As many new-to-the-scene freelancers do, I began my career on a well-known outsourcing platform many years ago. In the earlier days of copywriting on the web, there weren’t many rules guided by search engine algorithms like there are today. For this reason alone, I seemed to have a lot of time to research my new career’s possibilities. Having started writing when it was common to earn one dollar per 500 word article, I always assumed I’d have nowhere to go but up.
Those “Presence Building” Early Days
I knew early on that I would have to be patient while I built up my digital profile. Like any other job, you do need a resume for your work. I had no problem biting the bullet while looking on dreamily, and often in astonishment, at the content writing rates of more experienced writers. While I was convinced I could write for at least several dollars per article, I had a lot of back and forth in the portfolio building months when it came to clients who would pay me a bit higher for my quality versus clients who cared little for the value of their content, as long as they had content. Sticking to those little jobs was absolutely frustrating but it did pay off as the links grew my portfolio, taking over several Google search pages, and creating my online presence.
I was never good at doing those one-off jobs that just required me to jam a few hundred words into a document without research or thought so I stuck to the tougher tasks with more guidelines and rules, and gained far more valuable feedback in the process. It showed in the invites I received to join this project or that. It showed in the fact that when those clients did come to me, I was able to generate better pricing for myself on a regular basis. One day though, those invites became too much. I already had regular clients for which I was putting in numerous hours for per week at the rate of around $10 per hour. I began to get more than that from many clients and found myself quite comfortable in my schedule and weekly take home pay.
As any professionally minded freelancer will tell you, sometimes the worst you can see in your email is a job offer better than those you have. In this industry, you don’t always have the option of just saying bye-bye to a good client, and often have to make serious scheduling changes just to edge in some new work. To save myself the stress, I just turned off my openness to work on my outsourcing site. Another week later, I was exasperated to see it hadn’t really helped. The site I used allowed freelancers to state their hourly rate, which isn’t always easy since many, including myself, prefer to work at per word rates. To combat the non-stop job invites, I finally just set my rate to what I felt was an astronomical price. My writing rate that day went from $10.25 per hour to $31.50 per hour. “That’ll fix them,” I told myself.
“It Can’t Be That Easy”
…were the words I was telling myself about a week later. The job offers never stopped, they just changed in quality. Where I was once invited to jobs that were mass work, 10 articles of badgering keywords into oblivion, bursting through every guideline set by search engine algorithms themselves, and in general just making a mess of the web; I now had clients who were looking for high-quality work, and were more than willing to pay for it. Within a few months, it wasn’t unusual for me to bring in several thousand per month. While I can’t encourage every writer out there to attempt this if they do not have other supplemental income, I do think it is important to listen to that inner voice. When that voice says, “It seems like I’ve been working at this rate for a long time,” you, too, should consider raising your rates.
Joy Lynskey is a content copywriter and social media director for Joy of Content Writing. She has been a copywriter since 2001 and has had many successful articles go viral through shares from industry guru’s. Her specialty is social media marketing content. Feel free to shoot her any questions you have on Twitter – https://twitter.com/JoyLynskey.