Leaving Work Behind

5 Reasons Why I Earn $100+ Per Hour From Freelance Blogging

Written by Tom Ewer on May 28, 2013. 54 Comments
Dollars

Photo Credit: borman818

Freelancing blogging isn’t that difficult.

Seriously — it aint rocket science. If you’re a good writer then you’re already half way there.

But although freelance blogging isn’t difficult, becoming successful and earning an hourly rate in excess of $100 requires you to understand what clients want and appreciate how to work with them. And while it’s not the kind of advice you will typically read from most freelancers, the following principles have worked for me very well indeed.

Why I Earn $100+ Per Hour From Freelance Blogging

This post isn’t intended to be a guide to freelance blogging. By reading this I assume that you are already a decent blogger and/or have read my guide to successful freelance blogging. Perhaps you’re already earning a little but would like to know how you can earn a lot.

This post intends to reveal to you what I consider the little-known factors that can make a huge difference to your earning potential. The following are what I consider to be the difference makers — the relatively unique aspects of my service that set me apart from most other freelancers. By following my approach I see no reason why you can’t be as successful as I am.

1. I’m Fast

I’ve spoken about the importance of speed before but it bears repeating (over and over).

Why? Because the speed with which you work is the only thing that can affect your rate that you have complete control over. Sure — you can negotiate a higher rate; that may or may not pay off. But working faster on the other hand can make you more money in less time.

The amount you work on your speed in completing blog posts and the respect you have for your time is key to your success as a freelance blogger. For example, let’s say you set aside 36 hours per week to work on your freelancing income. If you complete the average $50 blog post in one hour then your earning potential is limited to $1,800 per week. But if you complete that same blog post in just thirty minutes, your earning potential doubles to $3,600.

If you can work faster and give the client an end product that they will be happy with, it’s a win/win situation. They get what they want and you get paid more to do less.

So work on your speed — it’s one of the most important things you can do as a freelance blogger.

2. I’m Reliable

It never ceases to amaze me at how unreliable many freelance writers are. I say this from my experiences both in editorial roles and based upon the countless interactions I have had with freelance writers as part of running Leaving Work Behind.

If you can simply be reliable, your value to clients will increase exponentially. In fact, I am certain that many clients would rather work with a less talented but reliable writer than a more talented writer who cannot be relied upon. After all, your value as a freelance blogger is not just about how good a writer you are.

But what does “reliable” mean in this context? Many things, but most importantly:

Becoming a reliable freelancer along the above lines requires that you do two things:

  1. Place your tasks within a reliable system
  2. Think consciously about the way in which you conduct yourself

That’s it, in a nutshell. If you alway keep track of what you are doing and remind yourself of what you should be doing in terms of being reliable, there is no reason why you cannot adhere to all of the above guidelines.

3. I Write to the Client’s Standards

A lot of freelance writers are far too conscientious.

I say that in a tongue-in-cheek fashion — after all, we should all ensure that we do top-quality work. But it seems to be a common theme amongst freelance bloggers that they put far more effort into their client work than their rate deserves.

It’s an interesting dilemma because writing isn’t a task that is either complete or incomplete. It’s a grey area. A bricklayer has a set task, as does a plumber. But writing as a concept is somewhat ambiguous — it invites subjective thinking. And many freelance writers are so fearful that they will create something below the client’s standards that they put far more effort into a piece than they should.

I know someone who used to write for Mashable regularly and he admitted to me that he would spent upwards of six hours on a $100 article. Six hours. That’s less than $17 per hour. His reasons for doing so were based on personal pride and an eagerness to please, but where did it get him in terms of his hourly rate? Not very far.

So stop writing to your standards and start writing to the client’s. Figure out what they want from you and deliver to their standard and nothing more. They will be happy and you will be richer — another win/win situation.

I appreciate that this is a controversial point. People will argue that by not excelling you will stunt your chances of growth. But that attitude is like going to a three star hotel and expecting that they will strive to provide you with a five star service: it’s just not going to happen. If the client wants a better service then they should pay for it; you’re not running a charity.

