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Freelancing: Show Me the Money!

I was just reading Trav Mamone’s piece about our glamorous lives as freelance writers, and they give a very real idea of what it’s like to have to pick a topic and pitch individual publications as a freelance writer. I would like to expand on their topic here:

Pitching and writing separate articles for individual publications is far from the only way to make money as a freelance writer.

I make good money and I don’t pitch ANY publications. The fact that you need a new, original perfect piece for each publication with no guarantee of quality payments or even acceptance of pitches is what keeps me from going this route.

Instead, I have a couple entrepreneurs/companies I do weekly blogging for, copywriting for a couple sites/companies, some ghostwriting, some book editing, even book coaching.

Pitching individual publications is just one way — and to be fair, one of the most difficult ways — to be a successful freelance writer.

Early on in my quest to write for actual money, I came across Carol Tice, who wrote a piece on her blog detailing exactly what she does to make just over $5000 per month as a paid blogger.

She says, “Even at a decent rate, blogging is a grind.” and cautions writers not to accept $10 per post — I wholeheartedly agree! Be smart about your prices and stick to them!

Here is Carol’s breakdown:

  • 12 posts a month for Entrepreneur under her byline
  • 22 or so posts a month for BNET under her byline
  • 4 posts a month for a small-business-finance client, half-ghosted, half her byline
  • 4 existing blog posts rewritten for the same client, to conform to good blogging style, add images, links, etc.
  • 4 posts a month for another small-business-finance client — ghosted for business owner
  • 12 posts a month for a collaboration-software startup, mostly ghosted for their team.

Total blog posts: 58

Total pay: $5,100

I am not joking — this is a LOT of work. 58 posts per month is almost 15 different, separate posts per week. If you do literally nothing else, I can see doing 3 well-researched, well-written, thoughtful, independent posts per day. But what about the rest of running a business, or your own personal writing, or social media and expanding your brand, or looking for new clients?

Taking a page from Carol’s book, here is my own breakdown for this month:

  • 4 blog posts per month for a cannabis company
  • 6 blog post per month for a web-design company
  • Ghostwriting a book with a client for 3–5 hours per week
  • General copywriting, editing, and sometimes blogging for an entrepreneur
  • General copywriting, book editing, and working with authors for an online publisher
  • A book editing project
  • Writing the story and dialogue for a comic book

All together, I billed exactly $6500 this month.

I currently have 5 monthly retainer clients and 2 projects (one project is just finishing, the other is for a bit longer). My monthlies make up $5000.

I structured my business as a monthly model, so that I could anticipate and rely on a certain amount of income stability, which I was finding I could not when it came to individual publications.

As a writer, I still someday would love to be a writer for Forbes, Business Insider, or Entrepreneur. I would adore it! But I am not willing to spend hours writing an original piece on the off chance one of them might publish it — at least not quite yet!

All of this is to show that there is more than one way to make a living writing. It isn’t only grinding and blogging, it isn’t only writing NYT bestsellers and being the next Stephen King, it isn’t only owning an agency and routinely cranking out content like Jon Westenberg or even being the next Gary Vaynerchuk.

There are many different ways to becoming a successful writer. Don’t focus so hard on one that you miss all the other opportunities passing you by!

Embrace writing and open yourself to all opportunities! Saying “yes!” to trying new opportunities worked for me and opened up new doors in my writing career!


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