Last year, my friend and fellow freelance writer Alex Webb approached me with an idea: let’s teach other freelancers everything we know about how to make money writing. Hell yes, I said. And today, I’m excited to announce that the fruit of our labor, Come Write With Us, is live!
We’ve been quietly working on this course for nearly all of 2017, and it includes 40+ lessons, homework assignments, exercises, and a private Facebook group where students can get one-on-one feedback. We took everything we know about how to make money writing and organized it into a single course that will take you about 2-3 weeks to complete. The goal? To help you land your first paid writing gig. And if you’re already there, we want to help you earn even more money.
Like most writers, Alex and I both started out earning peanuts for our work. My first paid gig was $0.08 cents a word, which equated to about $35 for an article that took me days to write. Worse, sometimes I would even work for free, for exposure! (Turns out bill collectors don’t take Exposure Bucks.) Eventually, I learned to stop treating my freelance writing as a hobby and start approaching at it as a business…because that’s what it is. These days, I earn a six-figure income with my writing and frequently earn over $1,500 for a single article. That’s a hell of a lot better than $35.
Over the years, I have met so many writers — either in-person here in Los Angeles, over Skype, or over email — who have asked me the same question: “How did you become a professional freelance writer?” Specifically, they want to know:
- “How did you start? How did you get your first gig?”
- “Do I need a blog? What should I write about?”
- “How much money can I earn? How do I negotiate better rates?”
- “Why don’t editors respond to my pitches? What are they looking for?”
Eventually, I’ve seen those same, determined writers go on to author books or write articles for places like National Geographic and Cosmopolitan. So when Alex asked me to co-author this course with him, it was something I had already been thinking about. I wanted to build something that went beyond “picking my brain” and actually give writers the framework to build a freelance writing business.
The Myth of the Starving Artist
Back when I earned next to nothing for my writing, my dad used to tell me to negotiate better rates. “Ask for more,” he would always say. I would scoff and tell him that writers aren’t supposed to make that much money. I literally said that! “Writers aren’t supposed to make that much money.” This is the problem with the starving artist mindset in a nutshell. It becomes a self-fulfilling stereotype. You believe that, because writers are notoriously paid crap (or worse, nothing at all), you have to accept crap rates. So you say “yes” when a client asks you to work for exposure, and thus, writers continue to be paid nothing for their hard work.
It wasn’t until I challenged this mindset that I realized how ridiculous it was. As an experiment one year, I asked my existing clients for 20% higher rates. They all said yes. (One client even said, “For our best writer? Of course!”) I forced myself to negotiate higher rates with new clients, too. All but one said yes. In that year alone, I dramatically increased my income as a freelance writer, just by learning to negotiate. It was an extremely encouraging experiment, but it also opened my eyes to how much I was underpaid — and how easily I was willing to accept being underpaid.
There’s money out there, but clients aren’t just going to hand it out to you. You have to ask.
Of course, making money as a writer takes more than just negotiating. You have to learn how to give clients what they want so you can ask for more money, and that means writing really good stuff. In Come Write With Us, we help you with that, too. But even the experienced writers we asked to test out the course found it valuable. Here’s what one student had to say:
“Come Write With Us is the introduction to freelance writing I wish I had when I was in college. If this resource had been around, it would have saved me a lot of time–and money. Even as a freelancer with a few years of experience, I still learned lots from the course. The section on how to negotiate your rate is invaluable knowledge for writers at any stage of their careers.” –Ransom Patterson, beta student
The bottom line is, it’s time to stop telling yourself you have to be broke to do what you love.
What’s in Come Write With Us
Here’s what you can expect to get when you sign up for Come Write With Us:
- 8 Modules (40+ Lessons): Complete with exercises & homework assignments
- The Writer’s Toolkit: A list of tools and resources every writer needs
- Worksheets, Schedules, and Checklists: Download them or print them out!
- Access to the Come Write With Us group on Facebook, where you can get feedback and ask questions
And here’s what you can expect to learn in those 40+ lessons:
- Where to find clients and what kind of rates you can expect. We share methods we’ve used that actually work.
- How to take your writing from amateur to professional so you get paid more. We’ll also tell you how the professional writing world really works (Hint: it’s not just cold pitching editors).
- How to build a blog and establish your credibility as a writer. We’ll give you tools, exercises, and tips to steer you on the right track (we’ve tried them all and we’ll tell you what works).
- How much you can charge and how to negotiate better rates. We’ll also walk you through all the financial information every professional writer should know (You weren’t even thinking about taxes, were you?)
A Preview of What’s in Each Module
Module 1: The Basics of Professional Writing: Learn what editors are looking for, how to master outlines, details, and transitions, and the best practices for researching and sourcing.
Module 2: Build Your Platform and Write Content: Learn why you need a platform and get step-by-step instructions for creating one, from buying your domain name to picking a niche.
Module 3: Master the Art of the Pitch: Learn how to come up with fresh ideas, what to include in a pitch, and how to find the right editor to query. We also share examples of pitches we’ve sent to editors.
Module 4: Search Job Boards and Marketplaces: This includes some of the best places to search for gigs, but perhaps more valuable is our lesson in non-traditional ways to score writing jobs.
Module 5: Decide How Much to Charge: Learn all the different ways writers are paid, how to tell if your rate is fair, and how to negotiate a higher rate.
Module 6: Should You Ever Write for Free? We share three crucial rules to follow when deciding if you should ever write for free.
Module 7: Network without Being Sleazy: How to put yourself out there when you hate the idea of putting yourself out there. Think of it as networking for introverts and people who don’t like to ask for things. Plus, learn how to send a cold email (most people get this SO wrong).
Module 8: Protecting Yourself and Your Business: Everything you need to know about the totally unsexy side of freelancing, from taxes to media liability insurance.
Access to the Facebook Group
I’m most excited about students using the Facebook group to ask questions and get feedback. This way, you’ll also get some one-on-one attention. We don’t want to just leave you hanging with the exercises and assignments, so you can share them in the group and we’ll give you our notes — and you can get feedback from other students, too!
Lifetime access to the course means you’ll also get free access if we update or add any extras. If the course gets an upgrade, you get upgraded, too!
Who Is Come Write With Us for? In short, our course is for anyone who wants to make money writing. If you’re already making money with your writing, our course will show you how to earn even more. This course is for you if:
- You keep pitching publications and editors and never hear from them.
- The only writing gigs you ever get are “guest posts” or other work that doesn’t pay.
- You want to launch your own blog and learn how to write like a professional.
- You want to take your writing career to the next level and focus on high-paying clients.
- You’re ready to join a community of writers who know what they’re doing and can help you figure it out, too.
How long does Come Write With Us last? The course is completely self-paced. You decide when you start and when you finish. For reference, it typically takes users 2-4 weeks to get through the entire course. It will take you about an hour to get through each module. Some modules include homework assignments that will take you another hour to complete. We recommend setting aside 2 hours every time you sit down to take the course. Once enrolled, you’ll always have access.
“I love the list of writing websites, resources, and job listings. That’s worth the money on its own! It’s such a good guide for writers at all levels.” — Melanie Lockert, Author, Dear Debt