Learning to say “no” is a hard thing for most freelancers. No matter if you’re a newbie or veteran, that one syllable can be the most challenging thing to say or type.
Freelance copywriter Tara Malone understands that fear all too well. When she first started her freelance business, she wrote for content mills and other online sites. But she knew her business wasn’t going to survive unless she took drastic action.
So, she steeled herself to say “no” to her low-paying clients, and those she knew would give her problems. She said “enough” to the imposter syndrome that made her accept any job from any client. She got so good that she managed to triple her income within six months and never looked back.
Curious to know how she did it? Let’s take a look at the five ways Malone said “no” and tripled her income.
1. Stand Up for Yourself as a Freelancer
Imposter syndrome is real, and even veterans can suffer from it, though hopefully, less frequently. It can cause you to accept work from clients you know will be trouble or work with those that refuse to pay your regular rates.
It’s not your skills or rates that are the problem; it’s the client. Just as you have a reason for asking the rates you do, they have a reason for not wanting to pay it. They’ve got a budget and will get praise from their boss when they stay under it. They’re not willing to pay for the experience and training you bring because that doesn’t matter to their boss. Your final cost does.
Instead, be like Malone and pass over these “opportunities.”
Know that there are clients out there willing to pay you what you’re worth, so it’s time to go after them instead. You want to fill your roster with clients who value your skills and experience and are willing to pay your rates.
Remember that you are worth it and start sticking to your rates. Don’t take just any gig that comes your way. Be discriminating and choosy.
2. Drop the Low-Paying Clients
This is a scary step for most freelancers, but a necessary one if you want to increase your income and get better clients. Bad clients drain your energy and take a lot of time to deal with, which affects the energy you have to produce your best work. Most of us lower our productivity when we’re mentally or physically tired, so ditch these energy-vampires right now.
To lessen the shock, Malone dropped her lowest-paying clients as she finished each project for them. She went after better clients with the extra time knowing that even just one new one would replace the lost client and then some.
3. Find Higher-Paying Clients
As she worked her way to tripling her income, Malone had to figure out what kinds of clients she wanted to work for. She sat down and brainstormed to figure out which types of clients she enjoyed working for, what market they were in, and what sorts of projects she liked writing for them.
Once you narrow this down, it’s easier to target prospective clients. These are clients who value copywriting and would gladly pay your rates. Like Malone, you’ll need to do a bit of homework to research the market and companies that best fit your requirements. Once you do, it’s time to crank up your marketing strategy and reach out to them.
4. Commit to Regular Action
By this point, Malone knew who her target clients were and where they hung out. She believed in her value as a copywriter and was ready to demand her rates from them. But she knew it would take consistent marketing action to make it happen.
She joined an online community to get support from other freelancers. Communities like B2B Writing Success can help support you, connect you with other freelancers, give you tips and advice, and help you discover more effective marketing skills.
You also need to put in the work of reaching out to new contacts, making connections online, speaking to these connections, and developing marketing assets you can present to them. That means cleaning up your website, optimizing your LinkedIn profile, and having a set of qualifying questions you can ask prospects who respond.
Do all of these things regularly, even when you’re busy with work. It will pay off for you as you can schedule work out for weeks or even months, and your clients will wait for you to be free.
5. Get Serious About Your Business
The final step is to treat your freelance business as a business. Clients will be more inclined to pay your higher rates if you’re professional in your dealings with them, communicate well, and deliver on time.
For those first few projects with higher-paying clients, Malone put in a lot more homework than she had in the past. She knew she had to deliver on the value her clients were expecting. She studied their websites and past work, asked relevant questions, and accepted feedback.
And it worked.
Within six months of saying “no,” Malone tripled her income and hasn’t looked back. She continues to use these strategies to level up her income every month and grow a successful freelance writing business.
If you’re a freelance B2B writer who wants to trade up to a better class of clients, give these five tips a try. Your freelance writing business will benefit and so will your quality of life.