How To Negotiate Daily Rates When Starting as a Freelance Web Writer

If you decide to start contracting, one of the hardest things to work out is what daily rate to charge. Many of the readers on this site are looking at ways to escape the 9-5 and moving into contracting is one way to start this process.

If you decide to start contracting, one of the hardest things to work out is what daily rate to charge. Many of the readers on this site are looking at ways to escape the 9-5 and moving into contracting is one way to start this process.

How much should I really charge?

I’ve heard people use different approaches to determine what to charge. Some make sense, others are a bit flaky.
For example:
Divide your annual salary by 52 weeks and then add on 20 percent. If you’re on 52k, and divide by 52 weeks, you’d get 1k per week.
Add 20 percent and you’re up to 1200 per week.
Divide this by 5 days and you get 240 per day.
I’m not so sure about this. It doesn’t take into consideration the real world, so to speak, or at least why your peers are charging for their work.

How to Work Out Daily Rates

Here’s an approach that I’d take:

  1. Look at the recruitment websites and find the type of job you want. Make a list of the daily rates across several sites. The ideal is to get an average daily rate and not rely just on one site. If you’re a total beginner to the field, say just out of college, your rates will be more towards the lower end.
  2. Contact the local Recruitment companies, explain the type of positions that you’re after. Ask them what daily rates you can expect to get based on your experience. Let’s say they believe you can get 200 per day. Now, as a rule of thumb, Recruiters add 20 percent to the rates they charge clients. In other words, if they offer you 200 per day, they’ll probably charge the client 240 per day. The extra 40 per day (i.e. 20 percent) is their fee.
  3. Once you know the average daily rates, you can go directly to a company and offer your services from 200 – 240 per day. If you charge 220 per day, then they stand to save 20 per day, 100 per week, and 400 per month. Try to highlight this when talking to them. Otherwise, they may assume that you’re rates are the same as the recruiters.
  4. Contact the HR Dept of the IT companies. Ask if they hire ‘direct’ rather than through recruitment companies. Some companies, especially large multi-nationals, have a policy of using recruitment firms only. It’s mostly for legal reasons and no reflection on your abilities. Smaller companies tend to be more flexible.

Tip: if you’re new to contracting, target local companies with less than 50 employees. These are usually more receptive to independent contractors and, even if they don’t have large 3+ month contracts, may have many smaller pieces of work. This can be a good way to build your portfolio while paying the bills.

Succeeding as a Freelance Contractor

Your success as a freelance contractor depends not only on your ability to do the job but to sell your services to prospective clients.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
Companies won’t come to you offering you work. You have to go to them. Before you do this, prepare everything in advance, from your sales pitch, writing samples, business cards, and of course the answer to their last question: how much do you charge?

Conclusion

If you have done your homework, you’ll feel confident when discussing the rates. If the person refuses you, at least you know its not because of your prices but something else.
Try to find out what that is before you hang up!
Let me know how you increase your daily rates.

29 Ways to Increase Traffic to a Niche Blog

Making money from blogs in an inexact science. What works one blogs fails on another. I’ve launched over 200 websites since 1998 (mostly ecommerce) and about 30 blogs (mostly technical). If your blog has a technical slant, for example, it’s target audience is technical writers, analysts, architects, or others micro niche areas, then use some of these techniques to increase your traffic.

Tips to Increase Traffic to Niche Blog
Making money from niche blogs in an inexact science. What works in one blogs, fails on another. I’ve launched over 200 websites since 1998 (mostly ecommerce) and about 30 blogs (technical). If your blog has a technical slant, for example, its target audience is technical writers, analysts, architects, or others micro-niche areas, then use some of these search engine techniques will increase your traffic. Continue reading “29 Ways to Increase Traffic to a Niche Blog”

How Much Do 'A List' Bloggers (Really) Earn Per Hour?

How much do you think A List Bloggers make per hour?
Kristi, one of the most successful bloggers, looked at the hidden costs of running a blog, especially for those who want to make the leap into full-time professional blogging.

I think what surprised many people if you read the comments was the expenses that need to be incurred before profits are made. Real profits. Not $50 a month from Adsense but enough to pay the mortgage. Y’know, like it was a real job….
Let’s break this down and see if making a living as as a ‘problogger’ is do-able.

Should You Blog for Money?

Search Google for make money online, problogger, Shoemoney, and you’ll get million of hits.

  • No Barrier to Entry – One of the attractions of blogging is the low barrier to entry. Blogging is the ultimate expression of meritocracy. Anyone can join in and try.
  • No Entry Criteria – Unlike other professions, such as journalism, you don’t need a degree or any type of paperwork.
  • Investment – unlike other types of business, you don’t need to buy a stall, shop, car or even a mobile phone. All you need is web access. The tools are mostly free to get started and you can upgrade as you go along.

So, why not give it a try?

