I’ve recently received a few different emails from other freelancers (in addition to a few messages from friends) who are getting discouraged and weren’t really sure what they were doing wrong. With so many prospective clients trying to get away with offering $20-per-article assignments (or worse!), it’s understandable as to why people are struggling to gain traction with their business.
They have to work all day and all night at content-mill rates just to be able to barely cover their bills. Plus, it’s generally work they really don’t want to do.
So, what’s the secret to getting steady, better-paying work?
Well, there are still a lot of great-paying assignments out there – you just have to go after them.
Here are the top three steps for going after those better-paying assignments, so you can say “goodbye” to content-mills forever!
#1: Never Stop Marketing
I know I’ve talked about this before, it’s something that should prove to you just how important it is!
In order to get those better assignments, you need to be sending out daily queries, pitches, and letters of introduction. Go to trade shows, seminars, and other events that afford in-person networking opportunities within your industry or niche. Barring any sort of disability that prevents you from doing so, work on improving your cold-calling skills.
Get your name out there: Connect with others on social media, do guest posts, leave comments on other blogs, be active on Twitter, use LinkedIn, etc.
[Check out this post for ways to stand out online!]
If you aren’t constantly working on improving your marketing skills – querying, networking, cold-calling, etc. – then you aren’t marketing your business. How are people supposed to find you, and trust you, if you do not market yourself? You have to do more than just send out a resume here or there to online job ads.
[Check out this post for ways to improve your website traffic!]
You should always be looking for new and better clients to keep your calendar full. This is also how you raise your rates. You find the clients that have those better budgets, you work with them regularly, and then you take a look at your roster. That is the time to drop your lowest-paying client. If you are actively marketing and finding prospective clients, you can drop your lowest clients that much faster. This means your average rate of pay will be significantly higher than before.
[Check out this post on how to get better-paying clients!]
If you’re stuck writing articles for $20 a pop, it’s time to work on marketing your business.
#2: Network, Network, Network
It’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement of getting a better-paying assignment that you forget to start using that to build relationships.
Connect with that editor or client on social media, keep their information in an Excel spreadsheet, and keep nurturing that relationship. This way, you will never lose track of them, even if they move on to work for a different publication or company.
If you are building relationships and networking with professionals within your niche, you can use that to gain referrals for new assignments. It’s critical to develop a positive rapport with your clients – you never know where they may lead you.
When you turn in your latest assignment to your client, don’t let things end there. Send along two or three new ideas, or at least ask the editor/client what their needs are within the next few weeks or month. Keep things going, and turn each client-writer relationship you make into a steady gig.
Doing this is how I turned a random gig into a great, long-term relationship with one of my favorite clients. I have been working her for nearly a full year now, and she has even been able to accommodate my new rates. She often thinks of me for new assignments, and I check in with her about once a month to see if she has anything she needs help with.
#3: Reuse Your Ideas
It’s okay to take a great story idea and sell it to multiple places. I have recycled story ideas numerous times this year, and it’s not even May yet. This is a great way to maximize your earnings, and gives you a chance to really hone your writing skills.
Now, I’m not telling you to go out and sell the EXACT SAME story to everyone. That’s unprofessional, and just really isn’t okay to do. Instead, cover the same story idea from a different angle each and every time. Keep going until you run out of ways to write that particular idea, and then move on.
Doing this increases your chances of earning more because you can bring into account the amount of research and interviews you have already done, which makes you are far more efficient. It cuts down on the time you have to spend researching, and allows for more time writing. This means you will finish a piece earlier - - and get paid sooner.
Interview one source, and then sell that story to a trade publication, a local newspaper, a company with a blog, etc. The more articles you can complete in a year, the more you are able to earn.
[Worried your ideas aren't original enough? Check out this post on adding your own perspective!]