I’ve been freelancing since 1993, and let me tell ya, it can seem like climbing Mount Everest trying to get from one rung of the income ladder to the next. Some years, how much you earn just seems to stagnate. Trust me, I know, I’ve been there.
Is Your Freelance Writing Income Stagnating – or Yikes! – Decreasing?
In my experience, there are a couple of reasons for this; namely, (i) marketing consistency and (ii) failing to hire help. We’ll explore each a bit more below, but before we do, just one thing.
Many freelance writers fail to take freelancing seriously – AS A BUSINESS. What I mean by this specifically is that they don’t formulate a strategic plan. This is why things like planning for retirement, having an expansion plan and creating an exit strategy (if that is your eventual goal) are foreign concepts to many freelancers.
But, income is wrapped up in all of this; it’s what a strategic plan is for. With this being said, following are the main two reasons – in my opinion – many freelance writers fail to earn more year after year.
(i) Consistency in Marketing. Most freelancers market using what I call a “hit-and-miss” strategy. When they’re not busy, they’ll step up their marketing efforts. Then, when they land a job or two they’ll stop marketing because they’re “too busy.” And, this is in quotation marks because you should always MAKE time for marketing
When you market like this, what you’re really doing is starting your business over again – over and over again, if you get my meaning. It becomes a vicious cycle that’s hard to break out of – and leads to dry spells and taking on “desperation writing jobs” (eg, those low-paying, content-mill writing gigs).
So how do you break this habit? It’s simple — market consistently. Create a marketing calendar where you do something every day to reach out to new (and old and existing) prospects.
If you get your marketing done first thing in the morning, then it makes it much easier because no matter what comes up during the rest of the day, your main task – marketing- is done.
(ii) Hiring Help. This can be scary because it can be a big time and financial commitment for your freelance writing business. But, it’s sooooo worth it. Trust me. What you think you might be losing in time (training) and money (paying a VA, for example) can easily be recouped several times over with the right outsource help.
So if you find yourself never having time to finish all that’s on your to-do list, seriously consider hiring outsource help. It’s the quickest, easiest way to increase your income as a freelance writer (ie, work smarter, not harder).
How Much Should You Be Earning as a Freelance Writer?
FYI, here’s some general info from the post, Salary Scales for Freelance Writers, on Global Post about how much freelance writers across a number of spectrums earn.
As of May 2011, [general freelance writers] earned a mean $97,300 per year, or $46.78 per hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Their wages put them in the upper 75 percent of all writer salaries, which included those working for companies. That range started below $28,180 yearly and exceeded $115,740 annually, with an average $68,060 per year.
Keep in mind though, how much you can realistically expect to make as a freelance writer depends on a host of factors, eg, niche, experience, how much you charge, marketing ability, etc.
With this being said, in my opinion, even a complete novice should be able to earn between $30,000 and $50,000 their first year freelancing.
Now, this means getting up, putting in a solid 8-10 hours per day (mostly marketing in the beginning) and charging a decent rate; but this is a very realistic ballpark figure in my experience.
About the Author: Yuwanda Black heads New Media Words, an SEO writing company. She is also the publisher of Inkwell Editorial, a blog devoted to helping others start successful, home-based writing careers. Ms. Black has published over 50 ebooks, most of which cover some aspect of freelance / SEO writing. They can be found on major outlets like Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Learn how to start a successful, freelance, home-based writing business, and start earning $30,000 to $50,000 per year — your first year.