When my first baby was born, the thought of putting her in daycare so that I could spend ten or more hours a day in an office was just so unappealing that I couldn’t stand it.
Was I really going to use my education to work for minimum wage? Is this what I want my life to look like? I asked myself. And the answer was hell, no.
That was the moment my freelance writing career was born. Here are seven reasons you should start a freelance writing career today.
Your Time, Your Terms
When you wake up in the morning, what’s your first thought?
Do you leap out of bed, excited to greet the day, eager to start working on projects that excite you?
Or do you pull the covers back over your head, burdened with thoughts of student debt, another long day at the office at a job that doesn’t use your skills, that doesn’t pay you enough to live on, and doing work that benefits someone else?
When you’re not excited by the work you do, it’s hard to motivate yourself to do it well. If you feel like every moment you work is a dollar in someone else’s pocket, it’s easy to find yourself frustrated and overwhelmed.
In the early days of our marriage, my husband and I joked that we didn’t know what our house looked like from the outside, because we never saw it during the day. We left, early in the morning, to go to our jobs. We returned well past dark, staggered to the couch to fall asleep in front of the television, and do the whole thing again the next day.
When I started working as a freelance writer, I finally had the time I craved to do all kinds of things — reading for pleasure, watching an occasional show on television, and staring at my beautiful baby for hours at a time.
(Seriously, I got to see my daughter’s eyelashes unfurl, one at a time. It was amazing.)
You Don’t Need ANY Special Certifications
I started my freelance writing career by pitching articles to the pregnancy and parenting websites I had been reading. I mean, I had been pregnant one time, and I had ONE whole baby, so I was clearly an expert.
You’re reading this blog, so you can read. I’m guessing you know how to spell, and you’re on the Internet, so you are clearly a functional human being. You undoubtedly have SOME experience in something.
If you’re crazy about cars, then you probably know more than a little about engines and options and, like, tires and stuff. (I know how to drive. That’s the extent of my car knowledge.) If you’re into food, you might have knowledge about ingredients, types of cuisine, and local restaurants. If fitness is your passion, then you might know about the benefits of a particular exercise program, the best foods for building strength, and so on.
You have experience in something, and you can turn that experience into expertise. You can use it to provide real benefits to clients and readers — and you can make money.
The Money is Real
In the early years, I put about four hours a day, five days a week, because I kept having babies. (Five. I had FIVE babies in 10 years.) Even with all that time off and my very limited work schedule, I averaged around $40,000/year, because I chose to write in profitable areas.
Now that I’m done having babies, I still have five children, including one with special needs, so I work about 30 hours a week, and I make about $60,000/year. I don’t make millions, it’s true — but making millions isn’t my financial goal.
My husband travels a lot for work, so I’m frequently on my own with our kids, and I have to use my time wisely. At this point in our lives, my income is perfect for our family and our lifestyle, and I have plenty of time in my day for homework, playdates, all kinds of learning, AND Netflix.
You need to be honest about your own financial goals. If you’re hoping to start a blog, make millions, and never work, then… good luck. Let me know how it works out for you.
You don’t get to just sit on the couch chewing on a pencil while the money rains down. Building a successful, sustainable business takes some actual work and smart habits — but you don’t have to do that work in an office, and you don’t have to spend your whole day working.
You Can Save Big on Childcare Costs
These days, my kids are all in school for at least part of the day, so childcare is no longer an expense for me. But back in the day, I figured out pretty quickly that a combination of teenage babysitters and well-timed naps gave me about 3-4 solid hours to do work most days, and I made up time early in the morning or late at night as needed.
While my friends were enrolling their infants in hoity-toity Los Angeles preschools — in some cases, paying over $2000 a month — I paid the neighbor’s kid $5/day to take my baby for a walk in the stroller. The rule was, they had to leave the house, and they had to stay out for 90 minutes.
Often, the sitter ran into her friends, and she stayed out longer. She had my cell number in case of emergencies, and she was never more than about 6 minutes away from our house.
You Can Get a Lot of Cool Stuff
“I’m working on an article on iPhones. Could you send me some samples?” Okay, that’s not going to happen — but you’d be amazed at the stuff that does come your way.
For a little over a year, I had a great gig writing for CNET’s appliances and kitchen gadgets blog.
Here’s how I got that gig: someone told me, “CNET is looking for freelancers.” I emailed CNET the same, standard pitch I sent everyone back then, and they hired me. (You can actually see the pitch I sent them — and everyone else who has ever hired me — if you sign up for my free 5-day course on how to be a freelance writer.
Working that gig meant that every day, UPS came to my house with packages from all kinds of companies. I got tablets designed for use in the kitchen, steam cleaners, oil-free deep fryers, measuring cups, meat thermometers, and more. It was kind of insane.
When I was pregnant with my fifth baby, I realized that we had given away all of our baby items after the fourth. (Surprise! I don’t know how to read the instructions on my birth control!)
I really wanted a fancy new stroller, but I did NOT want to buy one. So, I pitched a “Stroller Showdown” to a parenting web site I wrote for. Then I contacted about 15 stroller manufacturers and invited them to submit their strollers. I told them ahead of time that if they wanted their strollers returned, they’d have to pay return shipping.
No one wanted the strollers returned. So I, and 14 of my closest friends (I was super popular that year) tested out strollers for about 6 weeks, I wrote up the piece, and then everybody got to keep a stroller.
You Can Meet a Lot of Cool People
Over the years, I’ve interviewed all kinds of amazing people. I’ve spoken with blind developers at IBM who have access to technology I thought only existed in the movies.
Heck, I’ve even talked to people who actually work in the movies.
(Honestly? The developers were more interesting than the actors.)
I’ve had the chance to speak to some of my personal heroes — experts in parenting, technology, fitness, and health — because of articles and other projects I worked on.
You can seriously geek out over this stuff. By writing about your passions, you get to have fun every single day.
You Control Your Income
Not everyone agrees with me on this point, but I strongly believe that when you have your own business, YOU are the person who controls your income. You know how much work you have at any given moment. You know if you need to get out and drum up business, or if your systems are all working smoothly.
When you work for someone else, you rarely have access to all the information about the business. So you won’t necessarily know if a slow month means that your job is in jeopardy — until you’re called into the boss’s office and they let you go.
Running your own business means that you’re in charge. How much you earn is ultimately up to you.
Working as a freelance writer is a lot of fun – and it can be a financially rewarding choice. If you want to follow your own path and still make a great living, if you want to be present for your family and still have a manful career, and if you’d like guidance, support, and instruction on exactly how to do that, please check out my free 5-day email course on how to be a freelance writer where you’ll find support, encouragement, and practical, step-by-step advice.
This guest post was written by Abbi Perets over at Successful Freelance Mom. Abbi makes over $60,000/year and has been a freelance writer for the last 18 years.