How I Earn $3,000 Per Month From Freelancing and Writing
There are a lot of articles and ebooks out there that will tell you how to make money freelance writing in theory. They promise six-figure incomes and instant success with sterling tips like "make use of your mailing list!" and "pass out business cards." While these tips can be helpful in conjunction with a more robust freelance marketing strategy, I find them to be a bit lacking in practicality for the single mom who needs a way to pay the bills next month or the person looking to quit a soul-crushing day job to have more time to focus on his small business.
Let me give you a little background on who I am and why I started freelancing. I booked my first freelance gig as a grant writer in college and from there, I started researching other work-from-home opportunities. Once you've been your own boss for so long, the idea of the 9-5 life becomes a bit stifling. I've always been a writer and I knew I needed a job that would afford me independence and enough time to work on my writing projects. At the time, I wanted to find a traditional publisher, but I have since successfully published six full-length novels, two novellas and one short story, several of which have made the Amazon Bestsellers list. I began freelancing as a way to pay the bills and the freedom it gave me has allowed me to earn a full-time living writing the stuff I love while supplementing my income with freelancing projects. Not exactly the all-American get rich quick scheme, but it's not too shabby, either!
The thing is, I've developed a passion for work-at-home jobs over the years and, more importantly, the people who need them. If you want to earn millions online, there are certainly people who will offer to teach you how to do that and maybe even a few who can follow through. This article is about earning a stable income while working at home. These are the sites and types of jobs I built a comfortable lifestyle on. If there's enough interest, I'll go into more detail about each freelance job site and how to earn money there in future hubs, but for now here's an overview. I hope it sparks some ideas and if it gives at least one person the inspiration and freedom to leave their 9-5 and pursue what they were put on this earth to do, I'll be happy!
There's no way to get around it. Content mills are a pretty darn good way to make money in the freelance writing industry. Textbroker, CrowdSource (Now One Space), Crowdspring, WriterAccess and Zerys are the top sites in the game, but BlogMutt, Scribd and Constant Content are decent contenders as well. Will you strike it rich at any of these content mills? Definitely not, but it's nice to have a few eggs in the freelance basket while you work on building your personal brand and attracting private clients.
On a side note, many of my long-term clients have actually come through contracts with content mills. In return for my expertise in the legal field, for example, I have won contracts with clients through content mills that are more than competitive for the independent content writing sector.
Crowdsourcing & Contract Projects
From search engine optimization gigs at Leapforce and Appen Butler Hill to CrowdSpring and ClickWorkers, there are a variety of crowdsourcing projects I've used over the years to generate a steady freelance income. While I've personally moved away from these types of jobs in recent years since the average search evaluator job pays far less than a decent content writing gig, it's nice to have a stable job with reliable hours to fall back on.
Yep, the online classifieds themselves are a great source for freelance work. If you invest a day or so in creating quality marketing materials, cover letters and fine-tuning your portfolio, Craigslist is a surprisingly great way to score some freelance writing gigs. The major downside to using Craigslist to find freelance work is, of course, the prevalence of scam postings. Another downside is that you're very likely to have some Negative Ned flag your post as spam even when it's posted in the appropriate area, but persistence in posting is key.
Job Auction Sites Like Twago, Guru and Upwork
Job auction sites like Elance and Guru are another freelance opportunity that requires an initial investment of time and effort (noticing a pattern here?) but it can be well worth it in the end. I make a point to apply to 10 "casting calls" each week and I'd say I land roughly 10-15 percent of those. The easy part is that I've developed form applications over time, so it's easy to tweak each one for a specific job. The key to succeeding on these sites is to know the value of your time. It might seem tempting to apply for a job offering $500 for editing an ebook, and if that ebook is 5k words or so, it's probably worth it! If, however, you land a nightmare client who insists on dozens of revisions without ever providing clear feedback and expects a thorough line and copy edit of his 50,000 dystopian manuscript, $500 works out to pennies on the hour.
Did you know that Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program actually pays authors per pageview? Even if you don't want to make your ebooks exclusive to Amazon, you can still earn royalties every time someone buys one of your books. Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Google Play and the Apple Store are the major players that have allowed self-published authors to compete with the "Big Five" publishing houses.
The idea of writing an ebook sounds daunting, but it really isn't. After years of writing content for others, I booked a rather interesting job on Guru. It was an offer to write an ebook for more money than I was making on the other mills. At 10k words, it was longer than the projects I usually took, but not by much. It took me a day to complete and I made twice as much as I would have off of several smaller articles! Curious, I did a bit of research (as I'm wont to do) and found out that hiring ghostwriters to churn out ebooks that are in turn sold on Amazon and other self-publishing venues for a much higher price is a common practice. Unfortunately, many of the ebooks are written by content mill writers who really don't care about their craft. As someone who puts 100% into every client piece, I knew I could bring something better to the table. I began writing ebooks in my niche (metaphysical, primarily) and it gave me the inspiration to branch out into publishing some of the fiction that had been sitting on my flash drive for years. The first month of my fiction writing career, I earned $1,200 off a single book! Was I raking in J.K. Rowling money? No, and I'm still not. But I am able to earn a living off of my writing, and let me tell you, after years of churning out high-quality content for other people to put their names on, that feels great.
Everyone is an expert at something. Everyone. I don't care whether you spend all your days watching makeup videos on Youtube or toiling away at a job that doesn't use your English degree, you have accumulated knowledge and insights in your life that other people would pay to obtain. Often we're too close to our skills to see the value they hold. If you can write knowledgeably about any topic and learn a few basic rules of formatting, you can become an ebook author. Even if you list your book for free on Kindle Unlimited, you can get paid every time someone keeps reading past the first 10 percent of your book!
I love freelancing. At any rate, I love talking about freelancing, because I still do it even though I don't have to in order to pay the bills! I've turned several real-life friends and acquaintances on to these down-to-earth work-at-home jobs, and I want to help others understand that this is not a get rich quick scheme. You can earn a decent living through freelance writing. It takes hard work, persistence, coffee and a whole boatload of patience, but it can be done. I hope the next step for you, as it was for me, is to use freelancing as a stepping stone to build your own brand and do something you're really great at! Writing for other people is fun and it can be rewarding if you approach it the right way, but writing for yourself is incredible.