Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Learn How to Earn a Living as a Freelance Writer, Part Four—Find Copywriting Clients and Know What to Charge

Last week I introduced you to copywriting. This week I want to show you how easy it is to find clients, and give you an idea of what to charge.

Target potential clients locally
Targeting Clients
The first place to find potential clients is with the people you know—and who know you. No, I’m not talking about imposing on family and friends, but in offering them a valuable resource—YOU!

In times past, almost every business had a yellow pages ad. This was the place to find a business and for a business to be found. Fast forward to the last time you needed info on a business. Did you pick up the local yellow pages—or log onto the Internet? Chances are you visited the web.

Now all these businesses have to have websites—and they need websites that turn visitors into paying customers. That’s where you come in. You can offer them real value by hiring you to increase their traffic and visibility.

So who exactly do you start with? Here are some of the best ways to find clients.

Look at the businesses nearby
By association—look for natural pairing between you and potential clients, from hobbies to business connections.

Think about what hobbies or business experience you have? What are your hobbies? Are you a gardener—maybe you already have a relationship with a local nursery. Start there. What about former businesses. Have you worked as a realtor? Then approach brokers to write content helpful to their customers.

By location—this could be your small town, neighborhood business district, state or region.
You can attack this several ways, first by targeting a physical section of your town or city. Or second, by choosing industry to concentrate on, such as childcare or the medical professional.
You can also go one step further, literally. Have some fliers printed up and walk a city block in your local business district. Talk to the business owners; let them put a name with a face. In both circumstances, even if the contact doesn’t pan out immediately, you’ll find that business owners often keep paperwork with financial information on it. A flier you gave out six months ago may generate a new client tomorrow.

How to Charge
Know what to charge
Fees for writers are a hot topic on the job boards. There are two major schools of thought. First, it’s a buyer’s market—with individual blog posts going for as little as $25 apiece. Then there’s the group who says they won’t work for less than $100 an hour. I think the truth is somewhere in between.

I think it’s important to gain experience and sometimes the best way to do that is to write for free. BUT it’s also important not to keep writing for free. As you gain experience you bring value to your clients and should be paid accordingly.

Where to Start
These tips will help you decide the best rates for you.
  • Decide how much you have to make this year and break it down.
  • Realize how much time it will take to do the job.
  • Ask your client what their budget is.
  • Offer to do one or two small tasks cheaply, then re-negotiate.
Don’t forget to factor in these items before you quote a price.
Realize your days will be filled with down time. Times of marketing, querying and consulting with possible clients.

Take expenses into account. Copying or printing costs for flyers and letters. Postage. As well as upkeep of your business – computer and cell phone – as well as Internet access and any fees.
Back and forth between you and the client while you learn what works and what doesn’t.

Importance of a Daily Rate
Have a daily rate in mind
Earlier I suggested you decide what you want to make each year. Now let’s break it down even further and find your daily rate. This may seem redundant, but bear with me.

Having a daily rate is vital when you’re trying to decide whether or not to accept a job or if you’re asked for a ball park figure on rates.

Now that you know why you should care about your daily rate, here’s how to do it. Say your goal is to earn $100,000 from freelance writing this year.

There are 365 days in the year, but 104 of those days are weekends. There are also roughly 10 holidays a year where it’s virtually impossible to get much work done — Christmas, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. Family members will likely expect you to shut off your computer and pay attention to them on these occasions.

Let’s hope you’re not working weekends or major holidays, and that you also plan to take at least two weeks off a year (an important time to regroup). That leaves around 240 real, viable work days in the year.

Divide $100,000 by 240 and you get roughly $417 a day. That’s your daily rate. Want to earn $50,000 a year? That’s around $209 per working day.

Once again it's your turn to chime in on this subject. Post any questions or suggestions you have and let's learn from each other.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. As Dr. Schuller said, "Inch by inch . . . anything's a cinch." Thanks for breaking this elephant into bite-size chunks.

  2. Rosemary, thanks so much for all the encouragement! Blessings, E

  3. Edie, Is this something I could even think about venturing into? There's a local construction business in my area that I immediately thought of when I read this. But I know absolutely nothing about construction. I'm assuming that you have to know something about the topic, am I right? Thanks for the post! Love you sweet friend!

  4. Another great post today, Edie! You are consistently offering content that I haven't seen on any other blog. I love reading your blog each day!

  5. It's a dream for me and with your blog as a guide this dream can be a reality.