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How Can We Earn More and Work Less in 2015?

Discussion in 'Freelancing' started by Joe F, Dec 19, 2014.

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  1. My goal in 2015 is going to be working less and earning more from my freelance work, so I can work on my own projects.

    However, at the moment I spend all my working time writing for clients, leaving me no time for other things.

    How would you suggest a freelancer go about increasing their rate, while working less?

    Obviously the aim is to find more higher paying clients, but its not that easy when you are pretty fully booked and have little time to find new work, and then go through all the negotiation of a new client.

    I get a good amount of approaches for new work but a lot of them fizzle out and come to nothing after quite a few emails back and forth. Some clients thought just put in a request to work right away, so its a mix of both. But new client negotiation can take a lot of time.

    Are there other ways to earn more, from the same amount of time?

    Should I be ruthless and quit all my existing clients that by me below my target rate, giving me more time to find new work?

    Any advice on doing this the right way?

    What prompted me to write this was a recent post I read, where another freelancer has pretty much got the perfect setup.

    I've followed Tom Ewer's Leaving Work Behind blog since before he got into freelance writing and its one of the reasons I gave freelance blogging a go, after seeing his success.

    Although its lost its way a bit recently, his latest post was a good read:

    Basically he shares how he got back on track with his freelance work after losing a bit of momentum and states how he earns $6,700 per month from 60 hours (3 hours per day x 20 days a month) work a month.

    However in the breakdown, only $3,500 of that is from freelance writing. So lets say he makes that from 60 hours a month = $60 per hour. I'm not sure if he is still using ghost writers for all his posts?

    Basically, if I could hit that amount from all of my freelance writing gigs, I'd be very happy and be able enough to work less and have time to work on other things.

    So how should a freelancer go about doing this?

    Any ideas?

  2. Great topic, Joe - that's exactly my goal for 2015, too! I took on too much work and almost burned out last month, so I want to focus more on my own health and well-being in 2015, while still upping my income.

    My strategy is:
    1. Drop your lowest-paying client(s). Figure out how much you're earning per hour from each client. Drop as many low-paying clients as you can and still be able to support yourself. This will free up time for #2...
    2. Target better-paying clients. Figure out your target hourly rate. If you can't find clients who will pay you that much in your current niche, then change or shift your niche to those who can. You might slightly change industry focus, narrow down your niche, specialize in a more specific type of work, or just go after bigger businesses with bigger budgets.
    I've already done #1, dropping my client with the lowest hourly rate. It felt great!

    For #2, I've decided exactly what type of client I want to target, wrote a detailed brief, and hired a VA to make a list of prospects (I didn't want to do it myself because it's boring, haha). I'm scheduling time in January just to research and reach out to those prospects.

    Hope this helps! Best of luck with your goal :)
    Heather likes this.
  3. Hey Joe,

    If you can manage it, I think you should spend a full day reviewing your situation and targeting new clients.

    What I recommend doing is preparing a spreadsheet of all your clients and noting down what they pay, how many articles they want you to write each month, and your expected monthly income from them. Also write an estimate of how long you would need to spend writing for them to make that money, because as you know, no two articles are alike. It could sometimes be worth taking a slightly lower rate than another client if the article is quicker to write and requires less research.

    Next, I would write a standard email template that informs potential clients of who you are, what you do, and what you can offer them. Send this out to 50 or even 100 potential clients. This will be very time consuming, but it will be worth it. Take a note of each client in your spreadsheet and write a note next to them whether they have replied and whether their response was positive or negative.

    It's a numbers game. If you contact 100 companies, you may only get 50 that reply. Maybe only 10 will respond saying that they are looking for a blogger and perhaps only 2 or 3 will agree to your rates. But those 3 clients could mean an additional $1,000 to $2,000 per month for you.

    $60 per hour is achievable. I probably earn that just now for most of my blogging gigs.

    Again, pay attention to how much time an article will take to write. I am currently reviewing the articles I am writing and whether I want to continue writing longer articles. A 3,000 word article pays the same as three 1,000 word articles. In theory, email correspondence should be less because of it. However, in practice, that is not always the case.

    Longer articles take much longer to research and longer to prepare. In general, they also require more edits. Again, this is more wasted time, which is why I try and get everything right first time. For me, I believe that 1,000 word articles are the sweet spot. If I work all day and do not spend a lot of time emailing, on a good day I can write three 1,000 articles. While most 3,000 word articles take me a day and a half to complete. This is partly due to additional research that is necessary and the time to check facts and test things. Smaller articles do not need that level of attention.

    The main benefit to longer articles is that they promote you as a writer better. Most approaches I have had from new clients have came through the longer articles I have published.

    With regards to dropping clients, I agree with KeriLynn. If you can afford to drop clients, drop them. Your time will be better spent targeting better paying targets.

