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How to Make a Living as a Freelancer / Freelance Writer

Updated on February 20, 2013

Creativity Online

The keyboard is where it all begins, after the mind, that is...
The keyboard is where it all begins, after the mind, that is... | Source

Working From Home

After years of wanting a stable job, a large proportion of Americans have fallen out of love with the golden handcuffs of a corporate career. Unless you are lucky enough to be one of those who just drops by the office for an hour or two, the majority of jobs look a lot like slavery. After the commute to and fro., wear and tear on car (and nerves), office politics, expensive wardrobe and mandatory overtime, working from home is looking more and more appealing to more people. After all a job is meant to improve your lifestyle right? Not rob you of it entirely!

The younger generation is also burned out from seeing their frazzled and exhausted parents leave for work half awake and return home in far worse condition. "Less is more" is the new credo. Insurance is a problem, as well as funding retirement, but more people than ever before would rather have that afternoon off to go walk in the park than the stress and anxiety accompanying a corporate lifestyle. So - how to get from Point A to Point B?

Who's the Boss

When you work for yourself, you are the boss - and the janitor!
When you work for yourself, you are the boss - and the janitor! | Source

Being Your Own Boss

In the words of Jiminy Cricket, always let your conscience be your guide. Write down the many ways you know how to make money. Just write. Some will be more appealing than others. 1. Washing the car... 2. translating.... 3. baking cookies...4. tutoring students... just write them all down without making judgments.

If you want to make a living off of passive income, a lot of start up effort is required. Hub pages is a great example of this. Focus and diversify. Write Hubs, but keep the part time income. Find a way to expand while covering basic expenses. A little extra effort is required to make a change.

Now that you know what you can, and WANT to do, it's time to figure out who is looking for your services....

Taking the example above -

1. Washing the car. Put a sign at the supermarket that you wash cars (let's say on Saturdays only) for whatever price. Advertise in the free Pennysaver or other similar flyer. You might get three to five cars to wash on the weekend - no harm in trying!

2. Translating. Whatever your second language is, it's now time to find groups who might need your services - like a cultural association, club, university, or even embassy. Let them know of your qualifications and rate. Consider joining an internet translation board, like (there are many of them). Some have a fee, others do not. Most stay independent, just act like matchmakers between clients and translators. Apply for every job that falls within your range of abilities.

3. Baking cookies. Contact a church - do they need a cookie baking service for those celebrating baptisms, weddings, or similar celebrations? Bring a plate along so they can see and taste your specialties so if an inexperienced planner asks for a recommendation, they will think of you first. Schools may be another place to "show them what you've got". Cultural centers, reception halls, and other places where people gather. Consider starting a facebook page showing your specialties and put the link on your business card.

4. Tutoring students - School! University, grade school, high school, private school, language school - anywhere that students will see your ad. Let them know what you specialize in (Math? Chemistry? Latin? Spanish?) and have rates for group and private sessions. They may be motivated to attend with two friends for a reduced fee. State your rates and times. A paper ad with pull off strips is especially good for students who most likely don't carry a pen and paper or might scrawl your number down illegibly. Take matters in your own hands and minimize the risk of dropping the ball.

The Possible Dream

Most freelancers will need a laptop or desktop computer.  Fortunately, they are no longer financially out of reach.
Most freelancers will need a laptop or desktop computer. Fortunately, they are no longer financially out of reach. | Source

Recipe for Freelancer Success - Perseverence

  1. Market thyself, then follow up.
  2. When in doubt, just say yes to jobs - you need the income (and savings to fall back on).
  3. Do your best possible work so you'll be called back
  4. Try to get some passive income (royalties, HubPages, etc.)
  5. Save a percentage of your earnings - put it aside.
  6. Be willing to moonlight a little (bake cookies, clean house, have a paper route)
  7. Have a positive frame of mind and be determined
  8. Take a good multivitamin pill to stay healthy. Don't let personal grooming habits slip.
  9. Don't give up. Time x effort x correct action = victory!

It Doesn't Have To Be Your Money or Your Life

In my early twenties I was introduced to a book called "Your Money or Your Life". The concept of living to live one's life instead of only living to work changed my mental focus forever. Living off of passive income, be it T-Bills or Rental Income was a new thought. This was during Reagonomics, a time of prosperity, cocktails and 80s music and excesses. Living frugally and investing in long term funds weren't quite the focal point.

No money, no life, right? From my teens, I could hardly wait to earn, then spend. Savings account? Maybe next month. By the age of 20 I had bought and sold three cars, and was on my way to racking up debt.

