Ever since I broke free from content mills, I’ve had a 3 sentence manifesto that has helped me set up my freelance writing business and get better paying clients.
I have it taped to my desk, my dresser and even my bathroom mirror.
Here’s what it says:
I’m a writer
I’m a bloody good writer
My freelancing isn’t a hobby – it’s a business.
That’s right. Freelancing is a business.
The day I started thinking of my freelance writing as a business was the day I made the three most important decisions of my writing career. I decided my rates, specialization and marketing plan.
That’s when things started to fall in place for me.
If you’re struggling to keep your freelance business afloat, it might be time to adopt my manifesto above and answer the questions below.
1. Rates: How much will you charge?
It’s so tempting to play it by the ear when you’re starting out. You don’t know the market rates and more importantly, you don’t know your own worth!
But here’s the thing. If you don’t set your rates, you’ll be wasting time responding to work inquiries that either don’t lead anywhere or result in low paying work.
In order to attract as many clients as you can, you end up attracting the low paying ones.
Don’t just pull a figure out of your head when setting your rates. Go through websites and blogs of other freelancers to see if they’ve listed their rates. Email and ask them if they haven’t. Use social media and online forums to get your answers.
Even if you don’t state your rates on your website, decide them at least.
Personally, I’m all for stating your rates online. It has worked wonders for filtering out the cheaper clients. Granted, the queries I now get are comparatively smaller in number but they almost always result in a signed deal.
While I’m not averse to offering a discounted rate in special circumstances to clients, I don’t make a habit of it.
Want some help deciding your rates? Feel free to head on over and check out my freelance writing rates.
2. Specialization: What kind of writing will you do?
It seems like everyone and their uncle is offering 20 different kinds of freelance services. Set yourself apart by specializing. Figure out 2-3 kinds of writing you enjoy and are exceptionally good at and then stick to them.
I love blogging and writing ebooks so for me the choice was obvious. I added a couple of complimentary services like blog editing and planning and set up my Hire Me page to reflect that.
It’s rare for a client to hire me as a blogger and not take advantage of my content planning or blog editing service.
3. Marketing strategy: How will you find clients?
Oh boy. This is the question that has broken many a camel’s back. If you don’t figure out how you’re going to find clients, your freelance writing business isn’t even going to get off the ground.
The best gigs aren’t found in job boards, Craigslist or Elance etc. They’re found through marketing and actively reaching out to prospects.
Figure out a simple process to look for clients.
Find and contact prospects every day – whether it’s searching through twitter and LinkedIn to look for prospective clients, your local classifieds (ever notice how so many business include their website URL?) or your personal network.
At the very least, set aside a couple of hours over the weekend to do so.
Because if you don’t do that, your freelance business is going to tank.
Has your freelance business made these 3 all important decisions? If not, what are you waiting for?