Quit getting paid peanuts: 10 tips for freelance writers

Freelance writer paid peanuts

Tired of getting paid peanuts?

Do you find yourself complaining that your SEO writing clients are cheap and not paying you what you’re worth?

Here’s a reality check.

It’s not your clients’ fault that you’re getting paid peanuts.

It’s yours.

I know, I know – I’m being harsh. But I’m doing it in a loving way. When you’re a freelance SEO writer, you are responsible for your business’ success. If you find yourself begging to be paid $50 for a 500 word post, you need to change your marketing process, pronto.

Here’s how to do it:

- Quit doing what you’ve done before. If you know that marketing yourself on Elance and Odesk is going to get you low-paying gigs, quit relying on them as primary revenue sources. Chances are, the dollar amounts aren’t going to get any better. Instead, create a marketing plan and stick with it. That probably means creeping out of your comfort zone. That’s OK. It’s good for you.

- Pull yourself out of the “I’m doing this for experience” trap. Sure, it’s OK to charge super-low rates when you’re first starting out. After that, you need to do important things like eat and pay your rent. If you think your writing isn’t worth it, your prospects won’t either (and they won’t pay you the fee you want.)

- Take things off the table. Can your prospect pay for some – but not all – of your proposed deliverables? Take something away until you can reach their price point. That way, you’re not discounting your prices – and your prospect gets (almost all) of what they need.

- Find a niche and establish your expertise. Pam Foster – who specializes in pet copywriting – is a great example of someone who has found a profitable niche. She’s the recognized go-to expert within the pet industry (and she can charge for that expertise accordingly.)

- Learn to say “no.” Does a new prospect want you to do everything for 50 percent less than your stated price? Just say no. Nicely. Practice saying “no” in front of a mirror if needed. Remember, your prospect’s budget issue is not your problem.

- Gather testimonials and case studies. That way, you can prove how you’ve boosted your clients’ bottom lines. You’re selling your value and how you’ll help your clients – so the more documentation you have to back that up, the better.

- Is your niche not making money? Find another one. You may love to work with small business clients – but if they can’t pay your bills, it’s time to let them go.

- Talk to someone who “gets it.” This could be a friend, a mentor or another freelance writer. Explain why you’re raising your rates – and share all the reasons why doing so freaks you out. It’s amazing how less scary something gets when it’s out in the open.

- Learn to say “goodbye” to low-paying clients. Yes, even if you love them. It’s scary to let existing clients go (I’ve been there many times.) But sometimes, we have to let things go to make space for better things in our lives (like better paying clients!)

- Examine your own issues. If you can’t seem to tell clients you charge $300 a page (rather than $30,) figure out what’s holding you back. Do you not feel “good enough?” Do you think that writers shouldn’t charge “too much” for what they do? What’s causing the rates to get stuck in your throat? If you’re constantly undervaluing yourself, this great article by Sean D’Souza (super-smart guy and Copywriting Business Bootcamp instructor) is a must-read.

What about you? What would you add to this list?

(Special thanks to the LinkedIn SEO Copywriting group for the inspiration!)

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