money making

How I Went From $15 to $100 an Hour Freelance Writing and Why You Shouldn’t Charge an Hourly Rate

How I went from $15 to $100 per hour as a freelance writer

This isn’t your average case study on freelance writing. In this post, I’ll go over how I went from $15 an hour to $100, why I highly recommend not pricing your fees on an hourly basis and the different types of writing you can do. 

The great thing about freelance writing is that there is no blueprint for pricing your services and for most, $100/around £79 an hour sounds pretty sweet right?

So, how did I get there?

A few months ago, I applied for a job position that required a writer and social media assistant. The fee was only $15 per hour – lower than I would normally apply for, but I wanted the opportunity to tackle some social media work in which I had zero experience, other than running my personal accounts.

Now, I wouldn’t normally advise anyone to work for a low rate, but sometimes taking a lower rate can pay off. As Elna Cain says, lower paying jobs can boost your business, especially if that gig will eventually lead to more work down the line. If you’re learning new skills or writing in a new niche, you can use this to your advantage by applying for higher paid work at a later date – when you have the relevant experience to land you that golden gig.

The $100 gig

As I said at the start, I don’t recommend pricing your services by the hour.

Why?

When it comes to charging for a project per hour, you have a limited ceiling.

Let’s imagine you start charging your clients $20 per hour.

When I first started freelancing, I worked a couple of gigs via Upwork on an hourly rate. These jobs were for blog posts and at the time, I was charging around $20 an hour. For most of these jobs, I completed the work in an hour, which basically meant I was charging $20 per 500 word article. So, while $20 an hour might not sound terrible, when you consider the amount against the project you’re completing, it’s not so great.

Let’s consider another example. Imagine you charge $50 per hour for a copywriting project. For this gig, you’re writing five pages of copy for a new website. If you completed this in 3 hours, you’d earn $150, whereas a copywriter charging a per project rate could earn at least double that amount.

But, didn’t you say that you earned $100 per hour?

A couple of months ago, I landed a job writing a pre-sales page for a beauty company. The fee was $200 and the majority of it had already been written, it just needed completely editing and some additional text. I completed the job in two hours, earning a pretty lush $100 per hour rate.

Charging per hour versus per project

When it comes to freelance writing, clients want high-quality work. Obviously, if they’re paying you on an hourly basis and have a budget then they may limit you to a certain number of hours for the project.

On an hourly rate, the chances are that you’re creating work that is worth a lot more than you are charging for. The great thing about project based pricing is that you have much more earning potential and your fee is linked to the end result of the project. All your client cares about is receiving high-quality content at the end of the project, so they don’t really care how long it took you to complete the work.

As well as limiting your earning potential, setting an hourly rate can cloud a client’s judgement.

Say a client wants you to write a 500 word article on a marketing topic and wants to know your fee. It will take you an hour to write the article, but the client isn’t aware of that.

Imagine the following options

You propose an hourly rate of $100 per hour.

You state that the fee for the article is $100.

Which one sounds more attractive for the client?

Its highly likely that the client would reject a rate of $100 per hour, unless they’re a high paying client. Why? Because it isn’t based on value. $100 for an article sounds much more reasonable and he/she may assume that it will take you longer to complete the article than it actually does.

When you’re pricing your services, consider the value of the content you’re offering rather than time.

Creating rates in relation to the type of writing you’re doing

As a writer, you may decide to charge on a per word basis, which can work well for blog posts and short articles.

For example, if you charge 10 cents per word, an article of 500 words equals $50.

However, this may depend on your niche. In general, certain niches are higher paying than others.

Lucrative niches include;

Technology

Finance

Marketing

B2B or business to business

Marketing

Certain types of writing also pays more, for example, writing content for websites usually pays more than a standard blog post or article. However, this may again depend on the niche and the extent of the content required. Below is a general overview of what you can expect. 

types-of-writing-and-fee

Remember, this is just a basic guide and your pricing will depend on the number of words required and the amount of research needed.

How To Make Money From Freelance Writing Sites

How to make money from freelance writing sites

Many writers will tell you to stay clear of freelance writing sites.

Why?

  • Low paid jobs
  • Clients who don’t value your time
  • You could earn more elsewhere

Guess what? You get that on many job boards.

I’ve seen very low paid jobs on well-known sites, so dont let that put you off.

Want to know something different about freelance sites?

  • There’s well paid jobs out there
  • Clients who value your experience and time
  • An opportunity to build your knowledge in a niche and learn new skills

I’ve managed to earn over $11,000 in a year from just one freelance site – Upwork, from part time work. Some freelancers are even earning this in one month!

This post is to show you that there are good opportunities on freelance sites for new writers and freelancers. Don’t believe me? Check out this guy! He’s killing it!

