Leaving Work Behind

One Simple Way to Increase Your Freelance Blogging Earnings

Written by Tom Ewer on January 23, 2014. 30 Comments

DollarsWhen it comes to freelance blogging, arguably the easiest way to increase your rate is to make efficiency improvements. The client pays the same price and gets the same product, but you’ve worked more quickly and as such attain a higher equivalent hourly rate. It’s a topic I’ve talked about before.

With the above in mind, today I want to talk about arguably the most important factor that defined my growth as a freelance blogger. It played a major part in me going from earning $20 to $150+ per hour in a two year period from 2011 to 2013. As far as efficiency improvements go, it’s the daddy.

Write On What You Know

At the time of writing I have ten regular clients. The breakdown in terms of topics I cover is as follows:

What’s the common thread that holds these topics together? I’m experienced in all of them. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m an online marketer, I freelance, and I use WordPress. These are areas that I am personally involved in on a day-to-day basis.

In the past I’ve worked with a handful of clients on topics that are unfamiliar to me. There’s a reason why I don’t work with them anymore. When I can write up a WordPress article in under an hour and a similar-sized article for the same amount of pay on a topic I’m unfamiliar with takes two hours, which client seems a better long-term fit?

The more clients you work with on topics that you’re intimately familiar with, the faster you’ll be able to get your work done and the more money you’ll earn.

The Economy of Topics

The more articles you can write on topics that you’re familiar with, the better. In fact, I would go as far as to niche your service offering down to those kind of topics (just as I do).

However, you must be careful not to pigeonhole yourself into writing on topics that do not attract decent rates.

Consider the topics I write on. Each of them can be associated with profitable markets (which invariably means that you can make money). My WordPress clients sell premium themes, plugins and online tools. My freelancing clients sell online tools. My online marketing clients sell web hosting and (you guessed it) online tools. My entrepreneurship client sells websites.

If you can write efficiently on celebrity gossip, it probably won’t help you. No one wants to pay much for that.

I advise that you follow my lead. The beauty of my advancement is that it has been a self-fulfilling prophesy. I started out as a blogger, which enabled me to land a couple of gigs writing about WordPress (the blogging software I use). I started writing about freelance blogging on Leaving Work Behind as a result of those first couple of gigs, which led to additional jobs writing about freelancing. As LWB grew, I then attracted clients who wanted me to write about online marketing and entrepreneurship.

My advancement as a blogger and a freelance blogger can be neatly tied up in a package. What’s even better is that I’m never at a loss for new topic ideas, as I’m living those topics that I write about.

Digging Deeper

Even if you’re writing on topics you are comfortably familiar with, you can still spend a lot of time researching. I know I have. The key is to focus on topics within your niche that don’t require a lot of research.

Think about what you already know that can be transformed into blog posts. These are the easiest blog posts you will write. You simply translate what you have in your brain onto the page. That is exactly what I’m doing with this post and it’s a piece of cake.

On the flip side, you might choose to create a heavily-researched piece which requires hours of fact checking. That might be a good idea to throw into the mix every now and then to keep things fresh, but your bread and butter should always be those posts that just flow out of your fingers.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not talking about writing cookie cutter posts. You shouldn’t use this advice as an excuse to all but copy what other people are doing. Each post should be individual to you, which means that it should be unique. Even if you’re writing on a well worn topic, you should be able to put a unique spin on it, based upon your own personal experience.

A Caveat

At this stage, many of you may be thinking that it’s all well and good to write on topics that you know, but what if you’re not suitably familiar with any particular topic?

To this I offer a simple piece of advice: learn.

Take a look at the client topic breakdown I supplied above. In May 2011 I knew precisely nothing about WordPress, freelancing and online marketing. Fast forward a year later and my rate for writing on such topics was accelerating at a dramatic rate.

You may need to do the hard yards to get into a position where it is easy to write on a topic, so if you don’t feel that you are “expert” on any profitable markets, choose one and endeavor to become an expert on it.

