It’s kind of a big deal to me to feel this way, because for a long time, I was very UNhappy, and for the record? Happy is MUCH better.
One of the things that makes me super happy is doing work for awesome clients who value my contribution and pay me accordingly. (By “accordingly” I mean A LOT OF MONEY.)
And I want YOU to have that GOOD FEELING, too. I want you to hear Mr. Rogers in your head and get paid “accordingly,” so here are three things you MUST stop doing RIGHT NOW if you want to make money as a freelance writer.
If you’re totally okay with never earning money — or earning very little! — you can stop reading right now.
On the other hand, if you want to start earning real money from freelance writing, the kind that makes your HUSBAND say, “Babe! You're AWESOME!” — well, then, this post is for YOU.
Each of these things has the power to limit your earning potential, and if you’re doing ALL of them? Well, then you’re going to have a very hard time making good money from writing.
Ready to get started and STOP wasting your time with these?
1. Stop working on your website.
You think you have to have a perfect, amazing, gorgeous web site all set up so that clients can find you, or so that you can showcase your lovely samples and look like a real professional.
You REALLY don’t need a website, and if building your site has become your excuse for not getting work? You’re losing money. EVERY DAY.
If you're in any Facebook groups for creative entrepreneurs, then you've seen wayyyyy too many posts about WordPress v. Squarespace v. Wix, about branding palettes and logo design and “What should my tagline be?”
The problem is that if you focus on building your website and spend weeks and months agonizing over platforms and graphics, you aren’t building your business.
Because you’re not doing anything that will actually earn you money.
So, what SHOULD you do, instead of working on your website?
Update your LinkedIn profile and let people know you’re looking for freelance writing work. Yes, really. Take 45 seconds to log into your LinkedIn profile and change your title from whatever it is right now to Freelance Writer. The end.
2. Stop agonizing over your niche.
I have students who email me on a weekly basis, like clockwork, to tell me, “I’m still really struggling with my niche.”
I’m starting to hate the word niche.
Yes, it is important to have a niche, for many, many reasons that you've heard many, many times before. But do you know what is also important?
So, instead of taking weeks — or worse, MONTHS! — to struggle with the existential question, “What IS my TRUE niche?” just start looking for people who will pay you to write.
When I started out, I used to say, “I’ll write you a nursery rhyme if you pay me.”
This is NOT a great long-term strategy, but if you have spent more than two days thinking about your niche, this IS a strategy you should consider.
Seriously, JUST START ASKING PEOPLE TO HIRE YOU AS A WRITER.
Would you like the EXACT script that I used 20 years ago when I cold-called businesses in the yellow pages? Here it is:
“Do you ever outsource any of your writing?”
3. Stop worrying that you can’t do the work.
What if I send out 5 pitches and everyone says yes, and I don’t have enough time to do everything?
What if I send out a pitch and the client says yes and the work is too hard?
I see these questions quite often in my email. (If you’re thinking, Gee, Abbi, it sounds like you get a LOT of email, you are not wrong.)
Let’s answer these questions one at a time.
First of all, if you send out five pitches and everyone says yes, you are AMAZING, and I would LOVE to see your pitch. Second of all, even if everyone DOES say yes, that doesn’t mean that you have to race through all the work by tomorrow. You can SPREAD THE WORK OUT.
You say to client one, “Great! let’s do this. I’ll have you a draft on Thursday.”
You say to client two, “Awesome! I’ll get you the draft next Tuesday.”
You DO NOT have to say, I can’t start this until Friday,” or “I only have two hours of childcare this week” or anything else. You simply tell the client WHEN you can deliver. And you give yourself enough time to HIT that deadline.
And that concern you have about not being able to do the work? What exactly do you think you won’t be able to do?
You want to be a writer, right? So, are you afraid you won’t be able to… write?
Let's stop and think this through and really play it out. A client hires you to write an article. You write the article and send it to the client. The client comes back and says, “This is awful and I can't use it.”
What would you do? You seem like you're a pretty awesome person, so you would probably say something like, “Well, how can I make this right for you? Would you like me to redo the article? Do you want me to refund your money?” You would likely work with the client to create a solution that makes everyone happy, wouldn't you?
Now, there will always be… let's call them jerks out there in the world. Early in my career, I did a big project for a guy who loved all the work throughout the project — right up until I sent the bill, which he then did not want to pay. Lesson learned: I started charging up front.
More recently, I was hired to write blog posts for $600 each. The client would have their engineering team write drafts, and I would turn them from “engineerish” to English.
Great — that's one of my core skills.
But then, as a trial, they asked me to write a 750-word post on a technical topic from scratch. They gave me the title, and that was it. Instead of saying to them, “Actually, that makes no sense, because that's not what you hired me to do,” I said, “Sure!” And I wrote the post on this technical topic I knew nothing about.
And they HATED it.
And guess what? They weren't interested in having me make it right. I mean, they paid for the work I had done (because I got paid up front), but they weren't interested in moving forward with me AT ALL. They didn't want me to refund them, they didn't want me to rewrite it, they just wanted to walk away forever. That's their right.
It happens — and it doesn't feel good. It happened — and it got me down. But then, I got back up, took my $600, and got some ice cream. And moved on.
If you take on a project and it scares you? What could you do? Do you maybe know ANYONE who could, I don’t know, HELP you?
Or go to someone trusted in your network and ask for help.
Put on your big girl pants and ROCK THE WORK, because you are awesome.
Here’s the deal. If you’re ready to STOP doing all three of these things so that you can actually GET PAID TO WRITE, then make sure you go through your workbook and follow the step by step instructions there.
You can do this, and you can make real money, once you stop spending your time on the things that don't make a difference.