Sounds like a dream, right?
The only freelancer you know who earns thousands of dollars online works for The New York Times, has been featured in Forbes magazine, has been freelancing for more than five years, or they have an exceptional command in English.
In other words, it’s NOT the average person struggling to land a client who pays $5 per 500 words. You’d think that these thousand-dollar writers have a magic wand.
How do they do it? You ask.
The truth might surprise you. The writers or copywriters that command this rate have followed a proven process. If you follow the exact same process like they have done in the past, chance are, you’ll command those rates like them. Want to know the steps that they took to fame? Let’s dive right in…
The Most Important Lesson I Learnt About Freelancing
When I launched my site, I went from making $500 to $1000 in 8 months. Recently, I decided to double my monthly income and it took me 90 days to start offering other services that my client would love.
Did I take a new writing course? Was I gifted to do that? Did I sell my soul to the devil? No. The truth is: I did the right things in the right order until I got to that point.
If you’ve not reached the milestone of earning $1000 per month, it’s because you’ve been skipping stages. Or, you don’t even know which stage you are in.
You may think that you need to invest in a high-end course but it is not. Don’t get me wrong. High quality courses will guide you well. But you won’t go far if you don’t implement what you learn.
Without following these stages, you’ll be winging your freelancing career. This is a lesson that took me long to figure out. It is the most important lesson I’ve ever learnt.
So, lesson number 1 is that you need to meticulously follow the right stages.
Here’s the second lesson:
Like it or not, marketing plays an important role in your freelancing career. Marketing is something that every writer has to be good at. As a writer, your job is to sell ideas, and if your ideas are great, clients will hire you.
You don’t need a degree in marketing to do this. All you need to do is read the marketing books that I’ll show you. These books will help you. They have helped me write better proposals. They’ve also taught me how to pitch killer ideas to editors.
Most guides that I’ve read about freelancing never talk about marketing because they don’t want to scare you. In fact, if there is an area that you need to spend lots of your time and commitment in, it is marketing.
Marketing boosts your creativity as a writer. Since I started freelancing in 2016, I’ve fallen in love with every marketing book I’ve read. The knowledge that I got gave me the confidence to write and the courage to pitch.
Most importantly, learn the hot buttons to press when pitching to a client or an editor.
Here are the two lessons again:
- Follow the right stages
- Learn how to market and spend a lot of time doing it
Now that you’ve understood the two lessons, let’s look at the three stages you must go through…
The 3 Stages To Earning $1000 In Freelancing
Or maybe you’re tired of sending 200 or 300 pitches per week only to have two prospects responding to your inquiries.
All those three problems happen because you skipped stages in your freelancing career.
Let me explain:
A high earning freelancer will go through 3 distinct stages. And if you fail in one stage, chances are, it will take a long time to have the necessary confidence to move out of that stage.
Getting to $1000 is a goal that you can achieve in a few months to a year if you follow these stages that I took. So, what stages should go through in your freelance journey? Here we go:
- Newbie: Most freelancers start here, where they take a writing course, ask someone to teach them or self-train. Many writers at this stage get paid $5 per article, sometimes less. Not only are you learning at this stage, but you’re getting the feel of how to be a freelancer. Here is where you’re struggling with low paying clients. At this stage, you don’t know how to write a good pitch. To get out of this stage, it may take you 4 to 12 weeks, depending on your effort and skill level.
- Credibility: To earn more, clients must view you as an expert. In other words, you must show them something that reveal your expertise. Writers in this stage struggle with getting guest posts or an ebook because it is the only way clients will appreciate them. This is the longest stage in your freelancing career, it may take you 8 to 24 weeks to move to the next stage
- Getting high paying clients: At this stage, you understand what you’re doing. You have been featured in your niche industry. You know how to write a pitch. You have a website. Your main struggle is not getting clients; it is keeping them for the long-term.
Now that you know the three stages. Lets discuss in detail the list of activities and tasks that you should be doing at each stage and when to move to the next stage.
Stage #1: Newbie
This a stage where everybody starts. I started here back in 2016 Feb when I was working on iWriter before extending my career to Upwork and Freelancer.
Writers in the newbie stage are underpaid. Here is where clients love to abuse new freelancers who are getting themselves wet.