I will say one thing in closing: it is far easier to write about something you are personally involved in (such as I am with WordPress, freelancing and so on) than not. I don’t recommend that you seek to become an expert on a topic that doesn’t play a part in your day-to-day life.

What Do You Write About?

Now that I’ve told you what I think you should be writing about, I’d love to know what you are actually writing about.

Do you write on topics that you are comfortably familiar with? Do you avoid the kind of posts that require heavy research? Or are you bogged down by unfamiliar topics and research-heavy pieces? Let us know in the comments section below!

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30 Responses to “One Simple Way to Increase Your Freelance Blogging Earnings”

  1. James
    January 23, 2014 at 11:10 am

    My blogging earnings are zero because I only write for my own blogs, which aren’t monetised in any way. So I guess I am avoiding topics I know nothing about!

  2. louise mason
    January 23, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Interesting, I was thinking of charging for research and writing seperately or do clients expect it all in one package?

    • Tom Ewer
      January 24, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      I think clients would be put off by it being itemized, although I’d always charge more for a post that requires more research.

  3. Anthony Dezenzio
    January 23, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I enjoyed your article, it gets straight to the point. My field is travel writing, having traveled to most major countries has me allowed to write fulfilling articles interested to the traveler. However, things can change such as restaurants and hotels closing or opening and the changing face of the locality. I spend a huge amount of time researching to make sure that my articles are up to date. I wish there was an easier way to cut the time in research allowing me to write more articles.

  4. Dominic
    January 24, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Tom,
    This post is a great reminder. It’s easy for me to get a little to “big for my britches” (I don’t know if that phrase is used on your side of the pond) when it comes to finding clients. Often, I’ll try to apply for jobs that aren’t as suited for me, instead of applying to companies within my niche (online entrepreneurship, blogging, sales/marketing). Perhaps I just don’t want to feel like a Slytherine and only associate with purebloods, those in my niche :). Thanks for the post.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

      Earning less on topics you know more about can make you more money in terms of equivalent hourly rate. It’s easy to lose sight of that!

  5. Jackson Anderson
    January 24, 2014 at 2:38 am

    While I haven’t been paid to write on topics I was 100% familiar with, I was very familiar with the style of writing that was needed for the customer (sales/affiliate marketing articles) so that part of it came easier – so while I had to do brief research I could still keep the article within the hour time frame for writing and keep my rate at $40 USD an hour, which for a first client I was ecstatic about.

    Moving forward may be a different story – time will tell.

    Also in regards to Louise’s comment – If you know the content your client wants is going to involve heavy researching on your behalf or really any research at all (basically anything that will take up extra time than just the writing process), you should factor that in when you charge.

    The best way is to charge per-project rather than per hour and allow your project price to factor it in.

    Just make sure you’re fully aware of the full scope of the project so you don’t find yourself under quoting and lowering your hourly rate !

    Hope that helps!

  6. Elvis
    January 24, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Tom,
    This post simply inspired me, along with others I had been reading from the past. Luckily (and this is something I say a lot) virtually every topic under the sun can be turned into profit. Even the mundane or obscure ones. Heck, ESPECIALLY the mundane and obscure ones, as they will often provide far less competition.

    Even if the topic you’re passionate about doesn’t provide many profitable products (affiliate or other) you can still find a way to turn that knowledge into money. Think about writing a thorough and helpful guide, for example, that covers many more details than the information you generally provide on your own blog. This “super guide” can be sold for any amount of money you see fit.

    All in all, I am generally supportive on writing about familiar subjects as they are often the power to higher efficiency. The only few sources where “writing for passion” isn’t always convenient (for example) are related to book publishing. In many marketplaces such as this one, the audience is already bent on what they want and what they don’t want.

    Thanks, Tom.
    Elvis

    • Tom Ewer
      January 24, 2014 at 3:58 pm

      I’m not sure what any of this has to do with freelance blogging but I do agree Elvis! 😉

      • Elvis Michael
        January 25, 2014 at 4:10 am

        LOL, you’re right — I realized I got a bit off track.

