…and I only had $75 in my pocket when I started.
When I tell people I consistently earn a six-figure income from freelance writing, I usually get a look generally reserved for alien invasions and calculus exams – terror, bewilderment and a lot of confusion. I don’t blame them, a quick Google search usually brings up a slew of appalling sites willing to pay you less for your writing than it cost you to turn on your computer.
The problem is people think this impoverished segment of the market IS the market itself and that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s one of those examples where the most prominent example becomes the representative of what we think – and we don’t do all that much research (other than Google) to challenge it. Instead we come up with the theory that freelance writers simply make sh*t.
And most of them do.
Most writers are willing to work for poverty wages, which in turn keeps the wages low. But if you just challenge your perspective a bit, you’ll see while most people are buzzing around the content mill hive fighting for $5 blogs – there’s an actual copywriting market that values excellent content – and the writers who create it. Marketing pros know that without extraordinary content, you just don’t connect in a way that matters to your customer.
But HOW you get that kind of work is entirely up to you. Here’s exactly how I did it – and if I could do it with less than $100 bucks to my name – anyone can.
NO Content Mills
Never. Make that promise to yourself right now. You can’t afford to work for $10. And the less money you have the MORE you can’t afford to do it. It’s a complete fallacy to think “well, I’ll just do this for a month until I find something better” or “I just need a couple bucks right now.”
If you’re serious about making money freelance writing, then you MUST retire the mindset that these wages are anything but acceptable. The same mindset that is willing to accept these wages is the same mindset that will have trouble charging appropriately for their work. They cannot co-exist.
Beyond the mindset, setting up a lucrative freelance business takes work and a lot of time. These soul sucking jobs pay far too little for the time invested which means you lose time better spent looking for better clients. It’s a vicious cycle. You end up losing a week to a $30 project with no prospects for anything better and so you end up back at the content mill for more work. It’s literally indentured servitude. Steer clear.
Work on Wealth Consciousness
Writers typically tend to do the least amount of work on their wealth consciousness and as a whole I think we need it the most. When I started my business, I devoured books that would strengthen my relationship with money and release the fear and anxiety I had around it (and asking others for it). From personal experience I can tell you that your relationship with money will directly impact how you present your services, how you charge for them and ultimately how your writing is valued. Every writer and freelancer who is serious about making money needs to read Napoleon Hill’s classic Think & Grow Rich, How Rich People Think and The Big Leap. Read them often because wealth consciousness is work that’s never done.
Create Your Own Clients
The last thing a freelancer can afford to do is sit around and wait for the world to present them with opportunity. Can you think of any other small business that just waits for customers to post online that they need some product? No, it’s absurd. Yet writers do that all the time – because they don’t see themselves as business owners.
When I work with writers (or any freelancers) who don’t have enough clients, or can’t find work the problem is usually that they aren’t actively creating opportunity. They’re simply scouring job boards looking for work. If you’re doing that – you don’t own a business. You’re just an employee of a very inconsistent and crappy paying job. You MUST actively pitch your services to brands, companies and influencers that you want to work with. In ten years, I have yet to see a successful freelancer who doesn’t actively create clients through pitching.
Understand the Value
If the thought of raising your rates makes you a little sick, I’m willing to bet you don’t really get the value you’re bringing to the table as a writer. Usually when a freelancer gets freaked out about charging more, it’s because they see the scale as uneven. They see the value the company is offering to them as MUCH higher than the value they’re offering to the company. You MUST see this as an equally beneficial opportunity and see that the value your content is bringing to the company’s sales, online presence, brand etc., is worth it’s weight in glittery golden words. The minute you have a grasp on the true value of your services is the moment it becomes easy to charge what your services are worth.
Tip: To understand the value of killer sales copy read a few articles and blogs about why content is so important (more so than ever!) when it comes to boosting sales and brand awareness.
Learn on The Job
Any writer who wants to earn six-figs copywriting must know the craft inside and out – and the best way to do this is to get paid to learn. By landing small copywriting jobs you can quickly scale up and beef up your portfolio while getting paid. A lot of aspiring copywriters think they should wait until they take a class or study copywriting for a few months. My advice? Religiously read websites and sales copy. Read marketing blogs and follow influencers who live and breathe content marketing – and do this all while simultaneously seeking out clients. A writer best learns structure by writing it! The old copywriting pros used to say the best way to learn was to read excellent copy and copy the words by hand to get a feel for the flow, structure and rhythm. There’s a reason it works and why people still do that today 🙂
Speak Your Business Into Existence
When people ask me how I started my business, I always say that I talked it into reality. It sounds a bit woo-woo, but in actuality it was the most practical thing I could do. By talking about my business to anyone who would listen, in an enthusiastic and genuinely excited way – people were more open with me about what THEY were doing – and more times than I can count, what they were doing usually required some marketing copy of some kind. People genuinely get excited when you’re stoked about how your business helps people and they LOVE to refer people they know will be a home run to their friends, colleagues or acquaintances at cocktail parties. Be that person!
Tip: Don’t tell people you’re “starting” a copywriting business – tell them you “have” a copywriting business. Starting sounds like you haven’t yet begun and are too new to function and have implies that you are actively working, on a roll and looking for clients. Believe me, that small language difference has a huge impact on how people perceive the value of your business.
Relationships Above All Else
Your relationships are the most valuable currency you have. They’re the gate keeper to better (and wealthier) clients and referrals. The business that comes your way through referrals will be some of the best clients, with less hoops to jump through than any other type of client. Simply put, nothing beats coming pre-vetted. I get phone calls all the time, just offering me high-paying gigs because I was either referred, or they were a previous client (sometimes both!) Every job (no matter how small) is a chance to build a relationship, to earn a new referral and to grow your business. Treat everyone like your most valued client and you’ll have more valuable clients than you have time for in a day. Next stop, outsourcing 😉
Want to learn how you can launch your own six-figure freelance business? Or how does an extra 3K in the next 30 days sound? Join me April 20th at 6pm PST for 3K in My PJs a FREE online class I’m teaching to help YOU get an exit strategy from the 9 to 5 grind and jumpstart your freelance business in 30 days or less. Space is limited so register here – and don’t forget a notebook and any questions you want to ask 🙂 There will be LOTS of meaty info you won’t want to forget!
See you there!