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8 Reasons You’re Not Making Any Money As A Freelance Writer (and What To Do!

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Anything, from opinion pieces to pastime stories; non-
fiction to political features.
Not only do you want to write some more, you sure
even want someone to pat you on the back and
embrace you. Who knows, your write-up might even
go viral?
At the end of the day, you really don’t care about any
of those. If you can’t pay the bills, those perks won’t
matter altogether. You want what those side-
attractions will eventually lead you to . . .
More money.
Yes, writing is good and so is getting your literary
works in the front of a large audience. But if you’re
reading this, I take it that you’re tired of endlessly
“getting busy” doing the wrong things, depending on
peers and parents for daily bread – and that you’ve
probably thought of becoming the next Linda Ikeji to
make any sense of writing text for pay online.
It isn’t that you can’t make something profitable as
getting millions of ad clicks (and money) from your
blog, you can eventually get there.
Except you’ll have to go back in time, start punching
your keyboard furiously, be the one who gets to break
strings of headline stories again and again. Either
that, or you keep getting dog-tired of “making money
online” or not sure where your next meal comes from.
Or so you’ve always thought.
What if there could be another way to write and get
paid for your efforts? What is if it can be done in
lesser time, without anyone knowing about it?
Most Nigerian writers don’t have the faintest idea of
earning profitable income from their craft, or they
aren’t getting paid enough for creating content, or
both. Bottom line, most of us aren’t making money.
Why is that?
The Business Side of Freelancing is everything
You’re likely thinking of freelance writing as a part-
time job you can take on, which lets you work on
those passions you’ve always wanted to work on –
and let you live the plush life you want.
But hear this:
If you really want to get paid to write online, you need
to handle it as a normal business:
1. You need to have a product or service in this case,
which is your writing skill (in other words, something
to sell)
2. You need to look for who are willing to pay you to
write for them (in other words prospecting)
3. You need to contact and communicate your value
to them, and why your service will be a good value for
their money (in other words marketing)
4. Once you land the client, you work with them and
monitor how your writing efforts meet their initial
expectations (in other words customer service and
5. Iterate and continue tweaking the process (in
other words, continuity).
This entire process essentially defines your business
framework as a freelance writer, which will allow you
work with clients from anywhere in the world,
regardless of whether English is your fifth language or
you don’t have a Paypal account.
Does this process take time?
It does, because it should – any business in which
thousand-dollar weeks for writing articles are
frequent, is flexible and independent of your location,
by definition, is going to require you to an investment
of time and creativity to get established.
It’s the same question others keep asking themselves
if it’s really possible to break away from slave-writing
a quality 500-word article for $2.
Or chasing middlemen who use dead-in-the-water
tactics to game search engines with N300 articles
they buy from you.
If earning decent rates like $70 per piece you write
seems like impossibility, then this post is for you. You
need a push to show you why you’re making little or
no money where you’re in your freelance writing
career – where you’ve no results to show for your
time and efforts.
Let’s go through the reasons why that’s happening,
and what you can do to fix it:
Problem #1: You’re Chasing Opportunities, Not
Running a Business
You’re likely juggling way too many options, and
worrying over a whole lot that running a stable
writing business seems next to impossible.
The most common problem that freelance writers
face is getting a steady stream flow of clients who pay
them well. In other words, you’re not sure where your
next paycheck will come from.
And if there’s no cash flow, then it doesn’t matter for
how long you browse, how many e books you buy or
money seminars you attend, because you’ll soon run
out of money so fast that renewing your web hosting
account will even be an issue.
So the first line of action is deciding to start a writing
business that consistently attracts clients. Here are
some reasons you might not be experiencing that
yet, and what you can do about it:-
1. “I can only get paid $20 per article”: First
things first, you need to be sure there’re some people
on planet earth that are willing to pay you pretty
decent rates to write articles for them. If you find it
hard to believe, or think this is another joke, you’ll
never stop earning 150 naira per article. Chances are
if you even think $20 is good money for you as a
freelance writer, you’ve got a problem you need to
fix. Way more than what you see around, clients are
ready to pay you profitable rates to write articles for
2. You’re not sure you deserve it: One thing is for
you to accept a fact; another is to see how it applies
to you. If you’re convinced that people are really
paying freelance writers good cash online, that’s
great. But what if you feel YOU are not worth it? It has
happened to me, and I can vividly remember the
feeling when I got an e mail when someone was ready
to pay me $575 for writing a 15-paged report, to be
submitted in 48 hours. I’ve always thought I was
confident enough to ask for and get such rates, but
once the reality dropped in and I got the Paypal
notification, I almost felt like I was robbing the client!
