Since 2021 I’ve written thousands of words and actually ended up making a bit of money off my writing, other than what The Man is paying me.
As far as my goal of pumping out novels goes, it’s been the wrong kind of writing. But I’m not complaining. Not much anyway! 😊
At the start of 2021, I put up a couple of gigs on Fiverr to write photography and technology content. Not your salesy copywriting kind of stuff, but proper decent articles and blog content.
I spent hours putting together the gigs, designing thumbnails, writing my Fiverr profile, deciding on pricing, putting together FAQs and more.
Then I hit the big, green publish button and… Drumroll… Nothing!
For a couple of months, nothing happened. I started to forget about Fiverr.
Then one morning, while I was out sailing, there was an unfamiliar sound from my phone.
Somebody on Fiverr wanted… To send me a file.
Probably one that was full of malware, because about one minute later the message disappeared into oblivion, as if it had never been right there on my phone screen.
Another month passed, then that same, somewhat unfamiliar sound from my phone.
Another malware file?
No… Somebody wanted me to write an article about a photography competition for a very well-known photography blog.
A scam for sure.
So I did what every vigilant Fiverr wannabe does (at least what I think they should, in my jaded, cynical mind): I unleashed the cyberhounds to dig up information on this guy.
In other words, I googled him.
And sure enough, there was nothing that seemed to connect him to said really big photography website. So I did the next best thing: I asked him where he fit in with that website.
Turns out my spidey senses got all tingly over nothing, as he was in fact the owner of an agency that provides sponsored content to various big-name websites.
I took on the job, and a couple of weeks later the post I wrote was online on said website, with the byline of… “Sponsored”.
The joys of ghost writing.
Whatever I did, the client was happy, and a year later I had written 19 posts for him, which were published under various bylines on two big-name photography websites and another big website for creatives and content creators.
I’ve had the pleasure of writing photography content for three other clients as well, and have dipped my toes writing copy for a legal industry recruitment firm and various software outfits, and even a very large communications agency.
And importantly, I’ve been able to net some $$$$ (that’s in the mid-four digits) from my writing, other than from The Man.
Mid-four digits in a year isn’t all that impressive compared with what some Fiverr freelancers pull in. But I’m happy, as I wouldn’t have had those four digits otherwise.
How I made money writing on Fiverr
Please don’t try this at home, kids…
The way I went about making money from my writing on Fiverr is completely contrary to almost every recommended method out there.
Long story short, conventional wisdom dictates you should set your prices super low to the point where you’re working for almost free. The idea is that nobody is going to take a chance on you if you are a newbie freelancer with no reviews and no portfolio to show for.
After you’ve worked almost for free and netted a few good reviews, you should start slowly increasing your prices to what your services are actually worth.
And what did I do?
I published two gigs offering writing services in the niches of photography and technology. But instead of selling my services for $5 (the minimum price you can set), I started out offering 700 words for $65.
My theory is you should set your prices at what you believe you’re worth and then put together a kick-butt profile to convince your clients you’re the right person for the job.
Was I worried about missing out on lots of jobs by setting my prices too high?
- I set my prices at what a junior copywriter in the US should normally be able to charge (nevermind I’m based in Australia, where copywriters charge wayyy more). Fiverr seems to have more potential clients from the US than anywhere else, so I figured this was a fair rate.
- I’d much rather do one job and deal with one client for $65 rather than doing 13 jobs for 13 clients at $5 each. Just imagine the administrative overhead of that!
- Oh, and my intuition told me that by setting my prices higher than your average upstart Fiverr writer, I’d avoid most PITA (Pain In The bAckside) clients who are looking for 3000 words of god-level quality content for $5 with unlimited rounds of revisions and rewrites and constantly changing requirements. (Hey, I did say I have a jaded, cynical mind – at least when it comes to freelancing.) 😁
And look… It actually seems to be working.
With 34 orders under my belt and now as a verified Fiverr Pro copywriter, the clients I have worked with have been nothing short of fantastic.
Every single one of them has provided clear requirements and been quick to respond whenever I needed to clarify something. None of them (possibly with the exception of one) have requested any out-of-scope changes to their copy, and there’s never once been any attempt at wiggling out of actually having to pay for the finished product.
So, how much do I charge?
As mentioned, I started out on Fiverr by charging about US$65 for 700 words and about eight cent per word thereafter.
As the orders rolled in and the work piled up a bit, I started increasing my rates.
I tried $125 for 700 words, but that $100+ starter price seemed to put a stop to new orders, so I dropped it down to $90 for the same word count. The lower price point helped get the orders rolling back in again.
Over time, I settled at about $0.15 per word, starting at $90 for 600 words.
The reason I didn’t put my starting price lower is the admin overhead.
It doesn’t really matter how long the text you’re writing is… There’s usually always about 45 minutes of admin per job, so it was not really worth it for me to ‘get out of bed’ for anything less than $90 per job.
Once I got approved as a Fiverr Pro copywriter, I upped my rates quite considerably. I started my Pro streak charging $0.25 per word, and currently I’m aiming for between $0.40 and $0.50 per word starting at $230 (or a bit more or less, depending on how busy I am).
Mind you, I’m not as concerned with the per-word price as I am with my hourly rates… Whenever I price up a job, I currently aim for an hourly rate of US$60 before Fiverr takes its 20% cut, although I’m hoping to get to US$100 per hour eventually – through a combination of higher cost per word and actually working faster.
By focusing on an hourly rate, I’m able to charge slightly less for easy jobs and repeat clients, where I know I can get through the work quickly.
Keeps everyone happy.
Why am I telling you this?
I’m not one to brag and show off. That’s not what this is. (And besides, there are heaps of freelancers that make way more than what I do on Fiverr.)
What I wanted to show you is that if you present well on a freelancing site like Fiverr and deliver excellent copy, you should not be afraid of charging accordingly.
You may not necessarily want to do what I did and insist on getting paid fairly from the get go. But this strategy has saved me a lot of headaches in not having to deal with dodgy clients. And I’ve always been happy to put in the hours because I feel my work is being valued and I’m getting paid a fair rate.
So in short… Believe in yourself and value your writing. If you don’t, nobody will!
PS: My Fiverr client allowed me to link to the articles in the text above for portfolio purposes. Pro tip… Never, ever do that for ghostwritten content unless your client has specifically approved it.
PPS: Check out my Fiverr profile! 😁
PPPS: In my next post, I’ll share my copywriting workflow including which tools I use. Stay tuned!