Writing for Money: Your Path to Success

Writing for Money: Your Path to Success

Last week, I thought it would be fun if we did something as a family. I was thinking that we’d go see a movie or have lunch in a restaurant.

One thing led to another, though, as they do, and in the end, five of us piled into the car at 2:30 in the morning and drove two hours south of our home to hike a mountain and watch the sunrise.

We parked in the dark and found the entrance to the path we wanted to hike, and we started off.

The beginning wasn’t bad — we were all excited. The adrenaline pushed us forward. My kids raced on ahead, ignoring my admonitions not to run, to stay with us. They didn’t look down at their feet, but rather craned their necks to peer at the top of the mountain above.

“We get to go all the way up there?” one of them asked.

Yes. We “get to” go all the way up there.

Adrenaline: Go, Go, Go!

When my students start out in my course, they are super excited to be there, and they can't wait to dive in and start learning.

It's exciting to learn new things.

Learn how to be a freelance writer.


About halfway up the mountain, my kids paused briefly to wait for their elderly parents to catch up. We all had a drink of water, and the kids took off again. I needed another moment to catch my breath.

I looked down at the ground we had covered. I looked up, noting with something akin to dismay that there was still a LOT of mountain left to climb.

“I just wanted to go to a movie,” I thought.

I rested. I felt my heart rate return to normal. I felt my lungs stop screaming for air. I started walking again, and I felt the excitement returning. It carried me through for another little while.

I was most of the way up the mountain when I felt like there was no way I could go on.

I was high enough up to get a decent view. So why not just stop?

Learn how to build a business.

I’m too old for this.

I’m not in shape for this climb.

I can’t do this.

My legs hurt. My heart was pounding.

The First Hurdle

Early on in Writing for Money, my students have to choose a niche. They have to decide what the want to write. And they have to stop THINKING about writing and start DOING the work.

It's hard. It really is. But the beauty of the course is that my students have a community in place to support them. They can share their fears, and then move past them.

Choosing a freelance writing niche is hard.

 

Oh, those voices!! They make my students crazy!


As I stood on the mountain path, struggling to catch my breath, I heard those voices in my own head.

No one would know if my sunrise pictures weren’t taken from the very top of the mountain, right? And really, sunrise is kind of overrated, isn’t it?

I could just stay put and wait for my family to come back down the mountain. I didn’t have to keep going.

On the other hand… I’d come so far. There really wasn’t that much left. I could just keep going, one step at a time.

It would be hard.

My legs would hurt.

My heart would pound.

I’d want to quit a few more times.

But I could do this. One step. Then another. And another.


My students do the same thing. They get to a point where they feel like they can't go on. My job, when they reach that point, is to talk them through. To show them how much they've already accomplished. And to provide them with the encouragement they need to keep going.

How to get started in freelance writing.

I believe in EVERY SINGLE ONE of my students. They ALL matter to me. And I see them do amazing, amazing, AMAZING things.

Student Spotlight: Ariela Schwartz

You can learn everything you need to be a freelance writer.

Ariela enrolled in Writing for Money about 8 months ago with a background in massage therapy — which is quite a bit different from freelance writing! But today — just seven months after getting started in freelance writing — she writes articles and listicles for health, nutrition, and medical websites and blogs.

One of her favorite recent assignments was writing the FAQs for a brand-new nutrition app. She reviewed videos showing the app's functionality, met with the developer to review the app in detail, and then wrote up the FAQs, all before the app had been officially released. Playing with new technology is a lot of fun.

These days, Ariela turns down work when clients don't provide enough information or when the money they're offering doesn't justify the work involved. And lately, she's completely booked with work, so she's able to be super-choosy with the projects she takes on.

Most days, Ariela works around 5-6 hours. She hardly every has to put time in to looking for work, because clients are coming directly to her with projects and offers. “I have far surpassed the income goals I set for myself in Abbi’s course!” she says.

When I asked Ariela what she would tell someone who was looking to break into freelance writing, she told me this:  “I would tell them exactly what I have been telling my friends. TAKE ABBI’S COURSE. Seriously. It changed my life — it might change yours too.”


Back on the mountain, I moved slowly. A short rest. Then another few steps.

Breathe.

Rest.

Go.

And then, I was there. At the top. AT THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN.

The view was amazing. The colors of the sunrise were fabulous. My kids. Their excitement. My own happiness.

Success comes after a lot of hard work.

I could have missed all of that. I could have given up too soon.

After the Adrenaline: The Work

When you decide to start freelance writing, you’re excited. You’ve got the adrenaline to push you through the beginning. It’s fun. It’s new. You wake up and you can’t wait to get started on your work.

