Freelancing: How I Started | What I’ve Learned So Far

Freelancing gives me the ability to work from my porch in the sun!

If you told me one year ago that I’d be making a comfortable income working from home, freelancing, in the near future, I would not have believed you. It was probably around this time last year when I started to feel called to write. Yes, it was that simple, I felt a pull to be creative, and I just went with it. I started by jotting down 10 words a day in a journal.

Then more words started to come to me, and I kept writing. Eventually, I decided I wanted to share my writing so I started this blog and it’s been growing ever since. I initially saw my blog as a hobby (it still is) but I did not at all expect writing to become a source of income. I thought, “yeah, it’d be cool to write a book one day but there’s no way that will be attainable for me anytime soon.”

Yet somehow, here I sit. At my little desk where I’ve worked part-time for the last 4 months. I still have a ways to go, but I’ve gained valuable time with my young daughter, the time I’ve needed to focus on my mental health and personal growth, the ability to make money doing something I find interesting and enjoyable, and I’m able to afford to do all of the things I enjoy.

I’ve become much more aware of my finances and learned how to budget, and if you ask me, it’s only up from here in terms of my income. The most important lesson I’ve learned is that this is possible! If I can do it, anyone can. So, how did I do it? Today I’m sharing with you the story of how I got into freelancing, and what I’ve learned so far. 

The right amount of hard work + good timing

I think my success as a freelancer stemmed from a combination of things, but ultimately, good timing, determination, and even a little desperation all came together to lead me where I am today. A few months before I quit my job as a nurse, I started to contemplate it. I was realizing that my job was just way too stressful for me to handle and after starting a new one and still not feeling much better, I just knew I had to take a step back. I didn’t want to go back to restaurant work but I needed to make some type of money.

I had been writing for my blog for a couple of months at this point and I was starting to realize my love for writing. I had a mutual friend who worked from home as a writer and was in the process of rebranding her personal business. I was so unclear on what she did for work but I was definitely intrigued. So, I reached out. She shared with me about how she got started at freelancing, through an app called Upwork

She inspired me, to say the least. “Anyone can do this, don’t go back to school,” she told me. So, I went for it, I started my profile on Upwork and started to browse job postings. Pretty early on, I got my first writing job. It was a random blog post about a topic I didn’t find interesting at all, and it paid $16. I wrote it and got a 5 star review. 

Flash forward to a couple of months later, once I’ve quit my job. The mutual friend I mentioned above read my blog post about it and was impressed. She offered me a position writing some articles for her copywriting business. It started slow but has since evolved into my main place for writing work. I write consistent articles for 3 of her clients, and have even taken the lead on one, creating monthly schedules for the client’s blog. 

During this time, I was simultaneously applying for and completing additional freelancing jobs in Upwork as well. Each month was sporadic and unpredictable. I never knew how much money I’d make and to be honest, in the first few months I didn’t make much money at all. Luckily, nurses make good money and my final paycheck was enough to cover my bills for 3 months, so I had some time to get things rolling. 

My first few months of freelancing were definitely stressful at times and I dealt with lots of insecurities and self-doubt. I even questioned my own judgment at times, but ultimately pushed past it all and kept going.

Because of the level of desperation that I felt, I was determined to impress every client. I never wanted to push a deadline, or even be on time. I always strived to deliver projects early when I was first starting out (well, I still do). I’m always aiming to be humble, yet confident in my skills as a writer and so far, it’s worked out well in my favor. My clientele has grown and remained consistent.

Using my customer service skills and learning to accept criticism

Strong communication has been a big player in my success as a copywriter. There have been many times when I’ve had to ask questions to make sure I’m clear on what a client is looking for and I’ve had to jump on sudden zoom calls when it wasn’t exactly super convenient for me. But I’ve always been driven to make this freelancing career happen for myself and that’s what’s motivated me to go out of my comfort zone many times over. You have to show that you care so that people want to hire you, and that is the case with any job (not just freelancing). 

I’ve definitely run into situations where people weren’t super keen on what I’ve written for them. By being okay with accepting criticism, it’s helped me work with people to get a project to where they wanted it. This has helped me always receive 5-star reviews in Upwork (even when the project wasn’t perfect on the first try) and in turn, continue getting more and more job offers. 

I’ve utilized the valuable customer service skills that I learned during my 7 year stint working in the restaurant business to help keep clients happy and communicate clearly, even when clients aren’t always the nicest. 

Most importantly, I’ve had to learn to be okay with criticism, which isn’t always the easiest. When you spend hours pouring into a writing piece that you think they’re going to love and then you’re sent tons of revisions, it can feel defeating but you just have to accept it and keep trying. Sometimes you work on something continuously and they still aren’t happy in the end, and that can suck but that’s also just a part of life.

You truly can’t please everyone and you have to learn when to draw the line. I had to personally cut ties with a client once because they were expecting too much from me. I told her she needed a more experienced writer for the job, and she responded well (and left me a 5-star review in the end!)

My perspective on money has shifted drastically

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a freelancer is that I truly do not need nearly as much money as I once thought I did. Sure, it will be amazing when my income is so high that I can save tons of money, spend on myself all the time, and splurge on family vacations (those days are coming!) But in order to pay my bills, afford groceries, and have a little leftover for spending, I really don’t need much more than $1,500 per month. I was making almost triple this amount as a nurse and hardly saved any money back then. I would never write a budget and I hardly ever checked my bank accounts. I would wrack up a credit card bill then just pay it off each payday and rarely had much leftover.

Now I’m constantly aware of how much money I have in savings, checking, and I’ve even added money to a retirement account. I’ve fully paid off my car and I’ve been able to keep my credit card bills low and manageable. I’m more satisfied now with a fraction of the income that I once had because my quality of life is so much better. 

I’m going to write a full blog post soon about money and how much I make freelancing (in detail), so be on the lookout for that if you’re interested!

So that’s the gist of how I got started as a freelancer, and as my career grows, I’m so happy to continue sharing this journey with you. Are you happy with your current source of income? If you aren’t, you don’t have to settle. Leave questions and thoughts in the comments!

Thanks for reading.

Xx

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