When I published my post 40+ Legitimate Ways to Earn Money as a Stay-at-Home Mom back in the summer, it was hugely popular. It has gone on to become one of the top posts here at R+H, which is honestly not all that surprising to me.
Being a SAHM is a financial hardship and/or sacrifice for many people, and many of us (myself included) have wracked their brains thinking of how we might earn a little money from home, on the side.
After I published that post, Christal contacted me and asked if I would be interested in a guest post on how to earn money as a freelance writer. I bring you Christal’s words today in the hopes that this might just be what a few of you out there have been searching for. Enjoy!
Guest post by Christal Guziec of CG Marketing Pro
I had fantasized about being a work-from-home writer for – oh, forever.
I’d sit in my cubby, in an office building that took over an hour to drive to each day, and daydream about being at home instead, in front of my laptop, in a cozy robe and fluffy socks, with a hot cup of tea in hand… writing. Now, in my fantasies of course I was an award-winning novelist (someday!) but even most “real” novelists still typically do freelance writing or editing in order to pay the bills.
Maybe you, dear mama, want to be a novelist, too. Maybe you’re just looking to bring in some extra cash. Either way, if you’re a born wordsmith, freelance writing could be just the thing you’re looking for.
In March of 2014, our daughter was born, and my husband and I had a choice: I could go back to my corporate job and put our daughter in daycare, or I could try to find a way to work from home. I had done some freelance writing on the side before, so I knew I could find work in that field.
When we factored in the cost of daycare, gas and maintenance on the car, someone to walk our dog, and the extreme lack of time I’d have to spend with our sweet baby girl, it honestly didn’t make sense for me to go back to work. Those expenses would eat away roughly 50 percent of my salary, and the remaining money just wasn’t worth the time sacrifice.
So I leapt.
With a whole lot of fear and just enough faith, I hopped online and hoped for the best. Within just a couple of weeks, I’d started turning away work because my plate was just too full. Of course I can’t guarantee the same for you, but I can share some tips to help you find freelance writing success.
1) Know your worth
There are a lot of freelance job sites out there, and the vast majority of them offer pretty bunk projects where clients expect an awful lot of work in exchange for very little money. Do your research and remember, even if you’re desperate for cash, your time is valuable – especially if you’re a mommy, there are certainly better things you can do with your time than write your heart out and get no return on your ample investment.
If you’re a new writer with very little experience, then it might be worth it to do a few low- paying – or even free – jobs in order to build a portfolio and polish your skills. The same is true if your experience is, ahem, dusty. But once you feel confident and you’ve received some good feedback, make it a policy only to accept jobs if you’re truly comfortable with the terms.
2) Speaking of terms, make sure you’re completely familiar with the terms and conditions of any site you use
Some websites offer more protection for the client than the freelancer, and some are pretty fair for all parties. Read, read, read – look at what other writers are saying in forums, help desk tickets, and reviews. If a bunch of other writers are complaining about a given company (or client,) chances are you’ll have something to complain about, too.
3) Join writers’ groups
There are some on Meetup.com, Yahoo Groups, and on LinkedIn. I’m sure there are other sources, too. LinkedIn in particular has a lot of very active groups for freelancers and other writers.
You can learn a lot from these groups – whether it’s a question about grammar, how to collect money from a client who won’t pay (sadly, this happens), or just a little tender loving support from fellow writers in the trenches, you can find it in a writer’s group.
4) Always do your best work
There will be times when you’re writing about something that doesn’t excite you at all – maybe it’s lawn care, maybe it’s taxes, maybe it’s electrical equipment (I’ve written about all of these things) – just remember, it may not be exciting to you, but it is exciting to somebody. There’s a company out there built on the very (boring) concept you’re tasked to write about.
Though you may be a faceless, nameless writer (most freelance writing is “ghost writing,” where you don’t get a byline,) the job you’re doing is still important and it deserves your very best effort.
Doing good work is the only way to get repeat business – and depending on how you find work, you may have an online reputation to protect, anyway (many freelance marketplaces assign you a star rating, which may or may not be public, and typically affects your earnings potential).
If you follow those tips, you’re off to a great start. I’m going to do you a huge favor, and tell you some of the best sites to find work. I am not being compensated or recognized in any way for sharing these companies with you; these are all just sites that I’ve worked with and had success with, and I’m hoping you might find success with them, too.
Odesk.com – Not just for writers, this freelance marketplace allows you to build a profile and then search for jobs. Employees can find your profile and invite you to interview for jobs, as well. Clients provide public feedback that affects your reputation and likelihood of getting hired.
