but when it comes down to it you are the one who needs to make the decision on how to move forward. If everybody tried to emulate how I work, they would not have their own success. And the same thing holds true if I were to listen to those who think that working too much is always a bad thing.
All in all, you can work as many hours per day as you please. As long as you do not burn out, you should be just fine. If somebody tells you that you are working too many hours, keep in mind that hard work is the quickest way to freelance writing success!Â
When asked for a price quote, it is essential that you take your time and supply accurate information that is going to work to your advantage. This holds true in every industry, and freelance writing is no exception. I am always receiving emails asking how I arrive at my quotes, and what goes into the process. While every situation and potential client is different, there are some things that I always do.
As mentioned above, you should always take your time. Sure, it can be exciting to be asked for a price quote, but if you jump the gun you could end up doing one of two things: you could offer too low of a price and leave money on the table or you could quote too high and scare the client off. If you take your time you will be able to compare the project to past work, think about all of the work that is entailed, and of course, cross reference with your current rate sheet.
If possible, it would be nice if you could find out what type of budget the client has for the project. You may find that the client is searching for a bargain price that you cannot meet. Finding this out early on can go a long way in saving both parties a lot of time.
When working on any price quote you should take every last detail into consideration. This is going to change based on who you are working with, but you should consider things such as: past work for the client, your current workload, how bad you want to work with the client, etc. Anything that will affect the project and your career should be taken seriously during this process.
With all of that being said, for me, giving a solid price quote is all about taking my time. If I leave myself enough time to get together all the details, providing an accurate quote is usually an easy task.Â
While walking out of a restaurant last night, an elderly gentleman began to make conversation with me. Soon enough he was telling me about his many careers, and then asked me what my occupation was. Upon telling him that I was a freelance writer, he looked at me strangely. â€œYou shoulda been an engineer,â€ he said. Not knowing where he was coming from, I asked why. â€œBeing a freelance writer is nice but you canâ€™t make any money.â€Â
It is a common misconception among many that freelance writers have no opportunity to earn â€œreal money.â€ It is of my opinion that this misconception brings down writers in more ways than one, and makes many of them believe that they do not deserve to be paid reasonable wages.
Sure, some engineers make a lot of money, but there are just as many who are stuck as the bottom of the industry trying to make their way to the top. There may be some freelance writers who donâ€™t make enough money to support themselves, but there is nothing that says you have to join them. When it comes down to it, the sky is the limit. As an engineer, for example, you will work for a company that sets your salary. As a freelance writer, there is nobody to hold you back. If you want to earn more money you do not have to ask for a raise or change jobs. You can simply work harder, do better work, and expand your client base.
Donâ€™t let the perception of not earning enough money keep you away from following your dream of becoming a freelance writer. Just like any other career, you can start out at entry level wages and then increase your income as time goes by. Maybe I should have told that gentleman to check out my freelance writing income report for March?
Most freelance writers that I know communicate with clients primarily via email. For me, this holds true most of the time as well. Of course, there are times when I speak with clients over the phone or in person. But with email being so easy, quick, and effective, it seems to be the preferred method among most freelancers.
The key question is: how often do you communicate with your freelance writing clients? This is different for every writer and every client, but you definitely want to keep in mind that it is important to keep in touch. If you go too long without communicating, your client may feel as if you are out of touch too much. In the long run, this may put strain on your relationship.
One thing that I have found helpful is to communicate with clients even if my deadline is nowhere in sight. For instance, I have a large project due at the end of May for a regional sports publication. While I could wait until the last day to send the project, this would be a huge mistake. Not only would it put my back against the wall, but it would do the same to the editor. Instead, I check in once per week to update the editor on my progress and to ask if he needs anything. In most cases this is nothing more than a short email, and that is usually enough until the next time around.
Base your communication on the type of client you are dealing with, and what they have conveyed to you in the past. Many clients tell me up front that they want me to check in every so often. And believe it or not, some even tell me that they donâ€™t need to talk until the project is complete. If you take cues from your client and your past experiences, you should not have any problems determining how often to communicate with them.