And it’s not their fault, it is because no one teaches them what to do in this stage. The primary focus for you at this stage is to learn. There are key things that you need to learn that can get you out of this stage.
What You Should Be Doing In This Stage
Once you’ve taken Walter’s course, that is enough. The only thing that you need to do is study a subject that most beginning freelancers ignore:
Writing Skills+Marketing Skills= High Paying Clients
You’re not a marketer, I know that. Look around you, every great writer who earns a high income gets there because they are excellent in marketing. In other words, they’ve built a solid name out of marketing techniques and strategies. Your name means a lot in this industry.
You may have the best writing styles on the planet, but if you have poor marketing skills. Your best work will be ignored.
In fact, the more you sharpen your marketing skills every month the more you will catch up with those earning $1000 and more in a short time. See how Johnson did it in just 3 months working part time.
Once I realized how marketing is important to my freelance career and my earning potential, I made a promise to my current and future self; that I’ll buy one marketing ebook every month to learn something new.
A book on marketing costs less than $10 on Amazon, that’s like writing a 1000 words for a newbie. The #1 book that I recommend for most beginning writers to learn is Cashvertising.
These ebooks will help you accomplish two things:
- Find creative ways to write your pitch
- Learn how to make your ideas stick in the mind of readers
Here is a list of every marketing book a beginning freelancer needs to read:
- Cashvertising by Drew Eric Whitman
- Tested Advertising Methods by John Caples
- The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan S. Kennedy
- The Robert Collier Letter Book by Robert Collier
- Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
- How to Write a Good Advertisement by Victor O. Schwab
- My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins
- Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
- The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joseph Sugarman
- The Irresistible Offer by Mark Joyner
- Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz
- On Writing Well by William Zinser
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Naked, Drunk, and Writing by Adair Lara
- Story Engineering by Larry Brooks
- How to Deliver a Great Ted Talk by Akash Karia
You’re Ready To Move To The Next Stage When
- You’ve read at least 5 marketing books I recommend. Make it your aim to read every book twice like me. Read the books twice and take notes the second time. You’ll learn a lot from these.
When I was about to give up at this stage (previously someone paid me $5 for writing 7000 words), the only thing that kept me going is reading marketing books. I read them until I got the necessary confidence to quench the fear and negativity that I had. I know how sad it can be when you’re underpaid and you have to pay rent at the end of the month.
Stage #2: Credibility
This is going to be the longest stage in your freelancing career. If you ignore this stage, chances are, you’ll walk the rest of your life winging your career. Yes, you’ll be good, but your confidence will be low.
The moment you press the send button, you should have the confidence that a client will respond. That only happens because you’ve sent them a pitch that they can’t ignore.
To write a pitch that clients like, you need solid credibility. When the client sees you as an expert, and most importantly, is convinced that your results can improve their business, they’ll hire you immediately. They cannot afford to lose an important person like you.
In this stage, you’re building assets that make clients hire you. Without this asset, it might take you longer to reach your destination. Every expert writer that has gone through this stage.
What Should You Be Doing At This Stage
Create A Website
You need to have a your own website. First, you need to ask yourself what kind of problems you are solving for your clients.
If you look at my site, you’ll note that my main goal is not to write articles for clients. My main goal is to get traffic and links to every article that we publish. That sets me apart from any other writer.
When we tell clients that we can create articles and do email outreach for them, they are willing to pay every dollar that we put on the table. When creating your website keep this rule:
You’re Not Trying To Be The Best, You’re Trying To Be Different
Your website needs to have a trigger that sets you apart from any writer trying to compete with you. When sending your pitch, show that you are different. The moment you know what sets you apart, price becomes less important to clients. And you’ll have the self-confidence to charge more of what you want.
Here are the exact words that I tell my clients:
“There are thousands of writers out there who will be happy to accept that rate. In fact, I’ll be more happy to refer them to you. What sets us apart from those writers, and why we are different, is we do massive outreach for every article that we publish. It doesn’t make sense to have a well-written article with no traffic, links and shares.”
Niche Guest Posting
This is the stage where you want to build your name. To build your freelance business, you need to be sending out one or two guest posts per month.
You don’t have to start with a big site, you can start with a small site that accepts guest post. You’ll then have the confidence needed to write a second guest post for another site.