When your friends' parents are doctors, lawyers and judges, my middle class teacher father and secretary mother might have been below the poverty level. We weren't allowed to watch as much TV (see link) and wore good quality hand-me-downs. If we wanted anything - from erasers and gum to an extra pair of shoes, it came out of our own pockets. What's done is done, but that kind of fueled the flames for my champagne taste and beer budget spending habits. Tsk, tsk!!

Write down your goals without judging

It all starts with a decision, and a dream.
It all starts with a decision, and a dream. | Source


Did you know....

  • that in 2005, nearly 7.4% of the American workforce worked on a freelance basis? Quite a large number!

The term freelance was first coined in by Sir Walter Scot in 1820. The novel Ivanhoe refers to a free "lance" mercenary warrior, independent of any lord or master. From this term came "free lancer" or one who holds the "free lance".

Paying the Price to Earn the Dough

Is a steady paycheck is worth the golden handcuffs?

See results

Corporate America

After college I joined corporate America. Now I had health insurance - what a luxury - and paid time off - meaning I could go on vacation while collecting a check. Another huge perk was having my college degree paid for by tuition reimbursement.

A few years into the game I started realizing I hated corporate America. Suddenly it was clear to me:

  • My ability to make my dreams (like buy a home, take a vacation) come true were inexplicably related to income combined with time off.
  • My income this year, the year after, and onward, was dependent upon how my work was valued, which was an entirely subjective decision.

My happiness - my very life, itself - was in another person's hands. Talk about enslavement! I realized that a long career of running on a hamster's wheel awaited me, and I wanted OUT.

The old Kelly Girl days looked more appealing than ever. Work when you want, change jobs and avoid corporate webs of intrigue because as a temp you are removed from all that. One of my girlfriends opened up a cappuccino cart at a local college and I filled in. Then there was the Friday night sushi bar job which was very well paid. Before I knew it, I realized I was juggling three part time jobs and enjoying myself more than when I was working a "real" job.

Before HubPages

One story in Your Money or Your Life (YMOYL) hit me particularly hard. A female media mogul left her demanding and well paid career to take on several part time jobs. This enabled her to be home with her only child, a daughter. A single parent, she couldn't bear to have her only child be raised by complete strangers. Working for the money in the hours that she preferred, she started off her day with an early morning paper route. That was followed by a job as a "park opener" which was repeated at night "park closer". In the middle of the day she juggled two or three part time jobs that filled a time frame when her daughter was in school. In short, she ended up making income as before but in a way but not miss out on her most important job of all - raising her beloved daughter. We all have a choice.


When it comes to starting out as a freelancer, experience is not always required. Sites like Elance, Odesk and ProZ show jobs for freelancers with "desired - 1 year experience" or no mention whatsoever. HubPages is a great place to get that writing experience.

I began editing English texts in college and continued doing so in Europe. Many knew English but had trouble with spelling and other inconsistencies. Apply for every job that you think you qualify for. With a brave heart, you will succeed, step by step.

E Books

Definition of a Freelance writer who publishes E-books.  It's a happy ending, because the freelance writer is paid for his/her work.
Definition of a Freelance writer who publishes E-books. It's a happy ending, because the freelance writer is paid for his/her work. | Source

The Aha moment

  • From high school to age 37, I had accumulated 20 years of professional employment in the US, which means I'll get a pension someday.
  • Here in Croatia I have about 7 years of work experience (some gained during pregnancy leave) before I started working as a freelance writer.
  • With the internet as my tool, I began marketing my bilingual skills, applying for every job that even remotely made sense. From January 2011 to September 2011 I had gathered together a few clients. Nowadays, I am making as much money as I did before when I was formally employed. Of course I work everyday but I am MUCH HAPPIER.

Long story short, I crossed over and I am ever so glad that I did. Like Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon is known for saying, "I'm getting too old for this stuff!"

A Freelacer is an Entrepreneur

Leland Stanford
Henry Ford
Coco Chanel
Oprah Winfrey
Steve Jobs
Mary Kay Ash
Mark Zuckerberg
Social Networking / Internet
Enzo Ferrari
Sports Cars

Greater Risks and Rewards come with the territory. If you've got the right stuff, sometimes it's best to strike out on your own.

In Summary

Remember - Quitters Never Win - and Winners Never Quit

Not all Dreams come true - but

... those who never dream and make steps to make them happen never make their dreams come true!!!

Write down your dreams - this is the first step. Put a picture next to it to help visualize your goal - once your mind accepts it you will naturally achieve it!

Good luck!


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