Freelance Writing on Your Own Terms and Planning a Writing Business

by aunice1

Unless you have money and wealth that is in unending supply, writing must first be a business, and all businesses require a plan of some kind.

Are you currently earning income from your writing? Do you, or expect to claim this on your taxes? If answers to both of these questions are "yes," then you are an entrepreneur. Running your own writing business, while it is a challenging endeavor, does have many advantages. Typically a writer has no other employees or staff and pretty much handles everything from promotion to accounting and everything in between on their own. The real challenge, I think, is trying to enjoy life as a wordsmith but running a profitable business all the while.

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

I love to write, so much that I will do it simply for the sheer enjoyment of it. There’s a place for “free” work in my opinion. I think many wordsmiths out there feel the exact same way, but the reality is we should all definitely have a plan for what we’d like to accomplish with our writing. And making money from our writing, even if it’s to pay a few bills, should figure into the plan.

The professional writer understands that what they do is valuable and therefore runs their career first and foremost as a business. Their understanding is that viewing it as such actually provides them with the capability to commit more of themselves, dedicate the creativity the craft deserves, putting more energy into what they do. This type of mindset tends to be the complete opposite of what many writers think.

You can commit to excellence in your craft, producing unique, engaging and polished copy but then getting paid as we all know takes a completely distinct skill-set. Just like finding worthwhile wordsmithing work, this too is a balancing act: respecting the craft of writing and all it requires while making a reasonable livelihood off of it. Unless you have no intention of earning from your efforts, it is essential to plan and the first step to that is understanding your economic requirements and situation. This is done by determining what the target amount of compensation will be in a month’s time. How much do you want to make from your writing endeavors each month? 

Not all of us desire living completely off of our writing work. If you do though, start by listing all expenses. Consider: housing, utilities, food, clothing, transportation costs, entertainment, insurance, retirement savings and investments. This will equal what you need to make every single month. It will be a big number, however it is a goal which means that it is a starting point that in time you are likely to realize.


Petar Milošević
Petar Milošević
Petar Milošević, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Figuring Your Actual Hourly Rate

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory." - Sun Tzu, Strategist and Author of “The Art of War.”

Your hourly rate is derived by taking what is necessary for you to live each month (or your desired amount) and then dividing that number by the amount of time you have available to work during the month on average. It is important to be realistic. Don't say, "I can work for straight 30 days or so for 20 hours each day." Allow for time off, holidays and appointments. And this varies from person to person. For instance, the single writer with no children or spouse will very likely have more time available, so they will have a completely different working schedule than that of a married mother of 5 or a single parent. Each writer's daily life is different.

Keep in mind that your rate per hour is a goal, however it is also an average. Some days your hourly rate will be more and other times it will be less. There will be those situations where you'll accept work that pays a lower rate because there is some other attractive benefit such as a quick payment turn-around, promoting your brand or own niche site, or the opportunity to break into a new market. Do not give yourself the easy out of giving up because you are not yet making the amount of money you want to.

Now, based on this information, you can actually PLAN.

Some Hard & Fast Rules:

1. Whatever you do, do not give up! Do not give yourself the easy excuse of throwing in the towel because you are not making the amount of money you want right now. Produce quality work  worthy of your time and efforts. Provide value for your readers.

2. Do not depend on a good month to carry you through a bad one. Maintain the same effort and save the extra.

3. Avoid annoying clients! Read the fine print.

4. Pay close attention to how long it takes for clients to pay you and plan accordingly.

5. Promote and market yourself. Never let up on the work hunt. Plan for volume. 

6. When you see a shortfall coming, consider changing your work schedule around to boost the total income that will come in by scheduling writing assignments that even if lower-paying, results in quick cash. 

Planning Boils Down to 3 Essential Things

Planning your writing business means that you have to manage income, sales and clients, which when first starting out can seem very complicated. You do get used to it after a while as it becomes simply part of your daily affairs, with practice. Meeting your goals requires that you make certain to obtain enough work, which if you are a working writer, you know is not easy. Every dime you earn comes from completing a piece of work for a client whether that client happens to be a corporation, newspaper, magazine or an online company. The thing writers must do when considering the money to be made is to look at what all a project entails (sales) as well as the aspects of dealing with the client. The rate of cash earned is directly affected by these two things.

About the Author

Aunice Yvonne Reed, M.S., M.A., has been enjoying writing since about year 2006. Her published content has appeared on such sites as WiseGeek, Hubpages, Medium, EHow Health, Walden U and EHow Family. Her print publications include Organics Magazine, Girlfriends Cafe and Parents for Parents. She has a M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy with Clinical concentration from Touro University, a M.S. in Addiction Counseling from Grand Canyon University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (Clinical Track) from California State University, San Bernardino CA. She is also certified as a Substance Use Disorder Certfied Counselor (SUDCC) in the state of CA.

Updated: 12/22/2021, aunice1
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DerdriuMarriner on 05/09/2022

Revisiting your wizzley brought to mind something that I'd intended to ask after stopping by the first time.

You mention -- under the heading Planning Boils Down to 3 Essential Things -- corporation, newspaper, magazine or an online company as clients.

Would it be possible to generalize which of the four would be the most cooperative about decent pay scales and payment schedules?

aunice1 on 12/27/2021

Hi and thanks for stopping by to read, blackspanielgallery! I can appreciate your writing subject areas of mathematics and physics. It would seem the pay for it would always be on the higher end no matter where in the world.

aunice1 on 12/27/2021

Hello frankbeswick! Wow that's great to hear Hire Writers is a good platform. They sound like they have concern for your welfare. That really means something in these days and times.

blackspanielgallery on 12/26/2021

I write, albeit not as often as I would like, for some quality clients. I once wrote much more, but much of what I would have written at one time now goes out of the country for economic reasons. My specialties, physics and mathematics, often are in competition with some areas of the world where payment for the services is lower than can be matched in the United States. The real problem is the foreign sources also accuracy check, and even print the books, so taking a part from the whole, the writing part, is impractical.

frankbeswick on 12/24/2021

I write for Hire Writers, and I find them very good to work for. When recently I mailed them to say that I needed sick leave because of my chronic illness they told me that my job was waiting for me for when I was fit to return.

aunice1 on 12/23/2021

Hello DerdriuMarriner!
Thanks for stopping by to read the article. Annoying clients, it's funny that you ask. I was thinking that is a topic for a whole other article! Annoying clients are those who 1) Want a whole lot for nothing, 2) Are disrespectful and demanding, 3) Are inconsiderate of your time, 4) Always haggling over paying you, but want you to keep writing stuff for them. Oftentimes, if a client is annoying like this, all of the above is present in one person. It's a complete drain on your wellbeing.

An appropriate goodbye message might be: "Hey, you know I don't think I'm the appropriate person for your project (s), I think it's probably best if you get another person to do them." And be sure to thank them for their business. It might help to refer them elsewhere, preferably to a writing service where they can find someone else.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/22/2021

aunice1, Thank you for product lines, pretty pictures and practical information.
Is it easy, immediately obvious that a client is annoying? What is the best way of getting away from them, i.e., what is the best get away, goodbye message?

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