A year ago today, I received my first offer for a freelance writing gig. When I checked my email that morning, I was ecstatic! But I was also nervous. It’s funny to me now to think about all the fears I had back then. I was afraid I wouldn’t measure up, or that writing for the company meant I endorsed the company. I was feeling some newbie jitters and will be forever grateful to Holly Johnson for giving me some solid advice. Since then, my freelancing career has taken off. It’s been a challenge trying to balance my freelancing with my full-time job, but with the support of my lovely wife, I’ve been able to do it.
So now, a year later, I wanted to share some of my experiences in hopes to inspire people like me a year ago who were just amazed that you can get paid for this sort of thing. As I look back on the last year, I don’t think I’m a special case, or that I’m special in any way at all, really. But the things I’ve learned have pushed me to succeed in ways I never expected I could. Here are my “tips” to earn thousands a month writing.
Write Your Passion
My first step to where I am now was this awkward little thing, my very first blog post. I wasn’t all that good at writing (I still have a long way to go), and when I first started blogging, I just focused on getting content out there. I was writing five times a week, sometimes six. But I quickly realized that I needed to put more effort into writing about things that mattered to me and that I was writing quality content. It was one of my blog posts that caught the eye of my first client. It was a topic I was passionate about and it just so happened to be the type of thing they were looking for.
I’ve also had opportunities to increase my work with a particular client and even get recommendations to new clients because of my work. Now I’ll be honest. Every piece of writing I’ve ever been paid for hasn’t been perfect. I went through a time where I loathed writing for money, and I struggled to give it my best. But in general, I consider every article I write another line on my resume for potential clients to review. If one sucks, they might not even want to see the others.
I have two experiences in this realm, which makes it that much more important in my mind. My first guest post for Kathleen at Frugal Portland came almost two months after I started my blog. I put a lot of thought into it and, at the time, it was a lot better than the stuff I had on my own blog. I also commented a lot on her blog and shared some of her stuff on Twitter. Fast forward 8 months and Kathleen just got a job as a content manager for a sales and marketing company. She sent out an email looking for content writers and when I replied, she responded immediately saying she thought I would be perfect for it. I didn’t even have to send any samples over because she already knew me and my work.
A similar thing happened just a couple months ago, although the roles were reversed. A fellow blogger reached out to me and asked if he could write a guest post on my blog. I had read his blog before, so I was happy for the opportunity. He wrote a solid post, and while it didn’t get a ton of traffic, I was impressed. During our interaction, he mentioned that he was looking for some freelancing work and would look out for me if I looked out for him. Last month, when a new client of mine asked if I knew anyone else who would be a good fit, this guy was one of the first people I thought of. Now he’s a regular contributor.
One thing to remember about networking is to not make it about you. No one wants to help someone who’s only out for him or herself. Use your skills to help and promote others and that karma will come back to you eventually.
There are a lot more writing opportunities than there are freelancers out there, and sometimes all you’ve got to do it ask. You’ll get a lot of nos, but you’re bound to get some yesses. When I had a couple of weeks in between jobs, I emailed one of my clients and asked if I could take on a little more work. They doubled my workload and then realized they wanted that much more content anyway. The next month, I noticed that they had a German blog. I speak German, so I told them I’d be willing to write for their German blog as well. Not only did they have me write for the German blog, but now I’m managing it for them. Of course, not everyone speaks the language of
love geniuses, but every single one of you has a specialized skill. Use it to your advantage.
I’ve also seen success with this when dealing with clients who don’t send me work often or who tend to let their emails pile up before responding. A quick email asking if there’s any more work for me usually gets a response. Sometimes there’s nothing available, sometimes there is. Suffice it to say, I’ve made a lot of money just asking the question 🙂
Just do it
This was the essence of what Holly Johnson told me when I first reached out to her. Stop worrying and just do it. Don’t wait until you think you’re ready, because you never will be. I still have insecurities with my writing. Sometimes I’m afraid some of my clients will drop me when I get re-work requests with a bunch of comments. Most weeks I’m under a time crunch and I start to lose my motivation. But in spite of my shortcomings, I’m doing it. So if you’re not where you want to be in your writing, ask yourself what you’re not doing, and then do it. If you’re afraid of doing something, do it. There are thousands of blog posts and e-books and whatever else out there full of tips and tricks and all that bull honky. But until you’re actually doing any of it, you’re just wasting your time.
In November 2013, I made $273.76 from freelancing. This month, I’m tracking to earn close to $3,500. Seriously, if a chump like me can do it, anyone can. And I’m not just saying that (because it really is a stupid cliche). I believe it 100%.