But after some time, the adrenaline wears off. You realize that this is actually kind of tough. There’s a lot of work to do.

You had envisioned less work, perhaps. More sitting in coffee shops. Less of the tedious administrative work. Less of the research.

That’s okay, you reason with yourself. I can do this.

You find some motivational quotes and post them on your wall. You read some great writing to get you in the mood. You go back to work.

And then, after a time, you hit a wall. I mean, you run SMACK into the wall. You can actually feel physical pain when you start to work. This isn’t what I wanted to do,” you think. I wanted something different.”

The work, the day to day work, takes effort. You’re building a business. You’re connecting with clients. You have moment where you can glimpse the future you envisioned, but you’re not there yet, and it’s insanely frustrating.

I can’t do this.

I don’t have the skills.

This is too hard.

Remember Ariela, the student I profiled above? Here's a conversation I had with her a few weeks into the course. (This is FB messenger, so there are typos. I'M HUMAN.)

learn how to be a freelance writer.

This is the point where a lot of people give up. This is the point where a lot of people simply decide that the work is too hard.

But here’s the thing: the people who keep going? They’re so close to what they want. They’re so close to the top of the mountain. They’re so close to this view.

The view of success.

Student Spotlight: Nicolle Brokaw

When you push through all the hard stuff, you get to see the amazing view. You get to do amazing things.

If you give up, you miss out on all of that.

Student spotlight Nicolle Brokaw

When Nicolle enrolled in Writing for Money in May 2017, she had no freelance writing experience. Today, she gets paid to write blog posts for parenting websites. 

Nicolle can work anywhere from 15 minutes to 6 or 7 hours a day, depending on her assignments, her energy level (she's pregnant with baby number 2!) and how active her toddler is.

And how's the money? “I am very content with how much I am making,” says Nicolle. “It’s enough for my family to live comfortably, and I am able to continue to stay at home and raise my beautiful daughter.” 

Remember, those results are after just five months. And Nicolle is pregnant. Imagine where she'll be a year from now!

Her favorite assignment so far? An article on exercising with a baby carrier. “Babywearing and exercise are two huge passions of mine!” she says.

Parenting is full of weird stuff, so clients ask for all kinds of work, including pieces on cleaning diaper pails (YUK) and homemade pregnancy tests. “I didn’t even know there was such a thing, until I was assigned the article,” says Nicole.

And now that she's pushed past the hard part, Nicolle has the freedom to turn down work she's not passionate about. “Freelance writing is something I got into so I can actually enjoy my work, not be bored out of my mind,” she says.

The Story of You

So many of you have written to me about your dreams of freelance writing.

“My kids need me at home.”

“I want to show my kids that I can be a parent and contribute financially.”

“I want to do work that helps others and gives me a personal sense of satisfaction.”

“I want to support my children in their studies, because they both have special needs, and build a home built on our religious values.”

We’ve all tried a lot of things that didn’t work. So it’s time to STOP doing those things and START doing the things that will let you build the business — and the life — you really want.

There’s a lot that goes into building a successful freelance writing business from scratch, and unfortunately, a lot of people don’t succeed.

A lot of people get stuck in those early mistakes and never get their business off the ground.

It’s easy to understand why that happens — but it doesn’t have to happen to you.

You really can build a successful freelance writing business. You really can start earning $2000/month in just a few months — and scale your business to $40,000 or even $60,000/year while working 6 hours a day.

Find more freelance writing clients and get more work!

Yes, really. There’s a step-by-step process that can take you from here to there, and you can do it.

It starts with one simple step: enroll in Writing for Money.

Will I see you inside?

 

What Exactly Is a Freelance Writer?

What Exactly Is a Freelance Writer?

If you’ve been kicking around the Interwebs trying to figure out how to make money from writing, you might have come across some information on freelance writing. And you wouldn’t be the first person to ask, What the heck IS a freelance writer, anyway?

A freelance writer is someone who writes for others — companies or individuals — on a per-project basis, for money.

That money bit is super-important, because money is a good thing. With money, you can buy food and shelter and iPads and other things.

Freelance writing is a job — but it’s not a J-O-B where you go to an office and have a boss. A freelance writer isn’t an employee of a company, but rather an an independent contractor. This is a fancy way of saying, “You’re on your own, baby!”

As in, you have to find your own work, find the place to do that work, and get the equipment you need to do that work.

You can probably get by with a laptop, an internet connection, and a comfortable place to sit. (The seat is optional. I actually work on a treadmill desk. Really!)

treadmill desk for writers and productivity

Yep, this is my actual, messy desk. #keepingitreal

Freelancers also have to handle all the administrative work that goes along with being in business — for example, sending invoices to clients, and then following up to be sure the client actually sends the check.

