I love writing. It’s one of the only things I’m any good at. I don’t want to spend eight or more hours a day staring at a screen and tapping on the keyboard. Maybe I’m lazy, but I’d rather spend as little time working as possible.
It’s not that I don’t love my work — it’s just that I also love being with my family and pursuing my hobbies.
For the past several years, I’ve made a full-time income while only writing two to three hours a day, five days a week. Last year I took eight weeks off. It’s something anyone can do.
7 Lessons I’ve Learned Making a Full-Time Income Online for 7 Years
Making money online is more about worth ethic than talent or charisma
Write for Businesses
The easiest and fastest way to make money as a writer is to write for businesses. It’s not the only way to make money. It’s not the sexiest way or the most fun way to make money writing either. There are far fewer obstacles than with other writing careers.
I know writers who are making a killing from self-publishing. They make a lot more than I do. They also work a lot harder. I know writers who make great money writing posts about whatever they want. They work incredibly hard.
I respect these writers. They deserve their success. Sometimes I’m jealous of their monthly haul. However, I make enough to cover my needs, and I spend much less time working. We all have to find the path that works best for us. Freelance copywriting is my path.
For every writing superstar earning six-figures as an author or indie blogger, there are thousands of other writers who are barely scraping by.
When you write for businesses as a freelance copywriter or content writer, you can charge $150, $250, or even $400 for a single blog post. Businesses need writers, and there are hundreds of thousands of businesses all across the world who are looking to hire freelance writers.
I’ve worked with companies in over 50 different counties from the comfort of my home office. There is nothing special about me. If you’re willing to learn a few skills and you don’t mind writing about what companies need you to cover, you can be a successful freelancer.
Learn How to Deliver Results
Why do businesses hire writers? Because they want to attract more customers and clients. If you can learn how to write in a way that delivers results for your clients, you will always be able to find work.
Business writing covers a lot of different projects:
· Blog posts
· Web copy
· Email copy
· White papers
· Video scripts
· Direct mail
· Shareholder reports
· Lead magnets
· Landing pages
You don’t have to master all of them to be successful. All you need to do is learn how to consistently deliver results with at least one of these types of projects.
Business writing isn’t about views and likes. It’s about sales and conversions. If you can help a business make money, they will pay you whatever you ask.
Raise Your Rates and then Raise them Some More
The most important part of the lazy writer’s business plan is charging high rates. Even if you’re a mediocre writer and just starting, you can find clients to pay you $25-$50 for a 500-word blog post.
You should only work at that low rate long enough to build a portfolio and to learn the ropes of freelancing. The biggest mistake I made in my career was taking too long to raise my rates.
As you increase your rates, three things happen:
1. You get better clients
2. You make more money in less time
3. You enjoy your work more
If you charge $100 for a blog post instead of $50, you can work half as hard. You need half as many clients. Some specialized freelance bloggers work with Fortune 1000 companies and charge $400+ for a single blog post.
If you are committed to working as few hours as possible, you have to charge high rates. If you want to make $75,000 a year, you need to make $1,500 a week for 50 weeks a year. You get to take two weeks off. That means you need to earn $300 a day. If you charge $25 a blog post, you need to write 12 posts a day!
If you charged $150 a post, you only need to write two posts a day.
Every time you raise your rates, you’re creating more free time for yourself.
As a business writer, you control how much you get paid. It’s a big advantage over other writing gigs.
How to Set Your Rates as a Freelance Writer
The mechanics and best practices for setting your freelance writing rates
Write What You Know
Since the goal is to make as much money in as little time as possible, you need to get your hourly rate as high as possible. Please note, you should never charge by the hour as a freelance writer — it’s not efficient or fair. The best practice is to charge per project. But, you should be calculating your internal billable hour rate.
The two ways to increase your hourly rate are to charge more and to write faster.
One way to write faster is to write about topics you already know a lot about. The allows you to spend less time researching. The more you write about certain topics, the faster you will become at researching and writing.
If you’re worried, you’ll get bored, learn about more topics. There are no rules that say you can only write about certain things. You will be more profitable if most of your time is spent writing what you know.
Learn to Write Faster
Another way to increase your internal billable rate is to learn to write faster. The more you write, the faster you will get. You can also invest in learning keyboard shortcuts for the software you use most, and in typing lessons.
The faster you write, the more you make each hour.
I can produce a publish-ready 1,000-word blog post in an hour if I’m familiar with the niche and topic. There are plenty of writers who are much faster. Between my writing speed and what I charge clients, I’m happy with my internal billable rate. But I will be raising my rates again soon.
Do One Marketing Task Every Day
The hardest part of freelancing isn’t the client work. It’s getting the clients.
If you commit to doing one productive marketing task every workday, you will have fewer droughts.
It’s much easier to spend a little time marketing yourself every day than it is to spend days or weeks looking for new clients because of a lull from your regular clients.
Some productive marketing tasks include:
· Creating prospect lists
· Sending cold emails
· Blogging on your freelancer website
· Writing articles for LinkedIn or Medium
· Following up with former clients
Freelancing can be feast or famine. Marketing every day will keep you from starving.
There is so much to learn about writing, freelancing, marketing, and the niches you write in. Never stop learning. The more curious you are, the more strategies and tactics you will discover for your business.
I’m not the smartest freelancer out there. By learning from what others are doing, I can constantly improve my business. Learning new things also helps me stay excited about my work. It helps prevent burnout.
Develop a Side Passion Project
Burnout is a significant danger as a freelancer, even if you’re lazy.
I’ve burned out a few times. Each time it was because I wasn’t feeling creatively fulfilled. The solution was to create a few side passion projects. These are creative endeavors I do because they’re fun. Some of my side projects include:
· Writing creative non-fiction
· Indie blogging
I’ve monetized some of these projects. It’s okay if I don’t make much from them. I do them because I enjoy them. They’re my hobbies. There is no financial pressure to get them to be profitable because I have my freelancing. Any money I do make from them feels like a fun bonus.
These projects keep me feeling creatively fulfilled in ways my work does not.
If you don’t want to work all day every day, you have to set boundaries for yourself and your clients.
Some of the boundaries that I’ve found to be helpful are:
· No unscheduled client calls
· I don’t communicate with clients on weekends
· Two days a week (usually the weekend) I don’t do any client work
· I schedule vacations
· I charge a 100% premium for rush jobs
· I don’t work with rude people
Your mileage may vary with these specific tips.
If you’re serious about being a lazy writer, you need boundaries. Writing can consume your life, and clients will often push you until you stop them.
The lazy writer’s life isn’t for everyone. Some of the downsides are:
· Freelancing isn’t passive income
· You don’t get to write whatever you want
· None of your friends or family will understand what you do
· You are solely responsible for your success or failure
· It takes time to build your business beyond just writing
· Most of your work will be ghostwriting
· People will tell you you’re not a real writer
Despite the downsides, I love being a lazy writer. Freelance copywriting has given me the freedom to enjoy watching my kids grow up. I never miss an important moment because of work.
I’m not wealthy. I didn’t write this on my laptop on the beach in Thailand. But, I’m happy, and I have written client projects from a beach house on the Oregon coast as I watched the sunset after playing in the waves all afternoon with my kids.
That’s all I want out of life.
Join my Weirdo Poetry substack newsletter to get small strange stories and haiku in your inbox. You get new posts 2–3 times a week with the free version.