Like most aspiring writers I became a freelance writer on the side of my day job. Then I worked my way up to being a business blogger and an expert in my field.
If you’re thinking of diving into the freelance writing space this is without a doubt a viable way to make a full-time living.
Starting a freelance writing career will allow you to follow your dream of being self-employed. You can make more money than you did at your day job, and have control over your own schedule.
Becoming a freelance writer will give you the flexibility and income you want.
If you want to stop working towards someone else’s dream and gain the freedom to make money on your terms, becoming a freelance writer will help you achieve this!
Check out this success story from Gina Horkey, a mom and new freelance writer.
Go from $0 to $4,000 a month
In less than six months Gina Horkey went from being a financial advisor, to launching her freelance writing business.
Now, she’s the breadwinner of her family of four and she was able to quit her full-time financial job in December 2014!
As someone who brings in over $4,000 a month from freelance writing to support her family, Gina knows how intimidating the beginning stages can be.
But the best way to learn anything new is to glean from someone else’s experience. It will cut down your learning curve and help you avoid costly mistakes. “Good enough is better than waiting for everything to be perfect,” says Gina.
“If you’re a perfectionist like I used to be, you’ll be tempted to wait to respond to that job ad, or launch your website until everything’s perfect,” explains Gina.
“Perfection is a fallacy, and you need to learn to adopt the mindset of “good enough” and know that you’ll continue to make changes and improvements as you go (and as you learn!).”
Get started for about $200
Another reason I strongly encourage you to consider a career as a freelance writer is because you don’t have to invest a lot of money in the beginning.
In fact, for around $200 Gina was able to purchase a website domain name and gain the knowledge needed to get started. She invested a little bit of money into a writing course too.
“Purchasing a course is a great way to get started,” says Gina. It can help you save time and avoid costly mistakes.
Here are her exact expenses from May and June 2014, before she made a cent from writing:
- $95 total for my URL (horkeyhandbook.com) and a year’s worth of hosting services
- $79 to take a blogging course
- $7 for a used Yahoo! Style Guide
- $20 for my first month’s job board subscription
My own expenses were actually a bit lower because I didn’t take any courses or subscribe to a job board in the beginning.
However, I WISH I had because it would have drastically cut down on my time learning about the freelance writing world. On top of it, I could have avoided unnecessary mistakes.
How to become a freelance writer
Now that we’ve simplified what it means to become a freelance writer, here are the exact steps you can take to become a freelance writer in the next 30 days (or less!) and exactly what to do to start making money.
These are proven steps to help you finally earn money while working from home, that hardly take any investment up-front to get started.
1. Push through your fears
If starting a website from scratch seems too daunting, no problem. But don’t let that initial step trip you up.
When starting out as a writer the point is to get started so you can start making money! But you have to push through your fears to get there.
As a newbie freelance writer your currency will be time so be liberal with it and keep hustling.
“In short, decide what to write about, gather samples, figure out how you want to display your portfolio, source jobs to pitch, and pitch like mad until you land some work,” encourages Gina.
Gina is spot on with this advice! Live by the Minimum Viable Product idea that forces you to get something out there even if it’s barely functioning.
Just push past your fear and start doing the work. Take that first step! You will continue to grow, learn, and upgrade your writing, so don’t get stumped by perfection.
2. Choose a writing niche
One of the first roadblocks that can stump newbie writers is what writing niche to start with. You’re not sure what kinds of topics to write about, what you’re good at, or what kind of writing clients will pay for.
The best place to start is leaning on past experience or knowledge you already have. But what if that topic doesn’t pay very well? One resource I recommend is to write essays for bid4papers.
Need more ideas? We’ve got an answer that will help!
If you’re struggling to figure our your niche, check out this free guide to over 200+ freelance writing niches and sub-niches.
3. Write for free and build your portfolio
“There are many (free) ways to build a portfolio,” explains Gina. You absolutely must have a writing portfolio to showcase your work and close deals with prospective clients.
We actually both started our writing careers by writing for big media outlets (and I know several other freelancers who have had success with this as well).
You don’t get paid for your time, but you do get access to exposure, some traffic, and the ability to say that you’re a Huffington Post blogger which aids your reputation — especially if you’re just starting out.
How did Gina get started writing for The Huffington Post?
“I responded to a job ad. They had me write a sample, they liked it and then I was granted permission to write as often or as little as I wanted,” shares Gina.
“They review every post before it’s published. I shoot for posting monthly. It hasn’t brought me much “exposure” (i.e. traffic), but the name is instantly recognizable and I think my using it as a sample in my pitch has helped me to land a lot of jobs. So, it’s worth it!”
4. Set a regular working schedule
If you don’t set regular working boundaries for yourself — especially in the beginning — you’ll end up working all hours of the day and night.
“I would commit to a set schedule for my side hustle and stick to it — i.e. I’m prone to working too much and the whole reason I started writing and changed careers was to spend more time with my family,” says Gina.
“I knew that I would need to do the opposite to ramp up my business enough of being able to take it full-time, but I think I stressed myself out more than I needed to by thinking I had to work all of the time. I’m still a bit guilty of this!”
5. Track your income
Obviously one of the main steps to being a successful freelance writer is to track your income.
Not just because it’s smart, or that it will help you during tax season. It will help motivate you to learn, grow, and increase your prices.
And all of this allows you to make more money in less time!
In the beginning you won’t make much, but as your skills increase, and more clients inquire about your offerings, you’ll start to earn more.
You don’t need anything fancy to track your income, and something as simple as a spreadsheet will work.
Since the beginning, Gina has tracked all of her income and expenses so she stays accountable to herself and continues hustling to make a full-time income to support her family.
6. Invest in finding a mentor or coach
Not all mentor relationships require you to spend money to glean from their experiences. Sometimes their blog will be full of ideas, tips and tricks for you to learn from for free.
On the flip side, a simple product will outline their methods and strategies, which can be life-changing as far as results.
Find someone whose story inspires you and find out if they offer coaching, mentoring, or products you can purchase.
“I purchased a course and then hired Carrie as my coach,” explains Gina.
“The course taught me what I needed to know to immerse myself in the world of freelance writing and get my business up and running. Working with a mentor has been huge! I’ve shortened my learning curve immensely and don’t feel like I’m alone trying to figure out this whole new world/career.”
When Gina started out as a full-time freelance writer she went from $0 to over $4,000 in just 8 months!
Asking for help and investing in products or courses can dramatically reduce the time it takes to go from $0 – $4,000 a month. #justsayin
Become a freelance writer in 30 days
There are very few budget-friendly resources available for getting started as a newbie freelance writer. Over the past couple years she’s helped 1,500+ other individuals become successful freelance writers.
And you can get started right now! Download the free guide to 200+ Freelance Writing Niches and Sub-Niches.
She shares in-depth lessons with actionable advice to help kickstart your writing career.
Thanks so much for doing this interview, Gina!
I’ll let her wrap up this post: “I thrive on a step-by-step approach and am always short on time, so I’d rather pay to repeat someone else’s process than take hours of Google research to figure it out on my own.”
Gina shares even more in-depth lessons and information in her 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success course are invaluable for how to become a freelance writer!
Got questions for myself or Gina? Leave a comment and we’ll answer it.