Hidden Cost of Running a Blog

Here’s where things get interesting. Many websites show monthly reports of their earnings. Nothing wrong with that.
Are the figures real?
I don’t know.
I’m pretty sure some are making good money online, others are a little more creative with the truth.
What’s important to note are the hidden costs of running these blogs. If you think about it, there has to be costs, right?
Every business spends money on training, advertising, promotions, hiring, salary, insurance and pays taxes.
Running a web business is no different.
You have sales on one side of the page and expenses on the others. What’s left is the profit.

Business Blog Expenses

Some of the expenses of running a blog full-time include:

  • Web hosting
  • Google Adwords
  • Email software for newsletters
  • Box shot software for digital products and info products
  • Training, such as Yaro’s Mastermind Group
  • Forums, such as Third Tribe
  • WordPress themes Thesis
  • Web storage fees
  • Web access fees
  • Hardware
  • Advanced Email Software
  • Equipment
  • Outsourcing fees
  • Salary

How to Make Money Blogging

This leads into the question of how you can actually make money. In general, sales are generated from:

  • Product Reviews
  • Ebooks
  • Courseware
  • Digital Downloads
  • Template Design
  • Consultancy
  • Software
  • Affiliate Products
  • Amazon
  • Google AdSense
  • Text Ads

Blogger’s Catch 22

The catch is that you have to generate enough sales to justify the expenses. Otherwise, you’re running at a loss.
There’s a few ways to do this:

  • Get a loan – while your family is the first port of call, I’d advise against this unless they have deep pockets. There’s no guarantee they will get their loan back, especially if this is your first business.
  • Sell something – rather than ask for a loan, look at selling things you no longer need and/or work extra hours to create a little nest egg that you can invest in the business.
  • Trade services – work out an arrangement, for example, with a web designer, that you’ll provide some service for him/her if they create your blog for you.

Once you have the seed money you need to invest in the business, you can do promotions, run ad campaigns, get the best equipment, and also travel to network at shows, conferences and events.
The top bloggers are always on the road at trade shows, conferences and events.
Ever wonder why?
To network and make connections.
On the web, you’re only as successful as your network.
Want an example?
Ever notice when a new product comes out…. suddenly all the A Listers Bloggers write about it the same day. In other words, the product launch is synchronized across all the top blogger sites to have maximum impact.
Which partly explains why your blogging efforts – and sales – don’t have the same reach. Your network is smaller, that’s all.
So how do you fix this?
Let’s be honest, you’re not going to get into the inner circle from day 1, but getting out and meeting other bloggers will speed up the process.
So, having access to capital (i.e. greater cash-flow) allows you to invest in the best products and build your business faster.
How?

  • Outsource – instead of doing everything yourself (coding, design, marketing, emails, support), you can delegate the task to a VA and focus on areas that generate more money.
  • Advertising – instead of waiting for others to find your site organically, you can invest in ad campaigns and get your site noticed faster.
  • Connections – having funds also allows you to meet others at shows and form alliances. It’s hard to do this over the web. Otherwise, why would there be trade shows? It’s all about networking.

How to Build a Business v Blog

This leads into the next point. How are you going to make real money?
The Achilles heel of blogging is that the moment you stop blogging, it starts to fade. You need to service it all the time.
whereas…
The advantage of a business is that it’s less about you and more about the products you deliver.
For me, 80% of my income is from sites not blogs.
So, before you go too far down this road, look at your business model and see which has the greatest long-term rewards.
Here are some business models to consider:

  • Advertising
  • Joint Ventures
  • Affiliate Marketing
  • Digital Product Development
  • Software Development
  • Royalties
  • eBook Publishing
  • Consultancy
  • Membership forums
  • Subscriptions
  • Services, e.g. SEO
  • Trading e.g. ebay
  • Flipping aka buying and selling sites/domain names

These are some ways you can create money from a site/blog.
Note that this has little to do with SEO, Plugins, Themes, Hacks or the mechanics of running a blog.
It’s about running a business.
And what’s so great about running a business?
It’s easier to sell!
Investors can estimate how much revenue it stands to make and can give you an offer based on the income minus expenses and also factoring in other variables such as the industry sector and market demand.
Selling a blog, especially a personal blog, is a much harder sell.

How Much Do Bloggers Earn Per Hour?

This brings us back to the original point. How much do bloggers earn per hour?
Here’s how to work it out.

  • Estimate your sales over a 12 month period – $25,000
  • Calculate your expenses over a 12 month period – $5,000
  • Profit – $20,000
  • Divide the profit by 330 working days – $60
  • Divide this by 4 hours per day – $15

This looks great… if you can earn 25k per year.
If your business is earning about 2k per year and over 1k is going on hosting, training, travel, software, then you may be making very little or even running at a loss.

