Confessions of a Freelance Writer

Ever wanted to get into the minds of successful freelance writers and ask, how do you do it?

How did you land your first big client?

Why did you choose freelance writing in the first place?

Confessions of a Freelance Writer

For me, before I started freelance writing, I researched a ton of freelance writers. I looked at their web page, their social media presence, their guest posts, their clients, and above all, how they marketed themselves.

Those freelance writers helped me with my business and marketing strategies. I also learned about other freelance writers either by contacting them for help or learning about them through social media.

Since my blog is about helping freelance writers, I thought it would be beneficial to interview some of the fabulous freelancers I’ve come to know and learn from.

So, for February, I’m going to do a spotlight series on freelance writers that have helped me on my journey to success or that have inspired me with their successful business.

To kick start this series, I thought I might as well interview myself!

So, want to learn more about me? You might be surprised by some of my answers.

The SAHM With a Conundrum

I’m a mother and I have twin toddlers. Before I had my children I was a special education teacher helping children with special needs. And before this, I was a private behavioral therapist helping children with autism.

So, how did I jump into freelance writing?

The biggest deciding factor were my children. I finished my maternity leave and I had to make a decision if I was going to go back to being a teacher.

But, something was gnawing at me. I just couldn’t see myself leaving my 1 year old baby twins. They were too young, in my eyes, to go to day care and I couldn’t wrap my head around leaving them for 6 or more hours every day.

I also knew that daycare would be expensive for twins and any money I earned from work would go straight to paying the daycare providers. So, I had to think of something to bring money into our household.

From SAHM to WAHM

My husband works from home. He has always had his own company for as long as I’ve known him, and that’s over a decade.

He mentioned to me that there’s money to be made online. I really didn’t think it was for me. I couldn’t find an online gig that I liked.

I started reading mommy blogs and learning that many of these moms did freelance writing on the side.

So, I researched more about freelance writing and thought that this could be something I could do.

Once I get an idea in my head, I go with it full force. I put up a website, researched freelance writers and did what every new freelance writer does: start on content mills.

I went to iWriter and got paid less than $2 for a 300 word post. I hated it.

Then I moved to freelance marketplaces like Guru.

I must’ve not been good at these places because I never received work from them! I pitched and pitched, but nothing.

What Does Your Husband Think About Your Choice?

My husband has always supported my decisions and once he saw me latch on to the idea of being a freelance writer, he helped me as much as he could.

In fact, he designed my current website and helped me get a gravatar (which I knew nothing about except, whenever I posted a comment on a blog, I always wondered why my picture never showed up).

I’m fortunate enough to stay home and raise my children and still work. Family helps out as much as possible and it’s a relief to know that I can rely on family for childcare should a deadline loom.

Being Your Own Boss Has Its Dark Side

There are some limitations to being a freelance writer. Here are mine:

  • No social interaction
  • You have to work longer hours (at least in the beginning of your career) and often miss family obligations
  • You’re often working every day
  • No holiday pay (unless you build that into your rate)
  • Online work can be risky. Clients may end up not paying you or you could be waiting months or years to get paid
  • You’ll always be hustling

However, there are freedoms of being your own boss:

  • I decide my work week
  • I choose how many hours I want to work
  • I chose my rate
  • There is no limit to how much I can make as a webpreneur

Authority Sites and Poor Communication

In the short time I’ve been a freelance writer, I’ve come across my fair share of winnings and challenges.

For my wins, I’ve secured some “big” clients within their niches.

As for challenges, I’m realizing I’m not the best communicator when it comes to email exchanges. But, that quickly changed.

I learned that less is more and that bullet lists are better in email correspondences.

How Long Did It Take You to Land Your First Client?

For me, it took me close to 2 months after I set up my website and did all my research to becoming a freelance writer (and after my iWriter and Guru phase).

I applied to an automotive website from a job board. I landed an interview a free weeks later and got the gig!

Innovative Ink’s Goals

I recently joined a mastermind group that meets on Google hangouts and one of the questions asked was what my goals are for my business. In all honesty, I really didn’t have any goals, just big ideas.

For example, I want to make more money. Or, I want to have more clients, so that I can make more money.

Well, during the mastermind group, I was introduced to SMART Goals, which stand for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Basically, in order to see progress in your business, setting up goals that are easily obtainable, can be measured, are clear and has a time frame are easier to accomplish.

So, based on SMART goals, I’ve decided to aim for a monthly income goal that can be reached easily. Once I reach that goal, I’ll increase my monthly income goal.

One way to increase my monthly income is to diversify my income. You can do this many ways, but for my business I’m going to start affiliate marketing.

Monetizing your blog is one of the best ways of diversifying your income. So, look out for that!

How Do You Secure Gigs?

I’m finding the main ways I secure gigs are:

  • Inbound marketing – I often get requisitions through my contact form on Innovative Ink
  • Social media – I’ve gotten gigs from Twitter
  • Job boards – I recently joined Tom Ewer’s Paid to Blog Jobs board, so we will see if this pays off.