4. I Work With Long Term Clients

Many freelancers (such as web designers and graphic designers) are forced into working on short term projects. It’s the nature of the beast: clients do not need a new website or a new logo every week.

On the other hand, one of the beauties of freelance blogging is that it attracts long terms clients because they do need new blog posts every week.

The benefits of working with long term clients are numerous:

I work with a handful of long terms clients and spend next to no time on marketing and administration (unlike most freelancers). It is highly rewarding to know that the vast majority of the work I do on my freelance business is directly earning me money. My hourly rate really is my hourly rate.

5. I Specialize

A lot of startup freelance bloggers will take any work from any client. I understand that approach — it’s certainly what I had in mind when I started up.

However, the sooner that you switch your focus to a handful of topics, the better. Take me for example: I write for clients almost exclusively about freelancing, entrepreneurship and WordPress. Because of that I have gained a reputation in those areas, and because of that I am regularly approached by prospective clients who are willing to pay a good price for my services.

Client specificity (as I call it) is one of the keys to becoming a successful freelance blogger. By offering a specialized service to a relative handful of people, you will become highly valuable within that niche. On the other hand, trying to be all things to all people will provoke nothing more than an indifferent response.

What Do You Think is the Key to Successful Freelance Blogging?

So there you have it folks — what I consider to be the five most underrated factors that can contribute to becoming a successful freelance blogger.

However, there are of course many other things that you need to get right: from the basics of actually being a good blogger, to negotiating rates, and so on. With that in mind, I’d love to know what else you think is important about being a successful freelance writer. Let us know in the comments section!

And as always, if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to leave them below.

This Isn't Just Another "Make Money Online" Blog.

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54 Responses to “5 Reasons Why I Earn $100+ Per Hour From Freelance Blogging”

  1. Carlo Cretaro
    May 28, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    Great post Tom. Totally agree with you about being fast, reliable and writing the way your clients want you to. Good solid pointers for sure.

    I’m shortly moving to Thailand to scale up my freelance writing. I’ve enjoyed your reading and learning from you blog over the past few months.

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Thanks Carlo!

    • Iain
      May 31, 2013 at 10:37 am

      It’s amazing how important the simple things like being fast and reliable can go.

      It must have something to do with the fact that so many of us have the shiny object syndrome.

      By being something as simple as reliable, you can put a client at ease.

      Great post Tom. Also, nice income report on Matthew Woodward

  2. Jawad Khan @ WritingMyDestiny
    May 28, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for another insightful post Tom.

    However, a big challenge for most newbies – even before getting to the points that you’ve mentioned in your post – is to actually get a client. That seems to be the most challenging part. The reliability, speeds and other stuff come in next….

    What would you suggest, since you’ve been through that part

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      Hey Jawad,

      You’re right — I’ve written a lot about how to find clients. Just use the search box in the sidebar or click on the Archives link in the nav bar.

      Cheers,

      Tom

  3. Mark
    May 28, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    Hey Tom, thanks for the post.

    What about having your own income-generating blog besides your freelance work, that supplements your income and provides other benefits.

    Thanks,
    Mark

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm

      Hi Mark,

      That’s obviously a good thing but I’m not sure what it’s got to do with earning $100+ per hour from freelance blogging?

      Cheers,

      Tom

  4. Paul Kridakorn
    May 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    Absolutely agree with the fact that we want to work with the most reliable person even though they are not the best one in the market. Reliability is the key to get job done. The best expert in area but hard to get in touch can ruin our job after all.

    Thanks for your useful post!

  5. Mariana
    May 28, 2013 at 6:36 pm

    Seriously find the best tips/ reminders here! Seems to be that the simplest things to keep in mind are the ones people often forget to implement. Being fast and reliable truly can get you far even if you’re not the best of the best- I know I’m not but keeping those two things in mind has made me my first few 100’s thus far!

  6. Jeffrey Trull
    May 28, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    I think specialization is important. Just as important is specializing in the right niche. If you pick a niche that is known to hire writers at high rates, your life as a freelancer will be much easier.