  • Estimate your sales over a 12 month period – $2,000
  • Calculate your expenses over a 12 month period – $1,000
  • Profit – $1,000
  • Divide the profit by 330 working days – $3
  • Divide this by 4 hours per day – $0.75

That’s how much you’ll earn per hour.

Is Blogging Worth it?

It depends on how much you enjoy it, how much you want/need to make money, and the opportunities for future growth.
I made very little for the first few years but then, over a three year period, transitioned from a full-time office job to a full-time ‘web’ job.
For you, maybe the transition will be quicker. Maybe you have the time, energy and smarts to make it happen.
Whatever you do, use your time wisely. And don’t be ‘pennywise and pound foolish’.
Get the best equipment you can afford, take the best courses, and then put your best foot forward.
What else would you add?

11 Interesting Ways to Make Money on Your Blog

Google Adsense isn’t the only way to make money on your blog.
If anything, it may be the weakest and least lucrative way to generate income. Looking for some other examples to monezite your blog?

party-gorilla-shirt from The Oatmeal

11 Ways to Make Money on Your Blog

  1. Webinars – focus on a specific industry where your target customers have a budget for education products. Good examples are banks, finance, government agencies and software companies. Restrict the number to 100 at most to increase urgency and make it more exclusive.
  2. Paid Tweets – develop a loyal following on Twitter. Become the default person for your area of expertise. Connect with as many high profile bloggers in the same space and get onto every twitter list you can. Contact firms with budgets (see above) and offer paid tweets. Charge by batch, e.g. 10 tweets per week, rather than single tweet. Or join networks that offer paid tweets services, such as paidpertweet.com
  3. Sponsorship – create a blog on finance, insurance, legal or another vertical where there is serious dollars available. Avoid low value areas where companies have lesser budgets. Offer sponsorship on your tweets, blog posts, emails, and other content formats. See this tutorial from Darren on Find a Sponsor for Your Blog
  4. Educational Products – one of the advantages of the recession is that folks are more willing to invest in their education. And their kids. Develop products that you can sell online (avoid the hassle of selling offline) and offer bundles and special offers to compliment your offerings. Maths, languages, finance, study aids all do well.
  5. Facebook Page Design – know how to use Photoshop? Develop a portfolio of Faber designs and offer these to corporates. Again, avoid B2C and go for B2B and other lucrative agencies. See SpiderWorking.
  6. Skype Coaching – what’s the one thing you know best? Consider packaging this and offering 1-1 coaching over Skype. I taught business executives in China how to speak business english for 6 months. It paid 50 USD per hour. Not bad when all you need is a Skype account (free) and good headphones.
  7. Information Products – go to your local bookstore and pick out ANY self-help or DIY book. Take it home and use it as a template to create your own info product. Use eJunkie ADD LINKS to sell it. They cost 5 USD per month. The user interface is simple to use.
  8. WordPress Plugins – While there are tons of free plugins out there, there is also a market for more advanced plugins. Don’t know how to code? Don’t worry. Hire a developer on oDesk. Give them the specs and you sell the product.
  9. WordPress Theme – same as above. Use oDesk. Focus on a business sector and design the templates for that market. For example, create wordpress themes for the banking sector, automobile industry or other more obscure industries that get overlooked. DIY Themes is an excellent example of how to do this right.
  10. Photography – Got a camera? I paid $35 USD for five pictures of spanners (wrenches) yesterday. Each time those photos are sold, the photographer gets paid a royalty. Contact the bigger players such as iStockPhoto and Photo.com. It’s a great way for students, retired, or work at home parents to make extra income. And very lucrative if you do it right. Again, focus on one area and be the expert.
  11. Cartoons – Look at what The Oatmeal does. It’s not PC, juvenile, and a bit rude at times but wildly successful. He sells copies of his cartoons from the site and has niche micro sites where he sells others. Expect a book from him soon.

Those are eleven ways to make extra income online.
What have I missed? Which ones do you find the easiest to use?

3 Mistakes When Creating Your First Amazon Store

Amazon was the first ecommerce site I tried to make money with. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make a million… or anything close. But, looking back on what I did then, I learnt that what you expect your customers to do and what they want can be very different.

Amazon was the first ecommerce site I tried to make money with. I’ll be honest, I didn’t make a million… or anything close. But, looking back on what I did then, I learnt that what you expect your customers to do and what they want can be very different.

My First Store On Amazon

If you search for technical writing software and find an Amazon shop for technical writing software… you might find mine.
I thought it would make money. And it did. About six hundred dollars.
You make 8% of what you sell on Amazon, so you need to be selling big time and I wasn’t – so I left and had more luck selling affiliate products, such as BizTree Business Documents, Write English with Confidence kits and Project Management templates for Method123.

