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!
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I could have missed all of that. I could have given up too soon.
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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.)
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.
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.
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.
Yes, really. There’s a step-by-step process that can take you from here to there, and you can do it.
Will I see you inside?