Do you love to write and wish you could get paid for it? Elna Cain shares her top tips for how to become a freelance writer and start making money from home. Take your skills and passion and turn it into an opportunity to earn income while raising your kids.
Let’s start off by talking about what it means to be a freelance writer.
A freelance writer is an independent business owner who is considered self-employed. They get paid to write content for anything from blog posts, to white papers, social media posts, email newsletters, magazines and more.
Being a freelance writer offers a lot of flexibility, because aside from client deadlines, you get to choose when and where you work. This is great for moms!
So how do you get started?
Today, I’m interviewing Elna Cain, one of my absolute favorite bloggers and freelance writing experts. Elna’s courses have been instrumental in helping me grow my own blog.
Note: If you already know that you want to start freelance writing but need to get your professional website set up, I highly recommend Elna’s course, Writer Website in a Weekend.
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Elna shares what it takes to launch a freelance writing business, how she balances raising twins with writing for clients and her own blogs (yes BLOGS- plural), and how she makes money working from home.
Let’s get started!
1. Can you share a little bit of your story and how you got started as a freelance writer?
I started freelance writing around five years ago when my twins were toddlers. I had tried to do some contract work with families since my background is forming curriculum plans for children with autism, but it never worked out.
Plus, I would spend hours traveling to families, which meant my husband ended up watching the twins while I worked (and then he couldn’t work on his business). Daycare would just eat up any paycheck I received from working, so I knew I had to find something to do at home to contribute to the finances.
That’s when I learned about freelance writing and blogging!
2. How do you recommend building your portfolio in the beginning stages?
If you are completely new to freelance writing, you can simply draft up a few samples in Google Docs, Medium or LinkedIn so that you can link to your samples in your pitch emails. But, the best way to build your portfolio is to guest blog.
Guest blogging means having your content on someone else’s blog. This shows social proof to potential clients that other people liked your writing so much that they would publish it on their blog.
3. How did you find your first paid opportunities and what can someone expect to be paid as a new freelance writer?
There are several strategies to finding paid opportunities, but the easiest for brand new freelance writers is to use job boards.
There are many free job boards that post job ads for content writing. Visit these job sites daily, and if some look good to you, send your pitch and samples.
Typically, job board rates vary, but the good ones start at around $50 a post.
4. Where have you had the greatest success marketing your business? Is there a social media platform you recommend?
A great social media marketing platform for freelance writers is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is like the business side of Facebook. Companies, start-ups and small businesses are on LinkedIn, and you can leverage LinkedIn to find awesome clients.
5. Do you need to have a blog/website to start a freelance writing business?
Technically, you don’t need a blog or website to start freelance writing, but it does help a lot and it immediately shows businesses that you are a professional.
But if you just want to pick up a few gigs and earn some side income, then using LinkedIn or Medium (a free blogging platform) is sufficient.
6. What kind of income can someone expect to earn as a freelance writer? Does it vary widely based on your experience?
Your income as a freelance writer is totally dependant on your writing niche and the type of clients you work with.
I provide blog writing to small business owners in the digital marketing niche, and I’m able to make a living off of that.
What’s great about freelance writing is that you can diversify your income to include affiliate income, product income and ad income.
I have been able to start several blogs, create several products and do affiliate marketing to supplement my freelance income.
In the beginning, your income will vary and there will be seasonal fluctuations where there will be less gigs over all, but once you land a few clients you will get referral business and networking opportunities, which means work is always available.
7. What are your best tips for balancing your writing and business goals with motherhood?
Over the years, I’ve had to adjust my business with parenting my twins. When they were young, I was able to build my freelance writing business during their nap times, and once they entered school I was able to start more blogs and create more products.
Now that my twins are 6 years old, I have set work hours, and once I’m done working I shuttle my twins around to hockey practice or swimming or gymnastics and focus on motherhood!
8. Are there any courses or resources that you recommend for people who are wanting to become a freelance writer?
If you want to see if freelance writing is for you, check out my free course, Get Paid to Write Online.
If you are interested in making a living from your writing, check out my signature course, Write Your Way to Your First $1k.
9. Any other tips for the aspiring freelance writer?
Just know you don’t have to be the best writer out there to freelance write. You don’t need a journalism degree, or a college degree either for that matter. I have a BA in Psych and it has not helped me land digital marketing clients!
Businesses want a writer that is engaging and knows how to write for an online audience. This is an easy skill to pick up!
If you already have a website but are struggling to get traffic, I enrolled and completed Elna’s course, Ready Set Blog for Traffic. It’s an amazing in depth course on how to utilize basic SEO techniques and Pinterest to increase your traffic.
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