If this is starting to sound like a raw deal, don’t panic. Because the flip side? Well, the flip side is that when you are a freelance writer, you are in control of your own income.

What Does It Mean to Be In Control of Your Own Income?

When you’re an employee at a company, you most likely don’t have access to the whole picture. You don’t know the ins and outs of the company’s finances.

You don’t always know if layoffs are being discussed. You don’t get to decide which projects to take, and which to pass on.

When you’re a freelancer, it’s your business, and you know what the situation is at any given moment. You know if there’s enough work and money.

You know if you need to get out there and hustle, and how much you’re going to see at the end of the month.

To me, that feels a lot more stable than counting on someone else to come through for you.

It’s really, really important to note that not everyone feels the way I do. My husband, for example, loves having a job with a regular paycheck. You need to carefully consider how YOU feel before you make the decision to be a freelance writer.

If I’m a Freelance Writer, What Exactly Will I Do?

Freelance writers do a lot of different things, depending on their interest and abilities. Some freelance writers write blog posts — for their own blogs, and for other blogs. Some freelance writers specialize in blog posts for businesses.

Some writers focus on articles for print and online magazines, and others write technical manuals and software user guides.

You can find writers in almost any area you can imagine: corporate marketing materials, ebooks, white papers, press releases, and so on.

What’s not on this list? Novels, short stories, poetry, and similar kinds of writing. That’s typically not the kind of writing we’re talking about when we talk about freelance writing.

Basically, you would have to write this many books to make a living as a novelist. #notreallykidding

BUT! You can combine those types of writing with freelance writing so that you can make money and write what you love.

Do I Have to Pick Just One Thing To Write?

Here’s a cool secret: you don’t have to do anything! When you’re a freelance writer, you are in charge of your own business, and you get to make all the decisions!

Many years ago, when I started out as a freelance writer, I wrote all kinds of things. This was partly because I placed a really high value on materialistic things like heat and food, and also because it’s really hard to turn down work when you don’t have any.

In the span of a single year, I wrote dozens of articles on parenting toddlers, along with press releases for a semiconductor company, test questions for standardized exams for elementary and high school students, and a brochure for a company selling home delivery of medication for Hepatitis.

Basically, if someone was offering money, I was there, laptop at the ready.

(Except one time. One time, a big formula manufacturer wanted me to write a guide to formula feeding. I turned down the assignment, which very nearly caused my husband to leave me.)

You get to make your own choices, is the point, which means that if the formula company comes to you, you can take the assignment and donate the money to La Leche League. Or you can buy a caseful of formula, and hand it out in the maternity wing of your local hospital – and that’s fine.

You have your comfort level, and I have mine. That’s what makes the world interesting – and gives us super fun comment wars on Facebook.

Facebook. Where you can fight with friends AND total strangers. YAY!

Anyway, I was writing a lot of different things, and while it did give me a lot of experience, it didn’t make me a lot of money.

I like money and I really like the things I can BUY with money, so I knew I needed to figure out a better plan.

I didn't know it at the time, but one of the things I really needed was a niche.

I’ve written about how to choose a niche, I’ve made videos about choosing a niche, and I’ve spoken again and again about the importance of having a niche.

But when I started out as a freelance writer, I didn’t have a niche.

I had never heard of “choosing a niche” — so I didn’t bother to pick one. 

Stop letting your niche hangups get in the way of starting your freelance writing career. If you can’t pick a niche, get started anyway.

Are there advantages to choosing a niche? Of course. Just check out all those links above. But if choosing a niche is preventing you from getting started in freelance writing, that’s just silly.

You can start TODAY, right where you are, with nothing more than the knowledge you have in your head, right now. You don’t have to quit your day job yet. You don’t have to invest money in building a web site. You can just start, and figure out your niche after your first few assignments. You're already ahead of where I was, because I didn't even understand that choosing a niche was a thing.

My instinct was to say YES! to everyone.

I wrote press releases about semiconductors, articles about breastfeeding, and courses about the laws concerning insider trading.

Doing all of those different things meant that I was constantly learning new things. I was always a beginner.

Learn how to be a freelance writer.

If you're always a beginner, you're never a pro.

It took me several years to realize that by always having a learning curve, I was significantly limiting my income. When I started turning down work that didn’t interest me, I took a big step in the right direction, but it was a long time before I finally wised up and niched down.

By turning down the work that didn’t interest me, I opened up time in my schedule — in my life — to find the work that I did like. The work that made me feel excited. The work that earned me real money.