As a freelance writer, you need a wide variety of skills to succeed. Perhaps the most important skill outside of good composition skills is the ability to successfully market your services. Keep this in mind: if nobody knows that you are a freelance writer you are never going to succeed.
I feel strongly that you should market your freelance writing services everyday. While this can be a difficult pace to keep, it is crucial to your overall success. This is not to say that you have to spend hours on end marketing your business, but a few minutes here and there will definitely help.
How can you market your services on a regular basis? As of late, I have been doing this in several ways. First and foremost, I have been sending query letters like crazy. There are some days when I send out three to five queries without thinking twice. Have I had any success? Over the past month, three queries have turned into a project with two of them being long term. This is not the greatest percentage, but sending queries is a number game. If you get enough of them in the pipeline you are sure to find publications that are willing to work with you.
Moving on, marketing your freelance writing services through cold calling and emailing can work to your advantage as well. When doing this, you will be targeting businesses as opposed to magazines and other like publications. Even if you are turned down, you never know who will call you back in the future. I have been told no on hundreds of cold calls, but soon enough some of these people call with a request for help. Simply getting your name â€œout thereâ€ will help you immensely.
Whatever you do, make sure that you are marketing your services on a regular basis. It may be difficult to do this on a daily basis if you are extremely busy, but try your best. As you increase your marketing initiative the amount of work that you receive will follow suit.
After posting my monthly freelance writing income report, I always receive a large number of emails asking a variety of questions. This time around, it seems as if the most popular question is: which freelance writing topics are most profitable? As you can imagine, most writers want to get involved with the industries/topics that pay the most. But in my opinion, this is a mistake. Instead, I feel that you should work on topics that are of interest to you, and then find ways to make them profitable.
If you only chase projects and topics that pay well, you are going to find out soon enough that you are not having as much fun as you could. When I started my freelance writing career, I stuck to a handful of topics that were of great interest to me. They included sports, travel, and real estate. Anytime that I would receive a project on one of these topics I knew that I would enjoy it. For this reason, I spent a lot of time querying publications that fit into these categories in one way or the next.
Of course, expanding over time is very important. Although I still dabble in the three topics that I started my career with, I deal with many others on a regular basis as well. Generally speaking, you want to narrow in on a few subjects that you enjoy, but make sure that you do not back yourself into a corner.
Are there are topics that pay better than the rest? Over my time as a writer, I have not really found an answer to this question. I write for some sports magazines that pay $.25/word and others that pay at a rate of $.10/word. It is not so much the subject you are writing on than it is the company or publication that you are working for. If you want to make more money you do not need to change what you write about, but instead find companies and publications that are willing to pay you what you are worth.
Just like me, you will find that pinpointing the most profitable freelance writing subjects is next to impossible. Do not spend your time chasing after the jobs that you â€œthinkâ€ will be the most profitable. Instead, make a list of topics that you enjoy, and then find the best paying clients within those industries.Â
Like many other freelancers I have spoken with, the first two months of 2008 were relatively slow for me. With that being said, things were not as bad as they could have been. My freelance writing income in January exceeded $5,200, and in February I went over $5,600. While I would have been semi-happy with another month in this range, I really pushed for more in March. When everything was said and done, I ended up posting a nice number:
Number of Completed Projects: 21
Payment by PayPal: 18
Payment by Check: 2
Payment by Bank Wire: 1
Total Income: $7,532.21
To what do I attribute my March income success? Generally speaking, I do not have a concrete answer as to why my income jumped nearly $2k. When looking at the numbers, you will see that I completed three fewer projects this month than last. To go along with this, I only added a couple new clients to the mix. The easiest way to explain this increase is that my regular clients sent more work my way during the month of March. There is a chance that this could stay the same in April, or that things could fall off to the workload that I was taking on during the first two months of the year.
At the end of the first quarter of 2008, I am quite pleased with my overall progress. Although I had hoped to average $7k/month through the first quarter, I am on pace to earn more this year than last. But with nine months to go there is no way of knowing how things will shape up.
What is my income goal for April? Like always, I hope to break $4,500. It would be nice to capsize this monthâ€™s income, but doing so will be a tough task. Of course, Iâ€™ll try my hardest and let you guys and gals know how things go!
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