        Case in point: I have purposely missed out on many profitable projects because they have usually been outside my comfort zone. Since these are unfamiliar to me, efficiency is often not on my side (given that such projects take me much longer to complete.)

        I guess it’s only a matter of becoming an expert at any given field/project, and eventually efficiency will come.

        Thanks!

  7. JoDavies
    January 24, 2014 at 11:12 pm

    I think that I split the difference… but that’s because my niche is essentially research. So not only am I writing about research, and how to do it quickly, better etc… but I am also doing research for entrepreneurs and presenting findings in posts… So it’s a balance for me, but it fits with what I am doing and where I am going!

    I do like your advice on letting your fingers flow with what you know though. I think my posts to date could use a little more of that!

    As always, thanks Tom!

    Jo

  8. Manuel
    January 27, 2014 at 10:58 am

    great post to keep the eye on the goal: earning enough for living. i know what you wanna say with it and i also made the same mistakes you’re telling about. you always have to keep one eye on the money-side and one eye on the quality-side. to be sure not to loose control over one side, you have to focus on your niche…
    thanks for remembering, tom.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 27, 2014 at 11:28 am

      Well put Manuel. I think a lot of people get too focused on one or the other, but you’re absolutely right — balance is key.

  9. Diana
    January 27, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    excellent post, Tom! Similarly to you, i am a freelance marketer but unlike you – i don’t write blog posts for clients (not often anyway!). Do i hear you ask why? LOL – i will tell you even if you didn’t ask (because my reason contains the question to you): i am afraid i will want to keep the post for myself, kinda.

    See, i blog about freelance and marketing on my own blog. I know those are endless topics and there will always be something else to be said. However, i found out sometimes it can be hard for me to differentiate the client’s topic from what i have already written on the topic. Or vise verse.

    To cut on the research, i write primarily from experience – so how do i write a different post on a topic i have already blogged on? Or if a client wants a post in a topic which i really want to blog about on my blog – how do i make 2 different articles about the same thing?

    • Tom Ewer
      January 28, 2014 at 10:57 am

      The answer’s simple for me Diana: write two different posts! There should obviously be no referencing between the two. This has happened to me before, and I see no issue, as long as you are writing a completely original post.

  10. Joe
    January 28, 2014 at 2:52 am

    Definitely good advice from my experience of freelance writing.

    However, I write a lot about WordPress and its plugins and themes and even though I am ‘living’ this subject area, I still find myself doing lots of research when looking at a new tool.

    Is there any way around this?

    Thanks.

    • Tom Ewer
      January 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

      Well, you could write about themes and plugins you already know (thus negating the need to research).

      Or, you could become more efficient in your research — devising a process for testing plugins and themes without it taking forever.

      Or, you could stop writing posts that require loads of research and do more of the ones that don’t!

  11. Razwana
    January 28, 2014 at 5:42 am

    This applies to copywriting too. As a copywriter it’s my job to get into the heads of both my clients and, more importantly, their customers. But when I write copy on topics I know about or am experienced in? MY efficiency goes through the roof! The writing takes much less research and time.

  12. Chetan Gupta
    January 28, 2014 at 5:57 am

    Amazing post… I really like the way of explanation of this post on the way to increase freelance blogging earnings. This post is so inspiring for me. Wanna know what’s your future post schedules??? so that I can read your future posts. Thanks for sharing. 😀

  13. John Schroeder
    January 30, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    For now I just write on personal finance topics – specifically investing as that is what I know. I would like to branch out into fitness and healthy living topics – just need to take that step.

  14. Rudiano
    February 3, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Great post, as usual! Concentrating on what you know best is common sense… I haven’t got much of that haha. I’ve blogged about productivity, creativity, spirituality, science, entrepreneurship, music, travel…. Anything that inspired me at the time, which is why I call my blog ‘Rudiano’s Random Ramblings’
    But there is a motivational and entrepreneurial common thread to all that I write. That’s what I enjoy and what I aim to do more of.
    One day hopefully I may be as successful as you!
    😉

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