Let’s take a trip back in time!

I’ve been on Upwork for around 18 months and I’ve worked with several clients in that time. Before joining Upwork, I’d previously used People Per Hour and both sites have worked out fairly well for me. I recommend these two site over others – I’ve used Freelancer before and it was a waste a time, trust me!

Here’s why freelance sites benefit new writers;

  • A chance to gain experience in a new niche
  • Opportunity to build your portfolio
  • You’re paid for your work, rather than writing posts for free
  • You can build your contacts

I’m not saying you should stay on freelance sites forever. I’ve managed to make some good contacts with clients I now work in a direct capacity. If I’d not applied for jobs with those clients on freelance sites, I may never have found them, so its been very lucrative for my business.

These days, I still like to check out the jobs on Upwork and People Per Hour regularly;

  • Its a great place to find work when you have a gap in your schedule
  • You’re guaranteed to be paid – both sites have mediation services
  • You may have the opportunity of repeat work

How I’ve managed to earn a good income from freelance sites and how you can make money too!

Fill out your profile

The first thing you need to do when signing up to Upwork or People Per Hour is to write your profile. You don’t need extensive information in this section. What you need;

  • A profile picture – make sure you use your actual picture because, lets face it, we all know Beyonce isn’t shilling her skills on there. A friendly photo with you smiling works really well – you’ll seem approachable as well as professional.
  • Use your title – this is what is going to stand out to clients. Be specific here and use keywords. You might be a Proofreader, Editor, Facebook Ads Writer or Ebook Writer. You could also tailor this to your specific niche, such as Expert Medical Writer or Fashion Copywriter.
  • Add an overview of your skills and expertise – include your skill set and the services you offer, as well as your experience – for instance, do you have your own website, what type of clients have you previously written for?
  • What can you provide the client – this is IMPORTANT. What can you offer potential clients? Maybe its epic call to actions that will convert to sales, product descriptions that will create a connection with prospective buyers, engaging content that will drive readership numbers…
  • On Upwork, you can add your education and work experience, which I recommend doing, as well as adding at least two snippets of your work for a portfolio.

Grab my free download for examples of profiles, including one that will get you noticed by potential clients!

Search regularly and in your niche

Searching regularly is the key to finding good clients. When you search job listings, use keywords related to your niche. I generally use ‘beauty’, ‘skincare’ or ‘lifestyle’ to find job listings in my genre. Upwork has thousands of job listings, so searching through them all is far too time consuming. There are less listings on People Per Hour, so I tend to search through them all. Ensure that you search the newest jobs first! You can also search for fixed price budget within a certain range, which can help to flush out low paid jobs from your search.

Expert doesn’t always mean expert rates

On both Upwork and People Per Hour, you’ll see that every job listing has a job rate. On PPH, this is either set as a fixed fee or as a £ symbol. One £ symbol relates to a basic fee, ££ equals intermediate and £££ is expert rates. On Upwork, the symbol is shown in $, though some jobs also have a fixed budget.

Lets get real here. Some clients think $5 for an article is an expert rate, so don’t get too frustrated. It happens. Ignore these listings – you’re not going to be working for $2 or whatever per article.

So, how can you find some rockstar clients that will pay what your worth?

Don’t be afraid to bid higher and ask for more money

There’s a little secret to how I apply for jobs on Upwork. When you view a listing, you can see the average amount that the client has payed to past freelancers (obviously, this doesn’t work for new clients to the platform). If I see that a client has only paid a minimum of say $2, its a big warning sign. You can also view previous projects at the bottom of the job listing.

If a client has only paid peanuts to previous freelancers, you can bet that they sure as hell won’t be willing to pay you a good rate, even if you’re the best writer on the planet.

I don’t apply to any of these jobs!It not worth wasting your time.

Let’s take a look at the opposite end of the spectrum!

Recently, I applied for a project that had no set budget. The client messaged me to say he liked my samples and offered me a fee that was lower than my normal rates. I told him I couldn’t accept for this reason and he replied, saying that he thought it was great that I valued my work and asked what my normal rates were.

I asked for 60% more and I got it!!

The moral of the story – don’t undervalue yourself, even on a freelance site!!

You might get less work in the long run, but what’s the better deal here;

Writing 10 articles for $10 each = $100

Writing one article for $100

Makes sense, huh?

Get clients to come back

Once you’ve worked with a client, contact them to ask them if they need any further assistance.

I suggest only sending one message as you don’t want to seem spammy or desperate. You could also promote your additional services.

An example message;

Hi X,

How are you? I loved working on your project and wondered if you’d like to continue working together.

I have some great ideas that I can send over, such as X and X. Let me know if you’d be interested.

