How to Earn Money as a Freelance Writer
Choncé Maddox is the brains behind one of my favorite blogs, MyDebtEpiphany.com a personal finance blog with loads of tips on how to become debt free. In addition, Choncé is also a full-time freelance writer who works from home. She was kind enough to share more about how she transitioned into this career and how you can earn money as a freelance writer.
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WHEN DID YOU FIRST START WORKING AS A FREELANCE WRITER?
I did a little freelance writing on and off in college but I've been doing it seriously and consistently since March 2015. I started freelancing to earn more money so I could pay off my debt. At the time I started, I desperately wanted to pay off my student loans and high-interest car loan, but I was only making $28,000/yr at my full time job. I majored in journalism in college and love to write so when I saw people earning money from freelance writing, I wanted to try it too.
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HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR FIRST CLIENT?
I wanted to start writing about personal finance and to break into that niche, I got with a coach who taught me everything she knew. She had been freelancing for several years and supported her family of 4 with her income at the time so I knew I needed to learn from her. She helped me set up a 'Hire Me' page on my blog, pitch for gigs, work on my resume, etc. My first client actually reached out to me and was in need of a weekly staff writer. I was pretty excited.
HOW ELSE DO YOU FIND NEW CLIENTS?
Mostly via referrals and cold pitching. I use Facebook groups and my network to land new clients sometimes, but most of the time, I just research potential clients in my niche and connect with them on social media then send a somewhat cold pitch.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU REALIZE YOU COULD TURN FREELANCING INTO A FULL-TIME CAREER?
I realized it right at the beginning. When I first spoke with my coach, she asked me how much I wanted to earn monthly from freelancing. I nervously told her $1,000 per month, but I wanted/knew/hoped I would earn more some day. Seeing other people earn a full-time income from freelance writing inspired me and made me feel like I could do the same one day.
WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT TOOLS YOU'VE USED IN YOUR BUSINESS?
My website has been the biggest tool. Without it, I don't think I'd have such a solid online presence and wouldn't have been able to land so many good clients. I have a few clients who have flat out told me that they don't consider hiring freelance writers who don't have a website/blog.
I also credit my coach as being a great resource for me when I got started. You can check out the course, Get Paid to Write Blogs to get started. The course is available in different course levels to match your needs and budget.
I also like to use Grammarly to edit my work and make sure it's error free. Being a writer can seem challenging at first because you feel pressured to always spell everything right but people make mistakes all the time. Grammarly has been a great tool to help me edit my work and make sure I'm delivering the best content to my clients.
HOW MUCH CAN YOU EARN AS A FREELANCE WRITER?
It's crazy how you can earn 6-figures a year from freelance writing. I know a few people who earn that much. It really just depends on your clients' budget and how much quality work you can get done. I imagine that your earning potential would not be limitless since your available time and energy are two big constaints, but you can definitely earn a lot of money quickly.
I love how it's pretty easy to earn more. Traditionally in the journalism/content creation world, you have to start off with a low-paying position and work you way up over the years. With freelance writing, I love how you can just pitch higher paying clients or ask for raises when you want to earn more.
After just a year of freelance writing on the side of my full-time job, I was earning around $2,800+ per month.
RELATED: See my March 2016 income report here.
During the first quarter of this year (Jan-March), I earned more than $14,000 from freelancing alone, which means I earned more than $4,600 per month on average.
RELATED: See my Q1 2017 income report here.
WHAT IS THE MOST REWARDING PART OF THIS CAREER?
The most rewarding thing about what I do is having the flexibility I need to be there for myself and my family. I get to pick my son up from school each day and spend more quality time with him. I also get to enjoy my home more and don't have to worry about asking someone to take time off.
Back when I worked a 9-5 job, I would put off doctor's appointments because I didn't want to deal with asking my boss for time off.
It also feels really rewarding to see my content and know that it's helping people. It's pretty cool to see an article pop up in a Google search or on social media that I wrote.
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES OF BEING A FULL-TIME FREELANCE WRITER?
Sometimes it's challenging to deal with the fluctuating income. This type of work is not for everyone - especially if you enjoy a steady paycheck. I saved up a few months' worth of expenses before I quit my job to freelance because I knew that my workload wouldn't be promised. Sometimes you'll lose a client without much notice, but my client load has been pretty steady overall because I like to keep it diversified.
Another challenge is not really being able to 'escape from work' sometimes which is something I think most people who work from home deal with. Sometimes I find myself opening up my laptop and checking emails or sending client pitches when I already claimed I was done working for the day.
Freelancing can also be pretty lonely since you'll work indepdently and won't have any coworkers. I am actually getting to the point where I'm going to look into getting a membership at a coworking space so I can work there each week. I know it sounds silly that I escaped an office setting just to go back to working in that type of setting, but this time, I'll be working on my own terms and I'll be able to chat with other creatives.
Connecting with other people is so important especially when you're freelancing.
ANY LAST BITS OF ADVICE?
If you want to learn how to pitch winning clients the right way, I recently released a mini-course called Freelancer’s Winning Pitch that will help you get started and score a quality new client in 10 days or less. As mentioned, pitching is one of the main ways that I secure new freelance writing clients each month in order to grow my business.
Thanks so much Choncé for taking the time to share your tips on how to earn money as a freelance writer!
Now, I'd love to hear from you! Do you have an interest in freelance writing? Drop me a line in the comments below and be sure to checkout my FREE ebook for even more tips.