Are you ready to join the ranks of other freelance writers and become a full-time freelance writer yourself?
If so, then I’m super excited for you as I’ve been a freelance writer for over five years and I make a living doing this – and I have twins too!
Freelance writing has given me the chance to be able to start freelance work at home as a mom and be with my twins. My twins actually don’t know anything different than the life we have given them – a mom and dad that works at home (my husband works from home also!).
Quitting your full-time job to become a freelance writer isn’t impossible. I know many people who have done just that – and they’re now making a living from freelance writing.
To get to that spot you need a plan, and this guide will help you form a solid plan so that you can prepare to work at home and quit your job for good.
To Start Freelance Work From Home You Need to Think (and Dream) Big
We all have dreams. You know, the ones that you can’t possibly believe will ever happen.
Like being financially free…
Like making enough to buy that house you’ve always wanted…
Like being able to stay home and raise your children…
Those are the dreams I want you to think of when you start deciding you want to ditch the full-time job and work at home. Because when you freelance work from home, you will have ups and downs, losses and wins and you need those dreams to anchor you and make you believe that writing for a living is entirely possible.
As the first “lesson” BEFORE we get into the plan to quit your job for good, write down those dreams and aspirations.
Why? Because the journey to becoming a full-time freelance writer can be a lot of work.
Sometimes we all get discouraged and having your dreams on display will serve as daily reminders to keep you motivated and moving forward.
I also hope this guide will give you that extra kick in the butt to take action and actually ditch your full-time job!
How I Became a Freelance Writer
I’ve been freelance writing part-time (and making a full-time income) while taking care of my twins for almost five years. I write for Huffington Post, OptinMonster, Blogging Wizard and more. I also ghostwrite for many big name entrepreneurs and bloggers.
I work hard and I stay true to my roots, which is blogging and writing – and I teach what I know.
I LOVE writing and I love getting paid to write even more. I spend around five hours a day writing for my clients and for myself. The rest of the time I take care of my twins, have play dates, go to the park, and try to create home-cooked meals during the week!
But, I didn’t start out like this.
After my maternity ended, I needed to find a way to contribute to our finances. I knew I didn’t want to go back to my job in the school system, so I had to find a way to make money at home.
That’s when my husband mentioned doing something online. I found out that many mom bloggers were offering services on the side and one of them was freelance writing.
I started researching what is freelance writing and found that I can do that! And I did!
Now, even though I wasn’t working full-time before I decided to start a freelance writing business, I can still help you achieve your goal of quitting your job for good and working from home.
Okay. So let’s go through the steps to get to your final day at your job and to your first day of freelance work at home writing.
1. Set a Date to Quit and Make It Real
If you just figure you’ll quit your job once you’re making a set amount of dollars per month, there isn’t any real motivation to reach any of your goals.
Life (or TV or Facebook or going out with friends) will always get in the way and what should realistically take months, could take years – or longer.
Making the jump from full-time worker to a full-time freelance writer is a big move. That’s why you have to have a plan to make it happen. Most of the time, if you don’t write it down, it’s like it never happened.
To make your transition more tangible, set a timeframe of when you plan on going freelance. By doing this, it can help you stay accountable and motivated for when times are a bit rough.
It may sound silly to set your “job quitting date” before you even have a single client, but it’s not. Set a goal, and work to achieve it. That’s how businesses are built.
When making your timetable, make sure to consider not only your financial picture but also how you’re going to leave your job. Are you going to make a clean break or – if it’s an option – transition gradually?
A couple of things to take into account are:
- How will your expenses change once you quit your job? For example, you may save on gas and commuting, but you may spend more for health insurance.
- Is your company interested in retaining you as a part-time consultant? This can help the company transition and provide you with some guaranteed income while you navigate the solopreneur lifestyle.
That’s why it’s important to start tracking your current budget and to start building your bootstrapping budget.
To help you visualize this more and to make it more real, go ahead and grab the free timetable page, budget tracker page and the bootstrapping tracker sheet.
Use these sheets to help you look at your budget to find a way to start living minimally to save up for this transition to self-employment.
2. Make Realistic Goals to Become a Freelance Writer
Everyone chooses to quit their job and want to work from home for different reasons. After making a timetable of when you plan on leaving your job, figure out the big goals you want to achieve in that time frame.