If that's what YOU want, go ahead and check out my free course on how to be a freelance writer. It's a great way to get started today.

Because you can do this.

3 Smart Ways to Find Freelance Writing Clients

3 Smart Ways to Find Freelance Writing Clients

The decision to start freelance writing feels like it has to be momentous, you know?

Like, in your head, you think, Am I allowed to call myself a freelance writer? I didn’t major in English. I’ve never written professionally. Is this even legal?

How to find freelance writing clients.

You will (probably) not get arrested for calling yourself a freelance writer.

You can agonize over this decision for weeks, wondering if you’ve earned the right to label yourself a writer.

Then, you finally decide that, yes, you ARE in fact a writer, and you face this whole new problem: How to find writing jobs that will pay you money.

Little secret for you: everyone has to start somewhere.

At some point, every single freelance writer has to get that first writing job.

Sure, some people go freelance after they’ve worked for a few years. Maybe they wrote articles for a magazine as a staff member or worked in the marketing department of a company. But at some point, they started at those jobs, and it felt just as intimidating.

Every writer has to write a first piece at some point. For some, that beginning is so far in the past they’ve forgotten the details. For others, the starting point is literally just a few steps behind them.

Everyone starts somewhere — and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

You don't need anything special to find freelance writing clients.

Here’s a list of things you don’t need to do to start freelance writing.

  • Build a website.
  • Update your resume.
  • Go to networking meetings.
  • Get a degree in English.
  • Get a degree in anything.
  • Graduate high school.

Here is the only thing you need to do to start freelance writing:

  • Clients who will pay you

That’s it. Seriously. There’s no big initiation process, no forms to fill out, no need to spend weeks planning.

So… where do you find these clients?

Well, let’s take a look at three smart ways to find freelance writing clients:

  1. Upwork (and other marketplace sites)
  2. Online job boards
  3. Business directories

Now we’ll take a closer look at each of these methods.

An Upwork Profile Lets Freelance Writing Clients Find You

Yeah, I’ve mentioned Upwork before. That’s because it works. It’s an incredible way to start freelance writing online quickly. You can read a lot more about how to write an amazing Upwork profile, how to build your Upwork portfolio, and making sure that you’re doing the right things to attract high paying freelance writing clients.

Use Upwork to find freelance writing clients.

When you build your Upwork profile, you make it possible for potential clients to see what you have to offer. They can then invite you to apply to specific jobs that match your skills, which saves you lots of marketing time.

Upwork has some membership plans, but you don’t need any of them. You can use the free, basic Upwork membership and get plenty of freelance writing jobs that pay well.

A lot of writers will tell you that Upwork only offers low-paying jobs. That’s simply untrue. I’ve been hired at my full hourly rate of $125/hour many times on Upwork — and there are plenty more well-paid freelance writers who use Upwork all the time.

Upwork does charge a fee — BUT they only charge you a percentage of what you earn from clients you would NOT have met otherwise. And you can adjust your rates to ensure that you are making the money you want to make.

This post won’t go too deeply into using Upwork — because all those linked posts above will tell you everything you need to know. Just remember that you do need to know what to look out for at Upwork and other marketplace sites, and make sure that your profile is all about your clients and what they need — and NOT about you.

Find Freelance Writing Clients Through Online Job Boards

If you want to improve your chances of finding relevant freelance writing jobs that pay well, take a look at some of the popular freelance writing job boards.

Almost everyone loves the ProBlogger job board, and with good reason: you’ll find a handful of high quality freelance blogging jobs here. Companies pay $70 to advertise on ProBlogger for a month. You pay nothing to look at those listings.

Companies that pay to list jobs are typically more serious about paying writers decent rates. You won’t find hundreds of listings offering you the chance to work for exposure. Add ProBlogger to your list of sites to check regularly — you won’t always find freelance writing clients who need a writer with your specific expertise, but when you do, you can apply.

If you can get past the design, Writer’s Weekly provides an in-depth look at a handful of markets each week, and compiles a weekly roundup of current job postings from around the internet. These are jobs you can find in other places, but why not let the Writer’s Week staff put them all in one place for you to quickly skim?

Search job boards to find freelance writing clients.

Another popular job board is MediaBistro. Refine your search to quickly skim through the freelance writing jobs posted here, and apply to any that interest you. You won’t find dozens of new posts daily, but you will find interesting jobs with decent pay rates.

Many freelance writers ask about joining paid job boards. These boards are rarely worth the money you spend on them. They are a GREAT source of affiliate income for the writers who promote them and offer you “special discounts” on signing up via their affiliate links. If you’re paying for access to a job board, you need to get some sort of AMAZING benefit. Otherwise, you’re basically paying someone to use Google for you. NOT a great strategy.

