How I Made Money ($5400) From Freelance Writing in One Month
If you ever thought about working from home, then you have most likely considered freelance writing. Pinterest, social media and internet in general is filled with success stories and tips on freelance writing. However, until you personally become one of those people who succeeded in money making, you won’t truly believe that making money from freelance writing is completely possible and doable. Read about starting your freelance writing career here.
You probably see posts all over Pinterest and blogs of writers talking about how they earned their first $500-2000 in their first month. That’s a great accomplishment. Especially when you take into account the fact that the more you write the more you’ll make. In other words, the potential to earn high income from freelance writing is super high.
I was just like you. A skeptic in the beginning. I thought that I would have to work for pennies. The job boards were offering $20-$50 for well-written pieces. As a mother, I gave up my career as an attorney, and became a stay-at-home mom to care for my son. Occupying myself with a task that wasn’t paying well was simply not worth it for me.
Here is the surprise though. I made $5400 in my first month as a freelance writer. So how did I do it?
Evaluate your skills and expertise
Before even thinking about making money, I had to literally sit down and figure out what I had to offer. Was there anything that I knew about and could write? Did I have expertise in any field? Was there anything I was passionate about?
These and several other questions I actually had to answer. I made a 3-part list for myself. On the first part were the skills and specific knowledge that I currently had. On the second section were the skills and knowledge that I knew some things about, but not enough to be an authority figure. On the third section I put down the skills and knowledge that I wanted to learn about because I was interested in the topics.
As I worked through this list, I realized that some of my fields were intersecting. That was fine because it meant that I can definitely write about that topic as a freelance writer. One field that came coming up for me was the legal field. As many of you know, I am an attorney by profession. This seemed like a logical choice of niche for me.
do market research on making money from freelance writing in your niche
However, I looked at job boards to see what type of legal writing I could do as a freelancer, and was disappointed very quickly. Even the job ads that were asking for detailed and accurate analysis of legal topics, which can be complicated and time consuming, were paying very little. I was not happy. However, I soon realized that I could focus my skills even further. I was an immigration attorney. That meant that in my capacity as an immigration attorney I learned some skills and knowledge that I could leverage to help with my freelance writing.
As an attorney, one thing I do more than anything else is writing. Obviously, I don’t write blog posts, I write legal arguments, briefs and motions. Now that I had at least a general idea as to what type of writing I wanted to do, I needed to decide how to get clients.
shift your thought process
Becoming a stay at home mom meant that I could not do work in a traditional sense of the word. This meant that I could not approach freelance writing the way I did to my professional career. I could not do 9 to 5 work anymore. I had a child to care for, and I needed the freedom of choosing my own schedule.
For me to start making money from freelance writing, I needed to shift my way of thinking as to who I consider my clients. You see, previously, while I was working in my own office, my clients were regular people in need of legal help. However, regular people in need of legal help would not be able to determine if they need legal briefs and motions.
My clients had to be people like me, other attorneys, who would know if they need legal briefs, and the specific kind. This is the point for me where the shift in my thought process began. I started thinking of my colleagues as potential clients. The income source that I needed to tap into. Making money from freelance writing is inevitable if you do it right.
I had to do it right. I didn’t want to spend my valuable time on something that wasn’t going to give me results. I rather spend it with my family. So I started thinking back to when I was still working. What was one thing I needed help with? It occurred to me that I needed help with writing. Tasks that were taking a lot of my time, especially when I was a solo attorney. My target audience became clear.
I needed to pitch my services to other attorneys like me. Solo and small firm attorneys who were busy, but did not necessarily have the large staff to support them.
create A PLAN AND START PITCHING to make money from freelance writing
Once I determined who my target audience was going to be, I needed to reach out to them. I joined couple of organization, and was a member of some already. Through these organizations I was able to find contact information for the attorneys.
I made a list, created a group in my email where I can send a group email to them. My best option was cold pitching because I did not personally know any of these attorneys.
In my cold pitch email I introduced myself as an attorney who loves to write. Moreover, I briefly talked about myself, about how I was taking a break from practicing and was going to be home for some time to raise my son. Moreover, I told them that since I am home, I have free time to take on written projects, such as motions, briefs, etc. from other attorneys.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if anyone was going to get back to me and hire me. I did not do any marketing, I did not advertise. All I did was write one email. However, soon I started getting responses to my email. A few simply said they will keep my information in case they need me in the future. The vast majority, however, wanted to hire me right away. Couple of them asked for written samples, which I provided since I had many from my own working days.
price your services right
Since I was just starting out, I was afraid to ask for an amount that I knew my services were worth. My reasoning was that I rather get paid something at this point, than nothing at all. I started quoting prices that were so low that it was coming to me working for less than $2/hour if I were to count it by hours. For the first couple of days I took on some complicated projects, got paid pennies for the work I was doing. It was my fault, not theirs.
