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5 Smart Money Moves for Freelance Writers: Earn More without Working More

Ever since freelance journalist Diana Kelly emailed me to let me know she’d mentioned one of my courses in one of her posts, I’ve been meaning to write this post. I’m so stealing from her five smart financial moves – adding my 2 cents, if you will.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

How to Earn More This Year as a Freelance Writer – Without Writing More

When I had my last full-time job (2007), I lived in Atlanta and I used to drive about half an hour to 40 minutes each way. If there was traffic – and if you know anything about Atlanta, you know it has a helluva lot of traffic! – it could be an hour or more.

Unlike many though, I enjoyed my traffic-filled commute because I got to listen to the radio. Hip hop and old-school R&B tunes in the morning, and the Dave Ramsey show – he of “the debt snowball” fame – in the evenings on my way home. One of Dave’s favorite sayings is, “There’s only two ways to get out of debt; you have to earn more or cut expenses.”

This brings us to #1 on Diana’s list …

1. Cut Expenses

For those who don’t know, I’m American, but I’ve lived and worked from the Caribbean (Jamaica) full time since 2014. Before that though, I was doing a lot of back and forth, eg, two months here in Jamaica, back home to the U.S. for three months, then a vacay to see a friend for a few weeks, then back to Jamaica, etc.Freelance Finances: Learn How to Save Money by Living & Working FT from the Caribbean

Once I was spending so much time away from home, one of the things I did was look for ways to save. I cut things like:

Phone: I downgraded the phone plan I had in the U.S. to a cheaper one, which I talk about in this post.

Cable: I called my cable company and negotiated a cheaper package. I didn’t’ even know this was possible at the time, because I called to cancel it outright, but they gave me a great deal on a cheaper package to keep me as a customer.

So call and ask; all they can say is no, but I’m willing to bet you’ll at least get 3 months, 6 months or a year of something free and/or reduced.

Car Insurance: Instead of paying monthly, I paid it out for six months, which costs less.

Diana gives more great tips in this area in her post.

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2. Raise Your Freelance Writing Rates

When was the last time you did this as a freelance writer. In my experience, many freelancers will go three, four or five years without raising their rates.

You’re a business. Reassess this area every year. You don’t have to go crazy and quadruple or quintuple yours like I did, but a little bump every 12 to 18 months should be part of your freelance writing business practice.

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3. Stop Procrastinating

In freelancing, time is money. If you assigned a dollar value to the amount of time you spent mindlessly surfing, talking on the phone, or piddling around doing housework when you should be working, how much do you think it’d add up to.

Let’s say you’re earning on average of $35/hour, which is a low rate as a freelance writer. If you’re wasting just an hour per day (and you know many of us can waste that on FB or other social media in a nanosecond!),following is how much it’s potentially costing you.

Can You Afford to Lose $9,000+/Year?

Five hours per week and $35/hour is $175/week; or $752.50/month (there are actually 4.3 weeks in a month); or $9,030/year. Is liking pics of Beyonce, or reading about George and Amal Clooney’s latest show of PDA worth that much of your time?Freelance Writers: 6 Reasons to Become a Pinteerst VA

When I find that I’ve wasted my time like this, the words that always flit through my brain are, “They’ve already made their millions; you need to quit wasting your time like this and stay focused on making yours!

Get Paid to Play on Social Media

I used to be bad about wasting time on FB; for me, it was mostly catching up with friends and family. So I made a concerted effort to cut it out (yeah, I was really pretty bad).

And here’s an idea, if you’re going to play on social media, why not get paid to do it? Become a Pinterst VA or a Facebook Ads Consultant.

How to Be a More Productive Freelance Writer: What I Do

One thing I started at the beginning of the year was what I call “2 before 12.”  What this means is, I get the two most important things I want to accomplish every day out of the way before noon. These days, that’s my romance writing and my running (exercise).

So I get up, write 1,500 words (the goal I set for myself this year — M-F), then go for my run. I want to publish 12 novels this year (one per month), so this is the word count I came up with to keep myself on track to achieve that, along with everything else I do.

4. Hire Help

In December of 2017, I hired a Content Manager for my blog. I’ve hired help before – intermittently. But this time I sought out a permanent, part-time Content Manager. My blogging business had grown to the point where I just couldn’t do everything by myself anymore.

Even though this was an added expense, it paid for itself in the first month (yes, the very first month). I literally was able to go from struggling to get up one to two posts per week, to getting a month ahead in content creation.

Instead of proofreading, formatting, creating graphics for and uploading content; I simply wrote and passed the posts off to her. She took care of all of the back-end blogging duties, freeing me up to delve into other income-generating tasks like:

  • Fine-tuning my social media strategy,
  • Digging into my Google analytics to figure out where my traffic was coming from (so I could create more of the content my audience wanted);
  • Writing and self-publishing more fiction (romance novellas); and
  • Promoting existing content more.

Another thing that happened within the first month of hiring help? My blog had one of its highest traffic days – ever. And, and the traffic is continuing to grow.

There are only so many hours in a day and as a blogger, you can’t do everything. You just can’t – not and grow (beyond a certain point). So, there comes a time where you have to spend money to make money.

Be mindful of this in your freelance business. This brings me to the last tip, which piggybacks on this one …

5. Invest in Your Freelance Career

As in … upgrade your skills. That may mean hiring a coach, taking a course, buying an ebook, joining an organization, etc. Whatever it is, do it.

Another example from my career? I took the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing ecourse (MSOAM) in December 2016. As I discuss in this post, I’d been trying for years to increase and stabilize my income affiliate marketing income.

While I didn’t reach my $10,000 per month goal, I did make a lot of headway and learned a TON, which has helped me to build a solid foundation for this arm of my online business. That goal is now clearly within reach. I know exactly what to do to reach it. 

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Before taking the MSOAM course, I didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I was floundering around in the dark. I’m so glad I enlightened myself by investing in it. It’s paid off in ways I can’t even begin to explain.

BONUS Tip

I’m a workaholic. I love what I do so most days, it doesn’t seem like work. But, that also means I tend to overwork. I’ll stay up until 1, 2 or 3 in the morning working on something to “get ahead” for the week. And you know what? I usually wind up losing productivity. And when you lose productivity, you lose money.

So my last tip is to have a shutdown time each day. Rest is as vital to making money as a freelancer as food is for refueling the body. You’re not “slacking” when you log off at a decent hour, even if you feel like you could go “just a few more hours.”

Those “few more hours” add up; and eventually you wind up crashing. I have to admit, I still struggle with this because my business is so exciting to me. But I’m old enough to realize that this pattern is not a good one. And, I’m doing my best to log off at a decent hour and get proper rest so I can wake up rejuvenated each day, instead of tired and bleary-eyed.

Conclusion

Have any tips to share? What have you done to earn more as a freelance writer, besides increasing your work load? Feel free to share in the comments section below. And thanks again for the inspiration Diana.

P.S.: More Freelance Opportunities Than You Realize!

There are a wealth of freelance business opportunities brought on by the digital age, as the opportunities in this Work-at-Home Summit highlight. Check it out. You new work-from-home career is waiting for you.

P.P.S.: Start a High-Paying Online Writing Business: Free Ecourse

There are so many online writing opportunities these days. And with the right knowledge, it’s an excellent way to earn a living from home – on a PT or FT basis. Get trained to get started!Get trained to become a highly paid SEO writer. Start for free.

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