The following is a guest post by Holly, a freelancer writer and blogger I’ve known for over five years. I’ve seen her grow her side-hustle, ClubThrifty.com from a tiny site to one that has allowed her and her husband, Greg to quit their day jobs.
Freelance writing is the easiest way to get started making money online. I did some various freelance writing after I left my day job just to make sure I wouldn’t starve to death. Despite receiving a severance and having passive income streams, I’m never 100% sure I’m doing the right thing until a long enough time passes.
Freelance writing is also one of the main reasons why I’ll never be scared of running out of money again. I know that if all else fails, I can tap my network of startups I’ve cultivated since 2012 for writing assignments. Once you become an established online writer, you can easily make more than the median household income earns a year. Take it away Holly!
As someone who gets paid to create interesting content for the web, I recognize writing talent in everyday people all the time. Sometimes it’s a thoughtful and poetic Facebook post crafted by someone I know. Other times, it’s a witty email, a clever take on an issue, or a handwritten card filled with all the right words.
That doesn’t mean everyone wants to write for a living, but some people absolutely do. Over the years, I’ve watched several of my friends take up blogging to express themselves and (hopefully) begin a digital career. Unfortunately, far too many never blog long enough to build anything meaningful. It’s hard at first, they’ll say, and there are few rewards for someone just starting out.
One of my friends, Karen, is the perfect example of a would-be writer who couldn’t hang in there. After brainstorming passionately for months, she started a blog of her own and poured everything she had into it. But, just a few months later, I noticed she, too, sputtered out.
She worked in a grueling job with hectic hours and desperately needed a change, yet she couldn’t juggle both the blogging and the career. Frustrated, she chose to settle on her regular, 9-5 job. For all the talent she had, giving up was such a shame.
Then again, I totally understood where she was coming from. I could have ended up just like Karen. In fact, I was Karen at least five or six times. When my husband and I started our blog in 2011, I quit at least once per month. I had a full-time job that consumed most of my waking hours, and seemingly, my life force. Oh, and I also had two kids under the age of three.
When we first started blogging, I had no choice but to get up at 5:00 a.m. to write before work, only to wait until the kids went to bed at 8:00 p.m. to finish. Needless to say, I was spent.
But I am one of the lucky ones. Each time I wanted to quit, my husband kept our website going. There were times when he wanted to quit, too, yet I was able to pull us through during those times. We have always been very yin and yang like that – always there to support one another at the right times. Fortunately, it worked and we’re still blogging to this day.
Eventually, I even turned my love of blogging into a profitable side hustle creating online content. Over time, I found this is where I could really shine. This is where I belonged.
I had always been a writer, but never focused on writing exclusively for profit until I started blogging. Alas, I found I absolutely loved writing content in a variety of online formats outside of my own website, Club Thrifty. And most of all, I loved all the extra money that came with it.
This is where my husband and I are different. While he felt a sense of accomplishment from blogging alone, I only felt like I had “done something” when I was bringing in cash.
Forget the website traffic, I thought. I want the money. And that’s exactly what I went after – the money.
Eventually, I had to quit my full-time job. Like, I absolutely had to. Not only was I driving myself crazy, but I was earning more money writing part-time than I was working full-time.
This wasn’t a huge feat in itself. After all, I was only earning around $38,000 per year at my job. Still, it was exciting when I finally surpassed the $40,000 per year/$3,300 per month mark with my side hustle. This was 2012.
I still remember the excitement I felt when I landed my first few “big” blogging gigs. Actually, Sam was one of the first editors to give me a break. He hired me to write at a large fintech company when he was their consultant, then again for ongoing work elsewhere.
Fast forward a few years, and I’m still writing for a living. And with a few years under our belts, our blog is profitable enough that my husband is home, too. So yes, we’re both full-time, stay-at-home workers. We’re the kind of people who keep our neighbors guessing as to what we do.
Despite outward appearances though, I actually stay very busy. If you ever read about money or travel on the web, you have probably read my words. Not only do I serve as Contributing Editor at The Simple Dollar, but I write columns for Lending Tree, Frugal Travel Guy, U.S. News and World Report Travel, and other top publications.
When Sam wrote about how much bloggers actually make earlier this year, he was spot on. There’s definitely a difference between earning most of your money on your own website or other people’s, but the message is the same. There is an enormous amount of opportunity out there, and the spoils will go to those who seize it.
I work long hours (40+ hours per week) and I pour my soul into at times, but I work less overall and I earn a hell of a lot more. In 2015, for example, I invoiced for around $180,000 in freelance work. This year, I am on track to invoice for more than $225,000.
As an added bonus, being self-employed means never having to deal with the words “overtime,” “PTO,” or “staff meeting” again. On a personal level, my husband and I are also able to travel around once per month – working intermittently during our longer trips. Since I write about travel for a living now, most of this “work” is also a tax write-off.
Truthfully, it’s pretty darn awesome – at least most of the time.
How to Turn Writing Skills into Dollar Signs
This year alone, I have easily received 300+ emails from people asking how we’ve done it. How was I able to build a freelance writing career from scratch? How were we both able to leave our jobs? And, most importantly, where can a starting writer find the kind of work that might help them do the same thing?