I did not include my first 3 projects in my screenshot as I don’t consider them good tactics and successes. Yes, I got paid. However, the amount of time I put in those projects were worth at least 3 times as much as I asked for. So thereafter I created a price list for myself. Whoever was asking for my prices, I would send them my price chart.
On the bottom of my chart I had a note that said these prices were starting points, that depending on the complexity of the project, I could quote a higher price. I ended up doubling my original asking prices for all my different projects. Some services were more expensive than others.
It would be dishonest of me not to reveal that a few attorneys were not pleased with my prices and decided not to hire me. However, I also have to say I was pleased not to work with those attorneys. You see, I am an attorney, and I have a pretty good idea how much those projects are worth. Never undervalue or undersell yourself or your services. The moment you do it, others will start also.
Never undervalue or undersell yourself or your services. The moment you do it, others will start also.
What I learned from my pricing method was that there will always be people who will try to undercut you and get a cheaper deal. That’s only natural. However, you need to know your worth. You need to know how much your services and your work are worth. Establish this, believe in this, and other will too, and they will pay you your asking price. The ones who don’t-well, let’s just say you don’t want to work with them anyways.
prioritize what’s important for you
Even with my raised prices, so many people responded that they wanted to hire me that I started picking and choosing the projects myself from the very first month. If you take a look at the screenshot above, you’ll notice that I only took on 5 projects in one month. This is because I need plenty of free time to take care of my son. Therefore, I did not want to take on too many projects at one time.
However, had I not been pressed for time, I could have taken 10, even 15 projects, and easily made at least double of what I made. I could have had over $10,000 in one month. However, for me having plenty of free time was more important at that point.
I still don’t take on many projects. I comfortably earn enough to be happy with it. My priority is not to be stressed out and overbooked. I want to have time for my son without constantly worrying about my projects. However, if you don’t have the same responsibilities that I do, or if you have help at home and can afford to take on more than I did, then you can definitely earn way more than I did. Decide for yourself. The important thing I learned is not to be overbooked because you don’t want to rush and lower the quality of your work.
I have many repeat clients who consistently hire me to help them. I strive to make each and every project as close to perfect as I can. So far, no complaints (fingers crossed).
Making money from freelance writing is a real thing. You just need to approach the process the right way. Moreover, think outside the box in terms of what kind of writing you can do for your freelance writing career. Don’t limit yourself to just blog posts or articles here and there. Any written project on a topic that you’re familiar with can be a freelance writing piece. Just gather your thoughts, plan your actions and forge ahead.
On a side-note, I’ve been thinking about creating a course and teaching the kind of legal writing I do to other people and freelance writers. This would give you and them an opportunity to earn a lot of money for your freelance writing services. Is this course potentially something you’re interested in? If so, comment below and let me know what you would like a course like that to contain.
The piece on underpricing especially resonated with me! I’ve done a lot of work with nonprofit organizations as a graphic designer, and the price piece has always been a struggle for me and I’ve also worked for way lower than minimum wage if you calculate it. So thanks for that—really important reminder!
Hi Lia! Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. I really hope your situation is different now. Sometimes we really need a job, so we convince ourselves it’s better to get something than nothing at all. However, that mentality also leaves the door open for future mistreatment and below average prices for our works. Best of luck to you!
Wow that’s impressive. $1700 a piece! It takes months for new bloggers to earn that much if they depend on organic traffic/affiliate marketing. Unless they got lucky.
Thank you Victor. The $1700 one was actually a very complicated project, and I felt that I even undercharged for that. However, I am happy with what I have right now, and don’t want to take on too much in pursuit of money. However, I am happy to teach my methods, as well as my writing itself for others to earn as much and more.
I love the level of detail in this post and your honesty. Like you, I quickly discovered that I should only take on clients who will pay me for what I’m worth. At first I took on whatever I could because I was desperate for work, and that was fine because I did need samples for my portfolio as well as the experience. I knew that if I worked for that low of pay for a long time, though, it would only lead to burnout and resentment. Plus, those clients never treated me with respect. Now, although I don’t freelance full-time, I’m lucky enough to work with clients who give me work I’m passionate about and pay me fairly!
Hi Kate! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I am glad you stopped working for low pay, and demand what your services are worth. I believe that if we’re putting the time and effort into making our work great, then we deserve to be paid for it also greatly.
This is an exciting and inspiring post!! I am pinning this to save and read again later. I feel I could learn a lot from you 🙂
Thanks for reading and commenting. I am glad you liked the post. My intent is to teach new skills to help others earn more money. 🙂