Tracking Freelance Earnings: August Income Report From Nicole Dieker

Tracking Freelance Earnings: August Income Report From Nicole Dieker

How often do you ask for what you want from clients, whether it’s an extra assignment or a rate increase?

This month, asking for extra work helped take my income to $6,500, my highest ever.

Here’s the roundup for August. This month, it’s impressive:

Completed Pieces: 70

Work Billed: $6,513.00

Earnings Received: $6,649.30

I wrote just over 54,000 words, with an average per-piece earning of $93.

That’s significantly higher than July’s per-piece earning of $69, and a lot of it came from the two highest-paying pieces I wrote this month: one that brought in $1,039, and one that paid $953.

That second piece, the $953 one, was the one I asked for.

Ask and ye shall receive

Remember how last month I worried that I wasn’t going to earn much over $5,000?

I was planning to take a week to visit my sister and her husband and be a featured guest at Intervention, and — as I wrote in this very space a month ago — “Traveling always means taking an income hit, even if you work on the plane.”

But I asked myself: what if it didn’t have to be that way? What if I asked my best-paying client for a second assignment, to cover the income gap that came from taking a few days off? The worst possible scenario would be a polite “No, we have enough pieces for this month,” so I asked — and my client said yes.

It’s great for two reasons. First, it added $953 to my monthly income total, and second, it set a precedent. Now my client and I both know that I can complete two pieces in a month, which means I am going to pitch two pieces this month. Next month, I might pitch three.

Sometimes I forget that I can ask my clients if they want more work from me. This month, I’m glad I remembered.

The power of the pageview bonus

The $953 piece took me from $5,000 to $6,000 last month.

What pushed me over $6,500? A $500 bonus for an article on The Penny Hoarder about getting paid for junk mail. This article received more than 250,000 pageviews, which meant I earned an extra $500. This is the second time I’ve received a bonus on this piece, which I wrote in January 2015. I’m delighted that it still resonates with so many readers.

I love pageview bonuses, because I get paid without having to do any extra work. I always do my part to increase pageviews by sharing my articles on social media (and responding to Facebook comments and Twitter replies), but that doesn’t feel like “extra” work. I’m not able to track my own pageviews with this client, so I don’t know when I am getting close to a bonus, but I am always glad when I get one.

This type of pageview bonus is also great for me because it comes on top of a competitive base pay. Some publications prefer to offer low base pay and structure more of their compensation through bonuses. I prefer high base pay and the occasional bonus — after all, I can’t really control how many people view my articles!

One of my other clients gives writers bonuses for being active in the comments section, which I also appreciate. Any time a client offers me a low-effort way to make a little extra money, I know that client values its writers and the work we do.

Crowdfunding still doesn’t beat client work

Last month, I announced that I’m writing a novel titled The Biographies of Ordinary People and crowdfunding the process through Patreon.

I’ve been posting two chapters of my novel every week, and have received a lot of amazing feedback from readers, including a reader who tweeted, “This is maybe the most beautiful book I’ve read in a long time — thanks!”

However, the crowdfunding initiative has not grown to the point where I can consider dropping — or even seriously cutting back on — any of my current freelancing clients.

As of this writing, my Patreon brings me $350 per month in crowdsourced pledges. That’s more than many of Patreon’s featured writers bring in, so I feel like my project is successful, but it’s not enough to make a significant difference in my freelancing life aside from the fact that I’m developing a community of readers who are invested in this novel.

That community of readers makes the whole Patreon project worth it. But crowdfunding still doesn’t beat client work financially, at least not for me. I like knowing roughly how much income I’ll earn every month, and I also like knowing I can increase my client income just by asking.

When was the last time you asked a regular client for extra work? Did they say yes?

Filed Under: Freelancing
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  • Edwin Davis says:

    I think I am in LOVE -again! THx for the advice Nicole!
    I have an important question for you but I don’t wish to post it here. What are my options?

  • Erika says:

    I am very interested in becoming a freelance writer. I just don’t know where to begin. I have begun following a few websites that promise to get you started. It seems like they give the same information over and over and it leads to no where but a request for money. Are there legitimate companies out there to contact? Where do you begin?

  • Molly King says:

    Hello, I am hoping maybe you can point me in the right direction. I work my tail off writing ebooks and articles for clients I find on a website, but the pay is super low. I am a stay at home mom, having lost my job in November and am looking for a way to help with the bills. I don’t need thousands of dollars a month, though that would be nice. Where can I go to pitch my work so I can make a bit more money out of my writing?

