If you’ve been thinking about freelance writing or you’ve been at it for a while, you might be wondering why are freelance writers underpaid? Well, there are a lot of reasons for this. The good news is that most of them are in your control.
Why Are Freelance Writers Underpaid?
Only about two percent of people who want to become freelance writers ever make a living at it.
It’s a shame really.
There are plenty of good-paying freelance clients out there if you know where to find them and plenty of things you can do today to increase the money you’re making with your freelance writing jobs.
Here are some of the main reasons you might not be making as much as you’d like.
1. You Work for Content Mills
Getting work through a content mill is pretty easy. The bar to entry is very low.
You don’t even have to be a really good writer.
Content mill owners know that freelance writers need to make money.
So they low-ball the rates.
I mean, no one is going to make a livable wage if they are getting paid 2 or 3 or 4 cents per word.
You would simply have to work too hard and too many hours to make enough to cover your bills.
Chances are you would get burned out very quickly.
The problem is freelance writers have no idea what is required to make it in their chosen field.
And many freelance writers are so desperate to make money that they will work for ridiculously low pay in the hopes of getting rich someday.
That’s simply not going to happen at a content mill.
2. Your Rates are Too Low
Okay, so you already know that working at a content mill is a slow train ride to the poor house, so you do what you can to find your own clients or look for work on Upwork.
Even so, you take lower-paying jobs or keep your rates at a lower level.
The thinking is that you will get more work that way.
It is possible that you might get more work, but again, it will be lower paying freelance writing jobs.
It has also been my experience that lower-paying clients typically expect more for less and are more difficult to work with than higher-paying clients.
There is a good chance you aren’t charging enough. Most writers don’t.
I understand that you might be concerned that you won’t be able to find clients if you charge more, but that isn’t the case at all.
I even once had a client that was concerned I wouldn’t be able to give them the quality of writing they were looking for because I didn’t charge enough, and at the time I was charging about $200 dollars for the 700-word article they wanted.
When freelance writers take the first low-balled rates offered, they cut themselves off from success.
They don’t know what to charge and they hope that their poor pay will lead to riches someday.
The problem is that you think you’ll get rich because of a few lucky breaks.
3. You Don’t Know How to Market Your Services
Most freelance writers don’t know how to market their own services.
They don’t know how to find clients.
The truth is, all you need to do is decide who you want to write for and then pick up the phone and start calling.
You’ll have good-paying clients very quickly.
Just keep in mind, you don’t want to look for clients (businesses) that don’t have a lot of money.
Mom and pop businesses may not have the budget to pay you what you want and deserve.
Stick with mid-sized and larger companies and corporations.
4. The Less You Charge The Harder You Work
Think about it for a minute…
Would you rather make $30 for a 1,000-word article or $300 for the same article?
Of course, you’d rather make more.
So, if you are low-balling yourself on your rates, you will have to do 10 times the amount of work to make $300 dollars than if you are charging what you’re worth in the first place.
As they say…work smarter not harder.
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5. Freelance Writers Under Value Their True Worth
Unfortunately, many freelance writers don’t value their talent enough and will work for pennies.
And then they complain that there are no clients for them. And they wonder why no one wants to hire them.
So, it’s up to you to find clients that will pay the price you need in order to make a living.
If you decide that you are never going to seek out clients, then yes, freelance writing will be hard.
I get it that you might lack the confidence you need to pick up the phone or email a prospective client when you are first starting out.
It is so much easier…and safer…to sign on to a content mill and have the work come to you without ever having to face someone, but you’ll never make money that way.
Do what you need to do to build up your confidence in yourself and your writing skills. If necessary, fake it until you make it.
Value your abilities, regardless of what they are, and then others will value them as well.
6. You Don’t Find You Own Clients
Another reason why freelance writers are underpaid is that they don’t find their own clients.
Sure, you’ve set up a website and put up a profile on LinkedIn and now you’re waiting for clients to come to you.
It never worked for me, but I know it does for others.
But if you want good-paying clients today, then you will need to be much more proactive.
You will actually have to go out there and find them.
By that, I mean go out on the internet and find them. Pick up the phone or send them an email or even fill out a contact form on their website.
However, you want to do it…just do it.
And do it a lot.
My goal used to be to send out 100 emails or make 100 phone calls per day.
One or two or hit or miss isn’t going to do it.
Make a marketing plan and then stick with it.
7. You Give Up Too Easily
The other reason why freelance writers are underpaid is that they get discouraged and give up too easily.
Many writers don’t know how to handle rejection.
The first no on the phone, or the first client that decides to go with someone else, they stop trying, and they give up.
The fact is that rejection happens to everyone, but successful business people learn how to handle it so that it doesn’t crush them.
The sooner a freelance writer stops taking rejection personally, the sooner they will get more work.
8. Your Clients Don’t Understand the Value You Bring
Some clients don’t understand the value of having a good freelance writer.
These clients feel that they can get a better deal for less money. So they go for the low-balled rates, even when it means getting less quality work.
And then they wonder why the writing isn’t giving them the results they hoped for.
Of course, they blame the writer and not themselves.
You’ll also find many clients that see writing as an expense instead of an investment.
You want to stay clear of these people.
