This is a guest post by Ahlam Yassin. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
So, I’ve been at this freelance writing business for a little over a year now. It’s been exciting, actually earning money (not yet a living) doing something I enjoy. However, my first year of freelance writing has been one stuck in the content mills. The few hundred dollars a month I made from this type of writing may have been o.k. when I was living abroad and that was the equivalent to a teacher’s salary. However, I’ve moved back to the greater New York City area, and life is expensive! Here’s what I’m doing to earn more as a freelance writer.
1. Want to Earn More? Write the part.
Here’s the thing, getting trapped in the content mills can be dangerous. You can easily get comfortable writing repetitive content. If you want to earn more as a writer, you have to put your heart into it. Start a blog and showcase your best writing. Having a place where you can direct potential clients to in order to reference your work is so much better than saying; ‘I’ve written hundreds of ghostwritten articles’.
2. Breaking the Pay Raise to Existing Clients
I have a client I really enjoy writing for, and there is a lot more work in discussion. Today, I was on the phone trying to break the news that my rates will no longer be as low as he is accustomed to. Just like a dream, the international phone call was cut off! When I do get him back on the line, we’re going to talk about my rates. The time it takes to get the academic writing done, and how I would like my pay to match the quality of work I am providing. He may say, no thanks, how can I pay you X when I’ve so used to getting it for Z? If this is the case, I’m going to have to live with it, drop this client and move on. I have $1 a word aspirations buddy.
3. Find a Successful Mentor
I’ve been finding a wealth of information online from people who have actually succeeded at this writing game. Yes, these writers are my hero, and I am a sponge for the information they are putting out, for free! I can not afford their mentoring services, but I can afford the time it takes to learn everything they are teaching on their own websites and personal writing blogs. Carol Tice and Anne Wayman have been awesome inspirations.
4. Show up and Write
It’s so tempting to get caught up in the learning process; in all actuality if you want to succeed you’ll never stop learning. This is why you have to make time to actually write. This is how you want to earn a living, so don’t forget to practice. A great resource I’ve found is Angela Booth’s ebook “Write and Sell Your Own Writing”, which is free when you subscribe to her blog. She details a mechanical process to get you writing, even when you’re not in writer mode.
5. Believe in Yourself
As a writer, it may sometimes be a little hard to match the words that are typed out on the screen with the person other people see. In order to achieve great things, including higher pay, you have to believe in yourself and your ability to communicate effectively. You have a talent, have worked hard on it, and there is a market for your skills.
6. The Power of Networking
You may not consider your aunt Sally as a contact person, but don’t underestimate who aunt Sally may know! Use your friends and family as starting points to network. This will help you practice marketing yourself to a (hopefully) more sensitive audience. Let them know you’re trying to expand your business and are looking for new clients.
7. Business Cards Matter
So, when you’re done talking to aunt Sally about any prospects she may know ask if she wouldn’t mind taking a few of your business cards. Just having a business card can get you out of the content mill mindset and help you feel like a professional.
8. Don’t Hesitate
Too often, you may walk away from a potential client feeling like you didn’t quiet make the right impression. When you hesitate too often, you may be losing a valuable opportunity.
9. Open Yourself up to the Possibilities
The best things have happened to me when I’ve completely opened up to great things happening. Why not? Why shouldn’t great things happen (like excellent resources of income) happen to you? You’ll be surprised what the right mental attitude can bring you.
10. Learn to Say No
It’s tempting to fall back into the grind of the content mill if you’re having a slow week, I know, I’ve been there. However, find the power to say no. Instead of investing so much of yourself for such little pay, work on a great article to pitch to a magazine, track down prospective clients or get inspired through reading. When you’re having a slow patch, do any one of these things and have the power to say no to low paying content mills.