You might think that the topic of this post is a no-brainer. But beyond what your initial reaction may be, there are actually some very compelling reasons why freelance writers need to find high-paying clients.
For me, finding (and keeping) high-paying editors and clients has been the key to my financial success.
But it’s also been key in freelancing being a sustainable, long-term career for me.
Finding high-paying clients is about so much more than the money.
It’s about the freedom and flexibility.
1. Being paid well for your words gives you choice
I haven’t always written for editors or clients who pay well.
In fact, I still write for some editors and clients who don’t pay me highly at all.
But I continue to write for them because I love their mission, their publication, the story or the organisation.
I write for them because I can.
What do I mean by that?
Well, I can write for those smaller publications and less well-paying clients because I earn great money from other clients and editors.
I have a balance of ‘bread and butter’ writing work that pays me well and frees up my time (because I can write the articles quickly) and ‘passion’ work that takes me longer and pays me less.
Once you start getting paid well for your work, you start to realise you have a choice.
For me, I can earn up to $300/hour for some of my corporate writing gigs.
This means I can choose to write for smaller publications or clients that don’t have huge budgets.
That means I can donate more money to the causes I care about.
It means I don’t have to work 8am – 8pm to bring in a decent income.
When you have high-paying clients you have a choice about how you spend your time.
You have flexibility and space to pursue your other passions – be that writing a novel, a script, doing yoga, learning to bake.
And that is incredibly freeing.
2. You have to learn to fish (hear me out)
We’ve all heard the saying, “Give a person a fish and you’ve fed them for a day. Teach a person to fish and you’ll feed them for a lifetime.”
I look at freelance writers knowing where and how to find high-paying clients in the same way.
It’s great if your work has come to you through a referral, word of mouth, a jobs board, freelance writing websites or online community, but these avenues don’t teach you to fish.
They usually deliver the fish right to your door.
And with jobs boards and online communities that post gigs, there are other seagulls watching and circling, ready to grab that fish.
But if you wade out beyond the shallows, you’re going to increase your chances of making a big catch.
Okay, maybe I’ve gone too far with the fish analogy, but you get what I’m saying, right?
Those avenues can be excellent, but they are not enough.
Unless you know how and where to find high-paying clients, you’ll never feel secure in your writing career.
Because it won’t be in your control.
But once you know how and where to find high-paying clients, you can apply the strategies and techniques time and again.
3. Journalism is changing – fast
Every week it seems that magazines and newspapers are shutting up shop or getting rid of journalists.
A couple of years ago, I was comfortably making around 60 or 70% of my income from feature writing, but these days it’s more like 40%.
The rest is made up from corporate work.
I still don’t agree with the absolute doom and gloom about the media industry, but I do think if you want to earn good money, you’ll need to consider alternative avenues.
Those avenues can still be within newspapers, magazines and online publications (such as through sponsored content), but it’s likely you’ll want to look further afield too.
4. Looking for clients gets you focused
Too often (and I know I’m guilty of this) freelance writers are reactive and scattergun in their approach.
We might stumble across a story idea and pitch it to an editor.
We might reach out once or twice to potential corporate clients.
But then we go back to our old habits.
Actively deciding and looking for high-paying clients means you have to get clear on what you offer and for whom.
Once you can articulate this, you’ll have a clear direction and you’ll know exactly who to target.
You don’t have to sell your soul in order to find and work for high-paying clients.
I write for some clients who are wonderful – ethical, thoughtful and responsive.
But I found them.
I didn’t wait for them to come to me.
And I don’t think you should, either.
Are there other reasons why you think freelance writers need high-paying clients?