I call this your All-Star Goal team. There are two types of goals that make up the All-Star Goal team:
- SMART goals
- Stretch goal
In my advanced freelance writing course Write Your Way to Your First $1k, I talk about setting SMART goals to help assess and measure the progress of your steps in your business plan.
It’s also a great way to keep yourself accountable since becoming a freelance writer means you’ll be your own boss and motivator to get the job done. SMART goals are smaller goals to get you to your end goal (for now it’s to work at home and become a freelance writer) quicker and more efficiently.
For example, your goal might be this:
I want to replace my day job income while having the freedom and flexibility of taking time off work whenever I want.
With SMART goals you can break this big goal down and make it more likely to happen.
- (S)pecific – be as specific as possible on what you want to accomplish and how to do it. You can list requirements and tools you need to make it happen.
- (M)easurable – find a way to measure your goal (your timetable can help you measure your goals) and progress.
- (A)ttainable – look at the logical steps you need to take to accomplish your goal.
- (R)elevant – is it actually possible to work on your goals or is there something holding you back (school, child care, motivation)? Once you identify those blockers you can work on making your goals relevant.
- (T)ime-bound – how long will it take to work on this goal? When will I start?
A stretch goal is a goal that inspires you to think big, and it helps you stay focused on the bigger picture. For example, a stretch goal for you might be:
I want to make $4,000/month from freelance writing.
This goal has no time frame, but you can set a time frame if that helps motivate you to take action.
When I started freelancing writing, my goals were simple. My husband was making enough income to support us as a family but I didn’t want that burden to fall all on him.
I enjoyed working and I knew I had to contribute to the finances now that we had twins. So my initial goal was to find a way to contribute to our finances and also stay home and raise my twins.
My initial income goal – once I decided on freelance writing as my way to stay home with my twins – was to land at least one freelance writing job within four months or so.
I was fortunate to hit that goal a full two months ahead of schedule!
For you, I want you to take some time to figure out your SMART goals and your stretch goal. Write these goals down or share them on social media! Whatever it takes to keep you accountable!
It changes but right now my goal is to build my freelance writing business and have the ability to work from anywhere so I can travel often. I’m working on this goal by looking for more freelance work and writing as much as possible.
— Gracie (@gracieawriter) February 3, 2018
3. Work on Your First 3 Freelance Writing Business Tasks
You are a freelance writer in training. You need to make sure this will work out before you make the biggest change of your life (potentially).
When you quit your job, you suddenly become the boss – you are responsible to make the income, to market your business and to find the work.
You are going to wear a lot of hats but, for many of us, that’s the best feeling ever!
Let’s go over the preliminary tasks you need to do to ensure that when you make the switch, you are successful.
1. Conduct Market Research
Do you even know if freelance writing is a viable option? Or, is the niche you want to write in (the topic you want to get paid to write about) is even profitable?
To find out start conducting market research before you make the leap into freelance writing. This ensures you’ve risked nothing except your time.
But, where do you look?
Here are my two favorite places to find out if there is a need for writers: job boards and social media (Facebook groups).
a) Job Boards
First see what types of jobs there are. You can quickly see what online businesses are seeking for content jobs. Now, freelance writing job boards aren’t the only source for online gigs.
- Cold pitching – you seek out brands and businesses and pitch your writing to them. This eliminates competition.
- Warm pitching – connecting with brands and businesses on social media and responding to their questions or commenting on their content. You get on their radar and over time they may seek you out for content writing.
- Networking – through online connections with other writers, friends, family or other businesses, you might land work that way.
But, for the new freelance writer, freelance writing job boards are an easy and effective way to find a gig quickly. From there, you want to see if the jobs are worth it. What are the rates for these freelance writing jobs?
Depending on where you look, jobs vary from $20 for 1,000 words to $1 per word.
b) Join Facebook Groups
If you don’t already have a Facebook account, get one! You’ll need it for sure if you want to get writing clients.
One of the best ways to decide if there’s a market out there for freelance writing gigs is to check Facebook groups where your potential clients hang out in.
If you want to work with small businesses (the best group – in my opinion, since there’re a lot of small businesses online today) you might want to check out FB groups that attract entrepreneurs.
For example, Pat Flynn – passive income guru – has a Facebook community filled with entrepreneurs and small businesses that need your content 🙂
2. Set Your Rate
Now is a good time to start thinking about your rate. Your rate is fluid, which means you don’t have to keep it at one price point. You can jump up, stay the same or even lower your rate depending on certain circumstances (offering a discount for bulk content).
