The Correlative Value Equation
Your value will be determined by, 1) does this company need your services multiplied by, 2) the volume of work needed.
The higher each one is, the higher your value. Once you assess the value you’re likely to see for your work in a particular medium, then you can move into it.
So, on a scale from 1-10, honestly assign a number to an industry’s need for your service, and do the same for volume.
Here’s an example:
Law firm that needs a writer to create posts for their website.
Your value: 42
Copywriting agency who needs a full-time writer to work with multiple client accounts.
Your value: 100
This is the key to getting paid as a writer. That may seem like a “no-brainer,” but this idea of “getting clients” eludes so many writers because they have the wrong idea about how to go about it.
Here’s what you shouldn’t do: put up a website, start a bunch of new social media accounts, write a bunch of arbitrary blog posts, and pray to the SEO Gods that clients start coming to you in waves.
Having a website is fine, however…
It’s not totally necessary. I scaled my freelance writing business to $5K a month without one. Everyone is different, and different strategies will work for different types of writing.
If you’re writing to get published in a big publication, samples of your writing will be needed, but they can be on your own website. They can even be on a Medium page of yours, or stored as a PDF in your Google Drive (this is actually how I built my copywriting portfolio without a website).
If you’re a general content writer, the same applies. You’ll need to show off your expertise and have a portfolio. How that will look depends on you, your needs, and your abilities. Getting a website up and running can be hard for some, and simple for others. If you’re in the former group, you can make do with sites like http://contently.com, http://medium.com, and a whole host of other FREE options that are simple to use.
If you’re a copywriter who’s just getting started with no real experience, you’ll need to show off your expertise as well. There’s lots of conflicting advice out there about how to do it. For the purposes of this guide, I’ll share what worked for me and many others I know in the industry: writing on spec.
The Legend Of The Spec
Writing an assignment on spec means you’re writing it for free. It can be worth it, though some people caution against it. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer doing spec work, and it gave me samples to use in my portfolio.
Your job as a writer is to keep writing, and if you’re just starting out, you’ll want to write as much as possible. That means writing on spec. When you’re not getting work, you should be creating your own.
Getting paid by a client to write, while still learning, is great! But if you have no clients, you should ALWAYS be writing while you’re pitching. Which brings me to my next point…
Pitching clients is something you’re going to have to do when you first start. How did you think you were going to get clients?
Pitching becomes infinitely more easy once you nail down a niche and specialty. Once you do that, you can put yourself out there, but if you’ve done your job and picked a profitable niche, understand where you’re likely to be most valued, and made the decision to dive in, pitching is a breeze.
After you begin to build up a clientele, you’ll likely be able to rely on referrals and as you grow your brand and business, clients WILL start to flock to you.
BUT, to get your initial influx of clients, YOU will have to pitch THEM.
Getting To Your First $1K
What would an extra $1K a month do for you right now? Would you use it to pay off some of your debt? Put it in a savings account? Buy a plane ticket to your next vacation spot?
Does $1K sound reasonable to you? Great! Because just like if you were starting a new exercise routine, you wouldn’t walk right up to the squat rack, put 300lbs on it, and go to town. No, you would start small and work your way up.
The same goes for your writing career. Start small.
The point is to get someone to pay you money. If you can do that, then you’re in business! You don’t need business cards, a fancy website, or whatever else people who have no idea what they’re talking about will tell you you need.
You can do all that stuff if you want to “play business.”
But if you want to be in business, you need to find someone who will give you money.
Maybe that’s $100 at first, but from there you’ll work your way up.
Let’s break down the numbers. To get to your first $1K you could:
- Get 1 client to pay you $1,000 (hard if you’re just starting out, but not completely out of the picture)
- Get 2 clients to pay you $500 each (not as hard as you might think)
- Get 4 clients to pay you $250 each
Now, when you lay it out like this, how much more attainable does it seem? Once you decide on your niche and your approach, and you FINALLY decide to go after your first $1K, you’ll see just how easy it is to get there.