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How to Make $50,000 in Your First Year as a Freelance Copywriter

When many think of freelance, they think of a starving artist, low pay, no benefits, long hours, etc. However, it does not have to be so. Here are 6 steps to ensure you have at least $50,000/year in your first year as a freelance writer.

1. Do the numbers: Believing you can do it is the first part of the equation. Once you break down the numbers, I bet you’ll be like, “Is that it? I can do that!”

So $50,000/year divided by 52 weeks equals approximately $962/week. Easily achievable once you’ve established your going rate, which we’ll talk about a bit later.

$962/week divided by 5 days (build in weekends) equals approximately $192/day. Any determined person can do it. And, if you accumulate education, experience and the Internet, you should say to yourself: “It will be child’s play.

It won’t, but you should at least be giddy realizing that this is a more than achievable goal.

2. Charge enough: Don’t go into freelancing with the attitude of I MUST take low-paying jobs. You don’t! My mother used to say, “How you start, that’s how you’ll end.” She wasn’t talking about jobs, but I take that advice to heart in almost everything I start.

A personal story: When I realized I was going to run this year’s marathon (Thanksgiving Day, Atlanta, GA), one of the first things I did was print out a training schedule.

My point: I took my goal seriously enough early on and figured out what I needed to do to be ready. In the case of figuring out what to charge, it means figuring out how much you need to earn each day, week, month to reach your goal. With your goal clearly defined, you will be much less likely to go astray.

So, let’s do some hard numbers. Imagine a 9 hour workday – at first you’ll probably do more (I never said it would be easy). That’s $21.33/hour you need to earn.

When you consider that, on the low end, professional writers earn $50/hour, you can see how much it is possible to earn $50,000 per year. FYI, you can only spend 4 hours on a project, but 5 hours doing marketing work to bring about that project – but it all balances out.

3. Target a niche: The reason I believe in targeting a niche is that it’s so much easier to promote your services – especially if you have some experience in that niche.

For example, I target real estate agents, mortgage brokers and insurance agents. In my professional career, I have been a real estate agent and a mortgage broker. These two sectors allow you to familiarize yourself with the insurance industry.

No experience in your targeted niche? With the advent of the internet, it is quite easy to learn enough about an industry to market it.

How to Choose a Profitable Niche

salary: Not only do you want to target a niche, but you want to target one that pays well. This usually means turning to the business community. Again, the Internet makes it easier to serve customers around the world – not just those in your community. So, don’t let living in a small town scare you off.

b) Abundant: For example, there may not be enough organic gardeners to target, but real estate agents are vast and plentiful. You have no ideas? Browse the yellow pages. Why? These are all types of businesses you will find in any community. And, there may be companies you might never have thought of that could use your services.

c) Evergreen: Try to choose evergreen niches – for example, those that will be there forever. Lawyers, accountants, insurance agents, car dealerships – these types of businesses aren’t going anywhere. Once you establish yourself as an expert, doing business will become easier and easier. Notice, I didn’t say easy, I said “easier”.

4. Prepare a marketing plan: It doesn’t need to be 30 pages. A basic will do, for example:

Who: is your target market?

What: do they need? How are you going to reach them? It will also tell you where you will be spending most of your advertising dollars (online or offline).

Where: like, in, what geographic area will you be serving (e.g. am I going to target a local market only, or go national/international (e.g. soliciting business via the internet?))

When: is their season (e.g. is it slow during summer, busy during fall, etc.)

Why: should they choose me (find out your USP (Unique Selling Proposition))?

Put this where you can see it everyday. I divide my marketing plan into quarters. At the start of each term, I plan what I have to do each week. Sometimes projects interfere and I may not complete everything on my list daily, but I try to complete all scheduled tasks during that week.

Don’t forget to factor in start-up costs – for example, primarily getting a website. A basic will do. Just make sure it’s professional-looking, grammatically correct, and has no bells and whistles (eg, no flashing graphics). Most visitors are looking for information – make it easy for them to get it.

A marketing calendar keeps you on point. Robert Collier, one of the first American “success authors”, said: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day after day…”. A marketing program does just that.

5. Prepare your marketing materials: Get a website, get a website, get a website – this should be one of the first things you do! I think websites have progressed to where phones used to.

That is, would you do business with someone who doesn’t have a phone? Probably not. Now, I think a lot of people feel the same way about the internet. Plus, how can you tell anyone about web copy if you don’t even have a website yourself? Apparently, this might be the only “promotional item” you need.

But, I would also do a basic introductory letter, a brochure, business cards (of course), a professional biography and some samples. You don’t have samples? Give gifts until you get 5 or 6. This can all be on your website.

Why different types of marketing materials? Different situations call for different types of documents. For example, you can be at a chamber of commerce meeting one week (hand out this brochure) and at the dry cleaners the next week (hand out business cards).

6. Implement and Monitor — Consistently: Many freelancers give up before they even start. I think of freelance work as pushing a rock up a hill – it’s hard to get up (think of it as ramping up your business), but, once you reach the summit, the ball descends by itself.

Freelancing won’t be that easy – and don’t believe anyone who tells you it will. BUT, with sustained effort, you will start getting assignments, and then the referrals will seem to come effortlessly.

If you follow this plan, you should start getting assignments within 30-60 days. Good luck!

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