Yes, I really did take copywriting jobs that paid just $2 per 500 words.
Here’s how I dragged my rates, and my self-esteem back up off the floor, and started making real money from my part-time business.
$2 an hour making money online writing???
I left a middle management position when my sons were ages just 3 and 2.
My physical and mental health had never been worse. I was fed up, and burned out.
But our financial situation wasn’t great, so after 12-months being a homemaker, I had to find some way of making money, working around my kids.
I can tell you that low confidence, high desperation and low options are not a good combination!!!
Most of my corporate career had been in some kind of marketing and communications roles and involved writing - so I started researching how I could make money writing online.
And that’s the phrase I typed into search engines. I came across a website offering freelance work, writing online content, at just $2 per 500 words….and I took it.
I now know these places are called content farms. They churn out high volumes of content that’s mostly used by companies for SEO. The pay is terrible. But that’s not the only reason you should avoid these gigs. The quality standards required are fairly low, and you’ll get minimal feedback, which means you’re not doing your best work, you’re not improving, and you don’t feel good about your output.
If English is your first language - you should not be doing this crap.
If English is not your first language, consider how you can make more money doing work where your skills are value - for example, translation.
Becoming A Fully Fledged Freelancer
To plug our income gap, I needed to earn around $1,000 each month. And since I didn’t have a spare 125 hours each week to work on churning out SEO content, I realized I needed to ditch the content farm and find more lucrative ways to make money writing online.
I joined a few freelance gig sites, including (my favourite) People Per Hour. Before I created my own profile, I spent time researching the other freelancers, to see how they priced themselves and what they offered. This was an accidental genius move. As I browsed through skill sets I found myself nodding along ‘I can do that’, ‘I can do that’….I hadn’t realized how many of these skills I had already developed in my former day job.
So I set up my profile and went hunting for job listings.
After a few one-off gigs, I did a task for a digital marketing agency, who went on to become a long-term client of mine. A few weeks later I started work with another agency. And for the next 18 months or so, I managed to hit my target income by working part-time as a freelance content writer for these two clients.
I was now making around $15 per 500 words, so that was progress.
Breaking Through That Income Barrier
After a while, I got frustrated by our income. We were getting by, but in my current freelancing situation there wasn’t scope for me to earn more, or work fewer hours. I wanted to free up some time to develop my writing and improve my skills so I could start to charge more money.
I knew I needed to get out of the freelancing mentality, so I set up Worditude Ltd, with its own separate bank account, joined some online business groups for support and direction, and eventually enlisted the help of a coach.
I invested in studying for an Award in Direct and Digital Marketing with the IDM, so I could better understand how the online marketing world worked.
And then I studied for a Diploma in Copywriting with the College of Media and Publishing.
I learned how to package my services in terms of deliverables the client wanted, rather than per hour or per 500 words.
And as my experience increased, I kept nudging up my price.
Later I added a subscription element to my business - a way that people can get my hands-on help with their online content, for a recurring monthly fee.
I completed another qualification - an Advanced Certificate in Digital Copywriting with the IDM.
And I’ve niched down to mostly writing websites, especially sales pages, for service-based businesses who are adding an online program to their product mix. My work is all referral based.
So there it is. The complete journey from $2 an hour to $1000+ per week.
I didn’t write it to boast. I’m hoping you’ll find it helpful.
I’ve read so many ‘I did this one thing’ type blog posts. I’ve fallen for so many overnight success stories. It would’ve been so useful to hear a real story from someone. The truth about how much time, energy, effort and self-development goes into making money online from writing.
5 Things I Wished I'd Known When Starting My Copywriting Business
There's more hard-won wisdom where this came from. Discover what I wish I'd known from the beginning, including when to invest in training, how to win over more clients, and how to price my products.