Written By Louisa Miya

How I Traded $5 Per Article for $1000 Per Article

My writing story goes back to my childhood years. I was the kind of kid who would pick a Danielle Steele novel over going to the race track with my family and friends. I remember being a very keen listener to my parents’ conversations or even the news anchor on TV. I did not do this because I had a bad eavesdropping habit, but because I wanted to pick up any new word and search for its meaning in the dictionary.

In school, my essays were read out loud so that other students could harness my creativity. My English teacher couldn’t be prouder. Every evening, I would open my little notebook and write the plot to a novel that I would one day publish. Years went by and my love for writing became evident.

 But despite having the creative gene, my family considered writing a hobby, not a career. And not a way to make a living. So I took their advice and worked other jobs all through college. But I felt empty. As if nothing could give me the fulfillment that I needed.

After a while, I came across a friend who never went to work but was still able to get good earnings right from the comfort of his couch. I was fascinated and I wanted in. Luckily, he was kind enough to show me the ropes. He told me that he was a freelance writer on Upwork.

He signed me up for an account, filled my profile and left me to my devices. I felt liberated. I also took the time to scour the internet to find other great writing sites. They were a dime a dozen. I signed up for most of them. The rest, as they say, is history.

Building My Foundation as a Freelancer

In the beginning, my goal was to make as much money as possible. I dreamt of cashing in thousands of dollars weekly. After all, I had the work ethic to back it up. But I learned that I would not be able to meet my income goals.

How?

When I first signed up for writing sites, I ditched every other avenue and decided to focus on content mills. I was sold on their dream. It does not get better than writing a couple of short articles and cashing out up to three times a week. The pay was mediocre but it felt like a great starting point at the time.

I signed up for an iWriter account and over the next few months, I wrote over 80 posts. I did not have a clear strategy. I only wanted to write enough articles to pay my bills and afford a few expensive things. However, I started running into clients who did not appreciate my work. One rejected article was devastating to me.

But on iWriter, it was not uncommon to meet clients who would never be satisfied no matter how many times you corrected an article. Every rejected article lowered my rank as a writer. And soon, I was very low on the totem pole. I was raking in $2 for every 500 words.

Along the way, I lost my passion and writing became a chore that paid the bills. For many months, things remained the same until I came across an article by the freelance writer Bamidele Onibalusi. The article was titled, ‘Earn Your First $1000 Freelance Writing Challenge’. It highlighted Bamidele’s writing story and how he was earning thousands of dollars every month through writing.

For the challenge, he was willing to position himself as a new freelancer who does not have any connections or writing contacts but still make $1000 in 30 days. I was shocked to find out that there were writers who were making such an amount of money. It would be a dream come true for me.

I was excited.

If this was possible, I had to change my mindset and tactics. From then on, I followed Bamidele’s challenge and at the very end, he earned $2,800 in less than 30 days. Was this guy a genius? I had to implement all of his strategies. I was determined to do so. I was ready for the challenge.

 My Renewed Mindset

I first decided to create a website, something that I had never thought of before. While it is best to find your niche, I enjoyed writing on different topics. Thus, I positioned myself as a writer who offered a variety of blog posts and guest posts on different niches.

On the website, I included the following important information:

  • An image of myself and information about my services
  • A contact form with my email so that prospects could reach me
  • A service page where I detailed all the writing services that I offered

I also stopped using my social media pages ‘for fun’. I updated my LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter profiles to indicate that I was a freelance writer who offered writing services. But this was not enough, I wanted to prove that I had written for one or two major sites.

I wanted to write for Lifehack. With a simple search using Email Hunter, I was able to find the editor’s email address. I sent the following email:

 Hi,

I would like to contribute an article to Lifehack. Below is my proposed article:

Title: 30 Best Movies of All Time

Concept: We all enjoy a little theatre action now and then. There are movies that we watch and forget while others remain engraved in our memories for a long time. I wanted to introduce a fun angle by compiling a list of 30 of the most memorable movies and the lessons that they offer.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kindest Regards,

Louisa Miya.

Shortly after, I received a message of interest from the editor. I wrote the article and got the proof that I was looking for. I also approached Forbes, Huffington Post and other reputable websites with more ideas.

