I am super excited to have Holly Porter Johnson from Club Thrifty on the blog today. She’s sharing how she turned freelance writing on the side into a six-figure business (pretty amazing!). Take it away Holly!
Many freelance writers find their calling later in life, and I was no exception. Here’s a look at my life a few years back…
My Life Working A Traditional Full Time Job
Up until 2012, I had a full-time job that required more of me than I ever wanted to give.
It wasn’t that I completely hated my job; I actually enjoyed it.
Still, my full-time gig in a funeral home didn’t allow me to live the life I wanted. Forget free time and holidays – I could barely spend quality time with my husband and two young kids.
Unfortunately, I never had the option to quit working. Financially, I needed my job.
Despite this, I believed there had to be a better way to make money, pay off debt, and live a life I was actually excited about.
My Decision To Start A Blog
Somewhere along the way, my husband and I started our blog ClubThrifty as a way to make sense of our own finances. I started writing about travel hacking, among other personal finance related topics.
From there, I began leaning on my love of writing to build a career as a freelance writer (writing for other blogs). As our readership grew on our blog, I began using my experience and influence as a blogger to land freelance writing gigs. This was 2012.
From Blogger To Six-Figure Freelance Writer
It took a lot of hard work and discipline to launch my career, especially at first.
I remember sending ten free guest posts to Get Rich Slowly before asking them to hire me.
Today, I write columns for popular publications like The Simple Dollar, U.S. News and World Report Travel, Wise Bread, Travel Pulse, and the Indianapolis Star, to name a few.
Editor’s note: To learn how to start freelance writing, follow my guide: How To Start Freelance Writing.
While it took a while, I am now earning well over six figures (more than $200,000 writing in 2016!) doing something I love.
As a travel writer, I get invited to some pretty awesome destinations around the world. Those trips, along with the money I earn, helped me forge a career that has me excited to get out of bed every morning.
It still takes loads of hard work. But, you know what? Life is a lot more enjoyable now that I’m able to set my own hours and work when I want.
My travel writing allows me to travel the world, even with my family most of the time. And, even though I work a ton of hours, I do it all on my own terms.
How You Can Earn Money Writing, Too
If you are feeling stuck in a job you don’t love (or just feeling like you don’t have enough time with your family), writing is one way you can pursue a career on your terms.
There are so many ways to get started freelance writing. I launched Earn More Writing, where I teach everything I know about building a career as a writer.
I don’t want you to do it alone like I did!
I threw my heart into this project with 9 video modules and plenty of printable material. It’s a full guide walking you through everything I wish I knew about starting a career as a writer.
You can work at your own speed, and you will always have access to the course (including any updates I make over time).
One of the best bonuses of the course is the private Facebook group you have access to. This Facebook group is full of writers with the same goal in mind – financial freedom via freelancing.
Aside from taking Earn More Writing, there are 8 pro tips I want to share with you for becoming a freelance writer.
8 Actionable Freelance Writing Tips
The 8 tips below are actionable steps you can take to boost your freelance writing (no matter what stage of the game you’re at).
Tip #1: Plan to work hard and don’t let others knock you off track
Don’t let the concept of freedom go to your head. You’ll work hard. You don’t have to stick to a 9-to-5 schedule, but you will be better off creating a routine that works for you. Also remember that distractions are your enemy, even if they come from well-meaning friends and family members. When you are writing, that’s all you have time for. Period.
Tip #2: Work ethic isn’t optional
While everyone’s definition of success might differ, we can assume that you desire financial freedom above all else. Creating different income streams will give you more freedom, but you will still have to write and market a lot. I still spend hours at my desk, or the couch if I prefer. Even after you become successful, you’ll have to work your ass off to stay there.
Tip #3: Not everyone will support you, and that’s okay
There’ll be a lot of people saying you are crazy or assuming you’re lazy. Even though freelancers now make up about 35% of the American population, there are many among the 65% who believe having an old fashioned, full-time cubicle job is the only way to go. You need to block out the naysayers. I’m really good at that.
Tip #4: You don’t have to be alone
Even if you don’t know any freelance writers in real life, you can make new friends who are going through the same hustle. The Facebook group for my course is open to all freelance writers who want to connect with each other.
Tip #5: Freelancing isn’t always glamorous
Many writers wish to pen bestselling novels. Yet, the most lucrative writing jobs you’ll find on the web may not excite you nearly as much. Personally, I’ve written hundreds of articles on topics I couldn’t care less about. As a writer, you’ll be able to write about things you love some of the time…but you’ll need to broaden your horizons if you want to earn a real income.
Tip #6: It helps to find your niche
Picking a niche can be difficult when you are starting out, but it will help you be a more prolific writer in the long run. Some niches like personal finance or technology tend to pay more. Still, it’s possible to find well-paying jobs in multiple niches if you know where to look.
Tip #7: Avoid the huge bidding sites
Clients who use bidding sites care more about cheap labor than quality work. While it is possible to run into the occasional client you may want to keep, these sites will most likely use you and abuse you. Instead of Freelancer or Upwork, try searching free and respectable job boards like Problogger or BloggingPro for work instead. After you’ve scored a few clips for your portfolio, you can move on to cold pitching potential clients
Tip #8: Be professional and respond to your emails promptly.
Being someone editors prefer to work with will help you at all stages of your career, even if you’re competing against more talented or experienced writers. The best way to get on your editor’s good side is to submit high quality work that doesn’t require heavy editing, go the extra mile to follow instructions, and complete any “extra work” that might make your editor’s job easier. If you’re unsure what might make your editor’s job easy, it helps to ask.
The Bottom Line
Being a freelance writer isn’t easy.
In some ways, it’s more challenging than a full-time job. But, if you treat your freelance writing career as a business, you’ll have the opportunity to build a lucrative career that lets you work on your own terms.
And, I’m always here to help you on your journey! It’s my passion. I love nothing more than helping other writers master the crazy world of freelance writing in Earn More Writing.