There is ONE paid job board that I SOMETIMES recommend to specific freelance writers who are looking for work in specific niches. I DON’T write public posts about it in order to earn affiliate income — I get paid for freelance writing and for teaching moms how to get started in freelance writing. I’m not interested in earning money by recommending products and services that won’t help you make a real living from freelance writing.

Use Business Directories to Find Freelance Writing Clients

Business directories are awesome. Seriously awesome. With these sites, you can type in your niche or the type of business you want to write for and get a list of businesses in that field. You can find local business directories, directories for specific industries, directories that specialize in businesses of different sizes, and so on.

For example, head over to http://www.manta.com/business and you’ll see this:

You can use business directories to find freelance writing clients

Enter your niche, and then choose “don’t use a location” to maximize your results. When you type in your niche, manta will start to make suggestions. When I typed in “relationships,” Manta came back with some options for me:

You can find freelance writing clients with business directories.

I chose “relationship counseling center” and got hundreds of results. If you wanted to target counseling centers, you could spend some time checking out the various entries. If you chose 20 to look at each day, and set a goal of sending out pitches to 3-5 of those 20 each day, you’d likely win some work within two weeks.

Another business directory is hoovers.com

Search Hoovers to find freelance writing clients.

If you search the “counseling” industry at Hoovers, you’ll be prompted to choose from a list that includes weight reduction services, social assistance, and mental health professionals. You can then run searches for those terms on Hoovers or head back over to Manta to find specific businesses to pitch.

These services have free tiers, and you should be able to get all the information you need without paying for a membership.

You can get super-specific with your business directory searches, which is really awesome, because you can hone in on exactly the kind of client you want to work with. Choose directories that specialize in small businesses, Fortune 5000 companies, publicly traded companies, local businesses, and so on. Pick the business directory you prefer to work with, and use that one to identify clients you want to pitch.

Once You Find Freelance Writing Clients, What's the Next Step?

Now that you've put in the time to find freelance writing clients, how do you get them to hire you? Well, it starts with creating a smart pitch that you can send them. And recently, I held a free workshop on how to get that pitch written and ready to send out.

You can catch a replay of the live workshop!

This is a totally free, hands-on workshop where you'll work on your pitch, following the exact steps described. You'll learn:

  • Exactly how to write a pitch letter that you can start sending out to clients IMMEDIATELY so that you can get work.
  • How to identify YOUR ideal client, and where to go to FIND that client, so that you know exactly WHERE to send your pitch.
  • What you need to know about following up, and how to avoid the mistakes that could cost you LOTS of money.
  • How much you should charge for your work, and how to talk confidently about money with clients.

When you sign up for the workshop, you'll get access to a TWO workbooks. You'll get to see plenty of real examples, and you'll discover exactly how to put all the pieces together.

Sign up for the workshop, and kick off your freelance writing career.

The Difference Between Bloggers and Freelance Writers

The Difference Between Bloggers and Freelance Writers

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’ve been thinking about starting a side hustle, or you’re at home with your kids, and you’re looking for a way to make money. Online. From home.

You’re not interested in trying to sell makeup or juice or bags or essential oils to all your friends, because that would involve, like, interacting with people.

You’ve always liked writing, and you’ve seen that it’s totally possible to make money writing on the Internet. I mean, people are publishing these epic blog posts all the time about how much money they made in 3 hours because they did this one tiny thing.

Writing sounds good. So you figure you’ll be a freelance writer.

You start doing your research, and you quickly figure out that you need a website, which is basically the same as a blog, right? So… are you a blogger?

Hang on.

Is there actually a difference between freelance writing and blogging? Are they basically two different ways of saying the same thing? And if they are different things, then which one should you be?

As it turns out, bloggers and freelance writers do have quite a bit in common, but they’re not exactly the same. Let’s take a closer look.

What Bloggers and Freelance Writers Have in Common

Freelance writers and bloggers both write — and they both write with the goal of earning money. That money bit is super-important, because money is a good thing. With money, you can buy food and shelter and iPads and other things.

Blogging is a job, and freelance writing is a job, but they aren’t the kind of J-O-B where you go to an office and have a boss. Instead, they work as independent contractors. This is a fancy way of saying, “You’re on your own, baby!”

As in, you have to find your own work, find the place to do that work, and get the equipment you need to do that work.

You can learn how to be a freelance writer.

You can probably get by with a laptop, an internet connection, and a comfortable place to sit. (The seat is optional. I actually work on a treadmill desk. Really!)

