How to Become a Freelance Writer & Boost Your Budget By Earning More Money

Long-time readers of KOAB may well remember my story of getting out of debt. One of the keys to our success was not just cutting expenses (although that was very important), but also increasing our income. For me, this meant taking on freelance writing assignments. Many of you have asked me, since I shared that story, how to do the same thing in your life. When my dear friend Abbi — a successful professional writer — told me that she was offering a free 5-day course to teach you how to become a freelance writer, I just knew I had to get her to share the details! 

Guest Post by Abbi Perets

When you’re trying to get out of debt and build up your emergency fund, you need to cut your expenses, and you can also add to your income. By finding some quick turnaround freelance writing projects, Mara was able to grow her own baby emergency fund quickly — in just five weeks she saved $1000, which is awesome.

And, I have to tell you, it doesn’t surprise me in the least that Mara could hit that savings goal so quickly. Not just because Mara is amazing (she totally is – aw, thanks Abbi), but also because I have worked as a professional freelance writer for most of the last 18 years, and I know firsthand that freelance writing is a great way to make a real income – if you know what to expect and how to land the right jobs.

Freelance Writing Isn’t a Get-Rich-Quick Game

The very first thing you need to know is that freelance writing is definitely not a get-rich-quick solution to your financial woes. It’s not that you’ll declare your intentions and money will rain down like upon you. Sadly, no. Just as changing your relationship with money takes work, it takes actual work to make money – but you can make real money. When I work 30 hours a week (I have five children, including one with special needs, so I don’t work full time hours), I make $60,000 a year, and you can do that too.

You will have to actually work 30 hours a week. You will have to put yourself out there, pitching to companies, sending email and making phone calls – and then, actually writing. It’s a real job, and if you treat it like a hobby, you won’t make any money. Yes, you can make this work with part-time hours, but you will almost certainly need to have some sort of childcare for at least some of those hours.

You Probably Already Have Experience

A lot of people think, “I don’t know how to be a writer. I don’t have any experience.” I believe that everyone has some sort of useful experience. For example, if you love makeup, you probably know a bit about different brands, how to create different looks, and more. You have way more experience than I do in makeup, and you could write a great piece based on what you know. Makeup not your thing? Maybe you are the go-to person in your community for dealing with hyperactive kids. Maybe you used to work in retail clothing sales – or waitressing. You can use your past experience to provide benefits to others – clients and/or readers – and make money.

I actually recommend developing a writing resume based on your areas of interest, because it’s a lot of fun to write about things you actually like.

Be Smart About Where You Look for Work

If you google “freelance writing jobs,” you will find a lot of sites offering to pay you less than a penny per word to write articles. This is NOT the work you want. I forbid you to write an article for $1.67 or some other ridiculous amount. You are worth so much more than that!

To find real writing jobs that pay real money, you need to write and send pitch letters to companies (for business writing work) or query letters to magazines and web sites (for article writing work). I explain how to write both types of letters in my free course on how to be a freelance writer.

You can apply for jobs on freelance job sites, but don’t settle for low pay “to get a foot in the door” or “for exposure.” People die from exposure. You are writing for money, not for exposure, and if you build out your profile on these sites using the guidelines I give for writing a resume, you will be able to command higher rates.

By the way, when you apply for jobs, always follow directions. You know how, if you want to get a mail-in rebate honored, you have to submit all the right paperwork exactly the way the company tells you to submit it? Well, it’s the same when you apply for writing work. If the company says, “Submit your completed article in the body of your email,” and you attach a document, you’re not getting the job.

Working as a freelance writer is a lot of fun – and it can be a financially rewarding choice. It’s an ideal choice for savvy moms who don’t want to choose between being home with their kids or building a career and contributing to the family finances (being Jewish is expensive!) – for moms who say, “I want both.”  If that’s you, and you’re looking for guidance and instruction, I’d like to invite you to sign up for a free 5-day email course on how to be a freelance writer where you’ll find support, encouragement, and practical, step-by-step advice.

Abbi Perets is a freelance writer with a passion for parenting, technology, health, and business. She has been a full-time freelancer for over 17 years, and you can find her work all over the Internet. Abbi also owns and offers a free course on how to be a freelance writer. Connect with Abbi on Twitter or email her directly with questions or comments.

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