I got into freelance writing after spending a few years as a self-published—and then traditionally published—author. I got into the habit of working around the clock—writing, editing, promoting at all hours of the day. And when I swapped the world of self-publishing for traditional publishing, I had a lot of free time on my hands and a need to fill it.
I never thought I would make that much money and saw it as something that could supplement my income at best. But this part-time job quickly became a full-time career, one that regularly passed 6-figures and earned me more than I was earning as an author. That income isn’t easy to come by, but it is possible to make more.
How Much Can You Make?
I spend a lot of time on basic content writing and copywriting jobs. I work at a fixed rate and rely on the fact that I write quickly and don’t mind working all hours of the day to earn in excess of $100,000 a year. But when I say “all hours”, I really mean it.
I can count on one hand how many days I’ve taken off in the last 5 years. I’ve worked birthdays, Christmas and New Year; I don’t drink because I can’t write drunk or hungover, and whenever I travel I take my laptop with me. The last holiday I took I spent the days sightseeing with my partner and the nights catching-up on work in the hotel, resulting in a couple hours sleep a night.
I’m not boasting. Far from it. I’m just trying to make a point: if you want to earn a lot of money as a freelance writer doing standard writing jobs, you need to devote every ounce of effort to it.
There are a couple of exceptions though.
I began working on SEO writing jobs a few years into my career. It allowed me to earn more money for every hour of my time. It’s a similar story with some other specialist writing jobs, including grant writing and business plan writing. These are highly specialised, but they pay very well and if you work fast and are good at your job, it’s possible to earn over $1,000 a day doing this kind of work.
Of course, it requires more effort and greater risks, and there is also more of a demand placed on your work by the client, but it’s a way to increase those earnings while reducing the amount of time that you spend on your computer.
And when I say specialist subjects, I don’t mean writing content for a real estate firm or a dental surgery. Sure, they require specialist knowledge, but you’ll get just as much writing for a group of DC personal injury lawyers as you will writing for a casino affiliate. The former might pay a little more, but it’ll also take more time, and the end result will be the same.
Specialist subjects typically includes something that demands a high degree of knowledge and cannot be done by any writer with access to Google.
I’ve never had much luck outsourcing. I’ve hired dozens of writers over the years to help me build my own sites and businesses, and only 1 of them has never let me down. I’d trust her to write anything and know I could rely on her every step of the way. If I had multiple writers like that, I could start my own writing company, outsource everything I do, and then simply spend my time delegating.
I know of people who do this. Some of them act as middlemen between myself and a big client and based on the rate that they pay me, I know they must be paid really well. But this is not something that you can sustain on freelancing platforms alone. You need to have direct connections to high paying clients—you need to offer them a service they either can’t or won’t get themselves, which basically means you need a client with a lot of money to spend who has never heard of Upwork.
They exist, and if you have the clients and the writers then there is no limit to how much money you can make as a writing company. But those clients and those writers are not easy to come by.