To start thinking about this, go here to set your rate. Once you plug in your numbers you get an hourly rate.
As a freelance writer, I find it’s best to charge per project, based on how quickly you can research and write the content. $94 an hour can equate to around $100 per 1000 words (if you can write 1,000 quality words in an hour).
For more help, here is a guide on how to set your freelance writing rate.
3. Fail Fast
What if you take the leap into working from home, and three months down the road you find out there is no market for your service?
Or, you find out the niche you are in – maybe it’s parenting, home decor or personal development – just isn’t paying the bills?
If you end up failing, the best thing you can do is fail fast.
What does this mean?
Accept that you need to change what you’re doing and move on to the next thing. This means if plan A doesn’t work, go to plan B or even plan C.
It might mean you end up pivoting to something else that’s more profitable.
You could enroll in a course or hire a coach or mentor to help take your business to the next level. This may give you more skills you can add to your list of services, diversifying your portfolio and ensuring more consistent work.
Start looking online for freelance writing jobs and finding where your prospects might be on social media. Use this free worksheet to go through job boards, blog posts and social media platforms to see if this is a viable choice for you.
4. Try Freelance Work at Home As a Side Hustle
It’s time to get all your ducks in a row and try moonlighting as a freelance writer.
What’s nice about side hustling is that if you end up failing, that’s okay because you can keep trying other strategies while still working full-time.
This is the time where you can see if you can actually land a freelance writing job. You can see for yourself if you have it in you to actually be a freelance writer (because not everyone is cut out to be a freelancer).
Let’s go over what you need to do to have a successful side hustle as a freelance writer.
1. Find the Time
This can be hard when you work all day, but if you want to change all that, you need to find the time to side hustle.
Whether it’s in the wee hours of the morning before work, or the late hours after everyone is sleeping, find a time when you can be your most productive.
When I started my freelance writing business I could only work on it when my twins were napping. There was no time when my twins were awake that I could devote 100% to my business.
My twins needed changing, feeding, play time, and there was laundry, bottle prepping, pumping and more. So, nap time and when they went to sleep for the night were the only two times in a day that I could work on landing freelance writing jobs.
This equated to around 5 hours a day (if I worked all night).
Once you figure out the time (during your lunch break, on the weekends, before you work, etc..) you need to stick to it. Write it down and hold yourself accountable to that time!
2. Set Up a Website
One of the best marketing tools you can have is a freelance writer website. Your website or blog will do most of the work for you.
If you feel you don’t have the tech to set this up, I have two options for you. I have a DIY tutorial with a video to show you how to initially start your website.
I also have a step-by-step video course on setting up your entire website.
When it comes to setting up your website, make sure you have these pages:
- About page – market your services on this page too.
- Services – lay out exactly what you will do with clients. Is it only blog posts or do you also do emails/press releases/eBooks?
- Portfolio – while you can house your portfolio on Contently, I like to have a page on my site dedicated to my sample writing.
- Contact page – list social media links, email, phone number, Skype ID, and have a contact form on this page.
You might be thinking, do I really need a website to start freelance writing?
Yes, and no.
If you need some quick cash you don’t, but if you truly want to make a living as a writer, then yes, you need a website. You may start initially with:
- A Facebook page
- Portfolio site
- LinkedIn profile
And that’s okay. This is a side hustle and you have to ensure if this is a viable option. But the funny thing is, if you don’t use the right tools, you really won’t know if what you are doing will be successful.
So think about it!
3. Get a PayPal Account
You want to get paid right?
PayPal is a universal online payment system, and most businesses and solopreneurs use it.
There is a small transaction fee of 2.9% so just chalk it up to doing business. Since you’ll be using your PayPal account for your side hustle, opt for a business account if you want, but it’s probably not necessary at first if you’re just freelancing it up.
You’ll be able to send invoices to your clients and receive payments from your customers.
4. Track Your Projects
I personally use Google Sheets and Trello to track my client work/income, and my blog posts.
Whether it’s in your notebook or on Excel, find a system for you that works and that you can track:
- Invoices sent
- Editing process
5. Create A Sample of Your Writing and Start Pitching
Here is where it gets real. You need samples of your writing to impress potential clients.
The best way is to guest post on other people’s sites. The next best thing is to create a post on LinkedIn or Medium – a blogging platform.
What should you write about as your first sample?
Ideally, the freelance writing niche you want to get paid for.
You decide on your niche by your experience and what you want to learn more about.
