Unlike many of my fellow journalism-school graduates, I didn’t get a job at a newspaper or a magazine. I knew I wanted to work from home as a freelance writer. I wanted to stay home with my son, and have flexibility to enjoy travel and time with my husband. Without experience, however, it is difficult obtain gigs with magazines and newspapers.
So I looked online.
I began looking for online gigs. When I first started, I mainly wrote articles focused around keywords designed to draw traffic. However, blogging soon became a popular method of marketing, and I began providing content to blogs.
With search engines focusing on fresh content, more and more sites began looking for writers. I wrote for a physics web site, providing original reporting on breakthroughs. I began writing financial content a variety of web sites. I wrote on everything from weddings to investing to window treatments.
Everything was handled from my home office, including interviews with the subjects of my writing. Soon, I was the primary breadwinner – and I spent half the day in my pajamas!
While the Internet does provide opportunities to earn money, you do need to be careful. Here are some of the things I’ve learned during the my few years building my freelance business:
- Create a business plan: When I first started, I didn’t think of my efforts as a business. However, after a couple of years, I realized that a business plan was in order. I had no direction, and things were haphazard. With the help of a CPA, I decided my business should be organized as a LLC, and I began creating a direction for my writing business. No matter what is your business, you will achieve more target growth and results, if you sit down and make a plan.
- Get it in writing: Make sure that clients agree to your terms. Get it in writing, either via email or hardcopy. There are a number of resources that offer templates you can use as you create agreements. From agreements you make with clients, to agreements you make with employees and contractors, it helps to have something concrete to call on so that everyone is on the same page.
- Make sure you’re paid: At one point, early in my career, a big client stopped paying. He assured me that the money was on the way, and that I would be paid at any time. $2,000 later, I finally stopped doing the work. I never did get paid. Now, I stop working much sooner. For large projects, I ask for half the money up front. This worked out well recently when a client ignored my final invoice after I finished the work. I’m considering turning the account over to collections, or pursuing it in small claims court. Take precautions, and be willing to stop working on a project when you aren’t compensated as agreed.
- Networking is key: It really is, in some ways, about who you know. If you want to grow your business, get to know others. Network in person and online. Social media can be a great way to get to know people. I met my business partner through social media, and then we met in person. You can attend networking events and conferences, and connect with people who can help your business grow. Just remember that you need to help others, even as you receive help.
I’ve enjoyed carving out my niche as a personal finance blogger, and I love that I’ve been able to do it without sacrificing time with my family. Plus, it’s something I can do from anywhere – from my basement home office to the destination of my next road trip.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Miranda’s business is Miranda Marquit Freelancing, LLC. She specializes in providing blog content for a variety of financial web sites. In addition to blogging, Miranda has ghostwritten several books, and provides a number of other writing and editing services. She is the co-author of Community 101: How to Grow an Online Community, and her blog is www.PlantingMoneySeeds.com.by
Thanks for your helpful insights, Miranda! So glad you shared your story with us. I especially appreciate your advice about “getting it in writing”. What I’ve learned is “There is nothing that cannot be misunderstood.” Recently two very good friends did a business deal together, but they kept their agreement verbal. When they realized they had vastly different understandings of their agreement, both ended up thinking the other one was an ass. It was extremely awkward for me, since I connected them. I tried to hep work it out, but ended up just being annoyed with both of them for not capturing their agreement clearly from the start. Sheesh! Get it in writing, indeed!
Thank you so much for writing this blog to share with all of us the business women! I got so much help from your lessons learned personally: I need to create a business plan, get things in writing, and network/help others.
It always sucks when you aren’t compensated properly by your client. Hopefully, karma will bite them back in the butt! Thanks for these tips and sharing it with the Bizsugar community!