5 mistakes that prevent freelance writers earning enough

The idea of working from home as a freelance writer is very appealing – you get to schedule your day your way, be your own boss, spend more time with family, and so much more. Yet many try to achieve the dream and fail – and head back to the safety of full-time employment all too soon.

If you’re stuck in that dilemma now, you should know that it doesn’t have to go that way!

Working with freelancers for over 10 years, here’s my take on the 5 mistakes that prevent freelance writers earning enough.

1. Not business networking

Nothing comes close to topping ‘word of mouth’ when it comes to getting work. If you think ‘word of mouth’ is limited to people who’ve used your service and tell others, that misperception is probably costing you a fortune. Referrals can come from anywhere, and the best way to start them rolling is by networking.

Networking is all about connecting and getting to know people. The more people you connect with, the more people will be able to mention you when someone in a room (or a social media group) asks, “Hey, does anyone know a writer?”

But that’s not all – enquiries that come from referrals are much more likely to convert to sales. They’re also less likely to try to haggle over your quote.

2. Under-estimating and under-quoting

If you have an ideal hourly rate, under-estimating the time involved in jobs you quote will ensure you don’t earn your goal rate. If you typically charge by word-count, chances are you’re not always getting paid for extra time spent on tasks such as image sourcing, research and topic planning. If you quote 10 hours of work a week at $60 an hour but under-quote by 3 hours, you’ve dipped out on $180.

3. Not charging enough

Are you under-valuing your skills or time? Can you find better paid work? Find out! And if you’re quoting low because you’re desperate for work you need to rethink that – some clients will equate the lower quote to a lack of skill or experience and feel more confident choosing someone who’s quoted a premium price. And that means you could be getting the dud jobs instead of the good ones!

If you’re working for awfully low rates, you’re probably also working for awful clients. As someone I know says, if you work for peanuts your clients will treat you like a monkey.

4. No add-on services to offer

The more skills you have the more services you can offer, and the better you can upsell your clients. And many services go hand in hand with writing – SEO keyword research, content planning, social media, infographics and image creation. If you don’t have these skills, consider learning something new to boost your income. (We talk more about these add-on services in one of the modules of our new online course, Build Your Freelance Content Writing Business.)

5. Finding one-off jobs instead of regular work

It takes effort to find any type of work. If you’re putting your time and effort finding people and businesses that need one-off jobs like website or brochure copy, you’ll be doing it tough. It’s time to be more strategic and seek out clients who need regular services like blog writing or newsletters/EDMs. And if you love one-off website copy jobs, then focus your efforts on connecting with website designers who can refer an ongoing stream of them to you, instead of trying to find yourself one client at a time.

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Need to fill some knowledge gaps to grow your freelance writing income successfully? Our online course Build Your Freelance Content Writing Business, is packed full of practical information for freelance writers, from where to find work to what you need to know about SEO, and so much more.

Happy learning and earning!

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