We’re living in what’s been dubbed “the freelancer economy.” According to Forbes, by 2020, 50 percent of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers in some capacity.
This means that for many freelance jobs, there can be a great deal of competition. In turn, there’s a big disparity in terms of how much freelance writers earn. Some kill it and thrive, making $100+ a post, while others barely scrape by and are relegated to the bottom tier of the freelance totem pole.
So what factors contribute to these earnings gaps?
Body of Work
The most difficult stage of freelancing is usually the initial phase, where you’re just starting out and making a name for yourself. Even if you’ve got A-list, Faulkneresque talent, it won’t do much good if you don’t have a sizable portfolio to show potential clients.
In turn, it can be a bit tricky gaining momentum, and top dog clients probably won’t give you the time of day. That’s why many beginners are stuck writing for soul-sucking content mills or bottom-feeding clients for less than $15 a post.
But once you’ve proven that you’ve got genuine abilities and have some published writing samples, you start gaining leverage. In time, it’s much easier to negotiate better deals and work with clients who are quality-centric and willing to pay for it.
That’s why it’s so important to create an online portfolio that showcases your work. A professional website is ideal and a smart investment because it provides potential clients with some tangible samples to examine. It also highlights your personality and lets them know a bit more about you.
On the other hand, simply sending out your work on an unenticing Word file or doc is likely to yield only minimal results. In other words, it’s all about quality and presentation.
Specializing in a Niche
If you look at the vast majority of high-paying clients, you’ll notice a common thread. They’re usually looking for writers who are experts or at least highly knowledgeable on certain subjects. The writers who are able to negotiate the best deals tend to specialize in specific niches, which makes them preferable over generalist writers who are jacks-of-all-trades but masters of none.
This isn’t to say that you should pigeonhole yourself and only write about a couple of subjects. In fact, it’s good to be flexible. It just means that it’s wise to specialize in two or three lucrative niches.
That right there can make a world of difference and catapult your income considerably.
Networking is essential in many industries – and if you ever expect to get ahead as a freelancer, you should work diligently to develop a solid network of clients and fellow writers. Doing so is likely to open new doors and can unlock game-changing opportunities.
Although it can be slow going at first, networking tends to have a snowball effect where in time, your list of contacts grows exponentially. One client recommends you to another, who recommends you to another, and so on. After a while, you can even have high-paying clients contacting you directly, and you can pick and choose which projects you take part in.
While there is a myriad of variables that determine how much freelancers earn, it ultimately boils down to three main factors. By proving to clients that you’ve got the chops and establishing leverage, you can boost your personal brand equity and start earning what you’re worth.