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If you’ve ever read any advice out there about how to get to a higher income level with your freelance writing business, you’ll notice that it all sounds pretty much the same as the general advice given to freelancers: Learn how to pitch, market a lot, network, bring good stories to your editors, be proactive, etc.
Here’s what I believe, though: You can’t increase your income by doing more things; you can only increase it by bringing more value.
How can you bring more value when you’re already doing your best work and putting yourself out there to be the best of your ability?
Simple. Add new skills to your repertoire that will enable you to either bring in more money or charge more for your services.
Let me give you some ideas.
1. Learn to negotiate well
When I train freelancers, this is the first thing I tell them. The resistance I encounter is pretty much universal.
No one jumps up in their seat and says, “Yes! I can’t wait to ask for more.” Instead, most people try to shrink down further because if it wasn’t bad enough that they had to leave their comfort zones and indulge in marketing, now they have to push even more when that marketing pays off?
I get the resistance. I do. It’s a natural instinct and of course, you don’t to want to seem like you’re only in this for the money.
But here’s the thing I’ve learned: If you want more money, you have to ask for more money. It’s that simple.
This is where the whole value idea comes into play. People don’t just give you more money because you said they should (though sometimes they do), but more so because you’ve proven how valuable you can be to them.
So prove why you’re worth it. And then ask for more.
2. Start to diversify
Also known as: Add other income streams.
You can diversify in terms of the types of writing you do. You can diversify in terms of the subject areas. You can even diversify geographically, so that when clients in one part of the world are struggling with an uncertain economy, there are others in parts of the world that are booming.
What made a massive difference in my own career was adding in high-paying work that was also easy to get given my journalism experience. For me (and many others), that ideal work proved to be content marketing. I went straight from earning $100 an hour as a journalist to $400 an hour in content marketing — in less than a year.
3. Learn to repurpose your work
That series of articles you wrote for a finance blog — could it be turned into a short ebook to be sold on Amazon? How about taking one of those points and turning it into an entire article of its own? Could you create an infographic? Write a personal essay based on the topic of your article? Create a video?
There are so many ways now available to freelancers to get paid for work, but you do have be creative about it and you have to be willing to experiment with the new technologies.
Not all of it will stick, but if you’re using old content and repurposing it to create something in a different format or for a different market, your work is cut down massively and you get paid repeatedly for the same research and ideas.
4. Learn and practice new marketing strategies
You might get discovered. It’s great when it happens. It doesn’t happen often.
What does happen often is that you knock on doors. And you knock on more doors. And some of them are opened and you get invited in and others are slammed in your face. Then you go and knock on more doors.
The more doors you knock on, the more chances there are that some might open.
Do I need to go on, guys?
There will be a point in your freelancing life when you have regular clients and you’ve got money coming in each month that you can rely on. That’s great. Even so, if you want to grow your income over time, you constantly need to be finding newer higher-paying clients and replacing your lowest-paying ones with them.
Get skilled at it. Learn how to do it most effectively. Experiment with all the strategies other freelancers talk about and see what works best for you.
You won’t always be marketing aggressively, but you will always be marketing. It’s a good idea to get used to that.
5. Invest in your education
How do you consistently add to your skills? You learn, of course. You take free courses, paid courses, online courses, offline classes — whatever suits your personality, your budget and your geographical situation.
If you want to stay current in the market and increase your income, you need to constantly learn and stay one step ahead of the marketplace. Remember what I said about the only way to increase your income is to add more value?
You add more value when you make your client’s life easier by offering a diverse set of skills.
You don’t have to know it all. No one does. But make the effort to invest in learning about things that interest you. It’ll pay off, literally.
Listen, every writer I talk to says they want to make six figures. But “I’d like to earn more someday” is not a plan. If you want to make six figures, passively sitting back and waiting for it to happen won’t make it happen.
You need to create a plan, act in certain ways, and have marketable skills. You need to know how much you need to earn on a weekly or monthly basis to be able to hit your target and you need to be able to adjust course when you don’t reach your goal two or three months in a row.
Anyone can make six figures. Even you. But you have to commit to it.
Are you committed?
What are you doing to increase your freelance writing income?