    So that would be my advice: don’t just specialize in anything, specialize in the right area.

    • Tom Ewer
      May 28, 2013 at 9:45 pm

      True Jeff, although sometimes you can’t choose your specialization (i.e. if you have knowledge in a particular industry). Furthermore, writing at a relatively low rate can be offset by your knowledge enabling you to produce posts very quickly.

  7. chrissyjmarq22
    May 28, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    Great post Tom. Thanks for sharing !

  8. Halina
    May 28, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    Client specificity, as you say, is really critical when trying to secure higher-paying assignments. That is also another reason why content mills will never pay good money- because the content they require is very general. This means that almost anyone can write it and no one specific writer has an edge.

    I’ve been able to ensure that I have client specificity- now it’s time to work on my writing speed. Thanks Tom!

  9. Vijay K Kerji
    May 29, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Tom,

    Your post not only teaches us how to make money, but how wisely we need to use time to earn it. One hour can be equated with $100 or even $10 depending on speed of writing/finishing our job! But I think it needs good experience for an individual to go from this end to other end of continuum :-).

    Thanks for convincing post.

    Vijay K Kerji

  10. momchalant
    May 29, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Wow – love your blog. I also love your wording. Very glad I found you and plan on staying a reader!

  11. thepotatohead
    May 30, 2013 at 5:40 am

    Hey Tom,

    I was wondering how you went about setting your price when you first started out? I feel that I couldnt really charge that much since there are guys on fiver and odesk that write posts for so cheap. Did you start out super low and ramp up, or did you start at a more modest price?

    • Tom Ewer
      May 31, 2013 at 10:05 am

      To be honest, I didn’t set my price when I started out — I pitched for jobs that had already set a price. It took until my third client to set a price, at which point I basically picked a number out of the sky (sophisticated, I know ;-)).

      • thepotatohead
        May 31, 2013 at 11:56 am

        Ok, that makes sense and is probably a better idea. If your end up being able to write a $30 post for someone by them accepting your pitch, then I guess you can set your price starting at $30 and go from there since someone is already willing to pay you that for your time. Thanks for rescuing me from the spam folder btw!

  12. Karnal Singh
    May 30, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    It looks great but it is not that easy.It takes a lot of time specialising in some of the high paying niches.You have covered the topic well……

  13. Dwight
    May 30, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Hi Tom,
    I am enjoying reading your articles and learning a ton. You concepts are very sound and make a nice foundation for being a productive freelance writer. I feel that first and foremost that you must create a comfortable work area that is as professional as possible that you can work in each day. No comfort comes discomfort which makes being fast, reliable etc much harder to achieve.

    Looking forward to reading more new content here.

    Cheers

  14. Holly Bowne (@hbowne1)
    May 31, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Oh man, I need to print out #3 and tape it to the front of my computer! That is my biggest problem!! I think I didn’t really realize it until I saw those words staring back at me from my computer screen. It’s the hardest thing for me to do–stop myself from going over the top in effort with every gig I get. I’m really going to try to take your points to heart. Great post, Tom!

  15. Brad
    May 31, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Hey Tom,

    Thanks for the awesome post! I definitely need to work on my speed! A question for you, how do you come up with a good title for every blog you posted? Do you write the content first before you come up with a great title or do you start with a title then the content? This is where I have a problem with and I just stare at the screen with the cursor being blinking and try to think of a good title.

    Enjoy reading your blogs! Keep up the good work, Tom!

  16. george
    May 31, 2013 at 8:25 am

    Hi Tom nice tips. I too have been freelancing for a while and most of my income is based on up selling. I promote books via guest posting, started doing gigs on fiverr and up selled my way to guest posting

  17. Joe
    May 31, 2013 at 11:40 am

    As always, great article Tom. In my “day job”, I have been learning about the concepts of lean manufacturing. What I am finding, as I learn more, is so many of the concepts can be applied to my online “non-manufacturing” pursuits as well. Alot of what you speak of is related to two key lean concepts.

