So you want to add your name to the growing list of freelance writers making good money online? Want to whip out your laptop and work from anywhere, so you can set your own schedule and live by your rules?
Of course you do! That’s why you’re here. And you’re smart for wanting to carve out a piece of this pie.
I’m here to tell you, though, that the rules have changed in recent years. Getting a writing job online today is a lot different than it was 5-10 years ago.
It may not come as a massive surprise that an online career could change so rapidly (lol, it’s the internet), but it’s tricky to keep pace with the “rules” of freelance writing when you’re focused on finding clients and doing great work.
To make matters even more difficult, every blog is giving different advice, everyone is claiming they are an expert, and some people are selling bad information just to make a buck.
Actually, that’s why I’m writing this post for you. I’ve been funding my lifestyle with online writing gigs for about 7 years at the time of writing this, so I’ve taken some major notes along the way.
Read on to learn about the new rules of making money online as a writer. There are only three, but each one is crucial to your success.
1. You control the most crucial piece of the puzzle: Effort
This might be the most important rule of the three. Without realizing this, you’ll never reach your full potential.
Most new freelancers struggle with this. Going from the corporate world, where your boss or supervisor calls the shots, to the freelance world, where the buck always stops with you, can be a less-than-smooth learning curve.
Here’s the deal with freelancing: there’s no one else to blame if something goes wrong and no one else to congratulate if something goes right. You’re the boss!
This is, understandably, both liberating and terrifying, but once you learn to streamline your workflow, you’ll find that this is actually kind of awesome.
It also means you’ve got to be an organized, driven person to succeed at managing your own career, which includes everything from finding leads and executing projects to sending invoices and facilitating all aspects of your self-employment finances.
Oh, and then there’s the whole digital nomad element, and getting your work done even when you’re not feeling inspired or motivated—a lot harder to do when you don’t have a boss!
If you can accept the fact that you’re fully responsible for your successes and failures and plan accordingly (ie: simply be willing to educate and empower yourself along the way), this first rule will work for you instead of against you.
Remember this: While you’re building your online writing career, you’re actively controlling your destiny.
2. You can’t use pushy sales tactics on high-quality clients.
It pains me to see the cheesy, pushy, lame things people write when applying for writing jobs.
We occasionally hire freelancers to do some writing work, and there are always a handful of applicants who try to verbally manhandle their way into landing the gig.
While they probably think they sound confident, they actually sound like amateurs who don’t know how to have a normal conversation.
I see this same language on Upwork profiles, portfolio websites, and even in Facebook groups.
If you sound like you’re trying to sell a used car or you’re talking about getting started on the project before you’ve been hired, you’re not going to impress high-quality clients.
Good clients take time to get to know you and determine whether they want to work with you. You’re completely sabotaging that part of the process if you try to jump down their throat at any point during your interaction
Making money online is already hard enough. A client is sending money to a person they’ve never met, so they’re looking to see whether you’re trustworthy.
The only way to spin this in your favor is to instill confidence right away by showing more interest in the project than in your bottom line.
If you’re arrogant or forceful, you’ll get tossed into the trash folder before you even have a chance to show them what you’ve got.
3. You’re ahead of the game if you invest 5% more effort.
The third rule comes with a little experiment. It’s one I’ve been doing every few months as market research—and I’ve even hired a few people because of it!
But first, here’s the premise:
If you were to put a mere 5% more effort into your portfolio site, your proposals and emails, and your actual work, you’d careen past the masses on a floating blow-up swan doing a prom queen wave.
In other words, most people are mediocre…
…and where others are mediocre, you have room to shine.
So if you want proof of this theory, go ahead and post up your own job description on Upwork, Freelancer, or Craigslist. Read every response.
Notice how some people include typos in the first sentence, talk endlessly about credentials, never mention your project, or just attach a resume without even writing anything.
Yep, I’ve gotten that kind of reply—more than once!
You have to be smarter than this. You have to care more. You have to ditch the templates, the blah-replies, the lazy behavior.
Go ahead and put in 5% more effort. On days where you’re feeling extra on your game, put in 10% more. Maybe 20%. See what happens.
You will notice the difference, and so will your clients.
So there you have it, my freelancing friends. I hope you take the time to absorb these new rules of making money online.
Honestly, these are the three points I see new freelancers missing. I want us all to be successful. I want us all to get a slice of the pie.
Share this post with your writer friends and share these techniques with people you see struggling!
With a little strategy, we can really pull ahead of the game.