Freelance writers and bloggers also have to handle all the administrative work that goes along with being in business — for example, paying taxes, sending invoices to clients, and then following up to be sure the client actually sends the check.

Broadly speaking, those are the major similarities between bloggers and freelance writers. Now let’s take a look at the differences between the two.

What Is A Blogger?

A blogger is someone who writes online, either for her own blog or for someone else’s. Typically, she writes about one specific topic, which could be absolutely anything: knitting, pet care, food, digital marketing, organizing, science — seriously, anything. Name a topic, no matter how specific, and you can find at least one blog about it.

Build a career as a blogger.

A blogger is an expert in her niche. Whatever it is that she writes about, she knows that topic as well as she knows which of her children will eat Honey Nut Cheerios and which will ONLY eat fish sticks that have been toasted at precisely 200 degrees for 4.8 minutes and then de-breaded, dipped in ketchup AND milk, and served on the Bob the Builder plate.

My point is, girlfriend knows her stuff.

How Do Bloggers Make Money?

How exactly does writing about knitting or pet car or whatever translate into dollars? For our purposes, let’s consider the blogger who has her own blog, rather than one who writes for someone else’s site. Generally speaking, bloggers create multiple revenue streams — which is a fancy way of saying they bring in money through different sources.

What might those various revenue streams include?

You can create multiple streams of revenue in your online business.

  1. Ads. When bloggers hone in on a specific niche, they can attract people who are extremely interested in the content they create. So they draw in traffic that really cares about, say, knitting, which means that companies that make products or offer services for knitters may be interested in advertising on the blog.
  2. Sponsored posts. Bloggers might also be asked to write about a specific product or service in a sponsored post. The blogger is paid to write about her experience with the product or service.
  3. Selling products and services. Many bloggers also sell their own related products and services — for example, our knitting blogger might offer some of her hand-knit products for sale. She might also offer patters for sale. Or, she might create a course on how to sell hand-knit items on Etsy.
  4. Affiliate sales. In addition to selling their own products and services, bloggers might also offer products and services created by other people, in exchange for a commission on each sale. Large sites such as Amazon pay a small commission on items purchased through a blogger’s links, and other bloggers might also have courses, products, and services they want to sell — again, in exchange for a commission.

What Is A Freelance Writer?

A freelance writer is someone who writes for others — companies or individuals — on a per-project basis, for money.

Learn how to be a freelance writer.

Freelance writers do a lot of different things, depending on their interest and abilities. Some freelance writers write blog posts — for their own blogs, and for other blogs. Some freelance writers specialize in blog posts for businesses.

Some writers focus on articles for print and online magazines, and others write technical manuals and software user guides.

You can find writers in almost any area you can imagine: corporate marketing materials, ebooks, white papers, press releases, and so on.

How Do Freelance Writers Make Money?

The primary difference between freelance writers and bloggers is apparent in how they make money. Like bloggers, freelance writers can have multiple streams of income, but typically, those “streams” come in the form of different clients.

For example, in the past year, I’ve written an ebook for an Australian Agile consultant, technical white papers for a US managed services provider, blog posts for a tech startup, and a software user guide for an app developer. Each client contracted with me for a specific project, and each project was its own, independent income stream. (By the way, I got a lot of these projects by pitching clients on Upwork, which is a super-easy way to get started.)

You can work with multiple clients as a freelance writer.

Which Path Is Right For You?

The best part about building your own business is that you get to make all the decisions. You get to decide if you want to be a freelance writer, a blogger, or both!

But how do you know which path is right for you?

Well, you need to think about how you want to spend your time. Do you want to work with clients, writing the things that they specifically need (those press releases, ebooks, articles, and so on) about the topics they are interested in? If the idea of writing a lot of different kinds of material and learning a lot about different topics appeals to you, then freelance writing could be an excellent choice.

If you know that the ONLY thing you want to write about is knitting, on the other hand, then blogging is probably the route you want to take. If you want to be the one who decides exactly what you’re writing and when you’re writing it, then you’re more suited for blogging than you are for freelance writing.

I Want It All!

Look, the tagline at Successful Freelance Mom is “Because we can have it all.” So if you want to be a blogger AND a freelance writer, I am totally in favor of that decision. Remember, it’s YOUR business, and you get to do WHATEVER YOU WANT.

If you’re doing this in order to make money, however, it’s important to have a clear plan, and to be strategic with your choices.

Plan your strategy to get started as a freelance writer

For example, let’s say that you’re interested in writing for health coaches. It might make sense for you to blog about the issues health coaches face when building a business, getting clients, and so on. And you might offer some related products — templates that health coaches could purchase and personalize, for example.

