Whether as a side hustle or as a full-time job, freelance writing can be a great way to earn money from the comfort of your home. But while starting a freelance writing business may sound appealing, many people just don’t have any idea where to start.
How do you go about finding your first freelance writing clients? How do you set and raise your rates? And, if you still have a full-time job, how do you add freelance writing gigs without feeling completely overwhelmed?
These are all legitimate questions. But rather than trying to answer them myself, I thought it would be best to talk to people who eat, live, and breathe freelance writing every day. Below, you’ll see tips and guidance from several full-time freelance writers, including a podcast interview with one of my own writers, Miranda Marquit.
To start a freelance writing business, begin by creating a “Hire Me” page where you can build a portfolio of your work. Next, you can begin to apply for gigs on job boards like ProBlogger, Contently, and Freelance Writing Gigs. As you gain experience, you can gradually raise your rates. If you’re trying to juggle a freelance writing business with a full-time job, you’ll need to plan your schedule carefully, minimize distractions, and be patient through the frustrations and difficulties.
Keep reading to learn what other advice Miranda and other freelance writers had to share about how to start a freelance writing business.
Recently, for the Part-Time Money podcast, I sat down with one of my own freelance writers, Miranda Marquit.
Listen to the Podcast
Miranda’s work can be found all across the personal finance blog-o-sphere. She’s been able to take her writing business and expand it into a full-time money-maker that helps support her family and allows her to spend more time
Miranda is not new to this business. She’s been at it for at least 6 years and has really mastered what it takes to do this at an optimal level. We talk about how she got started, what makes her most successful, how she spends her time during the day, how she generates content ideas, and what mistakes to look out for.
Miranda has written a book, Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community that I think any online business owner would enjoy. Be sure to check that out and visit Miranda’s website at www.MirandaMarquit.com if you’re in need of freelance writing services, or if you want to talk to her more about how she manages her business.
Working From Home
Being able to stay at home to raise children is important to a lot of parents. After getting a Masters degree in Journalism, Miranda Marquit didn’t even consider looking for a job outside the home. She wanted to stay home with her son, and freelance writing was a perfect way for her to increase her family’s income yet be the primary caregiver for her child.
Read More: 10 Best Jobs for Stay-At-Home Moms and Dads
Miranda knew it was important for her to be able to write quickly, and she knew that if she wrote about areas she was passionate, her words would flow faster. Research wouldn’t bog her down as much either.
In the beginning of her freelance career, she didn’t solely focus on personal finance writing; she thought she was going to be a science writer for a while. After several people asked her to write personal finance pieces, she naturally gravitated towards those and has now developed a reputation as a personal finance freelance writer.
As a mom, Miranda had to be strategic about finding the time to write her articles. When he was younger, she often wrote early before her child awoke, during naptime, or at night after he had gone to bed. She also sent him to daycare a few hours a day and used that time to work as well. Now that he is in school, it’s not an issue.
Watching Her Business Grow
Miranda earns anywhere from $20 to $150 an article. Much of the difference is dependent on the client and their budget. She can also earn more depending on revenue sharing or traffic bonuses, if they are offered. Since Miranda can typically write a 500-word article in 15-20 minutes, she can usually earn around $300 a day if she’s working on 10 articles that day.
As her client base has grown as well as her ability to write faster, she’s seen her income grow. Miranda hasn’t had to actively search for writing jobs in over 3 years. She’s quick to point out that it has taken a lot of hard work and time to get to where she is, but she does little-to-no marketing of her services anymore.
Miranda’s Advice for Getting Started
For someone wanting to get started on a career in freelance writing, Miranda gives the following advice:
- Create a webpage: Even if you don’t have a blog, create an online portfolio of your work and contact information so clients can learn more about you.
- Apply for jobs: She recommends online job boards like ProBlogger, Freelance Writing Gigs, Guru, and eLance. Find a place where you can write regularly, even if it’s for less money at first.
- Stick with it: Miranda says she wrote a lot of pieces she didn’t enjoy writing for a year and a half or two years, but continuing to do the work it took to build her online reputation was important.
- Take a writing class: Even if it’s just a community education class or auditing a composition class at the local university, Miranda says brushing up on the fundamentals of writing is helpful for anyone who is just beginning.
How to Balance Your Freelance Career With a Full-Time Job
Let’s face it. Living the life of a corporate cog isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But the thought of trying to escape into the world of freelancing can be daunting.
