Imagine this — you’re sitting at your laptop, blank document open, ready to type away at the empty screen full of beautiful potential.
With one of your most creative ideas yet, you simply can’t erase the smile off of your face as you fill the page with words.
You finish it, fall in love with the piece, and then send it to your super high paying client, resulting in another success in your lucrative freelance writing career.
…Or so you wish.
While that story is every writer’s dream job and ideal writing session, let’s face it: sometimes, it feels like it’s just never going to happen.
You don’t have the clients sending you the big bucks for your hard work, you’re not writing in a niche you’re passionate about, and odds are, you’re writing for only 2 cents a word (or even less) for startups.
But what if the next time you sat down to type away at that blank page, you were writing about something you love and selling your work for what it’s truly worth?
Introducing Jotham Ndung’u (@its_jotham). As a freelance writer, Jotham knows all about making money online, writing on the web, and insider tips for writing successful pitches, samples, and finding out where to win over your first high paying clients.
Today, he’s here to show you how to build a portfolio clients are attracted to, where to pitch next, and how to stop writing the random articles that don’t make you money and start writing about the things you want.
As a freelance writer beginning your career, the first stop for many is the number of freelancing websites such as Upwork, Freelancer and Fiverr.
But here you may have to pitch for months before getting a gig, then later when you have been able to make an impression, find yourself needing lots of jobs to make a decent amount of money.
In the end, you are giving yourself away for so little.
The people who are making the most out of your hustle are the owners of the platforms and the clients who get a great piece of your work for a drop in the ocean. This is something that many brilliant writers are finding themselves trapped in.
Do not box yourself into working for peanuts when you can be able to get what you are worth. And in this post, I’m going to show you how to escape this writing rut and bring home the big bucks.
Race to the Bottom
Freelance platforms are great at ensuring they squeeze the sweat out of their writers by making them bid against each other. This makes many of them undercut each other to get a shot at winning the client’s job.
This is a race to the bottom that leaves the writer starving while the brokers are making the most out of their hard work.
This happens because many writers think that freelancing involves working only on freelance platforms. But if you want to get what your writing is truly worth, avoid them at all costs.
Get a Niche
Most writers on content mills are known to write anything requested of them, and this is always reflected in the quality of their work.
These are mostly general writers who are not masters of anything, which means they cannot authoritatively write in one niche.
You need to rise above this barrier.
You need to get a niche that you can be a leading authority on.
While doing so will cause you to narrow down the topics that you can write on, it also enables you to get so many opportunities from the chosen niche, giving you enough time to sharpen your knowledge.
As they say, practice makes perfect.
You are bound to become better at noticing new trends in the niche, the most lucrative keywords to use, and what is coming up in the future. As a freelance writer with a focus on a specific niche, you are more likely to get paid a distinctly higher amount than a general writer doing the same piece of writing. Some of the reasons include:
- Specialization. You can bring in more expertise earned from the previous projects you have been involved in. This means that you are more valuable to the client when carrying out their brief than a general writer will be. There is no need to take anything that comes your way when you can take only what you want.
- A narrowed niche means that you can be able to get work which fits within your interests. This gives you the opportunity to work on something that you are excited for rather than working on projects which you come across for the sake of doing it.
- The more work you get to do across a specific niche the more exciting your portfolio. This is a great chance to ensure that you have a stellar track record in your niche. More projects done means you can attract high paying projects especially if you have been published or worked with some high-profile publications or clients.
Build an Attractive Portfolio
One of the reasons working for a content mill is slavery is the fact that you cannot claim credit for a piece of work once it’s been submitted to the client.
This makes it hard for you to prove to anyone that you have a writing experience, which limits you to work on the content mill time and again.
But if you want to be able to get more clients, you need to build yourself a great portfolio.
You need to push your writing out there.
This involves looking for publications that allow you to put your best foot forward. In return, you gain exposure, which is priceless especially when written for well-known publications.
Your new bragging rights (such as writing for these high authority sites) are ultimately what will bring you a new clientele — one that’s willing to pay top dollar for what they consider to be a top-notch writer.
Pitching in the Right Places
It makes sense to have a piece of writing published on an entertainment magazine if that’s the niche you plan to thrive in.
Doing so will not only give you bragging rights, but also prove your prowess in your niche. This is also the best way to get more writing jobs as you can show your best pieces of writing to the right kind of audience.
While it may be tempting to pitch to a technology company that’s willing to pay high-dollar for content, if it’s not your specialty, niche, or passion, pitching to them would be a waste of your time.
Sometimes you might get paid, other times you might not get paid.
Either way, having a guest post on a blog that has the potential to give your writing career a boost is something to be proud of, and a great chance to get a foot in your niche with a ready audience.
But don’t stop there – start your own blog, too.
Having a blog is essential so that the guest sites you write for will be able to link their followers to your website, thus bringing you more traffic (and potential clients).
Treat Your Career Like a Business
In order to get the best out of your freelance writing career, you need to treat it with the seriousness that it deserves – just like you would treat a business.
This is reflected not just by the rates you demand but by the work you produce.
Every piece of writing that you complete should be given the best quality that it deserves, which includes proper research and the ability to speak powerfully to your target audience.
When writing for other clients, it is necessary to ensure that you’re writing in the tone of their brand, not yours.
The client provides you with a brief for a reason, and as a professional writer looking for good rates, your work should meet every requirement. Producing such accurate work that seems as if the client wrote it themselves enables you to raise your rates.
As a freelance writer, you need to take a paradigm shift in the way you handle things.
You need to know that you are the one who should be tracking all the invoices and payment schedules.
You need to be able to chase all your payments and be well prepared.
One of the ways to ensure you are getting money is to have a contract signed before the start of any project. It is also a common move to demand at least half the payment as a deposit before carrying out any work.
These are great ways of avoiding being jipped, stolen from, and wasting your time.
Do Your Research
Writers know more than just how to fill a blank page with words – they know what each of those words mean and how to make them valuable, trustworthy, and reliable.
If you focus on being a niche writer, you must be on top of your niche and not just on top of your work. This includes reading a lot on your area of specialization.
Researching and constantly learning enables you to be better in coming up with well-informed and creative pieces, while also giving you a glimpse of the content other writers in the niche are producing.
Persevere (Even Under Pressure)
Being a freelance writer may involve you meeting some short deadline. Do not bend rules and submit low quality work but give your best.
You will need to put yourself together and still deliver the work within the time given. This may take a toll on you, but it is also an opportunity to gauge yourself on how you work under pressure, as well as allowing you to grow as a writer.
Always make sure that you have been able to complete your work and proofread it before having it submitted.
Above All Else – Enjoy What You Do
Being a freelance writer is a great way to make money using your skills. But money isn’t the benefit that comes with the job – being your own boss means you can enjoy working from wherever you are.
Choosing a specific niche, avoiding content mills, and building an attractive, specialized portfolio allows you to write for the highest paying gigs while also writing what you love.
So, what are you waiting for?
Today is the day you pitch in the right places, write something you’re passionate about, and treat your freelancing career like the business it really is.