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I found a question on a writing group on LinkedIn recently, and thought the answer would be helpful to other would be freelance writers who are trying to build their personal brand.

Freelancers: With all the writing competition out there- magazines paying less and companies not paying more than $10 per web page- how are we supposed to make a living writing?

This is where personal networking is going to pay off. This is where you have to shake off the “but I’m not a networker” thoughts and start meeting with people for coffee and conversations.

If you want to make more money and get better paying gigs as a freelance copywriter, start copywriting for agencies.

Magazines never paid that much to begin with. When I first started freelancing about 15 years ago, the best you could hope for was $35,000 a year as a full-time freelancer. That hasn’t gotten any better. Even if the number stayed the same, the buying power of that $35K is a whooooole lot less. But the copywriters — the people who churn out “unimaginative” money-chasing copy — can make 6 figures if they land the right client. While those people are few and far between, you can at least make a lot more money than you will in the magazine market.

What happens a lot of times is that a client will hire a web designer and never give a thought to the copy. The designer will ask and ask and ask for web copy, but the client won’t provide it. Or the client will say, “we thought you were writing it,” and it never gets done. The client slaps something up and then wonders why they’re not getting any interest, or even showing up on the search engines.

This is where the freelance writer can come in and save the day. They will either be hired by the web designer to write copy (charge about $50 – $75 per 350 word page), or they will be hired by the client.

Your best bet is to be hired by the web designer, because if they like you, they’ll constantly have work for you. The client is a one-off project. They may ask about you again, but chances are it’s the designers who are going to have the most work for you.

However, the web designers aren’t going to know you exist if you don’t meet them. I don’t mean connect with them on LinkedIn and Twitter. I mean sit down with them at a coffee shop, shake their hand, trade stories about bad clients, and discuss the ways you can help each other (because presumably you are also referring people to them whenever you can).

By networking, you set yourself up as the go-to writer whenever anyone needs copy. If you can do this, you can stop chasing down the magazines and their increasingly smaller rates.

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2 Responses

  1. Jeremy on 27 Jul 2011

    You are exactly right, Erik.

  2. Angela Walcott on 29 Jul 2011

    Great post. You have some wonderfully helpful tips here.

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