Building a successful freelance career can be time-consuming and requires a lot of work and organization. Fortunately, there are a number of people out there who have succeeded, so you can too! Here’s how they did it.
Related: Best Freelance Invoice Software
You’ll Never Have the Time. You Have to Make It
When I started blogging, it was just as a side hobby to keep me feeling challenged. But, over the next few years, I saw that it was creating real value for my readers as well as my family.
And since I still had a full-time job at the time, I’d primarily work on the blog from 8 pm to midnight (sometimes 3 am). This would allow me time to spend with the family each evening, but still, spend a significant amount of time each night on the blog.
Whether you’re trying to build a blog, a freelance writing business, or anything else, there’s always going to be some way to fill your time. Think about it on a scale good/better/best. What’s the best use of your time in the long term?
If you’re serious about creating a freelance writing business for yourself, it needs to become a priority. Of course, just because it’s a priority doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Holly at Club Thrifty, who quit her job just 11 months after starting her blog and freelancing career adds:
“Make sure you are making good use of your time. When you are trying to build a freelance career and work full-time, something has to give. That could mean giving up TV for a while or certain activities in order to find time for your freelance work. If you are having trouble finding the time to invest in your side business, consider getting up real early. There were times when I would get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to get a few hours of work done before heading to my 9-5 job.”
Live and Die by Your Schedule
Now that you’re squeezing in more work than you feel you can handle, it’s time to create a routine.
Whether you’re hustling in the morning, in the evening or both, it needs to be structured or you’ll end up looking back and asking yourself where all your time is going.
LaTisha, who recently left her full-time job to build her business, Young Finances, says that a little planning can make it easier to keep distractions out:
“To keep everything balanced, I prepped meals on Sunday. Anything I was going to eat for the week, lunch, dinners I either cooked or pulled the ingredients together on Sunday. That gave me more time after work for blogging. I also squeezed in exercise by waking up earlier. I really had to maximize my time so I could get more done. It definitely paid off and I have the ability to do the work that I love on a full-time basis now.”
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents, who is earning close to $15k a month in her full-time freelancing career, adds:
“Always schedule in downtime. No matter how busy you are, it’s always wise to set at least a few hours aside for yourself. It will keep you sane, and it can also help rejuvenate you and keep you motivated. Working non-stop is not healthy.”
Ben Luthi said that he had to start saying “No” to overtime opportunities at his day job in order to increase his client base.
“As disappointing as it was to my boss, I had to cancel some overtime because I felt like I was about to have a panic attack. Your work is only as good as you are, so take care of yourself.”
I don’t know if you’re like me, but sometimes I feel like my mind is a seven-lane highway. There are always a million different things going on–ideas, deadlines, other obligations, or maybe what’s going down in the news that day.
But if you want to maximize what little time you have, you’re going to have to do everything in your power to create an atmosphere where you can minimize those distractions.
Melanie from Dear Debt, who also just recently dropped her full-time job and is enjoying the other side of the fence, offers her thoughts:
“Use a timer when you work. It can be easy to get distracted, but when you are juggling a full-time job and a freelancing career, you have no time to waste. Think about how long a task should take and set a timer. And put everything on your calendar: deadlines, personal appointments, EVERYTHING.”
This also means learning to say no to other things and enjoying a low-information diet when it comes to things going on in the rest of the world. Remember the good/better/best scale. What’s going to create the most value for you in the long term?
Patience is a Virtue
In all of this, it’s important to have patience. This is going to take a lot of work over a prolonged period of time. Some, like Holly Johnson, were able to ramp things up pretty quickly. But that won’t happen to everyone.
There are going to be times of frustration. There are even going to be times when you want to give it up and go back to enjoying a more simple life.
I’m sure that many people who start down this path end up quitting. But your dreams are worth more than that. And the last thing you want is to spend the rest of your corporate life regretting your decision to stay.
The Bottom Line
Building a freelance writing business can be a stressful venture. Adding in a full-time job and the rest of your life into that mix can make it all-consuming.
I experienced similar juggling pains while I was building this blog. But in the end, autonomy, flexibility, and freedom are worth it. If you don’t believe me, ask any of these freelance writing experts personally and they’ll tell you all about it.
Want to get started as a freelancer? What first steps will you take?
Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash
To see the full transcript of my interview with Miranda, just click show