Just as often, however, I get questions on how I became a paid travel writer. For people who love to travel, getting paid to jet around is practically the holy grail. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get paid to see the world?
Even for those who don’t want to write about travel, the freedom that comes with digital entrepreneurship is intriguing on its own. Location independence and the ability to set your own hours is something people dream of, yet few achieve. Even if you’re a homebody, there’s something alluring about being able to live life on your own terms.
Then again, it all boils down to how. How do you get started, and where is all of this opportunity I speak of? Who are these people that are hiring, and how can you find them?
How to Turn Writing Skills into a Digital Career, Q&A
To answer all of these questions and more, I did what all digital entrepreneurs do – I created an online course. Totally predictable, I know, but very valuable.
During nine video modules hosted by yours truly, I explain how anyone with writing talent and the drive to succeed can start on the path towards freelance success. If you’re interested, you can find my new course online at EarnMoreWriting.com.
No matter what, there is a real thirst for this information. People are yearning to learn more, yet not entirely sure where to look. If you love to write, wish you could write for pay, and desperately want to work from home, here are a few questions and answers that can help.
Q. What is the first step a person should take if they’re interested in getting paid to write?
A. By and large, the most important step you can take is to start blogging and building your online presence. Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, but you generally need to have an “online home” or online portfolio to get jobs.
Q. What is the most important attribute a person who writes online can have?
A. Being responsive and responsible is just as important as being a good writer. There are so many talented freelancers out there, yet few of them know how to be the ideal freelancer. There’s a difference. Ideal freelancers respond to emails promptly, follow directions, and make their editor’s jobs easier.
Q. How can I become a travel writer?
A. I suggest doing exactly what Sam has done with his new travel category. To become a travel writer, you have to start writing about travel. Don’t wait for permission or for someone to hire you outright. Become who you want to be and create the social proof you are a travel writer first. Once you accomplish that step, the jobs will come.
Q. What if I want to write about something else?
A. Nearly every business has a blog these days, and all of them hire writers to create fresh content on a regular basis. As a result, you could wind up writing about anything from pet care to makeup or even high fashion. I always suggest people find their areas of interest and expertise, then brainstorm related businesses that might hire writers.
While I mostly write about travel and personal finance, I have also created content for all types of businesses that deal in everything from lawn care to higher education. If you can dream it up, you can do it.
Q. How much money can you make creating content online?
A. It really depends. I know people who earn anywhere from a few hundred bucks per week to six figures every year. The amount of money you’ll make depends on the niches you’ll find yourself in, how well you use your time, and how good your writing skills are.
Personally, I started writing articles for around $100 each. Years later, I try to earn at least $300 for anything I write, and up to $1,500 for meatier and lengthier content.
To give you a broader idea of what to expect, I reached out to a few more writers I know to see how much they earn for various types of content. Here’s what they said:
“My name is Carrie Smith Nicholson, and I write blog posts for startups and small businesses related to financial organization, entrepreneurship, productivity and freelancing. I earn between $250 and $500 for every post I submit. In 2015, I earned $78,000 from my freelance writing pursuits.”
“My name is Lindsay VanSomeren, and I write science and personal finance blog posts between 700-2000 words. I earn anywhere from $75 to $350 for my work. I’ve been doing this for just nine months, and depending on the workload, I make anywhere from $700 to $1475 per month.”
“I’m Emilie Burke and I write personal finance content for a myriad of sites and brand-sponsored content for my blog. I earn between $65 and $225 per post (300-500 words). I do price myself based on the client. (Bigger brands get charged market rate, a mom and pop shop might get a discount.) I earn about $500/month in freelance income, which is supplementary to my full time job.”
“I’m Eric Rosenberg, and I left my day job in April to go full-time with my business as a freelance writer and website developer. Last year, I made $40,000 as a freelancer on the side, and decided to take the plunge this year as a full-time freelancer. Since leaving my job as a Senior Financial Analyst, I have made around $5,000-$8,500 per month and expect to end the year with around $75,000 in revenue.”
As you can see, freelance income is can be over the place depending on the person and their niche. How much you can earn depends on your level of skill, your experience, and the rates you negotiate.
Where people once had mostly traditional jobs, the internet has ushered in a new revolution of online freelancers and entrepreneurs. That includes the writers and content creators that craft the blog posts and web content people read every day.
When you really think about it, it’s amazing how many businesses need writers to create their web content and write their blog posts. Every word you read on the internet was crafted by someone, after all. If you’re someone who loves to write, there’s no reason some of that work can’t be yours.
If you’re already a blogger, you already know how much opportunity is out there. If you’re still on the fence, you’re probably curious where this path could lead. Either way, you should know that creative people are building epic writing careers from scratch every single day. If you want to be one of them, the onus to take that first step is on you. Here’s the link to my course if you’re interested in earning extra money freelance writing.
There’s a 25% promotion for the course (excluding basic package) going on until January 3, 2017 using Coupon Code: NEWYEAR25
Any freelance writers out there earning some extra money on the side? Anybody else leave their full-time jobs to freelance write or blog full-time?