Kind regards,

That’s a simple example of a quick message. Alternatively, do you research and see what the client is currently up to – you may want to congratulate them on a recent success, see if there’s a service they could benefit from etc.

Hi X,

How are you? Congratulations on your new website, its looks fantastic! We recently worked together on X and I noticed that your blog hasn’t been updated in some time. I now offer blog writing services that will assist you in improving your websites SEO and increasing conversions. I’d love to discuss the potential of working with you further. Let me know if I can help you in any way!

Best wishes, 

There’s no guarantee that contacting previous clients will be successful, but if a client is looking for assistance, it could be your lucky day!

Factor freelance fees in your pricing

If you want to earn good money on freelance sites, dont forget to factor fees into your pricing.

Upwork recently changed their pricing structure and PPH also take fees from your earnings.

Make sure you add those fees into your rates.

Nail your proposal

If you want to get that freelance job, you need to nail your proposal! Your proposal is your job application and is what you really need to concentrate on. Ideally, you should tweak your proposal on a regular basis as you build your knowledge and experience.

What to include

  • Be personal – use the clients name if you know it!
  • Add portfolio samples – either as an attachment or links
  • Mention your experience – relate it to the job you’re applying for
  • State your background and education, if relevant to the project
  • What clients have you worked with?
  • What can you offer the client?
  • Review the job description and ensure your proposal is tailored to the project- it’s ok to use a template, but the job may ask for specific information, so make sure you’ve read it thoroughly.

The transformation of my pitch process

The first proposal is one of the first I sent and back when I thought £5 per article was amazing – Fuck no! This is one of the reasons why this website exists because you are not going to follow my lead!

“Hi, I am a UK native writer and can write 100% unique articles to a high standard. I have experience of writing product reviews in a casual style and I have experience of writing how to and tips style posts on my own blog. I can work to your budget – £5 per article and turnaround. I look forward to hearing from you.”
This proposal sucks shit for several reasons;

  • No portfolio samples
  • Doesn’t demonstrate my skills
  • No information on my background or experience

After serious tweaking, here’s an example of a more recent proposal;

‘Hi X, I’d like to be considered for your project as I’m an experienced beauty copywriter with the ability to create engaging content that adheres to brand guidelines. I believe my skills will satisfy your requests due to my strong background in copywriting for cosmetic and skincare brands. I have created copy for articles, web pages, and promotional purposes, with brands including X, X, and X among my many clients. You can view samples of my work attached for reference.
I’m extremely passionate about the beauty industry and I offer exceptional attention to detail, high professionalism, and a fast turnaround. Furthermore, I have a degree in English and knowledge of SEO. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your consideration.’
Why its improved;

  • Shows clients I’ve worked with
  • Links to articles I’ve written
  • Demonstrates my skill set – writing web pages, SEO etc
  • Background – degree and experience in beauty copywriting
  • How the client will benefit – fast turnaround, copy written to brand guidelines, professionalism

Just a few tweaks here and there can make a significant difference to your success via freelance sites.

How have you found working on freelance sites?

Make sure you grab my free download if you want to create an epic profile page!

How To Make A Consistent Income From Freelance Writing

How to make a consistent income from freelance writing

One thing that I’m sure puts many off freelance work is the thought of not making a consistent income month to month. I used to be one of those people!

Two years ago, I was unemployed, my confidence was at all time low, and I was struggling with depression and anxiety. I had two choices; I had the opportunity to undertake work experience in a local retail store (which was unpaid) or I could follow my ambitions and take a leap of faith into becoming a freelance writer.

Luckily, I chose the latter!

Yes, it was a jump into the unknown, but it really wasn’t as scary as I first imagined.

It doesn’t have to be scary for you either!

Maintaining a consistent income each month via freelance writing is totally doable. In two years, I’ve built up a freelance writing business that makes a steady income and I get to work with incredible clients from around the world, doing a job that I’m proud of!

If this sounds like something you’ve been dreaming of, you might like to know how I continually build my business.

Become a pro pitcher!

Pitching is the ultimate task you need to be doing daily to attract freelance clients (unless you’re already attracting clients via your website, in which case you’re already fucking awesome!).

Unless I’m fully booked out, I spend around an hour in the morning checking job boards to find projects to apply for. I save the ones I’m interested in to the bookmarks on my web browser and then I’ll go back and send a pitch for those jobs.

Pitching doesn’t need to be a complicated process, in fact, if you’re following a warm lead, its pretty easy.

