The freelance copywriting life can sound enticing: choose your own hours, work from wherever you like and do what you enjoy. But the reality can be a lot different when youâ€™re starting out. Many get stuck treading water in the dregs of keyword writing monotony, where $6 per article sounds generous.
Some think the answer lies in writers banding together and declaring â€˜Enough is enough!â€™, and refusing to hit another key until the rate is improved. Well, they could be waiting a long time because Elance and Guru are flooded with writers undercutting each and fighting for whatever scraps are flung into the pit.
Yes, I might have dallied in the dark world of bidding websites in the past. But I was one of the lucky ones able to escape into a brighter place where clients donâ€™t hire you based on price alone.
So, how can you break free and attract clients prepared to pay you a fair rate and enjoy all the perks of the freelance copywriting life?
Well, it comes down to basic economics. When a market is saturated, prices are driven down. So in the world of freelance writing, to improve your income you need to escape the markets that are saturated and write about specialist topics others canâ€™t easily tackle.
Three ways of increasing your income
1. Be an â€˜added valueâ€™ copywriter â€“ What else can you offer clients beyond the words? Internet marketing expertise? Blogging advice? What about online PR, optimising WordPress or running a Twitter campaign? These are all skills you can easily teach yourself and will make you a greater asset to prospective clients (You can learn more about becoming an added value copywriter at Tom Chandler’s The Copywriter Underground).
2. Write copy that generates sales â€“ Direct marketing copy pays well for a simple reason: the impact of your writing directly impacts sales. It can take many years of practice and building a reputation before you can command the big fees enjoyed by those in the upper echelons of the copywriting world. But writing direct mail should be a string added to your bow if youâ€™re chasing after the big bucks.
3. Become an expert â€“ When youâ€™re stuck in a saturated market the best way of breaking free is to tackle topics that are too complicated, too difficult or too specialist for your wordprocessing rivals.
What topics do you already know a lot about? What are you interested in? Once youâ€™ve decided on an area you want to specialise in youâ€™ll need to become an expert.
Read about your chosen topic as much as you can. Attend conferences and network with people in that field. You can then start targeting relevant businesses and see if they need any promotional work doing (perhaps research this stage first).
Many companies with specialist products will be more interested in your experience and knowledge of their industry than whether youâ€™ve got an English degree or write poetry. And theyâ€™ll be prepared to pay you for that experience too.
[This post was inspired by Bob Blyâ€™s The 12 Undeniable Truths of Freelance Writing]