I’ve been a professional freelance writer for over five years now. While it hasn’t always been easy, I’m proud to say that I was able to replace my full-time income within the first six months of going full-time.
If you’ve checked my About page, you may already know I’m a Biochemist by profession. Like any other graduate, I dived into the corporate world immediately after graduating from campus.
Through the years, I knew I never wanted to be an employee all my life. I always had a hunch that I wasn’t cut out for the rat race! It always felt like slavery to me, every—single— moment!!
So, I woke up one day, and guess what? I quit!
When I started writing full-time, I was determined to make enough money to replace my corporate income. Initially, it felt like an uphill climb, but I was determined to make it happen.
After a few months of hard work and dedication, I hit it—I could pay all my bills, live comfortably, and even have some extra to save, all from freelance writing!
So, in this blog post, I wanted to share with you how I managed to replace my full-time income with freelance writing barely 6 months after damping the corporate world.
If you’re an upcoming writer feeling clueless or hopeless, these tips can also help you reach your goals in the shortest time possible.
1. I set clear goals
The first thing I did when I quit my job and started full-time writing was to set my goals straight. I wasn’t going to sit and start wallowing in hopelessness a few weeks later if things didn’t go as I thought.
Some of the goals I wrote down to accomplish within my first month of full-time writing were to:
- Make at least half of my previous salary
- Finish the freelance writing course I had enrolled in
- Build my writer website (I started with a simple wordpress.com website)
- Get at least two long-term clients
True to my word, I achieved (and almost surpassed) these goals by the end of the first month.
My point is, when starting freelance writing, look at it like starting a business. If you don’t set clear goals and expectations, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
2. I learnt the necessary skills
I wasn’t a newbie writer when I quit my job. I had done part-time writing for quite some time (if you’ve heard of academic writing) and even had my own health and fitness blog.
However, I had never earned a dime from article writing. So, when I decided to become a full-time freelance article writer, I had to learn the ropes first!
I enrolled for Walter Akolo’s article writing course.
Now, if you’re a Kenyan writer, you should know Walter! He’s trained many writers, and I’m proud to have been his student.
Walter gave me the foundation and even allowed me to write THIS guest post on his website later.
Once I completed the article writing course, I was ready to go!
3. I created my website
I learn that a website makes it much easier to land clients as a freelance writer. So, that’s exactly what I did.
I created a simple wordpress.com website where I listed my writing skills and published some of my portfolio samples.
Since it had a blog section, it was also an opportunity to practice my writing skills. I regularly wrote blog articles, published them, and shared them on social media. This exposed me to more potential clients.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to optimize it for SEO, so it never had as much traffic.
When starting out, you don’t need to pay for a professional website.
A simple wordpress.com website is always a good start. Plus, you can always upgrade later down the road.
4. I built my portfolio
Once I knew how to write high-quality articles that clients would love and pay for, I had to build my portfolio.
As a writer, your portfolio is a collection of your best articles to showcase to potential clients when seeking freelance writing jobs.
And you always stand a better chance of being hired if you show published samples rather than Word, PDFs, or Google docs.
I wrote three outstanding articles and published them on my LinkedIn profile. I also published some on my website, which unfortunately broke down with all my data.
For more diversity, I created another portfolio on Contently.
LinkedIn, Medium, Contently, and your writer website are some of the best places to build your writing portfolio if you’re a newbie freelance writer.
5. I built networks and developed relationships
The key to success as a freelance writer is having a strong network of people you can work with.
When I started out, I made connections with fellow writers, editors, and prospective clients. I reached out and built connections with many writers on LinkedIn.
And guess what? Some of them referred me to clients whom I still work with today!
I also intentionally sent connection requests to:
- Content strategists
- Content managers and Content marketing managers
- Digital marketing managers
- Company directors
I didn’t just send connection requests, though!
I also built relationships through private chats, commenting, and sharing other people’s content. This way, I increased my visibility in the industry and would easily land opportunities when they came along.