The perfect pitch

  • Keep your pitch concise and direct. No-one wants to hear the details of your ten year work history. Personalise your pitch and tailor it to the company you’re applying for.
  • Use your best samples of work in your pitch. Ideally, the examples you include should be related to the genre of work the project requires.
  • Demonstrate your skills. For instance, show confidence that you can write for an online audience, that you can create engaging content etc.
  • Offer to go the extra mile. Maybe you can offer suggestions for topics or headlines, optimise your content for search engines, research key words – impress the client by showing that you’re willing do more than the minimum asked.
  • Always read the job advert. Having hired others for projects, you’d be surprised at how many people dont read the job advert correctly. Read an ad thoroughly to check for the application procedure and any information you may need to supply.

Don’t sell yourself short

In other words, don’t undervalue your work. No good writer should be working for $1 per article.

When you’re starting out, it’s easy to set your pricing low to attract more clients, but the truth is, you’ll be burnt out quicker than you can say freelance writer – more work + less pay = zapped!!

Setting your pricing;

There’s no guide to setting your pricing when it comes to freelance writing. There are writers charging $10 for a 500 word blog post and some who charge $100.

When you’re considering your fees, think about the following;

  • How much experience you have
  • Your skills
  • The type of writing work you can provide
  • How long it will take you to complete the project

In my experience, copywriting for e-commerce and web pages has boosted my income, rather than writing blog posts or articles. I’m sure there are clients out there who are willing to pay more for articles and there are certainly some niches which are potentially more profitable than others.

Ultimately, it comes down to value! Quoting a fee of $300 for 500 words when you have little experience is likely to put potential clients off. But, you don’t want to quote too low either.

If you’re struggling to quote for a project, always price higher.

If you quote low, no client is going to say ‘well actually, I’ll pay you more than that’.

By quoting high, you’re allowing yourself room for some negotiation.

Don’t be afraid to raise your prices

As your experience grows, raise your prices higher. It may seem like you’ll be scaring off potential clients.

Trust me, you won’t!

When I raised my prices, I actually started getting more clients, which made me realise just how little I’d been undervaluing myself.

Knowing the right time to raise your prices;

  • You get booked up quickly
  • You’ve built your experience in a specific niche
  • You’re getting amazing results from your work – testimonials, conversions, shares etc
  • Your personal website/blog is growing

How to do it;

If you have your own website, consider making an announcement that as of X date, your prices will be increasing.

Use a pricing strategy to inform your current clients of your pricing increase.

Market yourself!

I’ve mentioned before the power of self promotion and in the world of a freelance writer, marketing is something you need to be doing on a regular basis.

5 great marketing tactics;

  • Linked in
  • Social media
  • Guest posting
  • Your own blog
  • Cold pitching

Linked in, Twitter and Facebook are all great places to set up a profile and connect with businesses and other freelancers. Why not share your work on social media (Pinterest is great if you have a blog), strike up conversations with potential clients, promote your services and establish relationships with other writers.

Guest posting is an amazing marketing strategy. You could guest post on bloggers websites or you could guest post on sites that pay for your work – grab the free download below for a comprehensive list of sites that pay!

If you have your own site, make sure you have a services page that lists your experience, skills and what you offer, as well as a call to action.

Cold pitching can be highly effective in promoting your services and winning clients.

A cold pitch is essentially the same as a warm lead, except that the person you’re emailing hasn’t asked for freelancers.

How to cold pitch;

  • Research companies in your specific niche or genres
  • Find the best person to contact – this may be the owner or someone in a high authority position. If you cant find this, tweet the company and ask for a contact email
  • Personalise your pitch
  • State what the company is lacking (for instance, they might not have a blog)
  • State how you can help them – how is the client going to benefit from your services (perhaps you can increase product conversion rates)
  • Show examples of your work and results
  • State where the potential client can find you – your website, social media links etc.

Get organised

A chaotic workspace is going to lead to an unproductive routine. Trust me, I’ve been there!

Organise your working space, so you have an area to work where you can be motivated and produce your best work.

You might also need a few tools to help you get shit done!

A few things that help my writing routine/business;

  • Notebooks/notepads for keeping track of projects and finances – these are awesome!
  • Asana for online notes
  • Grammarly for checking spelling, grammar etc
  • Google Docs for sharing work with clients
  • Quickbooks for invoicing

Use your website to make a consistent income

If you’re not a blogger, it’s a good idea to set up your own freelance writing website – you can use this as your portfolio and to sell your services.

Your website should highlight your experience, skills and highlight testimonials from previous clients.

One thing you need to think about!

Your copy!

The difference between a good freelance writers website and a bad one is the copy!

Good copy will help to convert potential clients into sales.

Consider;

  • Writing copy with your ideal client in mind
  • Specifying what your chosen niche or genres are
  • Using personality to present your brand
  • Showing enthusiasm – boring copy will lead to a snooze rather than a sale!
  • Demonstrating how your services can benefit your client
  • Letting clients know where they can find you – your social media links etc.

What steps do you take to making a consistent income from freelancing? Do you supplement your work from other income? Let me know!