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5 steps to becoming a (multi) 6-figure freelance writer

By April 4, 2023 3 Comments

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When I told people I was quitting my full time job to take the leap into freelance writing, I was met with a cocktail of concern and raised eyebrows – topped off with a touch of pity. They definitely didn’t see a 6-figure freelance writing career in my future.

“But, how are you going to find clients?”

“How much money do you expect to earn?”

“Is there even enough work out there?”

“Well, if it fails I guess you can always find another job!”

Honestly, I don’t blame them for it. ‘Freelance’ anything tends to conjure an ‘enter at your own risk’ disclaimer. But freelance writing – at a time when attention spans are evaporating and AI is allegedly out to get us all – well, of course the fear factor runs high.

But I didn’t let myself catch that fear.

Because I believe there’s never been a better time to be a (multi) 6-figure freelance writer.

Why?

The internet has made it possible for thousands of people to start and grow their own businesses. Those businesses have brands to build, websites to create, content to market, EDMs to send and social profiles to maintain (to name a few). Each of those tasks needs words.

As the marketplace becomes more competitive, those words become even more valuable to help brands stand out from the crowd.

After an initial attempt that was fraught with wrong-turns and valuable lessons in 2016, I quit my job and lept into full time freelance writing at the end of 2019. Since then, I’ve built a multi-six figure business operating under an entirely solo-run (yes, it’s just me!) service-based model.

Yes, I am a (multi) 6-figure freelance writer.

The best part? I haven’t had to ‘hustle’ or stress myself out with a crazy client load. I’ve cultivated a positive mindset and maintained my integrity every step of the way.

If I can do this, I wholeheartedly believe you can do it too. Here are 5 steps to building a multi-six figure business as a freelance writer.

Keys to becoming a 6-figure freelance writer

six figure freelance writer

1. Master your mindset

If you don’t believe it’s possible to earn over six figures as a freelance writer, it’s going to be really hard to get there. But believing it is difficult if you’ve internalised common misconceptions around writing – such as ‘you can’t make money as a writer’, ‘to be creative means you have to struggle’, ‘there’s not enough work out there’ – the list goes on!

The best way to overcome limiting beliefs is to take action. Start by setting yourself a longer term goal (for eg – ‘I want to make XX amount this year’, or – ‘I want to secure an ongoing client by XX date’). Then, break down smaller micro goals that will help you get there. This could be – ‘I want to reach out to XX clients’ or ‘I want to have xx pieces of content to include in my portfolio’. Setting smaller, achievable goals not only inches you toward the bigger ones – but it builds your confidence along the way.

2. Set up your parachutes

You wouldn’t leap out of a plane without a parachute. Leaping into #freelancelife is no different – it’s important to be practical. If you want to go straight into full time freelance work, work out how much savings you will require to support this and ensure you’ve built it up before you quit. If you want to build up your freelance writing on the side of your paying job, how much time will you need to dedicate to client work? How many clients or projects will you need to secure before you can go full time?

The more prepared you are, the smoother your landing will be. Set up your portfolio, so that you have something solid to share with potential clients. It’s also helpful to have clarity on which writing services you want to offer, and whether you want to ‘niche down’.

3. Get the price right

Most writers would agree that setting their rates is one of the hardest parts of freelancing, and for good reason. Putting a price tag on your creativity feels icky – not to mention vulnerable! What if you go too high and lose the client? Or worse, what if you go too low and undervalue your work?

Setting the right rates is an integral part of not overworking yourself to the point of burn out (and to becoming a 6-figure freelance writer). There are a number of resources available online that can help you gauge the industry-standard rates for writers at varying years’ of experience.

I’ve been writing professionally for over 7 years now, and I find the most lucrative way of charging is on a project basis. My basic 5-page websites start at $3k but can go up to $10k depending the level of work required, and I often package up blog posts or EDMs starting at $5k. If a client requests an hourly or day rate, mine start at $200/hour and $1000/day.

4. Know where to find high-paying clients

If you want to become a (multi) six figure freelance writer, it’s essential to work for clients who know the value of your work and are willing to pay for it.

There are a number of industries that are more likely to have bigger budgets for freelance writers.

Think: bigger corporations – eg finance business, banks, tech companies, educational institutes – eg universities and other service providers, B2B clients – eg corporate suppliers, wholesalers, logistics providers, and government agencies.

LinkedIn is a great place to find and connect with these organisations. I’ve personally found reaching out to the decision-maker (e.g. marketing manager or content manager) a really effective way to cut through. For the businesses who aren’t on LinkedIn, a well-worded expression of interest emailed directly to the marketing manager or similar is also a great way to go.

Lindy’s course and community Write Earn Thrive provides a wealth of knowledge on seeking out and attracting high-paying clients.

5. Sell yourself

It should come as no surprise that landing a high-paying client involves winning them over. To truly compel a decision-maker to hire you, you must demonstrate the value you can bring to their table.

Whether you’re writing a letter of interest (LOI), putting a proposal together, or burrowing into someone’s LinkedIn inbox – remember you are always showcasing your writing skills. If you’re still establishing a portfolio of published work to demonstrate your ability, demonstrate it in your message to them! Show that you understand their business needs and customer base. Write in their existing TOV. Tell them what you love about their business or copy and why you want to work with them. If you can reference a specific campaign or piece of content they shared, even better!

Ultimately, business managers want to work with writers who will make their jobs easier. Your proposal is your moment to demonstrate this.

Becoming a 6-figure freelance writer doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes time, determination, and self-belief. But if you’re on this website, reading this blog – chances are you have all of the above and more.

With the right mindset, practical preparation and industry awareness – I wholly believe it is possible for you. Good luck!

About the writer

Lizzie Mulherin is a published travel author, freelance feature writer and the founder of Write on Brand – a copywriting and strategy business specialising in words that hit different for brands that do good. Learn more about how she built her business here.



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3 Comments

  • Another great email Lindy. I’ve found having a professional website that ranks well on Google is another way people can find me. It’s important to look and act professional if you want to chase the big bucks.

    Melissa

    • lindyalexander says:

      Thanks Melissa, yes absolutely, a website that has great SEO is another great way for clients to find you. Thanks for your comment!

  • I’ve found having a professional website that ranks well on Google is another way people can find me. It’s important to look and act professional if you want to chase the big bucks. Also have professional accounting software and offer Stripe payment. Every little step counts.

    Melissa

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There’s never been a better time to be a freelancer. But how do you make the leap from writing as a hobby to full time freelancing? The Freelancer’s Year has all the tips and tricks you need to be a successful freelance writer.