by Michelle Guillemard
So you want to earn six figures as a freelance writer.
But is that an achievable goal, or are you dreaming?
A six-figure income may not happen as soon as you get started.
But, many writers believe it’s an objective you can meet if you stay focused and determined.
Essentially I’m talking about making more than $100,000 per year. As a freelancer who works a regular working week on average of 40 hours, that is.
One of the benefits of freelancing is that those 40 hours don’t have to comprise of 8 hours over 5 days. They can be 10 hours over 4 days, or a few hours per day split over a seven-day period.
The choice is yours. And isn’t this ‘freedom to choose’ one of the main reasons why you became a freelance health & medical writer in the first place?
Working out your income potential
When you get started, you may think that reaching six figures is easy.
If you charge $100/hour and work 40 hours per week for 48 weeks of the year you’ll be making $192,000 before tax.
In other words, you’ll be killing it.
Or will you?
Many freelance writers who are just starting out don’t realise that working hours and billable hours are different.
In fact, I have this conversation with writers A LOT.
It’s rare that you will work a 40-hour billable week. As much as half of your time can be spent on marketing, networking, invoicing, education – and other administrative tasks.
On top of that, you need to factor in sick leave, holiday pay, tax, expenses and superannuation.
But if you averaged 21 hours per week on billable work at $100/hour, you would be making $100,800 per year. Hello six figures.
Now that sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
Getting to six figures
Once you know your income goal and potential, it’s time to put a plan into place to meet this goal.
Securing 21 hours of billable work per week seems simple enough in theory. But in practice, it’s a different story.
A lot of freelancers I speak to have trouble finding clients and booking in work regularly throughout the year.
The same issues tend to crop up:
- I can’t organise my time
- I can’t find new clients
- I can’t get clients to pay me on time
- I am overwhelmed with work
- I can’t meet my income goals
Being a writer who specialises in health and medicine, you may also be concerned that there’s not enough work. But there is always plenty of work for reliable, skilled health and medical writers. If there wasn’t, I wouldn’t be teaching people how to get started!
So how can you address these ongoing issues and crack that six figure mark?
Treat your business like a real business
Writers who make six figures have one thing in common. They treat their businesses like a real business.
- Becoming your own accountant – and caring about every single dollar. Including when it’s coming in and chasing it up when it’s late.
- Being incredibly organised – prioritising your tasks. Focusing on the most important jobs.
- Maximising your income potential – prioritising the tasks that lead to income. Will it make you money?
- Becoming an expert marketer – knowing how to market yourself. Learning the best ways to promote your skills and services – including SEO.
- Investing time in networking – you learn a lot from talking to others who are already established in the field. Join networking groups, professional associations and business associations.
- Caring about the quality of your work – follow a project through from beginning to end. Producing great health writing will get you repeat clients.
- Adopting strategies to retain clients – you’ve already done the hard work to book in a client. Think of how you can keep them. Do they need any other services? Can you upsell anything?
- Spending money on what matters – you do need to spend money to make money. But watch your spending. Only invest in services and programs that will help you to save money and make more money.
Eyes on the prize
If you really want to earn six figures as your income goal, it’s important to stay focused. Find strategies that work for you.
You might want to print out your current earnings and keep them next to your desk. Or keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the work you have booked in for the year (my personal choice).
Or, as some writers do, stick a few hundred dollar bills to your pinboard to remind yourself why it is you’re doing this!
Every decision you make should be another step towards meeting your target income.
How do you stay focused on the journey to six figures? Let me know in the comments.