Ed Gandia earns $500,000 a year working 30 hours a week doing what he loves: business writing and teaching colleagues how to build a thriving writing practice. He teaches them through both courses and private coaching for a selected group of clients.
Gandia, based in the Atlanta area, started his copywriting business 14 years ago after a fast-paced career in sales. He gradually reached the point where he brought in $750,000 in revenue annually, bringing on contractors when he was flooded with work. Then, he decided that the pace of his freelance career was ruining his lifestyle.
“I quickly realize I was burning out fast and sacrificing way too much family time,” he says.
So Gandia took a step back and reprioritized—and now loves his current lifestyle, where he works Monday through Thursday and enjoys a three-day weekend every week.
Recently, Gandia shared his advice with me on how other writers can build thriving, high-revenue businesses like his. The answer is not churning out one article after another.
Here are some of his tips for leveling up your writing career.
Niche down. If you write about a subject matter regularly, try to develop expertise in a particular area. That will help you become the go-to person client consider when they need a writer on a given subject. “Narrow down your field so you are the obvious choice for your target market,” says Gandia.
He's taken this approach with his podcast, High-Income Business Writing. There are many podcasts on freelance writing and copywriting, but most are not as specialized as his.
Charge for “discovery.” One of Gandia’s colleagues found that he was spending a lot of unpaid time helping his clients figure out what engagement strategies they needed but not making any money from that time. Now, he offers a defined program in which he is paid to help them narrow down their needs and create a plan. At the end of the consultation, they get an audit and recommendations.
“There’s great value in helping clients take all of their ideas down a very narrow path and plan,” says Gandia. “Clients can either deploy the plan themselves and find somebody to execute it—or hire you. At least you’ve gotten paid for the value you’ve provided.”
It's all part of thinking like both a writer and an entrepreneur simultaneously. “You need to be more than just a writer,” he says. “You need to help clients come up with creative solutions. This is where I think freelance writing is going.”
Partner with other writers. Gandia teams up frequently with other writers to develop classes, courses and other joint ventures that don't require a lot of time. He looks for writers who have already developed intellectual property that his audience would appreciate — and would benefit from publicizing it on his mailing list. “Once we’ve recorded that workshop, there are different ways we can resell that information down the road,” says Gandia.
One successful workshop was with a writer who helps her clients put together editorial calendars and content strategies in her “Content Calendar Playbook.” She worked with Gandia to develop a self-study course that they marketed to Gandia’s list. The result? They brought in tens of thousands of dollars in extra revenue, says Gandia.
“Having a big portion of my income automated frees me up for the active income part, where I can be choosier about clients and charge higher fees,” says Gandia.