Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Do Low-paying Freelance Gigs Ever Turn into Higher-paying Gigs?

Many freelancers, whether they be writers, graphic designers, web designers, etc., will consider lower-paying assignments in hopes that they will turn into higher-paying gigs.

If you're new to freelancing, especially, you may be vulnerable to this. In my experience, you can make low-paying gigs work for you, in the following ways:

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1. Pricing: Lower-paying gigs can give you a sense of where you need your pricing to be to meet your income goals.

Once you do a few projects, you may realize, "Wow, now I know why freelancers in this niche charge $X."

You may find that while you'll never do another 400-word article for $2, $5 for a 300-word article is not so bad - if you can knock it out quickly, which leads me to my next point.

2) Work Structure: Sometimes you may take on a project without realizing the intricacies of it. Eg, take a brochure. How hard can it be? List the products/services, pretty it up with some graphics and make sure it's grammatically correct.

But, the research it takes to pull it all together. Remember, writing to sell is a lot different from just listing services. So, finding the right words to get people to not only read the brochure, but take action after that.

Many times after I've completed a project, I've looked at it and thought, I can't believe what went into creating this thing. I remember it took me 4 hours to find a statistic listed in the second paragraph on the front page.

BUT, it's that statistic that moved the reader to pick up the phone.

After doing a low-paying gig that takes tons more time than you thought, you may decide not to offer that service. Or, if you do offer it, you know what goes into it so you can charge appropriately next time.

3) Try New Sectors: One of the best ways to try something new is to reduce your fee and/or accept much lower than what you normally would.

You may find that you like writing about technology, whereas before you'd always overlooked this sector. Doing a few assignments for low pay will definitely allow you to get a feel for a niche before diving headlong into it.

4) Gain Experience: This is an obvious. Say you try a new sector, as mentioned above. And, you like it. BUT, it tends to be notoriously low-paying.

Low-paying gigs will give you some samples for your portfolio so that you don't have to accept rock bottom rates. But, how do you make more money from it after you've paid your dues, so to speak?

Take it and make it your own. What I mean by this, specifically, is create your own products and sell them. Eg, industry e-books, teleseminars, podcasts, etc.

There will always be more qualified writers than assignments. One way to succeed in this industry is creating your own products - and work your way towards making a living from them.

Good luck!
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1 comment:

Laura said...

Good question! Thanks for looking at the issue. Great post!