“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.” – Stephen King
Your words are worth cash.
Did you know that?
Is a thousand words too much to write in a day?
Is a thousand dollars too little for a hundred and fifty words?
When I started pricing my writing, I thought I was overpriced, because I’d grown up contemplating the concept of writing for pennies per word, as a journalist. I was no journalist. When my first article sold for $10 in 1974, I was over the top with excitement. Then along came syndication…
But I didn’t really want to write for deadlines and pennies. I wanted to push the pen for bigger results. And…. Hush now! I wanted my words to MEAN something.
A local editor took a story I submitted one afternoon and published it without the last page which was only a few lines, but the story was meaningless when those lines were left off. Another misconnected the pictures with the caption, on a local story where names in the paper are the only recognition some people EVER get. As the writer, I was in trouble with friends from the neighborhood. I’m not blaming the local editor, he didn’t do his job, but I didn’t quite do mine either… I firmly believe a writer is responsible for what hits the printer!
But that wasn’t what I was meant to do. I had bigger dreams.
A center spread in a magazine, national newspaper syndicated columns, and even writing for magazines was more up my image… Or so I thought.
Then one day I was introduced to an insurance journal, where local articles are published, and authors were well paid. My eyes lit up and I became ecstatic for the concept of writing local articles for a trade journal that would be published nationwide.
Travel journals appeared on the horizon, and I recognized the opportunity.
My next adventure was a PBJ trip across country taking pictures of barns and documenting their location for a publication that would be made available to more than one airline. I was in love! And I got PBJ’s to go with my love story.
But with kids to raise, house payments to make, insurance, gas for the car… oh yeah, the car! And all the costs of living, I shifted my dream to include technical writing and copywriting, because it pays better.
I could wrap my mind around writing sales letters for thousands of dollars, because I was getting paid ROI (return on investment). And it just made sense to me that people would pay better for those kinds of writing.
Then along came Blogging.
Getting paid to blog for myself was exciting, but then along came the concept of getting paid to write blog posts for someone else. I fell into that pie and it tasted really good. I’m still there.
But more than anything else, I wanted to know how I could help other people do what I’d learned and do it successfully. The dream for me, at that point in time, was to teach others how to write blog posts for the masses of blogs on the web and make a profit doing so.
So there are a few things I’ve learned that are necessary if you want to be a freelance writer:
1 – Words are worth cash money.
If you can write it, convince someone else to buy it, and show the value in your writing efforts, you’re as good as gold in the pocket. Your words are worth money. Start with your own bio… Can you convince yourself that you have talent?
2 – You get from it, what you put into it.
If you’re willing to put forth the effort, motivated enough to share your efforts with others, and willing to go that extra mile to convince the world that you have something to offer, you’ll get something out of it… If you’re not going to get off the couch, your writing won’t sell either.
3 – Learn to stash some cash.
You’ll need to prepare a reserve of savings in order to get through the tough spots, and make it over the months that you don’t sell anything. Keep your cash in your pockets! Don’t overspend, you can’t afford it. And put yourself on a budget, so even in the lean months, you’ll be adding to your stash of cash.
4 – Yes, your income is taxable.
Keep good records, not only of the money you make, but of the money you spend. Much of it is deductible. Know the tax code, even if you hire an accountant, it’s YOUR responsibility to pay your taxes, and keep your own records. Remember, just because you got paid in cash doesn’t mean it’s tax free. PAY the tax due on your income, stay out of trouble with the IRS.
Freelance writing is a cash cow if you use the weapons in your arsonnel wisely, or it can be the thorn in your side if you don’t follow a good plan. The ideal method is to find a niche and fill that niche so well that you’re the first person called to write in that market. Set your prices as if you’re the best – then BE THE BEST.
The one bit of advice I give every marketer as they set their price and go it alone as a freelancer is BE THE EXPERT IN YOUR FIELD. Don’t let anyone surpass your skill level, just keep growing and getting better!