$100K Club

Freelance writer earning $130,000/year

Jimmy Daly
October 25, 2021

Welcome to another post in the $100k Club series. You can see the full series here. This is "My Morning Routine" for content marketing folks making six figures. The goal is to shed light on the skills and habits that enable people to achieve lucrative jobs and help get more people in this club.

These will be anonymous and updated regularly. If you make more than $100k/year and want to contribute, email me.

For more info on content marketing salaries, check out our salary report.

What was your first full-time job in content? What was the salary?

Content Marketing Manager for a tech company where I started at $50,000. This was my first FT job out of college in 2015.

List out your income by year for as long as you've been working in content marketing:

  • 2015: $50,000
  • 2016: $50,000
  • 2017: $52,450 (left FT job and started freelancing in Q4)
  • 2018: $50,700 (first full calendar year as a freelance writer)
  • 2019: $65,500
  • 2020: $71,600
  • 2021: $130,000

How much do you earn today? What's your job title?

In 2021, I'm in my fourth full year as a freelance writer and on track to invoice for around $130,000 from my own writing (i.e. I don't subcontract or sell any digital resources).

What's the single biggest salary jump you've made? (either from job-hopping or a promotion/raise)

I took my biggest jump this year with over 80% growth. I can't discount the effect of the pandemic on depressing last year's earnings and growing this year’s. But beyond that, the only things that changed came down to filling out my workload through referrals and more regular work—and raising my rates in tune.

What is your most valuable skill?

Reliability. I'm a good writer, but I'm also a big believer that a freelancer's greatest asset is doing what you say you're going to do, when you say you're going to do it. Writing skills are important, but clients are more interested in dependability, professionalism, and being easy to work with.

What's the best book you've ever read on writing, marketing, sales, business, or productivity? (Feel free to suggest more than one!)

I tend to shy away from business books—I've never been able to get into them. But I'm a huge proponent of fiction for writers of all kinds.

Have you had a career mentor/coach? If so, how did you find them and what have you learned from them?

Not officially but I've learned from several friends in the content/freelance world—some I worked with in-house or hired to write for me in the past, others I've met through the freelance writing community (read: Twitter).

The biggest things I've learned from them:

  • Be easy for clients to work with
  • Know your worth and charge accordingly (and never sell your time)
  • Lay a foundation of processes and workflows so you're *ready* for work when it comes
  • Referrals are everything
  • Recognize when enough is enough—2021 is the first year I've made a habit of turning down work or pushing out deadlines when my plate is full enough

What skills or habits help you thrive at work?

Again, being a dependable resource. My clients always know they can rely on me to produce quality work, how and when they need it. If you can make your clients' lives easier, they'll always be willing to pay for that.

Writing (obv), organization and over-communication are all at the heart of that.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to join the $100k club?

For freelancers: you have to lay the foundation.

Did I half expect to hit the ground running and top $100k in my first year freelancing? Kinda! (folks: I didn't)

It's okay to lay a solid foundation of workflows, client relationships, and referrals and just grow incrementally in your first few years. In 2018 – 2020, I stopped chasing $100k as my main goal and started building a business where I can enjoy the freedom of freelancing and earn a fine living.

$100k happened as a result of that process and honestly, really snuck up on me this year!

Where do you live? What is your gender and ethnicity?

White female living in Boston, MA

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