Let me paint you a word picture of an Extra Fun Feeling We Have All Had at Some Point in Our Lives.
It goes a little something like this:
You're a writer. You know you're good. In fact, numerous clients have told you so and you still have a full roster — not to mention plenty of work. The only problem? You're not seeing any increase in your income, which is confusing: Aren't professionals supposed to make more the longer they work? What are you doing wrong? Are you some sort of business Quasimodo, ill-formed and unable to do what everyone else seems to get easily?
No. I promise you, that's not it. Plus, don't dis Quasimodo . . . that dude had heart.
You've hit a plateau, which is actually quite common in the writing world. You get good at a certain type of writing, working with a certain type of client, marketing in a certain way. This is natural: I've been there, you've been there. Stephen King has probably been there.
Stephen King may not have been there.
Either way, if you respond correctly, you'll be surprised by how quickly your income starts rising again. How, you wonder? Glad you asked. Here are five doable (like, actually doable) steps to take today.
1. Improve Your LinkedIn Profile
Yes, LinkedIn. That thing you sort of half-assedly "did" about five years back and haven't thought about since, except when some rando from your alma mater occasionally asks you to . . . well, be whatever it is you are to people on LinkedIn.
Don't do that. Instead, jump on LinkedIn and put some serious time into your profile. I'm talking at least a half day. Include:
- A long summary. Mine is three paragraphs, plus keywords.
- Keywords (see example).
- Every job, school, and certification you have.
- Recommendations, which you can get by giving others recommendations or emailing people outright. Go for the good ones, though, and don't overdo it.
I've gotten a ton of clients through LinkedIn, and am getting more all the time. Take this seriously.
2. Upsell Your Current Clients
Isn't that a little mercenary? you're wondering. Shouldn't I just be grateful they let me work for them at all and leave it at that?
No. Your current clients are not only a goldmine, they need more of your services if they want to increase their business expertise and make more money themselves. When you finish a project, let them know what your related services are. Help them pimp out their sales funnels, start or post more to their blog, write thought-leader-quality articles, get a consistent email newsletter going, and more. Don't be afraid to suggest additional services; most people are looking for guidance, and if you don't step in, someone else will.
3. Raise Your Prices
Get your face out of that paper bag and breathe like a normal human being. It might sound like the world's worst idea, but raising your prices is a fantastic way to ensure you get paid more. Beyond the obvious fact that, uh, you'll get paid more, you also increase your perceived expertise every time you do this.
That means when new clients come to your site, you'll look even more professional. And it makes preexisting clients feel like working with you is an even better idea now, so there's a good chance this will motivate them to come back.
4. Ax Half of Your Services
No, I'm not crazy. You're crazy if you think other professionals are looking for a writer/editor/photographer/social media manager/carrot cake expert, all in one. Anyone who's serious about their business (i.e. anyone you actually want to work with) is looking for real expertise. As a writer, you can demonstrate that by limiting what you offer. Copywriting and copyediting, OK. Ebooks and fiction, okay. Social media photo curation and visual branding? Probably best not to combine that with your wordy services, sorry.
5. Tell People What You DO, For Crying Out Loud
If you're a writer — or a creative of any type, really — then you know what I mean when I say it's hard to talk about what you do. We all deal with insecurities, slow periods, the unfounded belief that we are not worthy to call ourselves writers, and other such pleasant thoughts and emotions. All of which is to say, sometimes when people ask us about our business, changing the subject starts to look more appealing than a lunch date with Channing Tatum.
But you would be surprised by the return on investment this simple step can generate. If people know what you do, in detail, then you are much likelier to stay top of mind for them, and much likelier to generate more income.
So next time someone asks, resist the urge to mumble "umimawriternobiggie" and move on. Instead, answer the question openly and frankly, and don't be afraid to pitch: Here's what I do, here's whom I do it for, let me know if I can help you or someone you know. Boom.
Now, I'm not claiming that these steps will triple your income in three months, or make you the talk of Stephen King's dinner table. But if you consistently implement these tips (consistency is key), then you absolutely will see a difference in your income. You can bust through that plateau and ensure you continue to rise throughout the months and years of your career. Sounds pretty good, right?
Go forth, my writing friend, and conquer.