Look for Online Copywriting Projects That Repeat on a Regular Basis

One of the points I make repeatedly about being a freelancer is that the time we spend at our desks is divided into two simple categories — billable hours and unbillable hours.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that high-income freelancers tend to spend more of their time in the billable category.

Unbillable hours can also be divided into two sub-categories.

The first category is wasted time, or wasted hours. This is the time we spend procrastinating, reading articles that catch our eyes, chatting on Facebook on non-work-related topics, checking our email, checking website stats, checking news or investment headlines, etc.

The second category of unbillable hours relates to the time we spend on marketing our freelance businesses. We don’t get paid to look for new clients, but it is something we have to do.

If you want to maximize your earnings, you need to cut out all of the wasted, unbillable hours, and minimize the hours you spend on marketing.

One of the best ways to minimize the time spent on marketing, and maximize your billable hours, is to pick up work that repeats, on a regular basis.

Before we dive into looking at some of the kind of work that repeats, let me just say that this isn’t the only way to maximize your billable hours. But it is a good way which has worked well for me over the years.

Repeating Project #1: Writing e-newsletters

My most profitable client ever was a consumer electronics company that needed to send out two e-newsletters every week. Once I had that contract, I knew I would have those jobs to do each week, and knew that I would have my fees for that work in the bank this month, next month, and the month after.

In fact, I could pencil in that income for the rest of the year. And I knew that for as long as I did a good job, I would keep that project. As it turned out, I was wrong about that. The company was purchased, the new owners brought in their own marketing team, and I was gone.

But for two years, that contract meant I could maximize my billable hours. Yes, I still worked for and looked for other clients. But that basis income meant I could spend most of my time just working and billing for the work I did.

Repeating Project #2: Writing regular emails

Another of my clients needed sales emails written on a weekly basis. These were short emails — compared to an e-newsletter — so the revenues weren’t as high as those from my e-newsletter client. But nevertheless, this was repeat work that went on every week for about three years.

While the income wasn’t huge, it did increase my percentage of billable hours. In addition to which, regular work from the same client brings a welcome sense of security. If you have two or three repeating gigs, you know that you’ll at least be paying the bills for months to come. Any additional gigs you get then become pure profit.

Repeating Project #3: Writing blog posts

With the growth of the social web, more and more companies are coming to understand that it’s not okay to publish a post once every couple of weeks or so. They know they need to get fresh posts up there at least two or three times a week. But … they don’t have the resources to do that in-house.

So, they look outside and find a freelancer to write those posts for them. Writing blog posts isn’t the highest-paying work you can do as an online writer. But if you like the work, and get into a good relationship with the client, you’re now being paid for two or three posts every week for the foreseeable future.

Repeating Project #4: Writing content pages

Until the arrival of the Google Panda update, companies were churning out huge volumes of low-quality site content, and paying their writers peanuts.

Happily, Panda put a stop to that. Now those same companies are having to pay more per page, and they are looking for better writers. Again, you don’t get paid a ton for each article. But if you get a gig where you are writing several, week after week, and month after month, it sure adds up.

Repeating Project #5: Writing promotions

Way back in the mists of time, I wrote pop-up promotions for AOL. If you have used AOL since the early days, you may remember that you were hit with a promotional pop-up every time you logged in. I was one of the guys who wrote those. It was pure direct-response copywriting, with very little space to work with.

The fees for those were pretty good, because they all made money. Better still, they tested a new offer pretty much every day. I wasn’t the only writer they used, but they used me enough for this to count as a repeating, and very profitable, project.

In summary …

Repeating jobs not only help maximize your billable hours, but they also take away a lot of the stress of being a freelancer.

The month ahead is no longer a void you have to fill with new projects, because some of this month’s projects will be repeating next month.

Of course, you never want to depend too heavily on just one single client. But let’s say you have a couple of repeating gigs, and also pick up one or two one-time projects each month.

That sounds pretty good to me!

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: April 24, 2012

1 Response to “Look for Online Copywriting Projects That Repeat on a Regular Basis”

  1. I couldn't agree more. I have one of those assignments that I expect to go on for quite some time. It's a good feeling. It's not the kind of writing I love to do and it doesn't pay big bucks, but I don't hate it and it has taken the pressure off. I don't have to worry about paying the bills and I still do assignments I love a couple of times a month.

    Guest (Mary)

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