This is my interview with Debbie Dragon, a Freelance Writer and Entrepreneur. Debbie explains how to make money writing.
Debbie, what is freelance writing?
Freelance writing is when someone writes for payment – but are not employed by a specific company. For me, freelance writing falls into two major categories – offline freelance writing, which is writing for magazines, newspapers, journals, and businesses; and online freelance writing, which is writing for websites and a variety of other online sources.
How and why did you get started?
I got started as a freelance writer right out of college, 7 years ago. I was expecting my first son, and really didn’t want to put him in daycare. So I started looking for ways to earn money from home. I had a bachelor of science degree in computer information systems – so I figured I’d be able to find employment at home using my degree, but that proved to be impossible. Any company that would even consider a telecommuting arrangement wanted someone with 10+ years experience.
So I stumbled upon sites like Rentacoder.com and Getafreelancer.com – and started bidding for jobs. I tried transcription, basic web design work, data entry and article writing. I had always enjoyed writing but was told there was no money in it, which is what lead me to study computers in college.
At first – I relied on the freelance bidding sites to find work. Over time, I realized there were other ways to find clients and started establishing my own database of clients who would hire me for repeat work.
Editor’s note: Debbie mentioned using job bidding sites. Three other sites I’ve used to find freelancers are oDesk and Elance.com.
Do you do freelance writing full-time?
Very full time! Writing is the only thing I do to earn income.
How much do you actually make doing this?
In 2009, I joined forces with 2 other freelance writers because the demand for my work was too much for one person to handle. Together in our first year, we brought in about $100,000. We’re on track to triple that for 2010.
What skills make you most successful at freelance writing?
For online freelance writing, I honestly believe all that is required is basic writing ability. You need to be able to string sentences together in a way that everyone can read and understand. You need to know how to research information. Beyond that though, I think the most important skills for becoming successful as a freelance writer are on the business side of things. You can be the world’s best writer but if you don’t know how to find people willing to pay you to write it will never advance beyond a hobby.
How do you maximize your efforts?
As I mentioned, I’m no longer a single-person freelance writer. I wasn’t able to continue to grow my business and increase my income with my own limited time and resources. So expanding to a 3-person, full time business venture has allowed us to take on more work and start increasing our income.
Also in 2009, we realized that there are many web developers and technical companies online who have a need for online content but don’t necessarily have the time or desire to requests quotes from writers. We created ReliableWriters.com as a way to let people request their writing projects, see exactly how much it’s going to cost, and when to expect the finish work all without having to talk to a person.
We now have a team of several freelance writers available who help us fulfill large assignments as they come in; and editors who review each article before sending it on to the client.
What mistakes do people make when trying to make money with freelance writing?
I think it’s common for people to want to start out as a freelance writer making hundreds of dollars for every article they write. Many people turn their noses up at the lower paying assignments,and don’t realize that if the goal is to earn consistent income as a freelance writer you’ll make more by writing $30 and $50 articles all week long than writing one $500 article every other week. Does that make sense? If the goal is to become a part time or full time freelance writer, it will pay you more to accept assignments that offer repeat work, and fair payment than it will to spend a week marketing and looking for the handful of higher paying assignments out there.
What other advice could you share about freelance writing?
If your goal with writing is to earn income with it, I think it’s necessary to be willing to write about topics you may not have much interest in personally. If you’re too picky about what you write about, you’re going to severely limit the amount of potential work you find.