I needed to really know why clients would be ready to
pay such fees for what I felt wasn’t worth it. My
discovery shows that once I keep honing my craft,
looking at the right places for clients and writing
pieces that attract them, it all comes down to the
Law of Cause and Effect – that I should really be paid
that much for my writing efforts.
For the sake of landing more clients and closing sales
faster, it’s necessary to know that you deserve higher
rates. Tell yourself, and never let a day go without
taking sharp, definite steps to sharpening your
writing skills.
3. Nigeria is no Business-Friendly: If you’re just
writing worthless crap and useless garbage to “game”
the search engines, then it won’t be friendly for you.
Even if you’re able to get one or two clients for a
start, you won’t be able to keep them (or get new
ones) because let’s face it, your work is useless; and if
you were a client, I’m sure you won’t go back to the
same writer who keeps producing content that never
get results.
But, if you write and improve as you go on, you need
not worry a bit about the peculiarity of being a
Nigerian citizen or the harsh business conditions
associated with it. Businesses want results, and they’ll
gladly pay anyone who gets results for them. Once
you’re reliable, diligent and good enough to write
great content, no one’s ever going to ask you where
you come from. There’re other things you should
worry about as a freelance writer, and trust me,
where you come from is NOT one of them – not even
Paypal issues, or the degrees you have.
4. No writer website: If your goal is to write for
money, not just to throw off your political sentiments,
you need a marketable platform. You’ll be working
and interacting with your clients mostly online, and if
you can’t be stable enough to buy a domain name
and dedicate fixed hours per week to develop and
market your website, then you simply don’t deserve
to be taken serious – and yes, this also applies to your
And while you’re at it, get a self-hosted Wordpress
blog, not a free one. In other words, use, and not
5. Your writer website sucks: No matter how good
you’re and for how long you’ve worked on your skills;
nothing is worse than your inability to explain to a 7-
year old how your writing services will benefit clients –
it’s even worse than having no website at all.
Once you’ve your site up and running, your site
should tell us who your bio, the services you offer,
who you work for, how clients can work with you,
what others think about your work and relevant
writing experience.
In all, we’re looking at 4-5 pages on your website for a
start; Your website probably need a total revamp if
you can’t write coherent, readable copy, and take
time to edit and proof-read each page for grammar,
relevance and sentence flow.
6. You’re writing for passion, not for business:
It’s a popular, yet deadly career advice that’s telling
you that you need to follow your passion to make
money. You aren’t in a position right now to know
your true passion, and how to monetize it. So, why
should you keep deceiving yourself when you can
study what works, and apply it?
The only time this advice will even work, is when your
passion coincides with what people want to buy, and
the chances of that happening is less than 2% when
you start out. Except you’ll be snagging up a Special
Adviser on Communications gig, your political ranting
blog is of no use to your writing career . . . or you’d
be patient long enough for Arianna Huffington to
invite you to come write for Huffington Post.
7. Not setting clear active hours: Once you start
seeing yourself earning high freelance rates for your
writing services, there are chances you get carried
away and think you need to work 14 hours per day to
get started. If you’ll be starting from a cyber café,
you’d likely get burnt out if you keep buying tickets
for hours unending, and ultimately achieving little.
How you allocate specific hours each week to your
writing business is crucial to getting more done.
Never end a day without detailing how the next day
would look like, as regards your writing.
Are you going to tweak your Home Page copy? Send
out new Letters of Introduction (LOIs) to new
prospects you just qualified? Update your Blog? Settle
on 5 key activities you’ll get done, and work on
getting them done.
At the very least, this will make sure you still get
things moving even you’ve got no laptop, you have
less than 4 hours to spend on your business daily and
with no day job to offset your bills.