Otherwise, you will have to spend all of your time justifying your rates, and that never ends well.
Instead, only work with clients that understand that good writing will add value to their company, will help them find more customers, and make more sales.
When they see your writing through that lens, they will be happy to pay you whatever you want.
9. Your Not Treating Freelance Writing as a Business
Your mistake is that you’re not treating freelance writing as a business.
The fact is that a business operates on the principle of having a good product and then selling it for more than the cost of creating it.
If you don’t think of freelance writing as a business, then there is no way you’re going to be able to charge enough money.
How many hours per week are you working?
How many hours per day do you spend marketing for new clients?
Are you working in your PJs or do you get up and get dressed and ready for work as if you were leaving the house and going to an office?
The way you see yourself and the actions you take will determine your success.
10. You Fear Losing a Client
Most freelance writers are afraid that they will lose their clients if they charge too much.
I get it, but you’re wrong.
There are millions of businesses out there right now who need good writers and there will never be enough writers to fill all the jobs.
That means if you lose a client, you can pick up two more tomorrow that will pay the rates you want.
So, fear is not something that you should have to worry about when trying to succeed as a freelancer.
Losing clients is a possibility in any business. It is part of being in business.
Don’t fret over it. Just get another one.
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11. You’re Writing Low Paying Types of Content
Chances are if you aren’t making good money writing, then you are writing the wrong kind of content such as articles for niche websites.
Or you write articles for sites that have no money or are just getting started.
And these are the type of sites that offer low pay rates for their work.
If you’re working for these types of websites, then it’s time to seek out clients that will pay a higher rate.
Think about upping your game and start writing case studies, sales pages, and white papers. If you do, you will see your income skyrocket.
12. You Don’t Know How Much Time It Takes You to Do Your Job Right
A lot of freelance writers don’t understand how much time it takes them to do their jobs right.
Or they think that because they can get a lot of writing done in a short period of time, they should charge less money.
Before you start charging for your services, you need to know what goes into the typical writing project that you will be doing and how long it takes you to write it.
Otherwise, you don’t really know what to charge and there is a good chance you will be charging too little.
13. You Accept Low Pay Because You Are Desperate for Work
Another reason why so many freelance writers are underpaid is that they accept low rates because they are desperate for work.
Some writers will always take their first job with a content mill because they are desperate for work and looking for any work at all in order to earn enough money to get by.
This is certainly understandable, but while you are taking on lower-paying jobs, still market yourself for higher-paying ones.
Once you get enough of the higher-paying jobs, then kick the lower-paying clients to the curb.
How to Make More Money Freelance Writing
Here are a couple of ways you can start to make more money by freelancing.
Charge Clients Based on the Value of What You Do for Them
Once you work for a few clients, you’ll know what they expect from you.
You’ll know how much time it takes to complete their projects.
And so, you can start charging them based on the value of your services.
For example, if you are writing a white paper that your client will use to get people to sign up for their newsletter with the intent of selling them something down the line, your fee should be based partly on how much they will make off of your writing.
If they make $2,000 dollars per sale, then you should be making at least that, if not more, for writing the white paper.
Choose the Right Type of Clients
I understand that when you’re just starting out you are happy to have a client, any client, but once you get going, you really need to start to be much more selective.
You need to go out and do some marketing and be very selective in what type of clients you take on.
The fact is that not every client will be a good fit for you.
And if you don’t pick the right clients, then there’s no way that you’ll ever be able to charge enough money for your services so that you can make a living.
If you have to work at convincing your client to accept your writing rates, then you have the wrong client.
You need to show your client that your work is of the highest quality and worth the money that they will pay you for it.
Practice to Speed Up Your Writing
You need to practice your writing so that you can get your ideas down on paper as quickly as possible.
And then you have to be able to move through the work so that you can start getting paid for it.
It can take months to learn how to write well, and then you’ll be able to speed things up dramatically when it comes time for delivering content.
The faster you can write, the more money you will make in the same amount of time.
For example, I can write a 1,000-word article in about 30 minutes as long as I am familiar with the topic.
That’s why picking a niche and writing for that niche helps you make more money.
You can write the content faster because you already have a good understanding of it. You’ll also have to spend less time researching the topic.
Improve Your Skills with Online Writing Courses
There are a lot of different writing courses out there these days. And the best way to find one that works for you is to read what others have to say about it.
The fact is that writing courses are very popular because they work!
And they give you the confidence you need in order to start making real money for your work.
I’ve taken several myself and all of them have been worth the money and have made me money.
Here are a couple that I think can help you.
Can Anyone do Freelance Writing?
Freelance writing is a very popular way to make an income online. In fact, hundreds of thousands of people make their living in this way.
There are many different types of freelance writers out there, but the one thing they all have in common is that they enjoy what they do and love going to work.
It’s fun to write!
It is true. If you are a decent writer and can meet deadlines then yes you can be a freelance writer.
Freelance writing is a huge industry and there are thousands of writers selling their services to millions of clients.
There’s no reason you can’t do it too.
To Sum it All Up:
Too many freelance writers are not making what they deserve. There are many possible reasons for that, but the good news is you can control all of them. Make a few changes, and you too can be on the road to financial success.