    KeriLynn Engel likes this.
  4. KeriLynn - "I've already done #1, dropping my client with the lowest hourly rate. It felt great!" - Like. A lot! ;)
    KeriLynn Engel likes this.
  5. Just wanted to add, it is definitely possible to make $100/hour or more by blogging. You just have to be targeting the right clients, and have the right mindset about your services. If your blog post helps a business sell 5 widgets at $500/each, then your writing has great value for that business.
  6. Yes KeriLynn, that is true re writing content that helps sell widgets. I don't do enough blogging for websites that are selling their own products or services. So that could be an area where website owners are willing to pay more for content (as they make more per 'conversion').

    Kevin - that is so true re the post length. I just started a few new gigs that were capped at 1000 words and by the time you've done the intro and conclusion, there isn't too much left so you can get them out quicker, and as you say, they require less research as you aren't going into so much detail.

    I will follow your spreadsheet advice and start getting a list together. Do you think I should try and branch out of the WP niche and if so, in what areas?

    I might try some hosting companies and offer to write general blogging pieces or more general WordPress how to's.

  7. That's a great read @Joe F Tom has got some great skills :) I have followed him for a long time too.

    I have never really written posts for other people's blogs. Don't mean to hijack this thread but I am curious do you think my articles would cut it on 3rd party sites? Please be honest :) I can take it. I'm sure most of you have read some of my blog posts at one point or another. Are they charge worthy I guess is what I am asking? Obviously I would take a little more time on the grammar (not my best talent) if publishing for someone else. Going into 2015 it would be nice to maybe start growing my reach a little larger and start writing on other sites other than just my own.

    It's funny how often I see your name @Joe F and @Kevin Muldoon on other sites I am reading. I'll be reading an article and be thinking, wow this is really good. And then it is Joe or Kevin lol. Should have figured :)
    Heather and Kevin Muldoon like this.
  8. Yeah it's much easier to write multiple shorter articles than one long article; particularly with guides. Long list posts are not difficult as you normally only have to write a couple of paragraphs for each plugin or theme.

    With regards to branching out of WordPress, it is not something I have done. I have, however, been approached many times about writing in different niches. A few months ago I had someone approach me about writing almost every day on a medical related subject. I did give it consideration, but in the end I did not feel it was worth it as I would have to spend time learning a brand new topic and there was no guarantee I would have work over a sustained period of time.

    For me, it is not worth branching out. WordPress ties into what I am doing with my own blog. They complement each other as many WordPress users would be interested in the topics I cover on my personal blog.

    That being said, if an opportunity presented itself to make great money in a different niche, I would have to consider it. For example, if I was offered twice my normal rate to cover a particular topic, I would be crazy not to go for it. And who knows - doing so could open a lot of doors and project ideas that I had never considered.

    Your articles are definitely good enough. Without a doubt. Plus, you have a head start on many others as you have an established blog. This will help convince many website owners to take you on as a writer.
    Brian Jackson likes this.
  9. Hi, Brian,

    I know I don't hire writers, but as a voracious reader and former English teacher, I totally agree with Kevin that your articles are certainly good enough. You are a very good writer, in my opinion. And I also agree that your blog is great and a great advertisement for your writing if you choose to do some freelancing.

    @Brian Jackson
  10. Awesome thanks @Kevin Muldoon and @Heather. My grammar was what I was most worried about :) I will start reaching out to some places in 2015. I have a couple in mind already.
    Heather and Kevin Muldoon like this.
  11. @Kevin Muldoon I like the idea to mail 100 clients. It will help me in my consultancy business. Can anyone provide me format of email to attract clients to avail my tax related service ?
    @Joe F Thanks for posting this thread.
  12. What do you mean format of email? Do you want someone to write the email for you?
  13. Not like that..I will write my own.
    Kevin Muldoon likes this.
  14. I've been looking at the numbers and to make enough to live without working all the hours available, my hourly rate would need to be pretty high and no where near where I am now.
  15. I think you need to start working on your own projects so that you generate an income that supplements your income from freelance writing. Have you given much thought to what type of website or product to launch?
  16. Heather and Kevin Muldoon like this.
  17. Yes Brian, I think it about it all the time! Just never get around to it. I'm in a bit of a motivational slump at the moment but will try and get it started soon....

    That would be the website I would work on Kevin. I'm looking for a writer to do some list posts actually and then I plan to add some more meatier articles once a week to help strike a balance of content types.
  18. Sounds good. I think if you find a good writer to help you update the website, you will be able to take it forward without disrupting your freelance work too much.
  19. How's the year going so far? Anyone diversified into other streams of income?

    My rates have gone up, and I'm working a bit less but am pretty much burnt out on freelance blogging.

    Anyone doing anything interesting now?
  20. Great to hear Joe.

    I am working with @furiousstyles and @kevinmackay on a new project in which we generate leads for companies. It's still early days, but we will be looking to help companies using our internet marketing and content marketing skills. It will hopefully be profitable once it is up and running.

    I still write from time to time, but like you, it is something I am trying to reduce.

    What has everyone else been up to?
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