I started freelance writing with choosing parenting and natural health as my main niche topics. Over time I was learning more about marketing my business and fell in love with that content.
I then focussed on attracting digital marketing clients.
So, it’s okay to let your niche reveal itself over time! This might be the best thing for you!
5. Start Saving So You Can Work At Home
Now is the time to set a routine to incorporate freelance writing into your day. Try it out for a week or two and see if this is a possible plan for you. A hard fact to swallow is that many freelance writers fail within the first few years.
The reason? Because they didn’t plan this out! You are forming a plan and system to ensure that when you decide to work at home, you will ultimately succeed.
Now that you are finding your freelance writing groove, the next step is to start saving. And with that extra income you’ll receive from landing your first freelance writing job, you can start to build a cushion of savings for when you quit your job to pursue this full-time.
How much should you save?
According to experts, the standard is to save three to six months’ worth of your income to account for any emergencies, slow periods of work and client attrition. For freelancers with obligations like a family or a mortgage, however, I recommend saving six to twelve months’ worth of expenses.
Freelance writing can be a bit of a roller coaster (if you don’t land recurring work) when you’re first starting out and having those extra funds to help you invest in your freelance writing biz – and to live off of – can really help you make a go out of this.
So, for any money you earn from your new business, put it in a separate savings account.
This will also influence your big goal of wanting to work at home and make the transition to freelance writer easier.
For some ambitions writers who side hustle first, within three short months, they can replace their full-time income with freelance writing for good. So, it is entirely possible to have your freelance writing take off on the right foot and generate income for you.
6. It’s Time To Make the Leap and Freelance Work At Home
Are you pumped? Excited?
The time has come to make the leap a reality. By this time you’re now juggling your full-time work and your side hustle. The time you originally set to achieve your big goal is fast approaching.
Before the time comes to hand in your resignation, here are a few things to make sure you have in order before cutting ties with your employer for good – and taking your side hustle to full-time status.
1. Secure Enough Online Writing Gigs Beforehand
Are you making SMART goals? This can help you right now when you start planning your exit strategy.
How many writing gigs do you need to feel safe enough to quit your job for good? Some gigs may only pay $100 per post and you are only writing 1 post a week for that client.
This isn’t enough to quit your job. You may need to pick up three more weekly content clients to feel safe enough to quit for good. Other projects are long term projects and can pay on a retainer.
Freelance writer Cheri Read was able to quit your job within 3 months with retainer clients.
You’ve saved enough income for slow periods, so now you need to look at whether or not the clients you have will allow you to cover your expenses – and then some – every month.
When that time comes, you know with certainty that you can live comfortably from your freelance writing income alone, and can finally quit your job.
2. Have a Plan to Land More Freelance Writing Jobs
Something you will learn quickly is that you always should be hustling even when you have enough work to live by.
Because you never know if a client will suddenly stops emailing you for no reason at all, or instead of the three posts a month they may drop down to one post a month.
It happens, and it has happened to me. That’s why you need to have a plan to land more freelance writing clients.
Typically, you want to work on reducing or eliminating lower-paying clients as you start to replace them with higher-paying clients. This will free up some time and move you up the pay scale.
Part of your plan to land more projects is to start building that online presence. This means having some social media profiles. The two best social media platforms to try are Twitter and LinkedIn.
On these platforms you should be doing everything possible to get your name and services out there in front of potential clients. Some quick social media marketing tactics are:
- Share a brand’s blog post (a brand you want to write for)
- Respond to a brand’s tweet or LinkedIn post
- Tag a brand on a guest post of yours if you feel their audience would enjoy that content (and it’s relatable)
3. Make the Leap into Freelance Work at Home
When you’re ready, you can be confident that you can take that leap you’ve always wanted, and you’ll be able to start making a living from writing.
Being a freelance writer has allowed me to stay home with my twins, take care of them and live the life that I want. I can go to the park during the day, or we can take a trip as a family to the lake and know that I’m in charge of my potential.
Are You Ready?
I have laid out roughly a 6 week plan to say goodbye to that full-time job and say hello to freelance writing. Every person’s journey is different, but I hope that this plan can help you figure out the critical steps to make this happen.
And to ensure your success, I encourage to level up your plan by enrolling in Write Your Way to Your First $1k. Many students have made their first $1k and more within a few short weeks of taking my course!
Now, it’s your turn! Are you ready?
Tell me in the comments what your plan is to quit your job so you can work at home.
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