What I Did Right

First, it’s hard to know what other technical writers want before you open a web store. What surprised me was that they didn’t buy many technical writing books (which is what I had thought) but lots of gifts.
Lots of gifts. Gifts for kids were the biggest seller with Star Wars and The Simpsons selling tons.
I had developed the site navigation to focus on:

  • Adobe
  • Business Writing
  • DVDs
  • Gifts & Toys
  • Grammar
  • Gerry McGovern
  • Information Architecture
  • Proposal Writing
  • PDF
  • Robohelp
  • Technical Drawing
  • Technical Writing Software
  • Technical Writing
  • Training
  • Magazines
  • Screen Capture
  • Web Writing
  • Writing As a Career

Looking at Google Keyword tools, these were some of the terms technical writers were searching for. So, I built the site around these topics.

What I Did Wrong

What I didn’t know then was:

  • Technical writers don’t buy many books online. They get them through the company or downtown.
  • Technical writers don’t buy much software online. Same thing – they get them through the company.

What do they buy?
Instead, they:

  • Search for technical writing books online
  • Find them on Amazon and
  • Buy a present while they’re there… and maybe a book as well.

So, if I was starting again, I’d design the store around gifts for technical writers.
Do you see the difference?
While they may start out looking for books, when they come to an ecommerce site, their priorities change. One way to capitalize on this is to learn how to upsell. More on that next week!
How about you? What do you buy online?
PS – setting up these stores is Free. Just register as an affiliate and it takes about five minutes. You get paid by check every quarter.

Why Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy But Still Money in the Bank

Would you take $740 if I gave it to you? Most people would say Yes. My Google AdSense check came today. It’s for 548.65 euros, about $740 dollars. I get this check every month; payments range from $700 (low) to $1200 (highest). But, I’ve decided to stop using Google Adsense. Here’s why.

Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy but It’s Still MoneyWould you take $740 if I gave it to you? Most people would say Yes. My Google AdSense check came today. It’s for 548.65 euros, about $740 dollars. I get this check every month; payments range from $700 (low) to $1200 (highest). But, I’ve decided to stop using Google Adsense. Here’s why. Continue reading “Why Google Adsense is Not a Business Strategy But Still Money in the Bank”

5 Alternative Ways to Attain Money for Your Business

Starting a business is stressful, we all know that, but did you know that small businesses make up around half of all U.S. private-sector workers, and have generated 64% of net new jobs over the past 15 years? With new businesses popping up more and more, what are these current and new business owners doing to gain the capital backing they need?

Starting a business is stressful, we all know that, but did you know that small businesses make up around half of all U.S. private-sector workers, and have generated 64% of net new jobs over the last 15 years  With new businesses popping up more and more, what are these current and new business owners doing to gain the capital backing they need?

5 Alternative Ways to Attain Money for Your Business

The best thing to remember is to get creative.  Banks are not lending like they used to, and businesses still need help from time to time.  It doesn’t matter if you are starting your business, or are currently in business—finding alternative ways to get some cash for your business is something every business owner new and old should know about.
Below are 5 alternative ways to get money for your current or new business.

  1. Business cash advance: Similar to a payday advance, these types of loans are much quicker to get than traditional bank loans. It is wise to note that these types of loans are more expensive than traditional loans, but they are becoming more popular. Business cash advances allow business owners to manage their cash flow easier and is a viable way to get money fast, but your company needs to accept credit cards in order to receive
  2. Factoring: Factoring can aid business owners by “selling” unpaid invoices to a factoring company in exchange for cash. Most factoring companies will buy your invoices for anywhere from 70-90 percent of the value of your unpaid invoices. After purchasing the unpaid invoice from you, the factoring company will reach the customer who is responsible for the unpaid invoice and collect the full amount owed.
  3. Grants: This is a good possibility, but wise to remember many people are now looking at grants who weren’t able to get bank loans. Many are finding this outlet harder to get, but it is still is an applicable option. Instead of looking at the federal level for grants, look to local authorities—this could be a better option for some. If you are a non-profit, there are grants specifically for you to look for as well.
  4. Venture Capital: Before contacting venture capitalists about financially backing your business, you should first draw up, or clean up your business plan. Have your goals clearly stated, and back everything up with statistical data to prove how you will be able to pay them back. There are groups out there that are willing to invest, it’s your job to find them and convince them you are worth their investment.
  5. Private Investors: A private investor is a great way to get financial backing for small businesses. If your business is geared toward a small niche audience, private investors who are also passionate about the same topic are more willing to give you a chance than a bank would. You can find private investors in many ways. One way is to search online. There are many sites out there to help you get connected with investors who are ready and willing to invest. Sites like prosper.com and findinvestors.com are just two of many. There are also agencies that can help you find a private investor as well.

It doesn’t matter if you are starting a business or need money for your current business, the main point here is to remember banks are not your only option. Getting a little creative in your search for a business loan can really pay off in the end, and it is wise to look at many different options before committing to the one that is right for your company.