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