Once you’ve published two guest posts, you’ll have the energy and courage to pitch big magazines. Courage is something that you develop slowly. Courage compounds with every baby step you make.
Study the articles published on that site. Which articles are getting the most comments and shares, those are the articles readers love on that site.
The question now becomes, can you take a completely different angle on that topic? If you’re not creative enough to come up with something unique, don’t worry. There are two types of articles almost every editor accepts. I know it because I’ve used them before:
- Giant list post, like 50 or 100 ways to do something (it’s a no-brainer, but it will cost time)
- How to articles
Want proof? Here is a screenshot from Bamidele Onibalusi’s guest article on Jeff Bullas. Yes, you can produce a list post like this. You don’t need to be uber creative to write these kinds of articles.
Giant list posts work. If you can do an expert round up on a popular topic and publish on famous site, many of those editors won’t ignore you, I promise you. It takes time and resources to write an article like that. Many editors will at least give you a chance.
For instance, I have a gigantic list post about cryptocurrency that I’m about to publish. The editor loved it because they have not seen a such a topic in the industry before.
Publish a Short Book (It Works)
Many writers get discouraged when they’re told to start writing a guest post. I know that feeling because I have been there. Sometimes, you don’t have that confidence to send a pitch.
Here is what made me land my first job on Upwork and Freelancer:
A friend of mine, Wilson Maiyo, (by then he had written 30 ebooks), told me to write an ebook, even if it sucks.
Little did I know that writing an ebook would ace my freelance career. Did I write the best book? No. In fact, my ebook is full of those poor grammar and spelling mistakes that many newbie writers make.
Did people buy my ebook or did I make any money? No. In fact, from 2014 to date, I have never received any royalty from that ebook.
I used my ebook to land clients. In fact, clients loved the cover of my ebook but never took time to read what stupid things I wrote. If you read my ebook, you’ll see lots of spelling mistakes and errors that will make you say I don’t deserve to be a writer 🙂 ;).
That ebook alone helped me get lots of clients back then. For obvious reasons, I no longer use for that. I use many other great methods.
You’re Ready To Move To The Next Stage When:
- You have a website and know what sets you apart from other writers
- You have published at least 5 guest posts in your niche
- If you can’t publish a guest post, make sure that you have at least one short ebook.
- Continue the habit of reading one marketing ebook every month.
Stage #3: Getting The Clients
Once you’ve finished the second stage. The third stage becomes so easy. Let’s recap what we have done so far:
- You have read at least 5 marketing ebooks
- You have a website
- You have at least 5 or more guest post in your niche or an ebook
Now you ready to pitch clients and make money. There at least 5 methods of writing a good pitch that I know.
- The Case Approach
- The Motive Approach
- The Credibility Approach
- The Suggestion Approach
- Great Idea Approach
The one that works best for most beginning writers is the suggestion approach.
Now, instead of sending your cover letter telling clients why you are the best, all you need to do is suggest or create steps on the way you’ll handle the project. This approach works if you are using a company like Upwork or Freelancer to get a job.
It can’t work on Problogger Job Board, Cult of Copy Job Board, All Freelance Writing Jobs or Indeed. What works on these job boards is the Case, Great Idea and Motive Approach (I will write about these three another day).
For instance, if a client tells you that he needs a well-researched article. You show him the steps that you take to research an article. Here is an example of pitch that I send to a client using the suggestion approach. You can customize it to fit your client’s situation (excuse the grammar errors and just focus on the approach, alright 😉)
Ready To Earn $1000 From Freelancing Writing?
Imagine how your life will be; waking up one morning knowing that you earn $1000 from freelancing. Most importantly, knowing that you won’t be fighting crappy clients every day.
Knowing that you don’t have to send 200 pitches per day. In other words, the work that you’ve done in the past is paying off through the guest posts that you wrote.
Like me, you’ll be happy and start different online businesses to diversify your sources of income. Do you know why that happens? It is because you had the courage to follow through the three stages that I’ve shown you. And you developed the self-confidence to demand more about what clients pay you.
In short, you’re in the driver’s seat and charge whatever rate that you want. Do you know who else gets happy because you made $1000 from freelancing? It’s me, knowing I’ve helped a fellow Kenyan freelancer achieve that goal. Knowing that you used what I taught you to achieve that.