Writeraccess.com – This site requires you to take a writing test and then they assign you a star rating. The higher your star rating, the higher-paying jobs you qualify for. You can choose the jobs you want.
Expresswriters.com – This site also requires you to take a writing test. They assign jobs to you. Very active site with lots of work.
Freelancewriting.com – This is not a job site, per se. It’s a fantastic resource, though. Brian Scott runs the site and publishes helpful articles for writers each week. He also sends out weekly emails with job leads in them, including freelance gigs, contests, scholarships, and calls for submissions from magazines and other publications. I highly recommend checking out this site and joining the newsletter list.
There are many, many other sites out there – and I’ve tried a lot of them. Make sure you perform your own due diligence on any company you’re thinking of getting involved in – there are sure to be conflicting opinions out there in the great, wide Internet open.
Freelance writing is terrific because, as you probably imagine, you have the freedom to work when, and where, you want (wearing what you want, too. PJs, anyone?) Because of that, competition can be stiff – but many people are trying and they just don’t cut the mustard.
So, if you are a good writer, you present your very best self online, and you always do your best work, you’ll have a heads up on all the sloppy competition. I really hope that these tips are helpful to you. Best wishes in your quest for freelance freedom, you hard-working mama, you.
AUTHOR BIO: Christal Guziec is a semi-crunchy, work-at-home mom and wife who left the corporate world behind after the birth of her first child. Now, as a freelance marketing consultant and writer, Christal strives to help businesses put their best face forward and engage with their audiences. In her spare time, Christal competes with the local squirrels for the tiny bounty that her garden produces, creates original crochet patterns, and tinkers in the kitchen – which, by the grace of God, she’s finally learned to keep clean. Join Christal on Twitter @Christal_Guziec or check out www.cgmarketingpro.com
I wanted to come back to this post and thank you. For some reason, of all the sites you listed, WriterAccess interested me. I signed up right away, took the test, and was approved as a writer. The income I have made there has made an enormous difference in our household. Since November we have been able to pay for some very pricey, much needed car repairs and pay off a few bills as well. We may have even gone out to dinner once or ten times. 😉 Again, thank you for the tip. It’s been so very helpful.
I am so glad to hear this! Thank you SO MUCH for letting me know! I’m sorry I didn’t see your reply until today, but it is fantastic to hear that these tips were a help to you. I am smiling ear-to-ear. 🙂
I wish you the very best of success with your new freelance writing career!
Heather @ My Overflowing Cup
Wow! Thank you so much for this post, Christal! You offer such great advice and the leads are amazing. I have always dreamed of being a writer and now we could really use some additional income. I’m pinning this as I’m sure I will be referring to it often. Thanks, again!
Heather, Thank you for your sparkling compliment! 🙂 I certainly hope that these resources are helpful for you!!!
I am a freelance writer. Some weeks are better than others, but it is well worth it. I was hired by a company that I write for on a regular basis a couple of years ago, but I still supplement that with other websites, such as iWriter.com or Textbroker.com. Some sites that allow you to bid on work are guru.com, outsource.com, freelancer.com and elance.com. All of these are great places to start when you are wondering if it is for you. When you work from home, sometimes it is difficult to get yourself motivated. Create a goal with dollar signs in front of it, and it helps a lot!!! If you decide to take the plunge, just remember some days are better than others. It is your job and just because you work from home does not mean you can do whatever you want, when you want. You still have the responsibilities of your job even though you may not have set hours. A lot of people will set certain hours each day that they are going to contribute to writing, but sometimes, it is just not that easy, especially with young children. Also, just because you may get one bad review does not mean it is the end of the world. Every client is going to have different ideas of what is right and wrong. I had one article rejected because it did not contain enough excitement. It was a product description. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find much excitement in a plain white envelope. I was quite upset at the time. I took at look back. I had over 1500 articles done and accepted on that site before I got one rejection. I thought about it and told myself that if I was a horrible writer, then I never would have had that many accepted. Sometimes, in this industry, you can’t make them happy no matter how hard you try.
Jennifer, You are so wise – it’s absolutely true that sometimes you just can’t please people. I have run into similar situations myself. 1500 articles successfully completed is a HUGE accomplishment – you definitely shouldn’t let that one bad review get you down! 🙂
Thank you so much for listing some other great sites to find freelance jobs. I hope those additional resources can help more readers.
