Last year I published a case study about how to become a freelance writer who earns $4,000 a month. I detailed my own freelance journey, from paying off consumer debt, to quitting my accounting job and making the leap into being my own boss.
I interviewed my good friend Gina Horkey who shared her personal story of earning $4,000 per month — even down to the spreadsheet details. (She offers a free 5-day writing course if you want to check that out!)
Since she was my coaching client we worked together to increase her freelance writing income and now she’s earning $20,000+ per month.
In that time my own freelance writing business has grown and nearly doubled it’s earnings from when I first started in June 2011. In the past few years I went from earning around $4,000 per month to $8,000-10,000!
As a Careful Cents reader I always share an honest look at where I’m at in my career, so today I want to talk about leveling up your freelance writing business from the beginner level to the expert one.
If you’re ready to earn more writing, here are some of the exact steps you can take to double your income from $4,000 – $8,000+ every month.
1. Embrace the income plateau
It’s all well-and-good to become a freelance writer, but earning enough to make a decent living is a whole other thing. As a freelance writer you’re exchanging time for money, which makes it easy to reach an income plateau after a couple years of being in the business.
Can you relate? I know I can. If you’ve been following my journey, you know that is exactly where I was at all throughout 2015 and into 2016. (Check out last year’s income reports.)
This is why I’m sharing another freelance writing case study! You’re not alone in your frustration to double your monthly income.
In 2012, Holly Johnson of EarnMoreWriting.com, quit her administrative career in order to switch gears and work as a freelance writer. But after trying to ramp up her writing income she hit a wall. Her monthly income plateaued at $5,000-8,000 per month for over a year.
2. Break through the income ceiling
It’s completely natural (although very discouraging at times) to continuously bring in the same amount of money every month. Just like with weight loss, you have to push through the plateau in order to break through to the next level.
That’s exactly what Holly did and in October 2011 she brought in $11,660 and has been earning $10,000+ ever since. How?
And the only answer is; determination and hard work. In other words, don’t give up. Your income breakthrough could be just around the corner.
Now that you’ve seen proof of both mine and Holly’s freelance success, below are some action steps to start doubling your own freelance writing income every month.
3. Don’t be distracted by fancy tools
It’s all too easy to sign up for various planning tools, freelance apps and subscriptions as you earn more money. But don’t be tempted by this!
Continue with what’s working and don’t start paying for fancy tools that you don’t need — even if your income increases. Wait until you experience growing pains before investing a large portion of money.
Even in the beginning, you don’t need to invest much of anything into leveling up your business. In fact, Holly Johnson still uses almost nothing to keep her freelancing business afloat.
“My husband does our taxes and I use a regular calendar from Staples to track my work,” explains Holly. “I use a simple Excel spreadsheet to track invoices and payments. That’s about it! Honestly, I think people focus too much on fancy tools and not enough on their writing.”
4. Know your cure for writer’s block
Part of being a professional writer is having to deal with writer’s block. I never thought I would struggle with something like writer’s block since I seem to have the opposite problem (so many ideas and so little time!). But burning out is a real problem when you’re constantly researching, creating and writing.
“Writer’s block is the worst, and it always pops up at the most inconvenient times,” explains Holly. “There have been days where I have multiple projects due yet I can hardly get a single word out. When you write a lot, it’s easy to get burnt out. There are weeks when I am so sick of writing and talking that I would rather do anything else.”
There’s no denying that it will happen so the best thing you can do is learn to see it coming and know your personal cure. My personal cure for writer’s block is batching my writing on specific days so I don’t have to force myself to write when I’m unable to.
5. Invest time in various income streams
One thing that Holly and her husband do really well is create multiple avenues of income, each of which caters to their strengths. Holly manages the freelance client part of the business while her husband, Greg, takes care of the tech stuff, website management and their personal blog.
They also have joint ventures in things like giving free credit card travel hacking advice to individuals who want to travel using rewards and points.
In the past couple of years I’ve been implementing more income streams too. I started a co-hosted podcast called Budgets and Cents with my business partner, where we work with sponsors for each episode. And I created a membership site full of courses and workshops specifically for freelancers and small biz owners.
As mentioned, freelance writers often exchange time for money, so if you want to double your income in the coming months you need to invest in multiple income sources.
6. Stop time-consuming client calls
When I was at a conference in San Diego a few months ago I met Holly in person. I also attended her talk about building your own six figure writing business and I loved her candor about the subject.
My biggest takeaway was the fact that she does NOT cave into client demands about jumping on numerous phone calls or Skype chats throughout the week. Then she proceeded to breakdown the hours it takes to shower, get ready and prep for theses unpaid calls.
As freelancers we’re wasting nearly 10 hours a month on being presentable and talking on phone calls with clients. It’s time to stop this and start taking back your time! If you want to double your freelance writing income, you have to guard your time ferociously.
7. Get past quick fixes
An important thing to note is that Gina, Holly and I have all had success in our writing businesses, but it took many years for this to happen. There are no quick fixes to earning more with writing.
“I think a lot of people want a quick fix that will help them earn more money overnight,” says Holly. “In my eyes though, you need to add more value if you want more money. Mostly because I think it’s the best way to earn more money over time.”
Holly definitely said it best. “If you want more money, you need to offer something that other writers cannot or will not.”
How to earn more writing
I’ve been a full-time freelance writer for many years but I was only able to break through the income ceiling this year. In fact, I’m on track to bring in six figures over the next year! Want to know how?
Just did the math to see what I’d have to earn to make a 6-figure writing biz. It’s $8,300+ per mo – apparently I’m already earning it!
— Carrie Smith (@carefulcents) October 1, 2016
My income success has been partly due to the fact that I took Holly’s course, Earn More Writing. She’s an expert writer who also wrote a course, not the other way around. She still writes for clients every single day and let me tell you, she definitely knows her stuff!
She talks about these steps, plus many more, in her brand new Earn More Writing course. After getting access to her course I’ve already implemented several key tips, especially the part about not taking on excess client calls or Skype chats.
If you’re ready to take your freelance writing business to the next level and start doubling your income, I highly recommend you check out Holly’s course.
Got questions for myself or Holly? Leave a comment and we’ll answer it.