For most of my twenties, I worked long hours as the Director of Family Services at a local mortuary. If I had to describe my life in one word, I would definitely go with “exhausting.”
Not only did I work tirelessly until 5:00 p.m. every day, but I had two kids under the age of three. One top of that, I often worked nights, weekends, and holidays.
Working so much made it hard to spend quality time with my kids, let alone put a good meal on the table. And even though I was making decent money and providing for my family, I often felt like a huge failure as a parent.
Then something amazing happened; my husband and I started a blog. In an effort to boost our earnings and chronicle our financial journey, we built a website – ClubThrifty.com – from scratch.
From there, I started dedicating part-time hours to my one true passion in life – writing. Eventually, I even learned to leverage my online presence to get more writing jobs in the online content creation space.
Fortunately, I built a sizable portfolio fairly fast and started raking in a nice side income. Within a year, I even replaced my $40,000 salary with freelance work and put in a one-month notice at my job. And no, I have never, ever looked back.
Although I work long hours and sit at the computer most days, writing online content for a living has been absolutely amazing. I get to earn a six-figure income, yet I never have to dress up or see the inside of an office. I’m earning money, yet I’m here when my kids get off the bus each day. I work all the time, yet I can take as much vacation as I want. As a busy working mother, being able to live life on my own terms is all I have ever wanted.
Of course it’s hard work, but everything worth doing is.
Since so many people know how I earn a living, I get tons of questions about how it works. How did I get ongoing columns for websites like The Simple Dollar, LendingTree, and Frugal Travel Guy? And, where does the bulk of my income come from? Most importantly, they want to know how they can do the same.
To answer those questions and more, I created an online course for new and experienced writers – EarnMoreWriting.com. This course answers every question I have been asked since I became a full-time writer in 2012.
You can also read more about Holly’s tips on becoming a full-time freelance writer here.
5 Steps to Building an Online Writing Career
If you want to build an online writing career, you need to have a passion for creating intriguing, innovative content. You don’t need any fancy apps or tools, but you do need a computer and a working internet connection.
Other than that, you mostly just need to get started – to take a handful of “first steps.”
Of course, this is easier said than done. Even passionate and established writers don’t always know how to get their side hustle off the ground. Questions commonly asked include:
“Where do you start when you’re trying to build a writing portfolio from scratch?”
“How do you get your first ‘big’ writing job?”
“How do you stand out among other writers in your niche?”
While I answer all of these questions and more in my course, here are a few tips you can use to begin building your freelancing career right away:
Tip 1: Build an online portfolio or start a blog.
If you want to build an online writing career, you have to make it possible for people to find you. The best way to achieve that goal is to create a blog or online portfolio where you can showcase your work. My blog, ClubThrifty.com, serves as my online business card, but yours can look however you want. You mainly need a website to list on your byline, and a “home” where you can showcase your writing talent.
Tip 2: Find your ideal “niche.”
I constantly hear new writers say they have trouble finding their niche. They are passionate about writing, they say, yet they’re entirely unsure of what to write about.
To find paid work in the areas you want to get hired in, you need to find your “niche.” While you can choose a subject or variety of subjects based on your passion or hobbies, your niche can also relate back to your career expertise as well.
Tip 3: Utilize online platforms for paid work.
Even if you have a passion for writing and are desperate to get started, it can be difficult to know which online job platforms provide the best value. My advice is this: Instead of focusing on all of them, narrow down your efforts to three or four platforms that work best for your writing type and content niche.
Tip 4: Learn how to add value.
A lot of high-paying jobs are out there, but you have to know where to find them. Beyond that, you have to learn to “add value” so you can keep them for the long haul.
I cover the different ways you can add value in the video section of my course, but also offer a bonus guide on “What Editors Really Want” written by Boston Globe contributor and professional editor Jon Gorey.
Let’s suffice it to say that “adding value” can mean anything your editors want it to mean. In my professional work, I add value by adding HTML to posts, inserting internal links, following style guides, being responsive to emails, and doing anything extra that makes my editor’s job easier.
Tip 5: Write awesome blog posts that “pop.”
Obviously, writing solid and entertaining content is the best way to find – and keep – awesome writing jobs for the long haul. While we each have our own personal writing style, it’s crucial to strike a balance between informative and fun in every post.
Fortunately, becoming a better writer is something that happens naturally for most people over time. The best way to improve your writing is to write, write some more, and keep on writing.
Want to Build a Writing Career from Scratch?
When you’re angling for a writing career of your own, getting started is usually the hardest part. You’re probably wondering about the best first steps. How can you build a writing portfolio from nothing? Also, how can leverage writing skills to find paid work?
Trust me, I’ve got you covered. Over two months, I created nine video modules and plenty of printable resources to answer those questions and more. Not only will I tell you how to position yourself for the best work, but I’ll tell you where to find it.
If you’re an aspiring writer, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Find out more at EarnMoreWriting.com.
Have you ever wished you could work from home? What is your favorite side hustle?
Great piece Holly. Your story and your FB group have been very helpful to me as I build my freelance writing business and try to figure this whole thing out. Thanks!
Your story is inspiring, Holly! It shows just how possible it is to become an online entrepreneur and succeed. I don’t know where I’d be without my blog!
Thank you very much for sharing this detailed information..It was very useful for me..