How many clients do you need to be a successful freelance writer?

I have had this question a lot lately. How many clients do you need to be successful as a WAHM freelance writer?

My response is simple. As many paying clients you need to reach your financial goal!

Every WAHM, or should I say Work At Home Parent, is going to have a different financial need, therefore a different goal in mind for how much they want to earn from their business. This goal will help to define how many paying clients you will need to run a successful freelance writing business.

Steps to determine how many clients you need:

Have you set your financial goals? This really should be one of the first things you consider when starting out in your freelance writing business.

Once you have set your financial goal this will help determine your rates and therefore how many clients you need to onboard.

It is a relatively simple three-step process!

1: Set a financial goal.

2: Set your rates.

3: Onboard clients.

Step 1: Set a financial goal for your freelance writing business.

As I have already mentioned, everyone will have a different financial goal in mind for their business.

When I first started as a freelance writer, my goal was to simply supplement our family income. I didn’t want to put any pressure on myself as a new mum to earn a full-time or part-time wage. I simply wanted a little extra “pocket money” for hubs and I to enjoy.

Once I consistently achieved that, my financial goal shifted. I decided that I wanted to do more then just supplement our regular income. I wanted to replace some of my nursing income so that I could decrease the amount of shift work I was doing. This would allow me more time to spend with my family whilst still earning money.

To set a financial goal you must have a minimum number in mind that you want to achieve per month.

This is the first goal you must work out.

The easiest way to do this is to first determine what you want to work towards in your freelance writing business. Is it simply to supplement your base income, in which case any amount would be great!

Is it to replace a nursing shift a month? Than you need to aim for example $100 per month.

Do you want to move to full-time freelance writing? If this is the case, work out how much you need per month to cover groceries, bills, petrol, and other living expenses, superannuation and don’t forget savings! Once you have worked out this dollar figure that is your financial goal.

Take a minute now to figure out your financial goal, I will wait.

Got it? Ok. Let’s move onto the next steps.

Step 2: Set your rates as a freelance writer.

In order to set your rates you need to know how much you want to earn per month and how many hours you can actually work per month. So you have already figured out using your financial goal how much you want or need to earn per month. Now you need to determine how much time you have to focus on your writing business per month. An hour before work or the kids wake up? Two hours in the evening? 10 hours over the weekend? How many hours can you work?

Now you need to work out your rates.

A very simplistic way of looking at it:

Financial goal divide by hours per month = $x per hour.

$1500/40 = $37.50 per hour.

This is an example of how you can work out a rough dollar figure per hour you could charge.

But my number one piece of advice to work out your rate is: CHARGE WHAT YOU ARE HAPPY TO RECEIVE! If you look at that $37.50 and think, nah uh that is not enough to keep me writing, then increase it.

What is your time worth to you? Are you happy to work for $10 an hour? $100 an hour? As a WAHM juggling part time nursing shifts my time is very valuable. I would NOT be happy to only receive $10 per hour. Again, everyone is different and what they want to achieve from their business and income is different.

Just remember that as a business owner you are responsible for the costs of running your business.

  • Paying taxes
  • Website upkeep
  • Book-keeping
  • Computer
  • Software
  • Office supplies
  • Bills
  • Further learning

And so much more! Whatever figure you charge you need to make sure that it is enough to cover these costs.

For the most part, I charge a fixed fee per project, not an hourly rate. However, I like to have that hourly figure in mind when setting project fees. For example, if a client wants 3 blog posts of 800+ with keyword research and creative common images I know this can take me about 6 hours to complete (give or take depending on how much research is required and how well I know the topic). If I think back to that hourly figure, let us call it $40 per hour, then I would charge around $240. 

I have a rates page, which includes how much I charge for different services. I highly recommend you develop your own rates page based on what you want to charge. These do not need to be fixed in concrete. You can change your rates according to who you are pitching to, the scope of the project and the turn around time.

Step 3: Onboard clients!

Now this is a BIG step. We are getting down to the answers here.

How many clients do you need to run a successful freelance writing business?

I wish I could give you a clear-cut answer. I am a fan of simple answers, but this unfortunately will not be one.

It all boils down to the TYPE of clients you onboard and your rates.

What does this mean?

Well, let’s use my freelance writing business as an example.

I have several clients that I like to work with. Bigger clients who have a bigger budget and smaller clients who are just developing their business. I try to have at least one ongoing large client at all times.

At this particular point in time, I have one client on a monthly package. My goal is to onboard at least 2 other clients on a monthly package to reach my financial goal. In the meantime, I fill the gap with one-off projects and pitching to editors at online magazines and websites.

It is a bit like investing in the share market. You have some “bigger” earning shares (regular monthly clients) and “smaller” earning shares (one off projects, online magazines and websites). This mix works for me.

I highly recommend that even if you have a regular client you still continue to pitch and market. Do not put all your eggs in the one basket.

So, how many clients do you need? As many as will get you to your financial goals.

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