If you want to charge higher freelance rates, you need to know how to better market yourself.
I'm in the process of trying to market myself better as a freelance writer. I'm doing pretty well. I've become more comfortable with asking for a higher fee, but part of being able to ask for more is employing market strategies that show others that you're “worth it.”
As you attempt to better market yourself as a freelance writer, here are five tips that can help you get to a point at which you can charge higher rates:
1. Work in a Niche
My main niche is personal finance. I write about money management, family finance, and beginning investing. As part of that, I also write about small business and entrepreneurship, especially as it relates to a home business.
While I occasionally write about other topics, my main niche — my specialty — is finance. You don't even have to know a lot about a niche in order to write about it. While it can help to know about your niche before you write about it, the reality is that it isn't necessary.
Choosing a niche can provide you with a way to build a body of work that shows you are an expert, especially if you start a blog in your desired niche. While you don't have to commit to a niche entirely, it helps to build yourself up in a specific area. You can charge more for that expertise, and build a reputation as one of the best freelancers in that topic area.
2. Ask for Testimonials
I have a couple of testimonials on this site. I should probably gather more testimonials. The truth is that, in any marketing campaign, having real examples of satisfied customers works. It's why reviews and testimonials are a part of virtually every marketing campaign ever conceived. Ask your clients for testimonials, and place them on your site.
3. Stop Working Off Freelance Bidding Sites
If you want to better market yourself, you need to stop relying on freelance bidding sites for most of your work. Spending all your time there tends to give you a poor idea of what you are really worth. Instead, concentrate your efforts elsewhere. With freelance bidding sites, you spend a lot of time lowballing yourself, and working for peanuts. Instead, take the time to market yourself on other sites that offer access to higher-paying work. Sites like Contently can be good places to start, and you can also look on job boards that offer better-paying jobs. In the meantime, build up your own portfolio.
4. Be Picky About Where You Appear
While you don't want to be a complete mercenary, and it's ok to write for free sometimes, it's also important to be picky about where you appear. Providing a free guest post for a site that is admired and respected can make sense (but don't do it all the time; you have to get paid sometime). It also makes sense to provide free content to bloggy buddies sometimes (but not always) that you trust. Showing that you have written for good sites can be a good way to raise your stock. Plus, you are more likely to reach clients willing and able to pay a little more for your services.
It's true that, sometimes, you can't afford to be picky about where you write. I know this. My stuff has appeared on numerous content farms, because, at the time, money was the object. When you're trying to make it work as a freelance writer and you're responsible for putting food on the table and the roof over your head, you'll take just about anything. I dealt with this reality by using a (not never clever) pseudonym for my content farm articles. That way, when someone Googles me, only the stuff that enhances my legitimacy comes up.
5. Brag About Where You've Been
Better market yourself with the help of social proof. I have a page on my financial blog designed to show that, by golly, Important People like me. I also have a cool graphic (thanks Pete!) that I have on the site. Social proof is important, just like testimonials are. Show others where you have been. I've appeared on NPR twice. My stuff has been linked to from the Wall Street Journal. You better believe that I let people know that.
When you can say that you've been featured on a web site, or that you created the landing page for highly-converting site, or if you can show numbers from a sales letter you wrote, you can “prove” your success — and justify your higher rate. Whether it's ghostwriting or anything else, if you can show a sample, or point to your work online, you will have a better chance of better marketing yourself.
Bonus Tip: Develop a Marketing Plan
Don't forget to create a marketing plan. The best way to better market yourself is to have a plan. Figure out how to present yourself online, and put together a plan of attack on social media and elsewhere. If you can raise your profile as an expert, you will be able to charge more for your work, and you might even bring clients to your doorstep, rather than having to go out and get them.