8. No ‘sparkling’ clips (or writing samples):
Since you won’t the only writer around, clients need
you to give them a reason they should hire you, and
NOT SOMEONE ELSE. An effective way to do this is by
having a writing portfolio relevant to the services you
Though you might just be starting out, no client likes
to think their job will be your first. Here’s the good
news? You can create writing clips that will convince
clients to use your services.
In a normal day job, you can’t get jobs without
experience, and you can’t get experience without a
job. Sound familiar?
Yes, it’s more difficult to get an assignment without
Fixing your freelance writing business, one
word at a time
Every writer could certainly use some help to get
better in their craft – while most definitely need all
the help they can possibly get.
So which problem are you going to fix first?
It depends on where you’re in the freelancing
If you’ve already earned a benchmark of at
least $100 in the past by simply stringing words
together, then you deserve a pat on the back. Now,
you need to work your way back, and see what you
can learn from the past. If you’re careful enough to
notice how you got that gig (and all that went down
with it), you’d be able to conclude on a tip (or set of
tips) that worked for you back then, and how it
applies to where you’re today.
If earning decent rates as a freelance writer
sounds strange to you , then start at the beginning
– start by knowing how good you are. It’s as simple as
telling yourself you can definitely pull this off. Don’t
wait until you’re perfect (because you’ll never think
you’re) – just strive to get the minimum required
writing skills that someone out there would
appreciate, and pay for.
Write an article today, yes just ONE
Pick a simple concept (anything for now will do), and
try to scribble (or type out) the idea in as much
words as you can. Don’t worry about the word count,
grammar blunders or the glaring errors. Your aim is to
explain the concept convincingly to an imaginary
friend, sitting across the kitchen table. If you can pull
it off in 700 words, good; if it’s 2000, so be it.
Are you done?
If you’ll be using this strategy (and I strongly suggest
you should), chances are you’ll feel like punching
yourself for the crap you just produced, you might
even feel sorry for yourself.
But don’t.
A better writer is always practicing. You’re only great
at what you repeatedly do.
Once you’re done with the first draft (yes, that’s the
first), let your mind incubate for a while and put away
the write-up. Do everything else, apart from whining
about it.
Walk away, get a good night’s sleep and plan to take
a new look at your draft first thing in the morning.
Now, you’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes, and you’ll
definitely see the need for radical editing – I can
assure you of that.
You’ll notice how some words don’t fit together, why
a paragraph shouldn’t follow the next and better
words to replace an existing one.
And the list goes on. By all means, make all the
corrections you deem necessary, move the words
around and take a look at your new draft. It should be
an improved and better version of the first.
Fold the paper neatly and get ready to type. You’ve
got to punch the keys to present your article in an
easily-digestible and readable structure.
Now, can I ask you a quick question? How long are
you willing to wait before your writing skills start
bringing in money?
It’s crucial that you set realistic goals. If you bump
into it as though you’re expecting the big break
tomorrow, you’re going to burn out rapidly and
ultimately lose interest, before you ever make a dime.
And if you choose not to move at an acceptable
progressive rate, you might find yourself failing to
catch up with market realities and find it hard to pay
your bills.
So what kind of race do you plan to run as per your
freelance writing career?
If you’re willing to spread it out so it can span up to 2
years before consistently making money, then a good
strategy is to start honing your craft, learn about the
mechanics of writing persuasive content for the web,
get better at marketing to clients and closing sales.
It’s a long shot, I know.
What if you’re willing to see results sooner? I can get
you some help. One of the most important secrets of
successful freelance writers is to surround themselves
with inspirational case studies of real people like
themselves already making it.
What spurs you better than seeing others already
achieving what you’re planning to?
For example, you can check out 19 Lucrative Online
Markets and Projects Currently Paying Handsome
Rates to Freelance Writers, the 2014 Version. I'm
compiling a list of niches, industries, markets and
writing specialties that anyone with a profitability
mindset and the willingness to succeed can study,
run with it, and use to turbo-charge their freelance
writing career.
And yes, it’s free. Once it's ready, you'll see the active
link in my signature.
Till then, what are you going to do today, to
contribute positively to your writing business?

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