Want to Make More Money as a Writer? Become a High-Volume Freelancer
All too often, I see freelance writers bemoaning their empty bank accounts, even the ones who write for large, household-name publications. Why?
It’s not that their writing isn’t great or that they have too-little experience. In many cases, it’s because they’re focusing all their efforts on one or two stellar pieces of journalism… and nothing else.
There are Two Paths to Making Money as a Freelance Writer
(1) Write a very small amount of content at a very high rate.
(2) Write a large amount of content at a lower rate.
While you might think that the first path is more desirable, it’s not as easy as it sounds. For one, finding those high-paying gigs requires a lot of work put into pitches, applying, interview meetings and more, all of which is free work that could result in nothing. You also need to have a pretty impressive portfolio.
Even if you do have the time/patience, as well as the portfolio, working with the publications that often pay the highest rates comes with a few headaches. For example, many are on 60 to 90-day pay periods. That means, you turn in an article in January for a March magazine and then you get paid in June. That’s a long time to wait for a paycheck.
Let’s also be real — the editors at these publications are notorious for ghosting or simply overlooking writers. You’re not often viewed as a valued player; rather, you’re a tool to be used as needed.
However, if you can scrounge up enough of these gigs to make your ends meet, and you’re fine with the headaches, you can make it work.
But there’s an easier way to make money.
Working as a high-volume freelancer requires the ability to produce a large quantity of content in a small amount of time, while maintaining a high level of quality. This is a skill anyone can learn, with enough practice.
It also requires you to pick your jobs with care; you want to look for the pieces that won’t require a heavy amount of research or many, many interviews. All of that takes time that you don’t have. You want to rely on your current base of knowledge and maybe light research and one or two interviews at most.
These jobs, though, are very easy to find, if you know where to look. Additionally, they often hire fast and pay quickly, sometimes as quickly as 24 hours after you turn in a piece.
On top of this, because you’re charging a lower fee (don’t sell yourself short — make sure you’re still charging a palatable fee), often, the clients aren’t expecting you to turn in a Pulitzer-winning piece. They really, usually just need well-written, engaging content on their subject matter, nothing crazy.
What Does High-Volume Freelancing Look Like?
I consider myself a high-volume freelancer and it’s the path I chose for a few reasons. First, it made it easier for me to break into freelancing and make a living wage at the same time (I’ve never had to worry a single time about making enough money to pay my bills). Second, I’m just not the type of writer who likes to spend weeks on one piece. Third, I really like creating the quick content that a lot of clients want — listicles, guides, round-ups, reviews, etc. No hard-hitting journalism for me.
However, I also work my ass off. For me, high-volume freelancing means I work a pretty typical corporate schedule: 6 to 9 hours per day, five days per week. That also means I write, on average, four to sometimes 10 articles per day (at one point, when I was writing small, industry news snippets, I could crank out 25 or more per day; 10/10 would not recommend, for your own sanity). But because I can charge lower rates (my fees start at $0.08/word or $50/hour), I always have plenty of work.
It’s Not For Everyone…
High-volume freelancing is not for everyone. I recognize that. But it is a good option for those who want to make more money, just break into full-time freelancing and pay their bills, have a little more job security or just supplement what they’re making from some of those bigger pieces.
Holly Riddle is a freelance travel, lifestyle and food journalist and copywriter who dabbles in fiction. She can be reached at email@example.com. Her website is hollyriddle.org and her twitter handle is @TheHollyRiddle.