Ever had a landslide month, followed by just a trickle of income?
If not, you’re an exception. Most writers go through this at some stage.
I’ve been through the grinder too, but there are ways to minimize this phenomenon.
And, it’s actually not that hard to do.
You see, freelance writing is one of the best ways to generate income online, but you must have a strategy. There’s no way around this issue.
Without a strategy, you’re left with one option: guesswork.
Successful writers have a system in place, however rudimentary it may be. It’s a system based on results, so it keeps producing the goods.
But thought can’t be divorced from action.
So, the second step is to follow the system, and pursue it with purpose. A well conceived system that is persistently applied is the foundation of a profitable writing business.
This writer will avoid the extremes of income fluctuation.
With that in mind, here are the most common pitfalls that lead to peaks and troughs in income.
All other considerations are useless unless you apply them as part of a strategy. You need a strategy in place.
Why? So you can systematize the process and know what you are going to do on a daily basis.
Profitable businesses have one thing in common: a system that guides all choices and actions (think of McDonald’s upselling procedure).
A business strategy is the only way to reach your goals over the next six or twelve months.
No direct response marketing
Many writers detest the sales and marketing process.
If you’re nodding along, then you’ll have difficulty in this business. Freelance writers must think of themselves as businessmen. This means you need to market your services daily.
Don’t forget, this is a highly competitive industry, and you need to compete in the marketplace. The top paying gigs don’t necessarily go to the best writers, they often go to whoever gets in front of the right people.
Just look at the number of writer blogs online, and those that are no longer active. You’ll quickly see that only those who treat it as a business survive. That reality that has to be faced.
As a freelance writer, you need to see yourself as a marketer, and spend a good chunk of time in that process.
Besides this, the number of online writers keeps increasing.
If you’re new to the freelance business, spend time studying the basic principles of direct response marketing (offer, headline, close, guarantee, risk-reversal). While it takes focused time and effort, you can gain an adequate understanding of the principles quite quickly. What’s more, you can begin to apply them right away. [take action-learn-take action]
Not advertising your services on your blog
Besides marketing and reaching out to past and potential clients, you must also announce on your blog that you’re available to work (and offer specific writing services).
Direct response marketing will send clients to your blog, but you still need to covert them into clients. This is where copywriting comes in to play. So, ensure that you have described your offer, made it benefit driven, and make it very easy to sign up.
Always tell the client what they can gain, in terms of what they really want (more free time, more money, more sales, more readers, more subscribers, a reliable writer).
As a quick aside, when I review writer websites which aren’t generating clients, the most common reason is no mention or promotion of their services. Besides this, they make it difficult to be contacted (the offer should always be one click away).
A “hire me” page of some sort is crucial. You can also use a WordPress widget to insert a short bio at the bottom of each blog post (which is a promotion vehicle).
Publishing great content each day isn’t enough. If people don’t know what you have to offer, or how to hire you, then you’re going to stay broke, and will eventually quit.
No client hierarchy
This area is controversial, but successful writers know the truth behind it. In essence, it is the types of clients you work with who determine how how inconsistent your income will be.
The first two steps above will allow you to generate clients, to maintain steady cash flow, however those things will not ensure reliable clients. To do that, you need to have a sub strategy, which I call the client hierarchy.
There will always be difficult clients who pay late, disappear for days without emailing, and make outrageous demands. The key is to slowly drop these clients while you build a contingent of excellent people to work with.
I catagorize clients into 3 bands…
- Intermittent or consistent – this means whether or not a client wants regular work (I have clients on a rolling weekly contract. I send work to him each and every Monday afternoon. There are others who contact me every month for a single article). Obviously, this effects your income and cash-flow, so you need to plan accordingly.
- Pay scale – it’s pretty simple and doesn’t need elaborate explanation. In sum, always prioritize clients that understand, and pay for, your value. Keep the clients that pay well, provided they are easy to work with. However, you should have a mix of clients who pay $1000+ and those who pay $100’s for shorter articles. Shorter blog posts are enjoyable to write and faster sources of income.
- Pay frequency – having regular clients is great, but sometimes they only pay once per month. As cash flow is so important, keep a couple of clients who pay weekly. If you don’t yet have such clients, you need to plan for an emergency situation (illness, travel, client problem, and other unforeseen circumstances which will leave you slash your income).
In essence, you need to view writing as a business. Secondly, always be marketing (pitch letters, article websites, emailing past clients, searching online, guest blog gigs, offline marketing etc). Plus, have a strategy in place so that when something goes wrong (which it will) you have a system that can be immediately applied. This will keep stress to a minimum and stop you from going broke.