  • Rose says:

    Congratulations! That is absolutely amazing. I’m currently making under $1,000/month for my writing and I would love to make it even half way to where you are. Great job and THANK YOU for sharing your income and all these great tips.

  • Marc says:

    Very interesting article. I am totally an amateur writer but love it a lot. You are an inspiration to be more professional

  • Brianna Bell says:

    I’m so impressed! I write part time about 7 hours per week and make about $1500/mth. My goal is to get to $3000/mth and work no more then 15 hrs. How many hours do you work weekly?

    Congrats on your TPH bonus! And thank you for sharing your income with us all, such an encouragement 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      I try to work about 40 hours per week. It’s hard to stick to that number, though. My previous Income Report columns go into more detail about my time tracking and schedule.

  • Congratulations to you! That is impressive. I have to ask … how the h*ll do you manage to write so many words in one day and keep the content within the “quality” zone? (Thanks in advance for your response 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      The short answer is practice, I guess.

      Luckily, the more short pieces you write, the better you get—and the better you get, the more short pieces you can write in a day!

  • Congratulations Nicole! I’ve only just started out myself but I hope that in the not too distant future I will be able to hit that number. How long has it taken you to hit this number if you don’t mind me asking? I need to work out benchmarks as I have been doing this seriously for 2 months and aiming for end of the year to hit that number which looks like I should do comfortably if I consider the growth rate of my work.

    • Nicole says:

      I began freelancing in November 2013. Back then I was making around $750/week, or a little over $3,000/month.

      Last year at this time I was making more like $4,000/month. Since then, the growth rate has been a lot faster, mostly because people have been referring me to better-paying gigs.

  • Gina Horkey says:

    Solid month Nicole – nice work! Do you feel this public accountability thing is pushing you outside of your comfort zone and helping you to build a more ideal business? 🙂

    • Nicole says:

      Absolutely. Being public about how much work I do and how much I earn—not to mention the details of my organizational system, my morning routine, etc.—has made me a much better freelancer.

      Some days the biggest reason I get out of my pajamas was because I wrote on The Write Life that I get out of my pajamas right away, so I have to make sure that article stays accurate!

  • Johnson Kee says:

    Hi Nicole,

    Thanks for your transparency on your earnings. Just like Daryl said above, congratulations on your highest earning month. 2,700 words a day is by no means an easy feat; you must be very effective at managing your time.

    I admire how you set the precedent by asking your client if you could write another piece for them. You’re right, the worst that could happen is that they say no, so why not give it a shot? I think a lot of freelancers are scared of rejection, hence they would never ask.

  • Ken Bluttman says:

    Just trying to confirm — you wrote 54,000 words – for the month? About 1800 words per day (using 30 as the divisor)?


  • Kristen says:

    You are amazing! I found you via the Write Life and am completely impressed. I just submitted my first article for Tend magazine after being in touch with the editor….such a rush! Would love nothing more than to be a full-time freelancer…but I’m a single mama of 4. I am still looking to find my voice…and my confidence. 🙂 I just know I love to write. Thanks for the inspiration – reading your stuff and story is just what I needed!

  • Excellent article and great reminder that we just need to ask for what we want. 🙂

  • Lynn Starr says:

    Congrats on your income this month! That amount is an amazing income for writer. 🙂

  • Congrats on the $500 bonus! I’m always excited when I get a $100 one. 🙂
    Your reports are always so motivational and help me know it’s possible to get more than $1000/month. All the best for the new month!

    • Nicole says:

      Thank you! Bonuses are so exciting. All the best to you too!

      • patricia says:

        Hey ladies where do I sign up,I have never really written any articles but I do have opinions and ideas about lots of things that I am knowledgeable about. I am just looking for ways to supplement my income my fiance and I are trying to have a second baby. I would greatly appreciate it if you guys could point me in the right direction as far as getting some kind of income coming in thank you and God bless. any kind of website to pay our websites or any kind of website thank you.

  • Daryl says:

    Congrats on hitting your highest earnings EVER Nicole!

    For me, my clients have a set blogging calendar, so so far there hasn’t been the scope for “extra” work as such.

    • Nicole says:

      Yeah, that’s the tricky part. There isn’t always extra work available, and I definitely work for a few clients that only post a set number of pieces every month.

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