Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Get Started as a Freelance Writer—Part Five, 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.

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.
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
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
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. I'm back in town (actually back in the country, I'm away teaching at the beach). Look for a post later this week highlighting my recent trip to Ethiopia.

Don't forget to join the conversation!


  1. Lots of good stuff here, as always. Thanks! Welcome home to America!

  2. This is great. I enjoy how you clearly state all the info in a way I can understand and do. :P

    Thanks, and welcome back.

  3. I really liked what you had to say here. And as usual, it's timely too. My husband just lost his job on Monday after our vacation. With that said, I need to make some money at this writing thing! What are the baby steps in between? Or, how do you get to the point where you can ask for money?

    Glad to have you back stateside! Love to get together with you all again this summer.

  4. careful planning is so important when trying to begin a new career as a freelance writer. Many people just jump into it with the mindset that they will learn as they go, but that isn't the best way to do it.

  5. Very informative post! There is a lot of information here that can help any business get started with a successful social networking campaign!
    remote working