What do you think of a job that allows you to:
- Be anywhere in the world at any moment
- Work any time you want (or take a month off with no consequences)
- Gain more clients without trying
- Raise your rates (income) at any time
- Appear in the Huffington Post, Business Insider, and other top media platforms
Seems like an excellent position, if not a dream job. Is it legitimate?
It is when you become a freelance writer. Freelance writers get all of those benefits on a regular basis.
They can also test out some book ideas through freelance writing to see if it produces the social shares and blog comments they were hoping for. If it’s a hit, they can develop it into a book. If it flops, now they know and saved months of writing and wasted money.
That’s why, no matter if you’re a 9 to 5er or entrepreneur, freelance writing could be exactly what you’re looking for to pick up some extra cash and writing experience.
Since my friend Robert Erich is extremely knowledgeable about this line of work, I knew I had to interview him for you guys.
I hope you get a ton of value out of this interview and find success freelance writing full-time or part-time. And if you don’t end up pursuing it, at least you have a greater knowledge of freelance writing gigs.
Brian: Please explain the benefits of freelance writing.
Robert: I like to look at freelance writing as a self-study PhD that pays you to learn! Whether you’re passionate about becoming an expert in a specific field, or developing your writing abilities for your own projects, freelance writing allows you to make money while developing your own writing and knowledge.
I’ve written close to 300,000 words on business topics over the last year! Not only have I learned a tremendous amount researching these articles, but I’ve built up a portfolio that I could certainly convert into my own book (or books) at some point in the future.
Brian: That sounds pretty good to me. What are the best websites for finding this kind of work?
However, once you develop a bit of a portfolio and feel competent, it’s usually better to find clients directly. Not only do you save on fees, but you have full control over the relationship.
Brian: Ok, say you find a job and you want to apply. How would you go about giving yourself the best chance to get hired?
Robert: I’ve previously written tips for applying to jobs and advice on how to write an exceptional proposal—but ultimately, when starting off, it comes down to offer tremendous value and showing a clear interest in the client.
Do this and you’ll never have a problem landing clients. I get accepted for 50% or more of the projects I apply to because I make an effort to standout.
Brian: Do you need to have a bunch of experience to land these freelance writing jobs?
Robert: Experience is always helpful, but it’s not necessary. And experience can mean a variety of things. Do you have a college degree, knowledge in a specific field, or a personal blog? All of this and more can be legitimate experience in landing freelance writing clients.
How do you succeed without having any experience? Start with low rates, offer a money-back guarantee if clients aren’t happy with the work, and pay close attention to the quality of your writing.
Each completed project opens up doors to future, and higher paying, work. It’s amazing how fast a freelance writing career can take off!
Brian: What are some mistakes writers make in the freelance scene?
Robert: There are several mistakes worth pointing out:
Never sell yourself cheap. You are preventing a company from having to hire a full-time employee with benefits—so don’t hesitate to charge 30-100% higher rates than you would if employed. Although you may do a few free/cheap jobs to build up your portfolio, your rates should increase very quickly at the beginning.
References are essential. If someone has agreed to work with you, make it an exceptional experience for the client. A bad review on any freelance website can ruin your ability to land future projects—especially when starting out. Therefore, always make an effort to go above and beyond for your clients—and ask them for positive reviews once they’re satisfied with your work.
Brian: In your opinion, how much should writers charge for their work?
Robert: This certainly depends on your experience, knowledge, and the additional value you can bring to the table.
There are jobs for $1-5 per 500 words. These aren’t worth it.
When I first started out, I would charge $25 per 500 word article. That rates now up to $100-150.
However, you can increase your rates if you’re willing to do more than just write. For example, I’ll work with clients to help develop a content marketing strategy, write the content, and assist with promotion. This additional value obviously allows me to charge more than I would otherwise.
One recommendation I have is to charge per project (or based on a word count) rather than per hour. This allows the client to know what to expect from the beginning and gives you the opportunity to make a substantially higher hourly rate if the project can be completed quickly.
Brian: Thanks for your insight, Robert. Where can readers go to learn more about you and your work?
Robert: My pleasure Brian! You’ve got a great blog and I admire the quality of content that you provide to readers.
People can find more of my content on MoneyNomad.com—where I discuss freelancing, entrepreneurship, investing, and the digital nomad lifestyle.
What I learned from this interview is that key business principles—not underselling your services, providing more value than what’s expected, and excellent customer service—apply in the freelance writing market just as much as any other market. There’s an argument they apply more so in freelance writing.
So keep that in mind and follow the steps Robert laid out to experience a rare thing: getting paid to learn.
And if freelance writing is something you’re on the fence about doing, I encourage you to go for it. At worst, you gave it a shot and know it’s not for you. At best, you just found your favorite kind of location-independent work.
Maybe freelance writing will have you on an Australian beach getting paid to write. Work doesn’t get much better that.
Are you interested in making money on the side with freelance writing? What questions do you have about this topic?