9 Reasons Why You’re Losing Freelance Writing Gigs

What are the most frustrating words you can hear (or read) after spending hours writing a proposal?

“You’re too expensive. We’re going to go in another direction.”


But, here’s the thing…

We’ve all gone beyond our budget and spent more than we’ve expected.

We buy a slightly more expensive car because it has better safety ratings.

We buy organic produce because we feel it’s better for us.

We splurge for an expensive night out, because it’s been ages since we’ve dressed in something other than yoga pants.

(OK, maybe that last one is just me.) :)

The point is, companies set budgets (sometimes, highly unrealistic ones) limiting how much they’ll spend.

But, like us, companies will make the call to spend more than expected — IF they think the value is there.


And that’s the key point.

Those companies that say “no” aren’t necessarily saying, “you’re too expensive.” They’re saying, “I don’t see your value, so you aren’t a good fit.”

​​​​​​​It’s true that some companies will only pay $6/post, and expect you to be THRILLED with that amount. I’m not talking about these folks.

I’m talking about folks who have money, and are ready to spend it…but they aren’t spending it with you.

Sound familiar?

If your proposals are falling flat, here are 9 things to check:

  • Are you bidding too low? Believe it or not, your low prices may be what’s causing prospects to run away.
  • Should you bid a monthly retainer rather than per-post? Many SEO copywriters brand themselves as “content marketers,” and handle the entire content campaign. Content marketing rates range from $1,250 – 10K+/month, so it may be worth upgrading your skills.
  • Are your proposals professional-looking and typo-free? Consider having another writer check out your template and make suggestions.
  • Are you bidding too high? Mom-and-pop businesses can’t spend $200 per post, even if you’re the best writer in the world. You may need to adjust your pricing for the market — or change markets.
  • Are you providing too much information? Do you feel compelled to brainstorm a complete strategy and include it in your proposal? Stop it! Your prospect hasn’t paid for your brainpower…and you run the risk of your client using your strategy without paying you. This happens all the time.
  • Are you getting too personal? Writing, “I’m a new mom who really wants to work from home,” or “I just quit my job,” screams “I’m a beginning writer who isn’t quite serious yet.” Leave the personal information out. Focus your proposal on what you can do for the client, instead.
  • Do you sound desperate? “I could really use this job” is a sure way to get your work ignored.
  • Do you sound inexperienced? If your SEO knowledge is old or you were never trained adequately, shore up your knowledge before pitching clients. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve read with the term “keyword density” in them.
  • Are you showcasing your value? What can YOU bring to the table that other writers can’t? If your prospect can’t see what makes you a unique and cost-effective hire, it’s easy to move on to another candidate.

What do YOU think?

Did you think, “Yup, I do that” after reading the list? It’s OK. We’ve all messed up a proposal or two (or more!) The question is — what will you do differently next time? Let me know in the comments.


9 replies
  1. Eve Jones says:

    The thing you’ve mentioned in the beginning holds so true. And I agree with all the points you’ve mentioned as 9 checks, they’re on-point. Last time when I met a client, their face after knowing my rates was: “Seriously you charge this much??” I will try with an average rate move next time.

    • Michael says:

      Hi Eve. Maybe that client isn’t for you anyway? As Heather says in the first point, don’t get caught up in low bidding. If you’re worth what you put to your prospect, then stick to your guns. A lot of business people don’t get what we do and therefore can’t see the value we add. I also think using ‘rates’ is fraught with danger; I just quote one price for the work because clients don’t know how many hours I’m going to need to write something and this can freak them out. My price is of course based on an hourly rate, plus maybe 10% to allow for an unexpected twist, but they don’t need to know that.

  2. Arun Kumar says:

    These tips are compelling for every freelancer but I have some other struggle in freelance is I can’t get any orders in last four month. I don’t know what happen to my gig, so I need your recommendations for increase freelance sales.

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      @Arun, the (unfortunately) sales dip could be a lot of things. You may want to consider asking someone to look over your proposals, emails and website to make sure your value proposition is front and center. Sometimes, we market ourselves incorrectly — and, although we don’t see it, our prospects do. Good luck!

    • Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      Ugh, those freelancing dry times are tough. :( Have you tried contacting past clients to see if they have any additional work (or know of anyone who does?) That can often drive some business…

      Good luck. We’ve ALL been there….


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