How Freelancing Saved Our Finances
Today’s post is an awesome guest post from Danae Bursae! If you’d like to learn more about making extra money freelancing and how her family is getting out of debt, follow her on Twitter and check out her blog How She Happened.
Changing the trajectory of your life often requires some sort of big adjustment. We seriously needed that kind of major change last year when we were taking out loans just to be able to pay all the bills. Bills we couldn’t pay because we were making several monthly payments on debts and I didn’t have a job. Yep, it was that bad and yes, now we have to work to pay off those loans.
Debt is a vicious cycle and breaking free usually means stepping out of your comfort zone. For me and my husband, the only way we could escape the downward spiral was for me to make some money.
Go Get a Job
This seems pretty obvious, right? Your family needs more income, so go out and get a job. Easy.
Not so easy for us and probably a good portion of families out there. You see, we have a two-year-old and one car. If I wanted to get a traditional job it would mean putting our son in daycare which, at the time, we absolutely could not afford. It would also mean either getting a second car, working around my husband’s crazy work schedule to use the car and drop our son off at daycare, or using public transportation. Well, we’d be getting into more debt we probably couldn’t qualify for by purchasing a second car, my husband’s work schedule is so weird that the hours I’d have to work would make it impossible to get hired, and public transportation in a small Connecticut town would leave me in a similar situation.
So, do you see the predicament? We were literally chasing our tails. I needed a job I could work from home so being a single-car family with a small child would not be an issue and I needed a job with very flexible hours because, if you have ever had a two-year-old, you know what I mean.
The wonderful thing about being a stay-at-home-mom is obviously spending day in and day out with your growing bundle of joy, but it’s also having time to scour Pinterest. No, I’m not saying all stay-at-home-moms do is sit around on their phones. But I mean, come on, you can always find time for Pinterest.
So, while I was searching for activities to keep my son entertained, I stumbled upon some incredible stories of moms who worked from home doing something crazy called…freelancing? These women were reporting incomes like $3,500 to $5,000 a month just writing or proofreading. After reading blog entry after blog entry about how they got started, I thought, why not try? It was exactly what we needed.
How I Landed My First Real Freelance Writing Job
The first step in freelancing is figuring out what it is you have to offer. Yes, you do have something to offer! For me, I thought that writing was a good place to start. I was always a good writer in high school and I enjoy doing it. There also happens to be a ton of free online resources for freelance writers.
This was definitely important to me since one of my goals was to spend absolutely no money starting this little side business. Spend money to make money, yes, but we really could not afford it. With that being said, I had no website and no fancy training. However, I knew I needed experience of some sort to get people to hire me.
To get something on my freelancing resume, I started writing for what is called a content mill. Basically, writers and clients sign up, clients post jobs, and writers grab them before they are gone. I’ll be honest, the pay from content mills is AWFUL. I’m talking $1.39 for 500 words. Pennies, folks. Pennies. But, I just needed some experience and samples for future opportunities so I stuck with this content mill for a couple of months.
After accumulating some confidence and about 25 writing samples varying from press releases, to DIY blogs, to Amazon reviews, I jumped on ProBlogger’s job board and applied to as many jobs as I possibly could. If I thought I qualified in the slightest, I would apply with my resume and attach some samples. (Tip: If you are applying on freelancing job boards like this, be sure to read the entire job description and follow ALL directions the client gives. They like to see who is paying attention.)
Guess what? The work paid off in about a week or two. I managed to land my first two freelance writing clients!
Why My First Clients Were So Important
Though the pay was better than the content mill would ever be, it was still low and certainly not enough to provide for my family. In fact, I only brought home about $200 a month with these guys.
Don’t get me wrong, I am so, so grateful for these jobs and let me tell you why.
These first jobs gave me major confidence and I got to add legitimate work to my resume. I also finally had work I could provide future clients links to, instead of attachments. This was a huge deal because it helped me land my next big job, which I currently have.
With this experience under my belt along with some office work I had done a couple years back, I was able to become a virtual assistant through TimeEtc.com. I made over $300 in my first two weeks working and averaged about $400 every month. I was doing a lot of things for a lot of different clients and learned so much. From writing to handling emails to managing social media accounts, this VA job was awesome for a beginner like myself and I highly recommend it. I will be forever grateful to the clients I had there.
But, it wasn’t enough. While I was bringing in supplemental income, I still couldn’t improve our financial situation like I wanted to.
How I Stepped Up My Freelancing Game
I knew my VA work through TimeEtc. was valuable but not enough for my family. I wanted to take everything I had learned and the experience I had gained to land much bigger clients without dealing with a middleman who would take a percentage of my earnings.
One of the biggest things I was lacking in my freelance career was a website. Every freelancer will tell you that you need one to refer potential clients to. Since it still wasn’t in the budget to create some glorious WordPress site, I created a free site on Weebly.com.
I’d love to say that making this site allowed me to attract a ton of clients but, it did not. The process of creating it, however, did lead to an amazing opportunity.
While putting together my super cheap website, I thought it would probably be a good idea to get some testimonials from previous clients up to attract others. Remember those first two clients I landed from ProBlogger? Not only did they give me great reviews, one of them actually connected me with his partner who I now work for as a virtual assistant and writer! It’s a small world, isn’t it?
I went from making $400 a month to $2000 a month with just one email. Within a couple of months, I started my current job and my pay with this client continues to increase.
Falling For Freelancing
Freelancing was supposed to be a temporary fix for us. But, after a year of growth and after seeing the endless opportunities in income, I can’t imagine having a “real job”. Here are my top 3 reasons why I think freelancing is one of the best ways to make money:
- Flexible: You can work where and when you want as long as the work gets done. If you are in a situation like ours, this is the solution.
- Save Money: Not only do you make money, but you actually save a ton! Think of all the expenses required just to go to work. Proper wardrobe, car, gas, the temptation to eat out at lunch, etc.
- Make How Much You Need: I’m a big believer in input directly affecting output. The effort you put in will directly affect your income with freelancing. Work hard and you will see results.
I’ve only spent a year in the world of freelance but I’ve gone from making $0 to what I’d make working full time at a retail job I can’t stand. While I probably could have reached this point a lot faster like many others have, I am so happy with the progress in this business and I can’t wait to see where it takes me and my family.