Building My Credibility and Prospect List

With a link or two from a reputable site, I was able to build my credibility. Thereafter, I decided to go for it and focus on cold pitching. This was the best way to create my list of prospects. By searching through Google and LinkedIn, I was able to find companies that would be interested in paid writing.

Search terms like “business websites” and “food websites” brought up the best search results. It was also easy to tweak the terms to suit any industry. When I visited their respective sites, I found out whether they had a blog or if they needed fresh content ideas. I emailed 100 prospects and waited for their responses. I gained interest from about 30 companies out of the 100 I had emailed.

There is a client who agreed to pay $40 per four blog posts weekly, and others up to $1000 for feature articles. With these clients in the bag, I was confident in my earnings for a long time. While some writing contracts were completed along the way, I was able to retain other clients to date.

I also sent pitches to websites like Bridal Guide and Politico, who pay $1,000 to $500 per 2,000 words articles.

Deciding on Rates

 Many freelance writers are competing against you. Therefore, deciding on your writing rates may be a little bit difficult. This does not mean that you should under quote at all times. I always quote the highest writing rates possible for all projects that I bid on.

Alongside the rate, I show a client exactly what I will bring to the table so that they can understand what they are paying for. Although I do not get all the writing contracts that I apply for, I bag a decent number of them.

 It is best to be consistent with your rates and even wiser to collect a retainer before you write. I learned this valuable lesson from clients who received their work and never paid for it. You do not need to learn the hard way as I did. An upfront payment will ensure that you end up with something.

The truth is that you can charge whatever you want to charge for your articles. Even the most exaggerated prices are acceptable if you make your clients believe that they are the fairest prices. Never undersell yourself.

When deciding on your rates, consider the amount of time you will put into the work. A majority of well-seasoned writers enjoy $30 to $70 an hour. If you charge by the word, your rate may fluctuate depending on the project. Even so, you can still decide on a constant rate per word and stick to it.

 Landing Well-Paying Clients

These three steps have been instrumental in landing the best clients in my portfolio

Step 1: Looking through freelancer job boards early in the morning or late at night

Step 2: Looking through LinkedIn

Step 3: Writing a killer pitch

 I have been able to find my highest paying clients on job boards and LinkedIn. First, create a COMPLETE LinkedIn profile and optimize every section. If a single part of your profile is incomplete, it will send a negative message to any client.

By using your niche keywords in every section, you will optimize your profile. This will increase your visibility. Once your profile is complete, build your network by connecting with writers and bloggers in a variety of niches. Finally, apply to remote writing jobs.

Before sending out a pitch, remember to engage with your connections for a few days before your proposal. Like and share their posts or even congratulate them on their achievements. In this way, they will notice you.

Afterward, send a proposal and follow up within a week if you do not get any response. If the prospect still does not respond after your follow up message, it is safe to assume that they are not interested. Repeat this process and you will land the highest-paying clients in no time.

Here are three big takeaways:

1) Do not waste time on writing channels that will not give you the earnings that you deserve

2) Do not give up on your talent even when things are tough

3) There is always a silver lining if you do things the smart way. In other words, be relentless for your big payday is around the corner.


Louisa Miya is a freelance writer who enjoys transporting readers to a magical world through writing. In her spare time, she enjoys reading novels, whipping up recipes and spending time with her daughter. She pens up stories she believes will one day change everything.

Your Comments:

  1. Sammy Mwatha says:

    Eye opening!

    Certainly going to try the pitching angle differently from now.

    Thanks!

  2. Morgan says:

    Thank you for your insight! It always pays to reach out. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

  3. Faye Harris says:

    I am currently writing for a dozen small papers and am hoping to expand out. Wish me luck…of course it takes persistence and talent…and I know I have both…

  4. Aisha Preece says:

    This is a fantastic article!
    I found the 3 step process to landing well paying clients particularly useful!
    Going to try and optimise my LinkedIn profile now.
    Do you search for clients on LinkedIn or just apply for jobs on there?
    Thanks for all your insight 🙂

    Aisha

    • Louisa Miya says:

      I do it all- search for clients on LinkedIn and apply for the jobs there too.