Or, if you’re interested in writing for tech startups, you could blog about effective workflows, evaluating user experience in app development, and other topics that would be highly relevant to tech startups.

You probably wouldn’t want to blog about localization of apps if your market is new health coaches who work with pregnant women.

For close to 15 years, I worked exclusively as a freelance writer doing the kind of work I mentioned above — ebooks, white papers, user guides, and other materials for businesses, mostly in technical fields. During that time, I had a personal blog that was completely disconnected from my business. I wrote about my kids, particularly about the experience of rearing my special needs son.

You can be a blogger and a freelance writer

My blog and my business were not even remotely related; I never thought of my blog as anything other than an online journal, and it was never designed to make any money. If you want that kind of blog, that’s totally okay — mine was an important part of my life and my mental health for many years.

If you don’t know my story, you might not know that in 2013, I had to shut down my business when my son was diagnosed with leukemia. When I started working again in late 2016, I spent some time thinking about what I wanted to do, and I decided to start working with moms who wanted to get started in freelance writing but didn’t know how.

(That sentence makes it sound like there was a very organized thought process. The reality was a lot of crying on my kitchen floor, but hey! Details!)

Successful Freelance Mom is about supporting moms who are just learning about freelance writing. The content here is designed to support you as you learn about the different types of writing you can do — and get paid for. I don’t use ads on my site, and so far I don’t sell other people’s products for commissions. I do offer my own course. You can build a model just like this.

How to Write an Amazing Upwork Profile

How to Write an Amazing Upwork Profile

If you want to get work on Upwork, you need to create a profile. If you want to get high-paying freelance writing work, you need to create an AMAZING Upwork profile — and that starts with writing a killer Upwork profile overview.

Most people write things like, “I’m awesome, and I wrote for these 15 awesome sites and companies, and I did awesome work and I have awesome talents.”

Actually, I recently saw an Upwork profile that made me laugh out loud. It started off, “Almost everyone gives me a 5-star review.” It included headings such as “Who am I?” and “A bit more about me,” and “The reason I’m here.”

how to write an awesome Upwork profile overivew

This is NOT an awesome Upwork profile.

By the way, the reason? So that his mind will expand. Because, it’s all about him. OF COURSE.

Here’s the thing: this is NOT how you write an awesome Upwork profile overview.

If you want your profile to attract the right clients and get you freelance writing jobs that pay well, you need to completely remove the word “I” from your vocabulary.

You’re just not that important.

I mean that in the nicest possible way, really.

Look, you know that I love you. I think you are AMAZING. If you came over right now, we would totally hang out and eat sushi and it would be AWESOME.

But when you write your Upwork profile, there is only one person who matters, and that person is your potential client.

An Amazing Upwork Profile Starts With What the Client Needs

You start your Upwork profile overview by articulating what your potential client needs.

If your ideal client is someone in the health field who is looking for solid health content based on facts, he needs everything to be grounded in research and science and heavy with facts, sources, and footnotes.

To create a great Upwork profile overview, think about what your client needs.

Science-y.

This client also needs to present this information in a way that anyone can understand — even without a background in science or medicine or another specialized field.

Open your profile overview with something like: You need science-based content that your readers can trust.

Yes. Exactly that like. Articulate your ideal client’s needs so that he reads this information and says, “YES! OH MY GOSH! IT’S LIKE SHE’S IN MY HEAD. THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED.”

This is the reaction you are going for.

And you can give this client even more. For example:

You need to know that the articles you publish are properly researched, accurately sourced, and contain factual information that you can stand behind.

You also need content that your readers can understand, even if they haven’t put in the years of study that you have in your field.

Notice that these sentences are all about the client and NOT AT ALL about the writer. YOU NEED, not I can.

That’s by design. At this point, you want the potential client to be BLOWN AWAY by how in touch with his needs you are.

You want him thinking, “THIS IS AMAZING. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I NEED AND I NEED IT RIGHT NOW.”

Make your clients love you.

This is how it feels when you connect with your ideal client.

If you put in the time — and it does take time — to figure out what YOUR ideal client needs and you articulate that need, you will make it very easy for the client to find you and want to hire you.

Present an Irresistible Solution

Once you’ve identified your ideal client’s needs, it’s time to step up and offer the solution.

For a flat fee of [your price], you can get fact-based articles with input from expert sources, such as [someone big in this industry] and [someone else in this industry], research from [recognized online source] and [another recognized online source], and additional interviews with the subject matter experts you provide.

See? You’re STILL not in there, because we’re still focused heavily on our favorite person in the world, THE CLIENT.

