What does freelance success look like for me? I started my writing career in 2008 with no professional experience as a writer, no industry contacts, and no portfolio. Today, I work about 25 hours per week. I earn more than twice as much as I did at my previous white collar office job working 40+ hours per week. I spend less than five percent of my time looking for new clients and typically turn down at least one good project for each project I accept. It’s a lucrative, low-stress lifestyle that I thoroughly enjoy.
Here are three strategies I used to create a successful career:
I Narrowed My Client Demographic
I built a client base that consists of small- to mid-sized successful businesses, B2B (business to business) firms, and marketing firms that don’t have sufficient internal talent. These clients have a reasonable budget, appreciate professional results, and are linked to a large referral network.
Tip: Choose a field with little competition if you want clients to market your business for you. Unlike editors and publishers who choose from a huge talent pool, business clients often know very few good writers.
I Built My Portfolio on My Own Initiative
When I identified a highly paid niche for business writing, I didn’t wait to be offered an opportunity to write for that niche. I created a relevant sample for my portfolio as a project for myselfónot an unpaid or poorly paid “test” project for a client.
Tip: Select an industry you know well and learn to craft an impressive white paper on a topic of your choosing. Business clients want to know that you can write the type of content they want. They don’t care whether your work has been published in a prestigious venue.
I Became a Generalist
The key to winning repeat and referral clients in the business writing world is adaptability. When a client asks me to write a new type of content (such as a case study, a podcast script, or some infographic text), I say yes.
Tip: Become a highly versatile writer and clients will keep hiring you as their business needs change. Your ability to write a wide variety of content also makes you the ideal freelancer for clients to refer to their peers.
With these strategies, you can easily increase your rates over time because your services are in high demand. You work with clients who treat you with respect, and you get to learn new skills as you build your writing business. That’s what makes freelancing fun!
Daisy McCarty is a self-educated writer and co-founder of Freelance Text, a professional services firm that specializes in web content creation. Since transitioning out of a seven year career in Corporate Procurement in 2008, Daisy has been using her negotiating skills to navigate to the higher levels of the online writing industry. Today, she mentors informally at Professional Freelancers Network and offers formal one-on-one consulting services to freelancers who are ready to increase their income.
In 2013, Daisy published “Make Freelancing REALLY Pay – Communication and Negotiation Strategies That Take You to the Top”. In this book, she shares practical strategies developed during her own freelance journey over the last five years. It’s a valuable resource to help new and struggling freelancers overcome common challenges. Readers will learn to select the right clients, increase the perceived value of their services, raise their rates, stabilize their income, and much more. Learn more about the book at makefreelancingpay.com or purchase a copy at Amazon.com.
- How Much Should You Be Paying Writers for Content? [INFOGRAPHIC] (socialmediatoday.com)