      It is also best to connect with people in your niche.I.e. If you write on SEO, connect with SEO consultants from all over.

      Once they accept your request to connect,visit their profiles, like their comments, congratulate them on an achievement as this will help you build a good rapport with them.

      Thereafter send a message saying you are a writer specializing in a niche, have a small window for some new work and want to assist them with any content needs.

      This works like a charm.

  5. Herman G says:

    I love this advice, especially from one who actually has been in the same position as i am now, struggling with freelance sites trying to land clients which as you can tell – is – no – easy job. but well taken and i will surely put into practice.
    thanks alot.

  6. Babawale Oke says:

    This is fantastic. It really got my attention and I’ll soon start implementing the strategies shared.

  7. Patrick says:

    Eye opening.

    But kindly can you share to me a little on how to pitch please.

  8. Burzil Dube says:

    Insightful information especially to some of us who have decided to “be our own bosses” ie by venturing into freelance news reporting.

  9. Doug Harris says:

    Louisa,
    Your advice is _very_ sound.
    I started my freelancing career in the 1960s, when it was much harder (and more time-consuming) to find and reach out to editors. But because there was no internet, and editors didn’t have many opportunities to read others’ work, it was relatively easy to sell the same piece multiple times around the world.
    Now, so many people think they are writers, and clog up editors’ in-baskets with junk pitches, it’s harder than ever to fight your way through the morrass and get work. You clearly have found ways to do it. Good for you!
    Though I still desire to pitch and sell articles, as I round out my 77th year (and I’m on dialysis), I find I don’t have the strength to devote as much effort to the chase as you do. Still, I’m proud to have been published in more than 85 publications and on an untold number of web sites, as well as having been editor of six publications, three each in the US and the UK.
    Not bad for a poorly-educated kid with no ‘credentials’.

    • Louisa says:

      Hi Doug,

      I’m sorry about the dialysis. I do wish you recovery.

      I aspire to be half of what you are. 85 publication, that’s admirable, commendable and inspiring.

      I’d love to connect with you even more. Can we exchange emails?

  10. Maria says:

    Can we see your website?

  11. Carmel Murugen says:

    Hi Louisa, this is an exceptionally helpful article with several useful tips. My biggest take away is the need to have a COMPLETE LinkedIn profile. Thanks for the encouragement!

  12. Michael J. Herman says:

    Very well written. I like the specificity and the structure of how to do what you did and the laconic style in which you write. Thank you. Mike Herman

  13. C says:

    It’s taken time, but I’ve had a lot of success writing for content mills and writing agencies. My average hourly earning is around $30, though I do have 3-4 sites that I use for writing work. I always wonder if I should take the time to try pitching articles like this article suggests. It’s just so comfortable and convenient being able to log on and have work waiting for me.

  14. mohammed ayyub says:

    We all like a good story,especially if it is written well. There is a lot of good literature out there. We must try produce that original and fresh story we still have not wrote. You have all done well..but i know for some of you it is just a warm up.Other’s will look back and remember what they wrote was good, but it was never their best.(me i’m a novice,just my opinion..as a reader keep sheet deep n simple)

  15. Valerie Johnson says:

    Hi Louisa, thank you so much for this excellent and extremely helpful article. I am an American Sign Language (ASL) Instructor and professional ASL Interpreter. I also LOVE to write, but have only written for one magazine (about 10-12 years ago) and stories on Facebook which people seem to enjoy. With such a sparse writing background, can I still add to my LinkedIn profile “writer?” Second, do the content mills require you to be a seasoned or professional writer. Thank you for your feedback and assistance.

    • Louisa Miya says:

      Hey,

      Its good to know that you have been putting your writing muscle to use. I think you should try to get a little experience before creating your writing LinkedIn profile. You will get brownie points for experience. Most content mills do not require proof of experience. You simply sign up, do a writing test and when you pass that, you can access the job board. They are a great starting point but they should be more of a stepping stone to better writing assignments.

  16. Raina rayyna says:

    Can you please show few tips on how to write a pitch,

  17. SUSAN G FOX says:

    Thanks for your insights. I appreciate you sharing them.

    Susan

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