Here are a few more examples of how you can present a solution. These aren’t polished or perfect — I’m making them up on the spot. They’re here to spark your thinking and give you ideas.

You can get up to 8 400-word posts on [specific topic] each week, for a flat fee of [whatever], including Upwork fees. Imagine the relief of knowing that your blog content needs are completely handled, week after week.

In just three weeks, you can have a Kindle-ready ebook of up to 20,000 words that establishes you as an expert in your field and gives you the credibility you need with your clients.

By this time next week, you could have a complete outline for your new course, ready to go.

You can rest easy knowing that your user manual will keep your customers happy and eliminate countless service requests.

Give your potential client a solution to his problem, and he’ll race to hire you (and possibly do a happy dance).

Show, Don’t Tell

If you’ve ever written fiction, you’ve heard the mantra “show, don’t tell.” In fiction writing, people say this to mean that you should write, “She stomped down the stairs and hurled the plate at the mirror,” rather than, “She was angry.”

In this case, your job is to really show the client what you can do, not just tell him about it.

You’ll do this in part through your portfolio samples, but it’s a good idea to show your ability in your overview as well.

One way to do this is with client testimonials about your work, if you have them. For example:

“Jane’s articles are always flawless. Her meticulous research and fact checking have made my life much easier.” Joe Client, website or company name.

If you’re on LinkedIn, you might have “Recommendations” from people who have worked with you at various jobs over the years. You can pull out something they’ve said about you — you don’t have to use the whole recommendation if only part of it is relevant.

Use recommendations to support an awesome Upwork profile overview.

See? LinkedIn IS useful for something.

 

For example, from the recommendation above, I'd probably go with something like this:

 

“One of the most reliable writers whom I have ever worked with.” — Charles Freericks, Ethics & Compliance Executive, LRN

 

Once you start doing work for clients on Upwork, they’ll leave you reviews. Pull the best information from those reviews and add it directly into your overview so that it’s front and center.

For example, I once worked on a project that never went anywhere, because there were a lot of people involved and most of them failed to show up. The client recognized that I did show up, and he wrote this review:

Incorporate reviews to make your upwork profile overview stand out.

Even failed projects can produce great reviews.

 

If I wanted to highlight this review in my overview, I'd say:

 

“Abbi is a fantastic freelance copywriter.” — Joe Client

 

Another way to show your ability in your overview is to demonstrate your results with statistics and hard numbers. For example:

An article I wrote for Joe Client on [his site] (with his byline) generated 47 comments in the first two hours after it went live.

I wrote a new homepage for Janice Client’s website, and she says business has increased 20 percent thanks to the new copy.

A Facebook post I wrote for [this person] generated over 150 shares in three days.

Providing people with proof that you’re awesome makes it easier for them to hire you — so don’t hold back!

Add a Call to Action

You might think your profile is good to go now, and at this point it’s definitely better than the majority of Upwork profiles.. But if you stop now, you’re leaving money on the table, because your overview is missing a critical element: a call to action.

If you’ve taken my free 5-day email course on how to be a freelance writer, you’ve probably noticed that at the end of each message, I ask a question and invite you to “hit reply and tell me” something.

Do you have any idea how many people followed that instruction? A LOT of people. I get email EVERY DAY from people who are taking my free email course who hit reply to ask me or tell me or whatever. That’s a call to action.

Here's the thing: people need guidance. Your job is to give it to them. I can’t tell you how often I read an awesome pitch, but there’s no ASK at the end. The writer just expects people to make the leap all on their own.

People don’t leap on their own. You have to lead them alllllll the way there, and then give them a gentle shove.

Your overview NEEDS a call to action if you want it to be effective and work to get you leads while you sleep.

Upwork has rules in place, so you can’t invite potential clients to email you or call you or visit your web site. But you can encourage them to contact you through Upwork.

This can be a simple sentence at the end of your overview, such as:

Feel free to contact me using the buttons at the top of the page, and I'll get back to you ASAP.

But you can also make your ask a little better — for example:

Let’s talk about your project in more detail. Invite me to your job, and I’ll get in touch with you right away to hear more about what you need.

Far too often, freelancers put in the time to craft a great profile, but then don't bother asking clients to get in touch. Seriously, people really don't make those leaps on their own. Make it easy for them.

With a stellar Upwork profile, you can expect the jobs to come to you. In fact, one of the best ways to gauge how well your profile connects with potential clients is by how often you're invited to jobs. How many invitations have you had lately? Maybe it's time to tweak your profile.

And by the way, if you're looking for even more great information on perfecting your Upwork profile, be sure to check out my my 10-day course designed to get YOUR Upwork profile DONE so that you can start earning real money as a freelance writer!