The Renegade Writer

3 Ways to to Give Yourself a Raise for Your Freelance Writing

Stick FigureBy Katriena Knights

In freelance writing, it’s not always possible to get a raise just by asking for one. However, there are several ways to increase your income even if you can’t ask directly for more money. These methods can also give you more flexibility in what jobs you accept and help you diversify your income base as you build your business.

1. Increase Your Hourly Rate by Working Faster


Knowing your hourly rate can be a vital tool in increasing your income. The information can be used in several ways. You can determine what jobs are generating the best rates, and from there you can fine-tune by either dropping jobs where the hourly rate doesn’t meet your minimum requirements, or by determining whether you can increase rates on individual jobs.

How can you increase your hourly rates without asking for a rate hike? Work faster. If you normally write an article in an hour and can cut that to a half hour, you’ve doubled your hourly rate. This seems like an extreme example, but it might prove not to be. It depends on the nature of the gig. Here are some things to try:

Streamline your research.

If you write often on similar topics, keep a list of the sites you’ve found mostly likely to provide comprehensive information. Keep them bookmarked or save them in Evernote or Instapaper for easy access. Going right to a site or set of sites where you know you’ll find everything you need can save you a ton of time you might otherwise spend surfing from site to site.

Develop a template.

If you write a lot of articles on similar topics, you can start each article by breaking down your subheds. For example, if you write biographies of famous people, your subheds could automatically be “Early Life,” “Significant Events and Accomplishments,” and “Late Life and Legacy.”

Add this to your pre-bookmarked research sites, and you already know what you’re looking for and where you’ll be looking. Of course you’ll probably tweak your headlines a bit to fit the individual article, but any biography is likely to include the same basic sub-topics.

The same could be said for an article about a medical procedure. A set of headlines like “Purpose of Procedure,” “Eligibility for Procedure,” and “Recovery from Procedure” will give you a solid outline.

This method is also useful because if you need a longer article you can just add another subhed like “History of Procedure.” You’ll be able to construct your article much more quickly if you have a set of targets to hit.?.

Of course, this all assumes that you’re doing the same kind of article on multiple occasions. But you can apply a similar approach to a new client or topic. Find a fairly general article about the topic and boil it down to a set of subtopics that fit your assignment. Then fill in the blanks with more specific research sources.

Put yourself on a timer.

Sometimes the most efficient way to speed up your work is just to set a timer while you’re writing. Your awareness that you’re being timed can increase your focus and enable you to get words on paper that much faster. A simple oven timer is enough to do the trick, or find a timer on your smartphone or tablet.

Try one or more of these techniques, and you’ll probably find yourself creating articles much more quickly and efficiently than you have been.

Work More by Adding Clients


If you’ve significantly increased your writing speed, you might find you have more time available. At this point, you can start thinking about taking on more projects to fill that space. Once you get to this point, though, don’t just take any opportunity that comes along. This is where you can leverage your new flexibility and start to…

Work Smarter


Working smarter means making careful decisions when you decide what jobs to apply for and which projects to add to your active list. Start evaluating opportunities based on more stringent criteria, and think about adding “passive” income projects.

New criteria could include a higher per-hour rate or a higher base rate per project. Consider upping your minimum rate for articles. Send out higher quotes and only query or apply for jobs that meet your new minimums. It can feel easier to stay within your old parameters, but don’t give in to temptation. You owe it to yourself to keep moving forward.

“Passive” income can fill in some gaps in your cash flow as well. If you’ve been thinking of writing a book, for example, or publishing an ebook about one of your favorite topics, the extra time you’ve gained by speeding up your writing can give you the freedom to complete this project. Once it’s finished, you can expect to see royalty income begin to come in monthly or quarterly depending on the publisher or publishing platform you end up using.

This kind of royalty-based income can take some time to build momentum, but once you get a few projects out there making money, you could see a nice, regular spike in your income.

Again, it can be tempting to slide back into more familiar patterns, such as knowing exactly how much you’ll get paid for every article you write. Writing royalty-based pieces won’t give you that kind of certainty, but once the pieces are out there they can keep earning as long as you keep them available.

And if you keep adding to your catalog of titles, you’ll build your earning potential steadily over time. In fact, with enough articles or ebooks out there earning for you, you might find you can drop some of your more labor intensive pay-per-piece assignments.

What’s the best approach long term? It’s my belief and observation that the most successful freelancers combine all these techniques. Flexibility and a willingness to try new things can take you farther even than raw talent. And continually fine-tuning and adjusting your approach to your work and your mix of clients and types of assignments can increase your income, regularize your cash flow, and bring your freelancing career to higher and higher levels.

Katriena Knights is a full-time freelance writer and editor. She has tackled all kinds of freelance projects, including website content, press releases and articles as well as over thirty published fiction pieces including short stories and full-length novels. Her latest novel, As If You Never Left Me, is now available from Crimson Romance. Katriena can also be found at her website, her blog, or on Twitter.

Stick figure by Katriena Knights. Thanks, Katriena!

Jun 18, 2013 Advice, Money

3 Responses

  1. Great post, Katriena! And yes, I think that increasing your writing speed is the most effective way to indirectly give yourself a raise. I love what you said about creating templates, because I do the same thing. I write a regular “Business of the Week” column for one of my clients, and I’m able to come up with content for it often in less than an hour because it follows a specific format.

    PS: Love the stick figure! :)

  2. Thanks, Francesca! That stick figure took me longer than I want to admit… LOL

    I try to do everything possible to increase writing speed, but at some point you hit a wall where you just can’t type any faster. Too bad we can’t all have bionic limbs or something! Still, every possible shortcut that doesn’t adversely affect the quality of the article is worth pursuing, imo.

  3. Kalen says:

    Hi Katriena,

    I think that working more efficiently is the path of least resistance. I work mostly on retainer so asking clients I have worked with for a couple years if it is okay to raise my rates can be an awkward conversation. It is one I am willing to have, but it makes more sense to start by finding ways to streamline the process and find more clients to work with first.

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