Top Three Resources for Newbies?

When I started freelancing, I found these websites to be hugely helpful:

  1. Enchanting Marketing – Henneke Duistermaat’s copy website
  2. Freelance Writers Online – Kirsty Stuart’s freelance writing site
  3. Writing Thoughts – Laura Spencer’s highly helpful writing site

My Ultimate Advice For New Freelance Writers

If I could give only one tip to new freelance bloggers, it would be: pitch to jobs you may not feel qualified for. Use any past experience to draw from when pitching.

The time you spent researching educational apps for your child could lead to a writing job at a start-up technology company. Or, that community college course you took on floral arrangements could open the doors to wedding writing or writing for an event planning business.

So, take a few minutes to write down times in your life where you tried something, learned something or experienced something new. You might be surprised at what skills you come up with to help you with your freelance blogging.

Hurry Up Before it’s Too Late!

I’m offering two freebies for anyone who signs up to my monthly newsletter. The catch? It expires January 31st.

So, if you don’t want to miss out on getting your free eBook to pitching to clients and a guide to key questions you should ask a prospective client, sign up today!

Look out for my first fabulous freelance writer I interview, on February 1st.

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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15 Comments

Great post, Elna. Innovative, too. 😉 But then again, that is what you do!Reply to Lorraine
Ha, thanks Lorraine. I’m glad my interview series is popular with my audience!Reply to Elna
I love your story Elna :). And your Ultimate Advice tip is a great one that I completely agree with. Ariel recently published… Reply to Ariel
Thanks Ariel. Yes, pitching to as many job ads as you can (even if you think you’re not up to snuff) is a fast way to score gigs. The more you pitch, the high chance you’ll get a call back. Looking forward to your grammar series on your blog!Reply to Elna
Hey Elna, I am glad that I found you and read your post as I can associate myself with you since I am a mum to a beautiful 6 month old daughter and I found freelancing a perfect relief to kill my time and also support my husband through some earnings. I am really inspired by you and would like you to guide me on how can I also become a webpreneur as I also want to start my own site/ blog. What should I do in that case. You can message me on linkedin too as we are friends there or email me. thanks.Reply to Afaf
Hi Afaf, Thanks for coming over to my blog! I’m glad I inspired you to kick start your freelance writing career. In face, I’m actually expanding my services to helping solopreneurs, like yourself, break into online earnings. I will message you on LinkedIn! Thanks again, ElnaReply to Elna
Hi Elna, Thanks for sharing your story. I love to hear how freelance writers get started. Each freelance writing career is unique, but I feel we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Thanks also for the shout out to my WritingThoughts blog. 🙂Reply to Laura
Thanks Laura! I have some great freelance writers lined up for February, so keep a lookout for their successful stories. ElnaReply to Elna
Thanks, some good advice and always interested in how other freelance writers get started. How do you balance your childcare? Are your twins in daycare every day? I’m still struggling with this at the moment. It’s hard to pay out for expensive childcare with little work, but then find I have to work in the evenings.Reply to Cheryl
Excited for your new series. Love that you spotlighted yourself. Glad the Mastermind helped; we’re all going to kill it this year!!Reply to Gina
Ha, thanks Gina Really enjoyed our mastermind group and learned greatly about SMART goals from Camilla. She’s a rock star (as you are too Gina) with goal setting and exceeding those goals. You gals spurred a fire in me so I’m pitching like mad! ElnaReply to Elna
Great information! It’s so cool to see a freelance writer like you launch her business so successfully so quickly. It shows that it’s possible when most of the rest of us floundered around for years before we figured any of this out!Reply to Alicia
Alicia, Thanks. Well having bills to pay and twins to feed really motivates you to hustle hard! Both my husband and I have been entrepreneurs are whole adult life. As I was a private behavioral therapist, I worked for myself. I set my hours and worked as much as I wanted. What I’m learning online, though, is a whole approach to marketing – content marketing, social media marketing and branding are all essentials to any successful business. BTW, like your latest post on Freelancer Faq’s. Looking forward to it growing and making it the “go-to” resource for new freelance writers. ElnaReply to Elna
I have also been thinking about interviewing freelancers as I am working on the content marketing strategy for my marketplace for freelancers startup at http://galilea3.com. I like your idea of interviewing yourself so I will probably copy that to start my interview blog series. Thanks for sharing. Pitching a job you don’t feel qualified for is a great way to grow by escaping from your comfort zone. My advice to a beginner would be to take action and not wait until you become an expert. Just learn as you go.Reply to Churchill
Hi Churchill It’s always nice to see a new face on my blog! I’m glad you liked my idea of interviewing freelance writers! Looking forward to seeing your interviews. I like your advice for new freelancers. I think many new freelance writers are paralyzed by fear and often worry if they’re writing is “good enough.” I say, don’t compare yourself to others and just go out there and pitch. ElnaReply to Elna