Note from Bamidele: I was chatting with Jawad Khan on Skype the other day, and in the midst of our discussion he sent me the following message: “Great… I still smile, when I see the first ever email I sent you when I was just starting out… your blog helped me a lot… I’ve been making good money for the last 2-3 years now… you helped me start so I’ll always remember that :)”
Upon reading Jawad’s message, I was filled with two emotions: happiness and curiosity. I was happy for Jawad — because of what he was able to achieve, especially as a non-native English writer. Naturally, I prodded him for more information and here are some highlights since Jawad became a freelance writer. In his own words:
- “I paid off $30,000 in debt.”
- “I bought a brand new car.”
- “I completely renovated my house (big expense).”
- “I got married :D”
- “And above all, getting clients is not a problem anymore.”
Jawad typically makes $5,000 – $7,000 monthly from freelance writing, but he’s had a few $10,000 months.
Now, if that isn’t success, what is? I mean, if building a house, paying off a significant debt, getting married and buying a car from earnings from freelance writing isn’t success, what is?
Right now, Jawad has made a name for himself as a freelance writer, and he runs a writing blog, at Writing My Destiny, that he hasn’t updated in 2 years due to heavy workload, yet clients still reach out to him regularly through his blog (this goes to show how effective blogging can be when it comes to attracting clients). He teaches other writers about what works for him on his blog, which you should definitely check out!
Making a living as a freelance writer can be hard, but it’s especially tough if you are from a developing country.
You know what I’m talking about. You might be a great writer but you are not a native English speaker, so clients expect you to work for pennies and be happy about it! Infuriating, right?
This was the situation in which Jawad found himself when he started freelancing back in 2012. He did find a way to solve this problem, though, and his days of working for pennies are over. Now he makes $5,000 – $10,000 per month from writing and consulting. What is his secret?
“The only way you can succeed in anything is to give it the respect it deserves.”
Jawad graduated from university in 2008 with a marketing degree. He started applying for jobs straight away, and soon landed a position at a B2B marketplace called TradeKey.
“I always thought that online companies are run by 1 or 2 people from their bedrooms, but when I joined TradeKey, I saw that they can generate enough revenue to have a huge office building with 500 employees in it. That completely changed by perception of what’s possible.”
He spent the next four years at TradeKey. During that time he learned a lot about SEO, social media, and content marketing. He also learned how to put all those pieces together to turn them into a legitimate business. Eventually, he felt he had sufficient skills to explore potential opportunities on his own.
He then left TradeKey to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions and started three different businesses at the same time: an outsourcing company, a web design agency, and a freelance writing business. On top of that, he also started a few blogs just to see whether he could rank them in Google and make some money. All three of his businesses were generating revenue, but by the time he realized that he had spread himself too thinly, he couldn’t keep up with the demands of running all these companies and had to shut them down.
“When I look back at all those projects, I realize that I was just looking to make a quick buck with all of them. I did not have a solid plan. I mean, yes, I had a vague idea about the business model, but I never wrote anything down. That never allowed me to focus on one project. My mind was always running between different projects without giving the necessary time and attention to any one of them.
But all this taught me a great lesson. The only way you can succeed in anything is by giving it the respect it deserves. And by respect, I mean giving it the required time and effort.”
Jawad found himself without a regular source of income. He was quickly running out of money, so out of sheer desperation he turned to freelance writing. But he had already learned his lesson. This time he was determined to give his pursuit the respect it deserved.
Going from $30 – $50 per Article to $350 – $400 per Article
Just like most freelance writers, Jawad started out by trying to get clients on job boards like oDesk and Elance, but it quickly became clear to him that this approach wasn’t sustainable. So what did he do?
He decided to build his brand by specializing in online marketing and then getting his work published on the top blogs in that niche such as ProBlogger, Marketing Profs, etc.
Then, he’d look for potential clients and approach people and companies that not only weren’t advertising jobs, but often didn’t even know that they needed content.
Here’s the email template that Jawad used to reach out to them:
Hope you’re doing well.
I am Jawad Khan, an experienced inbound marketing consultant and professional freelance writer.
I am reaching out to see if you need any help with blogging and content related projects.
I regularly write for leading marketing blogs like MarketingProfs, Problogger, Business.com, Tuts+, HubSpot etc. and have been quoted by experts like Neil Patel (QuickSprout.com) and Cindy King (SocialMediaExaminer.com).
Here are a few of my published samples:
- Why Your Blog Is Not Adding Business Value, And What You Can Do About It – Marketing Profs
- 4 Powerful Tips for Highly Effective B2B Social Media Strategy – Marketing Profs
- 3 Content Tweaks to Increase Your Blog Traffic without Spending a Penny – ProBlogger.net
- How To Grow an Email List With Subscribers Who Are Willing To Pay for Your Services – JeffBullas.com
- 31 Powerful Ways To Boost Your Blog’s Social Shares (5000+ words) – NicheHacks
- 7 Effective Ways to Increase Your Social Media Traffic and Conversions – SocialMediaExplorer.com
You can view more samples on my blog.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Most of the time he’d get a reply! In his words, “I got a lot of responses, I think my response rate was around 60% percent to 70 percent, which was crazy considering that these were cold emails.”
Initially, Jawad charged $30 to $50 per post, but once he got featured on top blogs and started approaching potential clients himself, he quickly increased his rate to $150, then $200, then to $250. Now he charges $350 to $400 per post, and his clients are happy to pay!
“Why not help your clients to promote their businesses?”
When Jawad’s freelance writing career took off, he noticed that a lot of his clients didn’t really have a proper social media presence, and he saw an opportunity there.
“There is potential to significantly increase your income by pitching social media management services to your clients.
For example, I had a $1400 per month contract with one client which included writing four 1000 words post for him, and then I offered him a $2000 per month package that also included a social media management service. Initially, that was only a $600 increase, but over time, as I saw results, I raised the price for that package to $3000/month.
As a freelance writer, you promote your work on social media all the time so why not help your clients to promote their businesses?”
Today, instead of calling himself a freelance writer, Jawad presents himself as a marketing consultant, and he makes $5,000 – $10,000 per month.
Jawad’s Top 3 Tips for Writers in Charge Readers
- Target a particular industry and become an expert: “Instead of being just another freelance writer, be an expert in real estate, or finance, or child care and parenting. You have a much better chance of getting high paying clients if you’re an expert in that field.”
- Get your name on the top publications and blogs in your target niche with guest blogging: “Work on your brand image. The stronger your brand, the better rates you can command.“
- Learn from the best writers in your niche: “See how they structure their content and what it is that sets them apart. For example, in the content marketing niche, I’ve learned a lot from how Neil Patel writes. He writes conversational posts, short introductions, lots of data references, snapshots and examples, and clear action items in every blog post. Learning from other successful writers is the quickest path to success because you’re modeling yourself on a proven formula.“
Also, remember that freelancing is a numbers game. As a beginner, you need to regularly reach out to land high-paying jobs. Once you have a few strong samples, spread the word and aggressively market your work.
What’s next for Jawad?
“I haven’t updated my personal writing blog, WritingMyDestiny, for the last 2 years because of heavy workload. It doesn’t reflect the progress I’ve made as a writer. So I have big plans to re-launch that blog and make it a really useful resource for freelance writers and content marketers. I have a lot of proven ideas and tips that have worked for me and I’m eager to share them with my readers.
I also want to launch my first course this year. I’m still chalking out a plan for it but hopefully I can make it a reality in a few months from now.”
You can also follow Jawad on Twitter here.