Expert tip: Sending pitches to potential clients is a lot easier when they’re already part of your connection!
6. I went fishing for clients
Finding clients (or freelance writing jobs) is probably the hardest part of being a freelance writer.
All the methods you’ll read on the internet or be told by an expert are easier said than done. Since thousands of freelance writers are competing for the same gigs, you always have to set yourself apart.
One of my best platforms for finding freelance writing jobs is LinkedIn. This is a professional network, and guess what? All your potential clients are probably on LinkedIn.
You’d be surprised by how many contacts you can make simply by reaching out and talking to people on that platform.
Aside from being active and reaching out to clients on LinkedIn, Other places I tried to look for clients include:
- Facebook groups
I made sure to send at least 10 pitches or job applications daily.
So far, I could swear by LinkedIn and cold-pitching since they have yielded the most fruits when it comes to finding clients.
7. I learnt how to plan and manage my time
My biggest challenge during the transition period was time management. Occasionally, I would be glued on things that didn’t add much value to my pocket.
For instance, I would spend a lot of time designing my website while I knew quite well that the website wasn’t earning a single cent.
With time, I had to learn how to plan, prioritize tasks, and manage my time effectively. This was the only way I would earn enough money to replace my income.
I had to learn to complete more tasks in a limited time frame.
Here are some things I did to help me manage my time and stay productive throughout the day.
- I started waking up earlier than usual
- I cut back on social media
- I wrote a daily to-do list before starting the day
- I reduced screen time (phones and tv)
- I turned off all destructive notifications once I started writing
- I learn how to research and type faster
- I set mini-deadlines to achieve throughout each week
8. I Set my rates and learnt to negotiate deals
Freelance writing is just what it sounds—it’s freestyle! And among the perks that come with it is the freedom to set your own rates and command your earnings.
Since I had my financial goals, I set competitive rates for my services and learnt to negotiate deals that would mutually benefit my clients and I.
Writing rates are usually quite relative. That’s why I dedicated a section on “how to set your rates” in my freelance writing course since it’s a highly debated topic among freelance writers
Typically, it boils down to your confidence as a writer and the value you attach to your writing services.
When setting your rates, it’s always important to believe in your abilities and not undervalue yourself due to fear of rejection.
Expert tip: Higher rates give your services a higher perceived value and make high-value clients want to hire you.
9. I learnt to deliver pure gold
Finally, I hit my financial goals because I learnt to deliver what Walter Akolo calls ‘Pure gold!’
Even if you’re a newbie writer, clients won’t pay you for trash! They’ll only spend money where they can get real value back.
That’s why I took the initiative to learn how to impress clients by delivering top-notch quality that met all their requirements.
With every project I had to handle, I would spend time doing thorough research, so I didn’t do what’s known as content spiraling (re-writing the same old content on the internet).
If you’ve enrolled in the course, you’ll see that I also dedicated a section on “how to do thorough research,” so your clients will be impressed by the outcome.
I also created thorough outlines and wrote in-depth content that specifically covered the client’s topic of interest.
Finally, I learnt how to optimize content for SEO, so they would rank on SERPs and attract more organic traffic to the client’s websites.
These skills made me valuable to my clients— so they happily paid me, and I quickly replaced my corporate salary!
Final Thought: You Can Do It Too!
Replacing my full-time income with freelance writing was no easy feat. It took hard work and dedication over several months to see any tangible results.
However, if you stay focused on developing your skillset, finding quality clients, setting competitive rates, negotiating deals, and building relationships along the way, success is within reach!
Freelance writing has been an incredible journey filled with personal growth and professional opportunities. And I hope these tips will help you get started and achieve your goals too.
If you’d like my personal guidance, enroll in the invaluable ‘Start Up & Scale’ freelance writing course, or Contact Me and get the step-by-step guide you need to make more money as a writer (and probably fire your boss soon!)