Heather is a published book author and illustrator who writes under multiple pen names and ghostwrites for other authors.
When It All Began
Becoming an established online freelancer took time. I know of other writers that have begun writing careers and their career took off within a year or two. I, on the other hand, have a different story.
I began writing articles for sites like Ehow and Hubpages in 2008. It was just the beginning and enough to get my feet wet but not lucrative enough to earn any significant income. I wrote an article or two, but since I was a novice, I wasn't privy to the ins and outs of formatting, SEO, keyword utilization, usage of emotional trigger words, descriptive expressions, and I lacked sufficient storytelling skills.
So essentially I knew diddly about the world of writing. What I did know was that I enjoyed reading, telling stories, and helping others. I had a romanticized view of a writer's life. My aim was to get out of the 9-5 and be able to make money working as a writer from home. I didn't know it at the time, but I went about it the wrong way and ended up giving up too quickly.
I believed that a writer's life was simple, easy, and having a career as a writer wouldn't feel like work. I couldn't have been more wrong. I went through periods of writing articles here and there but I hadn't built a solid portfolio. Nor had I done enough sufficient research i.e., reading other writer's articles, following blogs, reading the proper books, joining the right websites, or knew how to promote my work.
The lessons I learned came gradually and over time. The more time I spent away from my family, working in full-time positions that would often have me working 14-18 hour shifts, the more passionate I grew about wanting to make a change.
I missed out on so much with my eldest child due to my long working hours. I worked as a single mother, going to school (to afford a chance at a better life), and working 2-3 jobs in order to pay rent and keep food on the table. I do not regret the time it took for me to get to where I am today. I learned some valuable lessons during my journey. I realize, now, that no one could have told me what I needed to do. I needed to discover and experience my own journey so that I could grow. Much like that of a teenager. You cannot tell a teenager anything. In fact, you can give them the best pearls of wisdom that you, yourself, might wish you had when you were younger before you made some very bad choices.
Along with my experience, my perspective has also altered. It isn't about the money anymore. Earning money is a bonus and feels very, very good. However, it is about the message. I've been on a journey and I know there are thousands (maybe even millions) of moms out there who are on, or about to embark, on the same journey.
Where I Found Inspiration
If you desire to move in a certain direction in your life and you want to acquire successful results, then you need to seek out those who have already done what you wish to do. In my case, I sought out blogs and articles online written by other writers who had gone through a journey and learning experience.
It wasn't until 2013 that I discovered one blog in particular (and I am still a follower to this day) called LEAVING WORK BEHIND. This blog was begun by a man named Tom Ewer. Like myself, he had a family and desired to make something more of himself and make money writing from home. On his blog, he shared his journey, gave practical advice, and became a huge inspiration for me. I even wrote him an email once about a funny article I had written about the many uses of tampons...Ok, don't judge. To my surprise, he actually responded. I was elated. I felt as if I was talking to a celebrity. Tom built up his business from working as a freelancer and maintaining his blog to managing an entire team that keeps his blog running as well as another site he owns and operates, which serves as a membership site, that allows other freelancers to join, post, and/or search for freelance work online.
I've followed many other writers online, but finding Tom was a big game changer for me. I do not receive any monetary gain by mentioning Tom's site but since he has been a crucial part of my life as a writer, I would be remiss to not mention him.
Here are some topics that Tom covered that made an impact on my journey:
- How to build a portfolio
- Where to find freelance work
- How to write a proposal
- How to set up a blog
- How to set writing goals
Building My Writer's Portfolio
The most important lesson I learned from Tom was 'How to Build My Writer's Portfolio.' Common sense would tell you that, like a regular job, you need to have a resume and often a cover letter to highlight your skills, interests, and capabilities. Before you can apply for freelance work, you need to have a good solid portfolio.
Read More From Toughnickel
Before I read his article about this subject I was clueless. I had all these questions:
- What is the Writer's Portfolio?
- How do you go about making one?
- Is it a folder with article files?
- Do I have to have articles published to qualify?
- Do I need a blog?
All my questions had been answered. I ran a blog for a couple of years based around the food and beverage industry, but I hadn't monetized my site and I discovered that I didn't need to pay for the blog to have a sufficient portfolio. I could use my account on Hubpages. My well-written, featured articles could be used as an example of the work I could provide.
Where I Find Freelance Work
Most of my freelance work comes from Upwork. With the tips, I learned from Tom about building my portfolio, and how to write a proposal, I was able to land a few freelancing jobs. It began with landing one job, building my reputation with that client, and then being recommended by that client; which led me to more work.
I currently work as a Marketing Editor for a publishing company, (a job in which I landed using the Upwork platform) which is growing and expanding. I have the pleasure of helping new authors on their journey.
My Current Sources of Income
|Print On Demand Sites||Writing||Ecommerce|
Kindle Direct Publishing
CreateSpace (Self Publishing)
Lovely Tots Toys
Upwork (Freelancing Platform)
Intimately FOR HER
Jill of All Trades
I am not just a writer. I have expanded to various areas of interest that allow me to have multiple streams of income. I enjoy incorporating my illustration and design skills as well. I receive income in areas such as:
- Self-Published books
- Article writing
- Designing logos for other businesses
- T-shirt and Apparel Designs
- Assisting others with their website designs
- E-commerce websites (I have two)
- Promoting other's work (ghostwriting, reviews etc)
- Social Media Management
Your options as a freelancer are limitless. I have so many that it's hard to keep up with them all sometimes. On one hand, I have a backup if one is making less than the other. On the other hand, I need to maintain each of these areas of income and promotion in order to continue receiving income from these areas. This is where scheduling your time comes in handy.
Advice For New Freelancers
If you want to become a freelancer or are just starting out, here is what you need to know:
- Identify what you want to do
- Do you want to be a writer?
- Do you want to be an Illustrator?
- Do you want to be an author?
- Do you want to become a Youtuber?
2. Find your mentor
- Look for someone to follow in their footsteps
- Identify what is working for them
- model after their ideas (not copy)
3. What Tools do you Need?
- Each niche will determine a different set of tools
- Software needed?
- Equipment needed?
(A photographer will need a camera, An Illustrator will need Illustration programs, A writer will need apps or programs to help improve his/her writing)
4. What time do you have to apply for your goal?
- Every goal needs to have an allotted time to grow
- Set a schedule
- Be consistent
5. Seek to grow and improve
- Progress cannot be made by staying still
- Ask yourself: How can I make this better?
- Seek the opinions of others
- Share your work
- Read, read, read- knowledge is power
6. Never give up
- A goal is not a goal unless you give it value
- A goal cannot be met if you do not continue
- Remember that you are on a journey
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2019 Heather Ann Gomez
Yvonne Degz on May 16, 2020:
Thanks for the advice and your article is very helpful. I am a newbie in this field and still learning new techniques and skills.
Ruth Serrano from Philippines on March 26, 2020:
Your story is so inspirational.
I am currently searching for possibilities to improve my freelancing career and what you wrote here certainly gives me an idea of what it takes to be a successful writer and freelancer like you.