How To Increase Your Value As A Freelance Writer


Isn’t life  grand when an accident becomes an opportunity?

A start-up tech company hired a freelance writer friend to create some news blog posts for them. Now this friend is canny, so she negotiated her fee upwards based on her network of tech PR specialists and journalists. She would be doing some of the connecting for the client.

But, when her network read the posts, they said ‘Nothing new here, nothing to get excited about’. When she told the client, they were disappointed but also grateful. She’d saved them time and money, pursuing an idea which was going to be a hard sell. So she didn’t get shot, but paid…

And now she’s establishing a reputation in this sector as an ace traction-detecting copywriter, for new ideas.

So first step to increasing your value is:

Build a Network of Adjacent Specialists for your Sector

That is, the chattering classes of PR and journalists who specialize in your type of writing. I can think immediately of three students of mine, whose targets for this would be left-wing campaigners, alternative health experts and establishment politicos, for instance. You will have something they want – news and opinion – and they will have something you and your clients need – feedback.

Sign yourself up as a source at HARO – help a reporter out and sign up for a free trial at Response Source, also connecting reporters and stories.

I know I don’t need to tell you how useful Twitter can be for tracking down PR experts and journalists – and you can store their handles in a list.

Connect with your Blogosphere

Book publishers Hodder Headline recently set up a site for book bloggers to connect with new titles and review them: Bookbridgr, endorsing how useful the blogosphere can be for marketing. Here’s another site that links book authors directly to bloggers: Bookbloggerlist.

If you’re floundering as to where to start hunting down bloggers, then Alltop, which agregrates websites and blogs in every subject matter, may help.

At a writing festival recently, thriller writer Matt Johnson suggested that book blogging can be a good way to get a manuscript seen by publishers, when they already know and like the way you review.

Know Who’s Got The Cash In Your Niche

In this blog, I write partly for freelance writers, often starting out on their careers. So on the whole, you don’t have a lot of disposable cash…Forgive me, those of you are loaded.

But my cv and online courses are evidence of knowing something about writing, so this means I’m asked to provide consultancy services to government and on and offline teaching media to institutions. They are people with reliable cash in this niche.

While these clients are not necessarily the sexiest, they are usually stable and trustworthy. And the other consideration is that while these clients are not spending their own money, they are often prepared to invest in high quality writing, which will make them look good and endure.

How do you meet these people? Well, keep an eye on conferences and meet-ups in your sector which have a government and institutional bias, or if you’re seeking PR and marketing professionals in your sector, then do the same. Check out Eventbrite and MeetUps in your locality.

Know What Market Rates Are And How To Negotiate With Them

Sam, a freelance writer friend, has an admirable technique. He’ll say: Obviously I’ve bread to put on the table, children to school and dogs to worm, but may I ask what is what is the top rate you’d consider for this job, and would you be so kind as to consider paying me this?’ It works like a charm, he says. Gentle humour can be a great way of dispensing with embarrassment…(the embarrassment could be just a Brit thing, so please ignore if it does not apply to you).

You’ll find more on market rates in this post.

Take Their Pain

To be truly helpful to a client as a freelance writer, you need to know what their overall goals are.

When Finn stared blogging for a HR dept, he suspected it was just ‘something we feel we should do’. But as the client got to like his work and ideas, she told him the company was most interested in the online education potential of HR. So Finn suggested some E-Book and video ideas, which got commissioned. He quickly had to find a freelance team who could help him with production aspects beyond his skills.

Many effective executives are too busy with their day-to-day job concerns, to poke about in online potential and creative ways to explore this. You can do this for them. The demand is there, as this article shows, with Business Writing coming in quite high on the list.

And Upskill To Move Forward Together

The upside of having an idea-supplier relationship with your client, is that you no longer need to sell yourself to them. You can use enthusiasm and your latest discovery instead. What this means though is that you have to be quite nifty at finding out what new ideas are emerging and how they work. You’ll need google alerts to the most newsworthy sites in your sector, and you’ll need to decide where to upskill yourself and where to outsource to other freelancers. And you’ll be helping your clients move forward bringing both business and relationship value to your collaboration.

It makes me think of that old saying about luck being the result of preparation and opportunity.