    #1 – Provide value to the customer: This seems simple, but it isn’t. Value isn’t a synonym for “cheap”. You are providing outsized value by being reliable. Even more important, by writing to the client’s standards, you aren’t wasting your efforts by providing things the customer doesn’t need/want.

    #2 – Improve “flow” – This so important, as you have learned. By focusing on your processes, you are improving the rate of flow through your own production process. Just like a lean manufacturer would constantly analyze their assembly line.

    I’ve struggled as an online writer to get material done, and move to a phase where I can generate income from it. I’m starting to finally gain some traction by focusing on the processes I use instead of finding better tactics.

  18. Cyrus
    June 4, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Have you ever tried bidding on sites like elance and such? Just curious.

    • Tom Ewer
      June 4, 2013 at 9:47 am

      Nope…competing on price (which is what you on sites like that) is not a business model I want to get involved in.

  19. Kay Fudala
    June 12, 2013 at 1:05 am

    Useful checklist for all of us writers. I find a slower process, choosing the right words and analogies to be immensely enjoyable. However when it comes to producing a deliverable I agree with the poster that referred to the Lean process – set short term milestones, iterate frequently and incorporate lessons learned. We may have left the world of meetings and deadlines, but at the end of the day, we still need to work with an eye on the bottomline.

    Btw, I noticed that you have Trackbacks/Pingbacks turned on – I found a useful post on WPbeginner.com for turning it off (you can google it). Rather unsightly aren’t they?

  20. Sofie (@WonderfulWanderings)
    December 4, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    “Place your tasks within a reliable system”

    –> May I ask what system you use(d)?:)

  21. richard
    January 3, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Wow, good knowledge here, I was taking notes as I went through. I just started in the freelance writing scene. I wasn’t too sure where to begin, so I went with a suggestion from a forum: Odesk. Built a profile and just started looking for things. My area of interest is ebooks, but I can write a blog post. Done it many times. Made my first 100 from an eBook recently and they were thrilled with the results.

    I’m a greenhorn, but here’s what I knew from the beginning; hit your deadline. Hit before your deadline if you can. Give quality and give a little something extra. For example, i wrote the ebook and gave them a description so they could make their job a bit easier when they uploaded on kindle. It took me a few minutes to do so i wasnt out too much. That’s good for rep I believe, especially on freelancing platforms.

    Communicate often. Communicate well. That was so important with my first gig. They loved it and their feedback reflected it.

    Improvements: I need to get faster. Much faster. It took me about 10 hours to write nearly 15,000 words. Gotta get some pep in the step. That was a good suggestion.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Tom Ewer
      January 6, 2015 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Richard,

      Most people would be very happy to write 1,500 words per hour! I wouldn’t beat yourself up about your speed…

      Cheers,

      Tom

  22. Linda cole
    May 28, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    can you help me find , a writing job in a beginner writer looking for work can you help me

  23. Abu Hanif
    May 30, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    I would like to be a freelancer. Would you please help me to continue?

  24. Dave Reyburn
    July 15, 2016 at 4:33 pm

    Two suggestions, both of which can help freelance writers produce quality content in less time. At least they have for me:

    1. Start with an outline (glaringly obvious but stick with me…)

    2. Get it approved before you start

    That way, you’ve nailed the big picture before getting mired in the details and the client has already bought into your arguments and thought process.

    Working from an approved outline helps me self-edit with more certainty and avoid the temptation to overwrite.

    As a result, I find it much easier to craft final copy with only minor if any revisions.

  25. Tanya McCarthy
    September 20, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I think the information in here is very useful. I currently run a blog/website (see link) and have been trying to find some ways to do what I love which is writing in my free time. I may be abandoning the website and trying to freelance fulltime. Although the niche is pretty full with parenting advice and tips… I may be able to get somewhere

  26. Vantout Brothers
    March 13, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Hello,

    I came across this wonderful article, Iam a website owner and would like to have a famous blogger as a partner, I will offer 5% from net company income, interested ? please contact me from my website,

    Best regards

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