We all want to land a high paying freelance gig or two (or three). But how do you know if that gig is truly worth your time and effort?
At FinCon15, I offered a short presentation on how to get paid more for freelance writing. Many writers are interested in this topic because many of us would really, really like to be able to feed our families and enjoy life while doing something we love.
I’ve spent more than 10 years getting to this point, and most of my current clients fall under the category “high paying freelance gig” – at least in my mind. As I’ve talked to other freelancers and aspiring freelancers, I’ve discovered that what I consider a high paying freelance gig might be very different from what the next person expects to be paid.
How to Decide if That’s a High Paying Freelance Gig
For some freelancers, a high paying gig starts at a specific dollar amount. If you sign up for the Freelance Writers Den, you have access to a job board that doesn’t accept gigs of less than $50 per article or post (although there are much better-paying gigs available on the board as well).
Today, for me, that rate is low. I wouldn’t accept it under most circumstances. But I’ve been doing this for more than a decade, and I’ve developed an expertise and a reputation in my niche. If I’d been offered $50 to write an article eight years ago, when I was lucky to get $15 or $20 for a post, I’d have jumped at the chance, and considered it a high paying freelance gig.
Sometimes, a high paying freelance gig is one that pays two or three times what you started out making.
Others measure a high paying gig in strict dollar amounts. I know some writers who don’t consider a gig high paying until it reaches $200, $300, or $500. There are writers who look at my own starting fee and tell me that all my jobs are high paying. And I agree. I am fortunate that I can command a fee that many writers would be happy to get as a stretch goal – although I could still probably charge higher rates. There’s always someone who makes more.
Whether or not a gig is high paying is mostly a matter of perspective. If you normally charge $150 for a post, you get used to that rate, and you might no longer feel that $150 is high paying. You might feel like a gig needs to pay $200 or $300 before you consider it high paying. What you were ecstatic to receive as payment last year might seem like no more than your due this year.
What Can You Expect to Earn to Start as a Freelance Writer?
When you start out, you probably can’t expect to command a high rate. If you have a specific expertise, or if you have a large following, you might be able to ask for more when you begin. Most freelance writers, though, start out making much less than we’d like. In fact, many of us work for peanuts in the name of getting paid to write anything so that we can make rent this month. Asking for a higher rate at the outset of your freelance career is a luxury that many professional writers can’t afford without a “real” job to pay the bills.
There’s no set rate for writing when you start. In many ways, online writing is still very much the Wild, Wild West. Anything goes. You make what others are willing to pay you. It is worth noting, though, that many starting writers can make between $20 and $50 per post at the outset. That is a step up from where I was when I started out in 2005. The Internet was a very different place, and I was thrilled the day I began increasing my rate from $5 to $15 for a 350-word keyword article.
Working up to the point where each of your gigs is a high paying freelance gig requires time and effort. You need to build a solid reputation and a portfolio that shows what you can do. In some cases, depending on your goals as a freelance writer and the publications you want to work with, you might even need to make an effort to build your personal brand and gain something of a following.
Don’t give up on eventually commanding higher rates. It’s not something that happens instantly, but if you offer consistent quality over time, pretty soon every job you land will be a high paying freelance gig.