Writing online is definitely a highly rewarding job in terms of lifestyle. But it can also help you build a well-paid career. If you’ve set your sights on wanting to make six figures as a freelance writer, it’s all possible. But how do you take the next step after simply getting started as a freelance writer? Where do you go if you want to stand out above the average salary? And how do you become one of the most successful writers out there making six figures through several income streams (or perhaps a single very rewarding stream)?
In this step-by-step guide, we show you how you can reach your goals and start to make six figures as a freelance writer!
Step 1: Start by Asking Yourself, “Do I Really Want This?”
Whoa, wait… What? Believe it or not, you may not actually want to make six figures as a freelance writer. It may just have been programmed into you as the perfect number by online “gurus”. This needs be the first thing you figure out: do you want to be making six figures?
Remember – six figures isn’t about profit… You could still be in debt, or have spent $50,000 of your savings, just to be able to make one cent over $100,000 by the time December 31 rolls around.
Even best-selling writers may not have broken six figures by the time their book slips off the top 10 lists: if using a publisher, a best-selling author could make as little as $5,000 after selling 5,000 copies… that’s less than the minimum wage! Amazon self-publishers can also become “best-sellers” just by selling a few dozen copies of their book in a low-competition niche. So don’t be fooled by them, either!
What we’re trying to get at is: don’t feel pressured to make those six figures. Only aim for it if you think it will truly improve your life. Otherwise, go slow and be happy with the amount you can make without stressing yourself out.
Step 2: Am I Good Enough? Where Can I Improve?
Only a few elite wordsmiths know how to consistently make six figures as a freelance writer. But this isn’t something that should put you off. Every writer must start somewhere, and the rest is all about gaining experience.
But how do you gain experience as a writer? Simple – by writing.
We’re not going to tell you how many words you should be writing per day (most of the biggest writers average 1,000 words). Just be aware of what you can do well and where you are lacking.
Starting off by taking long-term, hourly contracts may be the best way to get used to creating content constantly. These aren’t always well-paying jobs, but they definitely guarantee you regular work. This will help you improve your craft, especially if you have a great editor pointing out your faults.
Step 3: Online Presence – Make It Count!
The only way to make six figures as a freelance writer is to become as visible as you can. The obvious approach would be to get a blog post on the most popular websites in your niche.
But that isn’t always possible, so you also need to be smart and look for the next best thing. Become an important contributor on Quora, for example. You can use it as a perfect medium for increasing your online presence, put up a bio that invites clients to contact you directly for work, or mention how you would love to work for certain authority sites.
Another example is the famous blogging platform, Medium, which gives you a voice on a very high-visibility site. It even sends links to your article out to Medium’s email subscribers. And its multiple categories allow you to diversify your work to include any subject you love writing about (heck, you can even write about writing, just like we do!).
Finally, social media itself is a fantastic way of putting your name and reputation out there. Twitter and Tumblr, for example, allow for short-form content that can easily hit viral status with the right exposure and shares. You can do the same with Instagram if you have design, photography, or video skills and great copywriting. Finally, YouTube is a perfect way of sharing your writing tips and guides.
Step 4: Making Six Figures Is All About the Right Niche
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about what type of writer you are (copywriter, content writer, resume writer) or the subject you write about (finance, health, sports), your niche may just be what defines how much you make and how high you rise as a freelance writer.
Take a look at the salaries found on job recruitment sites and compare the amount made by different types of writers. You will quickly notice how some activities are more profitable than others. For example, according to PayScale, content writers can end up making an average annual salary of $45,295, which is below the median average U.S. household salary of just under $49,000.
On the other hand, copywriters and technical writers have an average annual salary of around $57,000. What’s important here is that a content writer is typically less specialized in what they do. A technical writer will usually hold a degree of some kind, and a copywriter directs customers towards products and services on sale. The importance of each type of writer to the company determines their pay.
Meanwhile, trends can pick up at a moment’s notice. Writers with knowledge in these trends can quickly become incredibly valuable to any company or entrepreneur looking to talk about them.
Take CBD and cryptocurrency for example: both immense niches that are becoming more relevant and attracting traffic (and money) on all platforms. If you know about the latest cryptocurrency news and investment strategies it won’t take you long to get a job as a blog writer on niche websites. Content like product reviews, cultivation guides, and reports on local events can make also good money for those writers in the know.
So recognize what the latest, profitable trends are and have the flexibility to adapt when your own specialties fall behind.
Step 5: Authority Sites – How to Get Posts and Backlinks on Forbes and Co.?
Face it, you can be the best at writing in your niche, but there’s nothing quite like getting a post on Forbes or Entrepreneur to really start gaining attention. Or simply getting a link to your site or writing profile in one of their articles.
The problem, however, is knowing how to turn their heads at all, which is why we mentioned having the online presence in Step 3. But what if you don’t have the presence yet?
Simple – you have to make the best use of five-star content.
Neil Patel talks more about this in his guide “11 Ways to Get Authority Links for Your New Blog”, but here is a summary of the key points:
- Create resources (articles, infographics, guides, or videos) that people will download, link to and share on their social media, sometimes even on authority sites;
- Optimize your site’s outreach methods throughout the several channels that exist, including search engines, social media, bookmarks and affiliates among others;
- Make sure to create content where none exists, or where the existing content isn’t good enough, as it may reach your audience through word of mouth alone;
- Use and abuse the heck out of visual content, as it has long been demonstrated that this type of post (slideshows, infographics, videos, images) is much more effective at getting backlinks and shares than simple text-based articles;
- Keep an eye on your competitors and their sources of traffic, as well as dead links on authority sites that you can replace with your own;
- Interact with sites in your niche through social media, blog comments, forums and more, as this will bring more attention to you brand.
Developing your own strategy for getting links and shares from authorities will always be useful in your six-figure writing journey, especially if you also factor in a collection of influencers with a large reach.
Step 6: Less Is More – Raising Your Hourly Rate
There’s a huge difference between working one hour for $100, and working four hours at $25 per hour. And it’s not just the obvious difference in effort. The six-figure salaries aren’t reserved for those who work the hardest, but the smartest.
If you can make a couple of hundred a week working for a client, but then find out that posting your own content can bring you hundreds more in terms of selling your own courses, books and one-to-one private consultation classes, you may need to rethink those client relationships. And seriously, learn to say no when a client just isn’t going to pay enough.
Furthermore, combining a higher hourly rate with a healthy number of passive income sources can make the six-figure mark look extremely accessible. Some examples provided by SmartBlogger are affiliate marketing on your blog, advertising and eBooks.
When it comes to breaking $100,000 per year, always optimize to get the most out of every iota of effort you put into anything.
Ready to Make Six Figures as a Freelance Writer?
There is much to learn on the road to becoming a six-figure freelance writer, but following the steps here is a good place to start.
Remember that to become a six-figure writer, you must:
- Want to become one, for your own reasons and not because anyone else is pressuring you to
- Be good enough to earn those numbers, even if it means having to practice for years
- Appear anywhere and everywhere when it comes to the internet – allow yourself to be found with ease, as hunting for clients costs you time and money
- Choose the right writing niche and follow the latest and most profitable trends that will keep you relevant
- Get posts on authority sites as this earns you more than posting on your own blog and social media accounts
- Learn to deal with clients and raise your hourly rate to reflect what you’re worth
We hope you are now prepared to move onwards and upwards and break every limit you ever imagined – good luck!