The other day, I asked my super awesome PTW Facebook peeps a question: What skills are you lacking that could be holding you back from making six figures as a writer? What do you want to learn?
See, I’m hard at work making some freebies for you guys and gals, and I wanted to make sure I’m sharing information that you find most useful!
Well one response really got me… a little pissed! I swear, I try to stay away from silly Facebook drama, but this guy got me going, because he basically said that the reason people in the group aren’t making 6-figures as writers is that it really isn’t possible. There aren’t enough high paying jobs out there.
I did a quick check of his profile, and he has listed that he is a freelancer at Fiverr.
Well, I just had to respond, because I think spreading that kind of mindset is really dangerous! It is absolutely possible to make $100,000 (or even more) annually as a freelancer, if you approach clients with the “write” attitude and have the right skills! Anyone who thinks it isn’t possible needs to learn some hard truths about freelancing.
So just to prove it to you all, in case there are any other naysayers out there, let me break it down for you. This is exactly how to make six figures every year:
The Math Behind Earning $100K+ as a Freelancer
First… we gotta break it down.
And you can use this same method for any income goal. I’m just using $100,000 as an example, and I’m going to round the numbers off for our purposes.
So, once you break it down, $100,000 is $8,333 per month, and we’ll just round that to $8,500. That goal isn’t super scary, right?
Even better, let’s break it down by hour. There are 52 weeks in a year, but let’s give ourselves just 50 hours of working weeks and assume we get at least 2 weeks of vacation. That’s $2,000 per week.
If you work a 40-hour work week, that’s a rate of $50 per hour.
Now, obviously, you’re not going to spend 40 hours per week writing. You’re going to have to spend time finding clients and administrative tasks too.
So let’s assume that you do an even 50-50 split, you spend 1/2 the time working on projects and 1/2 the time on other tasks that don’t directly bring in money. That gives us a rate of $100 per hour.
It’s a lot less scary when you break it down into smaller chunks, instead of looking at one big monster number, right?
How Do You Land $100/hour Clients?
If you’re currently charging $5 per article or something similarly low, $100 per hour seems like this crazy goal that will never happen.
But let me share a secret with you…
You don’t just automatically start making more money as you gain experience. You have to demand more money.
Think of freelancing like a real job, but you don’t automatically get a 3% raise at the end of the year. You have to ask your boss for a raise when you want one… and you are the boss.
When you raise your prices, you will lose some clients. However, you’ll also gain clients who previously wouldn’t have considered you.
See, when you charge a very low amount, it is like you’re screaming, “My work is low quality!”
This works the same way in almost every industry. Look at purses for example. Or shoes. Or restaurants.
You can buy a cheap $15 purse from a big box discount store, knowing that it is going to fall apart in a few months. Or you buy a $500 purse from a luxury manufacturer like Coach, knowing it will last a long time.
If you want quality, you shell out the money.
But, here’s what else you might not realize…
Yes, the cheaply-made $15 purse is a lower quality than the $500 purse. BUT the $500 purse is also marked up a LOT more because of the perceived value of the brand.
When your prices are higher, you automatically have a higher perceived value.
Give it a try. Figure out the average number of words you can write in 1 hour, and then start charging $100 per that many words.
Don’t freak out if some of your clients say no or potential clients turn you down because you’re out of their budget.
You want to be out of some people’s budget.
There are other people who will gladly pay for good work at your new rate. Some people might even consider that to be a discount.
It’s not just about raising your prices though. You can also charge more when you learn specific skills.
Skills that Get You to $100K
Any freelancer will make more money if they can bring more to the table. If you don’t already have experience in certain areas, now is the time to learn!
Here are some of the top skills that people like their freelancers to have:
- ability to write sales copy (especially sales pages and sales letters)
- basic graphic skills (think cropping, adding text, etc. – stuff you can easily do with PicMonkey)
- search engine optimization
- bilingual writing and translation
- ability to write eye-catching headlines
- email marketing experience
You’ll get paid more in certain niches too, such as medicine and law, if you have specialized knowledge in those areas.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
I’m usually not a fan of the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality, but you definitely need to put your best foot forward if you want higher-paying clients to take notice.
- having a professional website (I recommend self-hosted WordPress, but even a free WordPress or Wix site is better than nothing)
- getting business cards printed (I recommend Moo for good quality cards)
- keeping your social accounts professional and semi-active (save the political rants for non-public posts if you must)
Once your business is up and going, one of the best investments you can make is… drumroll please… professional headshots. You’re going to be able to use these everywhere and seriously, having a professional headshot or two is going to give clients an amazing first impression when they visit your website.
It screams “SUCCESS!”
See, the subconscious thinking goes like this…
“This writer can afford professional headshots so they must have a lot of high paying clients… so their work must gets results… so I want them to write for me so I get results.”
If you want to be desired, you have to look desirable.
One Last Thing
Okay, so now that you and I talked through it a bit 😉 do you feel like becoming a 6-figure writer is possible?
I hope so, but there is one last thing I want to mention.
Earning $100K+ doesn’t happen overnight.
My first few years as a writer, I could barely make ends meet, because I was undercharging for my work. I didn’t realize my own value.
But even if that hadn’t been the case, I still don’t believe that most writers can make 6-figures their first few years, because it does take some time to develop your skills and your rolodex.
I look back on my work from 10 years ago or even 5 years ago, and I cringe. Some it is… embarrassingly bad.
I wasn’t a bad writer. I just had a lot to learn about writing for the web, and what people online really want to read. I was still in the “college newspaper” mindset.
Here’s the good news, though: By being on this site, reading the posts you can find on my blog, you already know how important it is to educate yourself and improve your skills.
And then, you’ll begin to build your rolodex. When you have a network of clients, earning more money is so much easier. I can’t stress that enough. Those clients are going to come back to you for more work, and if you do a good job, they’re going to tell their friends.
That means that you don’t have to spend 20+ hours per week looking for clients. Clients will come to you instead, and once you’re at the point where clients are coming to you ,it is much easier to turn away the low-paying clients who can’t afford to work with you.
So there you have it. That’s exactly how you can make 6-figures as a freelance writer. Got questions? Leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.