Regarding set hours each day, I just read an article today that included “set aside the same time each day for writing” as a tip – it sounds like a good tip, if you can swing it. Most days, I’m willing to bet that many mommies can’t (I don’t know if I could). Like you said, though, focus on doing a good job and take it day by day. 🙂 Best wishes in your career!
Thank you! I cannot do the set hours thing either. It’s not easy to plan when kids are going to fight and argue or when kids are going to be sick. Since, my 5 year old has many medical problems, there are several doctor appointments that I have to plan around. Usually, when I get home from them, I don’t feel like writing, but in this career, you have deadlines. I plan on being up by 5 each morning to get the best pick of articles, but I’m usually up by 6 to get my kids off to school. The goal is the best way for me. I may not make that goal every week, but sometimes, you just have to have time for yourself too. Just because we work from home doesn’t mean we need to be in front of that computer 24/7. Some days, I feel like that though!!! There are some days that I just can’t think of what I need to write on. You have to learn to go outside of your comfort zone and write about things that you know nothing about in order to be successful. Use the internet as your resource to learn enough about the topic to write a quality article. Not only have I wrote a lot, but I have learned a lot. I hope you continue to succeed in your writing career. I have been doing it since 2009.
Thank you for sharing these resources! I pick up writing/editing jobs here and there, but I would love to do it on a more regular basis. Odesk.com looks like a great site to do just that!
Carrie, oDesk is AWESOME! I hope that you find success there! 🙂
Thanks so much for writing this article! You gave a lot of good resources for writing and blogging. I’m bookmarking all of them. There’s a much better writer inside of me trying to claw it’s way out. I’ve got so much to say about lots of things. They say that if you asked your mother what you wanted to be when you were little that this is most likely what you’re supposed to be doing as an adult. My childhood desire was to be an artist and a writer. I don’t do much art anymore but writing satisfies the creative part of me. Thanks again, Christal!
Lisa, you’re so welcome! I really hope these resources are helpful for you. When I wanted to be a kid, I wanted to be a lot of things, but “author” was always up at the top of the list (above long-haul truck driver, even!) 😉 I wish you the very best of luck in your journey – keep creating! 🙂
Did I say “when I wanted to be a kid”? You know of course that I meant “when I was a kid”. LOL
This is a tremendously helpful article. I know I’m a good writer, but as a SAHM of 7, I don’t really know where to go with it. And I’ve got material bursting out of my ears. I will be researching these resources. Thanks!
TheMrs – That’s great news! You’re very welcome and I hope these resources prove fruitful for you!
P.S. I just checked out your blog. I love it! Funny stuff 🙂 I wish you were on Twitter!
Wow, thank you so much for the nice compliment. Oh my goodness, I have no Idea how to be a Twit. (Or a Twitter-er?) I can barely manage my laptop and sometimes I hear it chortle when I yell at it. Perhaps one day I will learn how to be a tweet-er-er, or maybe I will put my hubby up to creating an account for me because technology agrees with him while it sends me the proverbial middle finger. As for today I’d better just focus on all the pee laundry. Ain’t nobody on the twit-e-sphere wanna hear about ‘dat! 😀
🙂 Okay, you focus on the pee – that’s more important than the tweeting, anyway. 😉
I made a Twitter account!
Not sure why, I already have tiny followers. Can’t even use the bathroom alone.
come find me. 🙂
Mrs. Diaz @ChewingCrayons
Find something that lets you let go of your everyday stress and write about that. Even though you love your children, it can become stressful dealing with everyday things. Just because you do it every single day doesn’t mean it makes it any easier. There are a lot of things to write about. If you find something that you love, it makes it a lot easier to write. Don’t try to jump in and take on a lot of jobs all at once. Start slow and let it build into something more. Otherwise, you will get overwhelmed, and it will become something that you wake up and say that you just don’t want to do this anymore or that you just don’t have time. When it gets to that point, the quality will not be there. Write about things that you are comfortable with to start and then slowly move out of that comfort zone. I hope that helps.
Question…Are there any sites out there for editing? I am a better editor than writer. 🙂
Amy, You may want to check out oDesk! I’ve found a lot of marketing, editing, and writing work through oDesk. I also recommend that you still check out freelancewriting.com because you may be able to find some leads there. And definitely update your LinkedIn profile (if necessary,) and look for appropriate groups to join… you may be able to find job leads through one of those groups, as well. Other freelance marketplaces may have editing jobs, too. Honestly… I would Google it. 😉 Good luck!!!