6 Ways to Increase Writing Income

What’s on the iPod: Sing by Ed Sheeran

It’s been a fairly slow week so far. After the last two weeks of 9-hour workdays, I’m glad for the breather. I have a few projects still pending, and I’m working through edits with a current client. I’m marketing (aren’t I always?) and there have been a few inquiries as a result.

A writer friend was relating her recent success with a new client in which she was able to double her rate — a result she’s intending to copy in future client dealings. Not that her rate was too low — knowing this freelancer, it was probably right on the money. But what her experience taught me was that even when I think I’m in a good place, there’s always room for improvement.

That goes for you, too. Every one of us, whether we’re sitting in our sweet spot or still trying to find ways to get to a decent number, could stand for an increase in the revenue. But at times don’t you feel like you’re just sitting there, stagnant?

Me too.

Here are a few ways you can increase your revenue without breaking too much of a sweat:

Improve your bio. Does your bio say “Patricia is a freelance writer who specializes in healthcare, technology, and software development”? If so, you’re probably missing out on some serious traffic (and client hits). Why not get specific? “Patricia is a freelance writer who writers about the Affordable Care Act, workers’ compensation benefits, top business technology, and new software releases for businesses.” Why is this better? Keywords, folks. If you tag it, they will come.

Brainstorm the possibilities. Open a Word document or grab a notebook. Now, without thinking too long, write down every possible place you could find writing work right now. Don’t dwell on it — just toss it on the list. You can give it more thought later. Where to start — where you’re already working. Where else to look — where you’d like to be working, places where your current skills transfer easily, places that are supporting industries/clients to those you already work with, etc.

Promote your current work/projects/clients. Get in the habit of using social media to promote your latest article. Don’t forget to promote your clients, too. Also, mention what you can of current projects, especially the type of project. For example, “Just finished the last page of the technology white paper” or “Coffee, then back to work on carpentry blog entries.”

Find smarter ways to work. I have a system of article writing that starts with the query letter. By setting up the query (and the questions) to mirror how I’ll write the article, I give editors a clear picture of what I’m doing, and I give myself an instant outline. What other project shortcuts can you dream up that can help you decrease time spent and increase the number of projects you can take on?

Raise the rates. If it’s been longer than two years, you’re due for a raise. Consider that employees get an average of 3-5 percent more every year. Your $50 an hour may have made sense in 2001, but you’re way too low to compete with what serious clients would consider professional rates. Do a little homework, then set your new rate where you’ll be better positioned to compete.

Knock the small jobs out of the park. I’m not saying spend six hours writing one press release, but really pay attention to every detail. Go over the conversation, the notes, one more time, Make sure the small project is a home run. Happy clients come back. What better way to make them happy than by treating that 300-word piece like it was going in The New Yorker?

Writers, how do you increase your writing income?

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  • Cathy Miller October 8, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Great, great ideas, Lori. That 1st one really strikes home. I cannot believe I haven't used Affordable Care Act in my bios. I have other techie keywords but hello-timely much? πŸ˜‰

    The one thing I try to do (but I'm not always good at) is remembering to update bios/profiles regularly. It's easy to slap one on a social media platform and forget about it.

    You have just added to my To Do. Thanks (I think). πŸ˜‰

  • Eileen October 8, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I second the bio improvement. In my case, it was my LinkedIn profile that I updated following the guidance I found in a book by a LinkedIn expert. It brought me almost an immediate inquiry, and we are in the "send me samples" stage.

    In the bio that I send out with client requests for samples, I also include a list of recent projects I've worked on (very, very brief: e.g., "Ten landing pages for a google adwords campaign") and a client list. A prospect told me in an email, "Wow, I am impressed."

    This was not an area I'd paid much attention to until recently, but now I'm a believer.

  • Paula October 8, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Okay, I'll say it: Me three.

    I don't even remember the last time I updated my bio or my LinkedIn profile. (The LinkedIn one is daunting, since every time I make a tiny change it seems to cause a cascade effect of incorrect updates. LinkedIn's incessant need to list your "current job" isn't very freelancer friendly.

  • Eileen October 8, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Paula, there's a setting somewhere on LinkedIn where you can turn off updates when you noodle with your profile so that it doesn't launch all those annoying updates out to your network. In fact, I need to go turn mine back on now that I've completed my update …

  • Cathy Miller October 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Paula – I put my specific gigs under Projects. That way it doesn't change your Business Title or job. And you get the benefit of more keyword use.

  • KeriLynn Engel October 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Awesome, such a practical list! I definitely need to update my bios- it's been at least a few months for LinkedIn.

    And I need to get back in the habit of writing more about my work on social media! Such a small thing but it helps a lot. And if you're doing it with keywords on Google Plus, it could help you with your rankings πŸ™‚

    I'm definitely planning on raising my rates for 2015! It'll be my 1-year anniversary full-time freelancing, and I finally have the confidence to do that now and not worry about losing all my clients πŸ˜€

    Thanks for the great tips, Lori!

  • Emily Fowler October 8, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for these Lori, they're all great πŸ™‚

    Brainstorm the possibilities – I get a daily email from a UK business site, usually have a quick browse then ignore, but today I suddenly realise there's so much valuable information in there. X company just partnering with Porsche in the UK? Y company had Β£1m investment from technology fund? I sent off a few emails along the lines of 'congrats on XYZ, do you ever use freelance writers etc.', and I've had a number of promising responses already. If I can do that every day . . . who knows?

    Promote your current projects – I'm struggling with this at the moment with a particular website project, it's a biggun, but I don't think my client is keen that I mention it, even very vaguely, because he's worried that he'll 'lose his credibility' if people think he doesn't do everything himself. I've tried to sell the benefits of me marketing his product, but I don't think it's going to happen. Sigh.

  • Paula October 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    Thanks for the LinkedIn tips, Eileen & Cathy. Now I just need to find the time to update my profile.

  • Lori Widmer October 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Cathy, I had the same light-bulb moment. I saw someone's LI profile and saw some very specific wording. It dawned on me. πŸ™‚

    Likewise with updating the profile. That puts you on the LI feed, and it doesn't hurt when people are looking at your Twitter profile, either. I'm thinking it might be a good idea to go over website copy every year, too.

    Eileen, that's a great point. We should be thinking beyond the line-item lists, shouldn't we?

    Paula, it should be pretty easy — I've not had troubles. Are you working off an old browser or something? Not sure why you'd get errors.

    Keri, thanks for the hint on Google+! I don't use it as much as I should — great to know!

  • Paula October 8, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    My browsers are all regularly updated, Lori. But the way LinkedIn insists on listing one "current" job means every time I try to add a new client it wants to say I have a new position….even when I add it under Freelance. It happened a couple weeks ago – I tried to add another client under my freelance section, and LinkedIn insisted on including employment dates – wouldn't let me add it without the dates, so I didn't add it.

  • Lori Widmer October 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    I hate that feature, too. They're not thinking about the freelancers.