5 Rules to thriving as a freelance writer in a recession

With the economy looking the way it is (and if you were employed during the late 1990s it feels like we've been through almost 15 years of recession) but one place that offers plenty of opportunity is freelance writing.  Good freelance writers are always in demand and while this sounds great, and for many writers it is, but you need to know how to break into the market to find the right jobs and to prosper from that set up.  Profiting as a writer during hard times is something any skilled writer can do, and many even average writers make great profits.

So how do you make a great living freelance writing during recession?  There is no one set way of doing it, but there are several rules that successful freelance writers follow.  Times of recession not only don't provide stumbling blocks to the professional writers enjoying the most success, but recessions can actually be a boon for regular freelancers.  Companies keep laying off on staff writers and content providers, but they still need to get the same amount of work done - or even more to prove to upper management their section is worth keeping.  Someone has to provide this content, and that's where the freelance writers can prosper.

Rule #1: Rough economic times are opportunities, not times to worry.  This is a mindset rule, and while it might be more nebulous than the others, it's critical for thriving in a bad economy.  Studies have shown over and over again that stress makes you less effective, less efficient, and you'll get less done over a longer amount of time.  When you're excited, optimistic, and confident, that translates to make you more effective at working.  You get more done in shorter times, and you're more likely to find work because you will have more time to look for work, and give off better vibes when you do contact potential clients.  Learn to have an opportunistic mind set and not a scared or "recession based" mindset.

Rule #2: Price high - you'll be surprised at the results.  This rule took me a long time to fully accept, and I lost a lot of money and a lot of work because of it.  For a long time I had a hard time convincing myself to ask for $10 an article from the $8 I started at.  I didn't even dream of charging $15 an article, which coencidentially is now my minimum.  What happened when I raised my prices?  Both times I recieved MORE work than ever, won MORE of my bids than with the cheaper prices, and obviously made a lot more money.  In six months I went from $8 for 500 words to $12 for 400 words and my work went from 35-40 articles a week to 50 or more.  Price yourself high.  If an employer really doesn't want to pay that much, they'll negotiate with you anyway.

Rule #3: Master the cold approach.  The thought of cold calling or sending an unsolicited e-mail is hard for many people to overcome, but it's a critical skill that can lead to a lot of work.  With all the recent Google smackdowns on sub-par content the demand for high quality native English writing online is through the roof.  Contact website owners directly by e-mail or make a phone call to local businesses offering your services.  If you make hundreds of calls or e-mails (not templated) you will find work, and it will often be consistent and your highest paying work out there.  Don't be afraid to do this.  You know what the worst case scenario is?  You don't get any work which puts you in the EXACT same position you were in before the phone call or e-mail to begin with. 

Rule #4: Diversify.  This is a good rule for freelance writers, especially online freelance writers.  A lot has changed since 2007 online.  Remember when HubPages, eHow, Demand Studios, and Suite 101 used to be huge money makers?  It wasn't that long ago this was the case.  Now eHow and Demand Studios are completely closed or all but closed to freelancers and Suite 101 and HubPages used to be easy and fast ways to earn passive income.  This is not the case anymore, and writers who threw in on those sites and no others paid for it.  Look for job opportunities both on and off line and don't limit yourself to just one style or type of writing.

Rule #5: Always spend some time growing or expanding.  This is a critical part to thriving as opposed to just surviving as a writer.  If you are a talented writer and follow those first four steps you'll eventually have plenty of work.  It can be tempting to spend 50 hours a week writing, and that's not necessarily a bad thing - but you should never spend all of your slotted time on writing.  Keep track of your highest paying jobs on a per hour basis and your lowest paying jobs.  Each week if you find yourself working all the time you need to eliminate the lowest paying 5-10 hours worth of work and try to find new much higher paying work. 

This can happen by getting a huge raise from those employers paying you the least, or it can happen from finding completely new markets.  But keep working on replacing your bottom 10% of jobs with new work or higher paying work that fits in around your top 20%.  If you keep moving your bottom line further and further up each week, you're not going to be hurting at all.

Hopefully these five freelance writing rules will help you to thrive during both good and bad economic times.  Following these will help you survive no matter what changes take place in the markets and this all comes back to remembering that good freelance writers will always be in demand.  Write well, get your name out there, and follow these rules to help boost your freelance writing career.