I wish I had a success system to follow when I launched my freelance writing business.
Lucky for you, based on my years of experience, I’ve developed the Be a Content Writing Pro Four-Stage Success System, to save you a lot of trial and error in growing your business.
I define the four stages as follows:
Stage One- Startup – A strong foundation is critical for any successful business. In Stage One, I take you to the point of contracting with your first clients so that you can start to earn a side income.
Stage Two – Build – In Stage Two, I teach you how to get repeat work from clients and grow your skills, so that you can increase your side income to a modest full-time income.
Stage Three – Achieve – Stage Three is about proving yourself as a reliable freelance content writer who delivers quality work on time, and therefore will get rehired and will get referrals. At this stage, a freelance content writing business could create a full-time income to support you and your family.
Stage Four – Thrive – The pros work and thrive in Stage Four where they can pick and choose their writing contracts, while they create personally branded information products or income-producing assets, like my Be a Content Writing Pro Four-Stage Success System. With the global marketing reach of the internet, this stage offers unlimited income potential.
No matter what stage your freelance content writing business is in at present, or even if you haven’t set up your business, I want to help you move to the next stage and succeed!
The Be a Content Writing Pro Four-Stage Success System is a progressive business model designed to help content writers start and grow a professional business in their desired niche. Eventually, the model guides them from trading hours for dollars to creating information product assets to sell to a global internet market.
Here’s a bird’s-eye view of the system modules related to finances, market niche, marketing, building assets, office set up, writing skills, and soft skills.
Here’s an excerpt from the type of training I share in my system – 7 Marketing Tips and 3 Mistakes to Avoid.
7 Marketing Tips
I’ve done all these things, and I know they work.
1. Identify one or two niches where you have an interest and want to develop more expertise.
2. Set up a simple website with a portfolio of writing samples. Create your own site to start. I use NoHassleWebsites. Follow Dennis Miller’s StoryBrand guide to designing websites. Use the free Canva version to design your logo and other graphics.
3. Update your résumé.
4. Update your LinkedIn profile.
5. Make sure your professional photo is flattering.
6. Send out a new business email announcement to everyone you know. Attendnetworking events and ask for referrals.
7. Ask for referrals from satisfied clients and get their testimonials to post on your website
Note: Simply following these seven steps will not launch your freelance content writing business. I have a lot more knowledge to share with you so that you know what you’re doing. In my upcoming course, Beginner to Professional Content Writer: Four-Stage System for Freelance Business Success, I teach you the step-by-step process for getting paying clients in your chosen niche(es).
3 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid
- An empty pipeline – You must keep your business pipeline full of prospects (proposals), current clients (receivables), and past clients (paid).
- Errors in grammar and spelling in your samples- Use word processing tools and the free version of Grammarly.
- Not picking one niche or two at the most – You must narrow your niche to succeed in the world of freelance content writing. Don’t dilute your expertise. Consider your experiences or carve out a new niche where you want to develop expertise.
The second example of training provided in the Four-Stage System is on the subject of Relationship Building.
Through my broadcasts and programs, I teach relationship-building strategies for staying relevant and profitable through rapid economic change.
After many years of working as a successful freelancer for a variety of editors, I have created the following list of recommendations for any freelance writer who wants to be known for delivering exceptional customer service.
Note: Your customer is not the reader or the web site visitor, and it’s not the publication. Your customer is the individual who contacts you and gives you an assignment. Keeping who your customer is in mind makes life easier for everyone involved. Overcome your fears and any lack of confidence by focusing on service.
1. Respond to all communication as fast as possible – editors have deadlines, too, and hate to be kept waiting.
2. If you’re not sure of any element involved with an assignment, ask for clarification early. If you still don’t get it, ask again. If you discover something else while you’re working on an assignment that you’re not sure about, then ask for clarification. When editors are confident you are on the same page as they are, their trust in you rises. That means additional assignments.
3. Learn how to communicate effectively with all personality types – adjust your communication style as needed. The quicker you can get a good read on the editor’s personality and expectations, the easier it will be to give them what they want.
4. Don’t ask for praise or expect it. Recognition will be rare in most cases. Early on an assigning editor told me that I’d know if I was doing an excellent job because I would continue to get assignments.
5. Expect course corrections even when deadlines are tight. In most cases, editors don’t change stories in progress unless someone higher up in the editorial food chain told them to.
6. Be a fair team player with other freelancers. This tip is a real thing, not just a platitude, btw. Everyone has an ego, and that’s a good thing. Some freelance writers are particularly self-focused. Don’t be that person because everyone else will soon find out.
7. Understand the business goals behind your assignments. Freelance assignments don’t exist independently; they serve one or more higher purposes. If a website needs a hard-hitting review, for example, they don’t want a gloss-over puff piece that coats product specifications with marketing department promises. Also, if you’re writing news articles, be careful not to editorialize.
8. Be proactive with suggestions that support business goals. If you have an idea that you think could improve a piece or multiple assignments, don’t hesitate if you’re sure. If your suggestion is rejected, don’t take it personally.
9. Expect copy editors to be exacting. Because they will be. That’s why they get paid.
10. Volunteer for high profile and rush assignments. If you enjoy the pressure of high expectations, dig in. You might even consider telling an assigning editor with whom you have a working relationship that if they get in a jam with a last-minute piece, that you’ll grab it if possible.
If you When you make a mistake, and an editor points it out, step up, take it, apologize, and fix it immediately. Everyone makes mistakes. How you handle it when an error or omission is brought to your attention is much more important than the fact that you made a mistake.
Let’s talk about getting paid!
You can grow a freelance content writing business from 1) a side income to 2) a modest living to 3) supporting your family and then to 4) your dream business by selling information products in your niche. How much money do you want to make? I am a firm believer in visualizing and then making it happen.
How Much Do You Want to Earn?
Do you want to work a little or a lot? Do you want to make a lot of money or just a little bit of money for extras? Are you in this for the long-term? You need to consider the answers to these questions, as you set your income goals as a content writer. You’ll earn the income to match your belief, goals, marketing efforts, productivity, and customer service.
Setting your rates as a freelancer seems intimidating at first, but it does get easier with experience. Don’t do it at the last minute for a new client. Develop a rate structure you can reference for every writing job you get. Here are some things to consider in pricing your services.
Different Rate Structures
By the project (flat rate)
By the hour
By the word
By the page
Retainer (weekly, monthly, annual)
For example, if you begin with a rate of $25 per hour, you’ll want to add at least another 25% of that rate to account for your home office expenses, including equipment, insurance, taxes, and savings.
If you’re an established expert in your niche, then that should be worth at least another 10% on top of your base rate.
Check out Writer’s Market and All Indie Writers for industry rate information.
I can’t predict for you what income you’ll make as a freelancer. I do know that you need to “see it before you believe it.” It’s always better to start with the end in mind, and then make it happen!
No two clients or jobs are alike. Sometimes you need to accept a client’s rate structure if you want to work for them. Sometimes you need to negotiate the best rate you can get. Use your rate structure as a starting point and adjust your quote based on several factors:
- Whether you expect the client to give you repeat business
- The “rush” nature of the job
- The kind of the assignment, e.g., a standard blog post (low-end fee) versus a technical white paper (high-end fee)
- The amount of research required
- Regional fee differences, e.g., a New York City-based client versus a client in a small town
- The type of client, e.g., profit versus non-profit versus government entity
There’s no question that success is within your grasp with the right success system and the right guide. Be a Content Writing Pro offers both, and we look forward to serving you.