How to Succeed As A Freelancer Without Even Trying

Does the idea of working on the internet, wearing slippers with the kids, dog, garden, and coffee pot sound appealing? I personally had my doubts – would I be able to work with all that activity around me?  Let me be the first to say that you can definitely organize work time around school schedules and make it happen. Step by step, create your empire with a policy of diversification.

No man is a robot, and although you may work harder as a freelancer than you did as an employee, it’s a completely different scenario advancing along your career than reacting to what your boss has to say. Put another way, I set my income parameters for the month and go for them, whereas at my job I was concerned with maintaining my level of pay (or a job, period) knowing full well that the economic situation was against me. A young middle aged woman, I heard the bells a-tolling and began building my second income, also known as “Plan B”. It was actually Plan A – to leave the JOB but building a business takes time – so best to start as soon as possible.

Making the switch

How did I switch over?  It is scary, to be sure, so it must be done in baby steps. I had originally planned on saving a huge stash of money before I did – but that didn’t happen. My January 2011 New Year’s Resolution was to be fully employed as a freelancer by the end of the year, and I was – by October 1.

If you write, the first step is to get better at it by doing more of it. I joined Hub Pages a year ago where I learned SEO, SRP and how to utilize the Google Keyword tool. With a little luck, you may gain a following, which will help when you start your own blog. (In this business, almost everything seems to be interrelated.)  The objective is to practice and get paid a little residual income from Google AdSense along the way. Don’t quit the day job – yet. Building streams of passive income is an important part of any freelancer’s career.

At the same time, spruce up the resume, update it with your writing skills and begin the process of shamelessly marketing yourself. Try to send a resume out every day. Conduct Google searches with a fresh cover letter each time for the position that interests you.  With intuitive email like Gmail, related URL addresses will pop up in the margin. As a matter of principle I didn’t pay anyone to hire me.
I signed up for Freelancer, Elance and Odesk as well as ProZ, a bilingual job board signing up for their RSS feeds. 

In the beginning, take what you can get (a 300 word blog entry for $1 – $3) and build from there. You’ll need experience and positive feedback to start. Happy clients will return, and keep sending out your resume – lather, rinse and repeat.

After a few months time, you could have a decent part time income going. But don’t stop there. Apply for jobs that you think you could do but don’t technically have experience for (if they don’t specifically ask for it). If they don’t ask, don’t tell. The point is to increase your skills so you can get better jobs. If you got good marks in grammar, editing is a good job to land (non-native English writers usually need help with this).

E-books are also good but be careful for the milestone payments. So far I haven’t gotten burned but it can happen, especially on large projects. I recommend PayPal which is very convenient with a once a month transfer to my bank account. Be sure to invoice right away for a job even if the terms are Net 30 and ask “would it be possible to pay me right away?“  They probably have the money and are just dragging their feet. Working for yourself means you get to wear all the hats, which means you get to develop as manager, accountant and more. I try to read and listen to CDs to keep my frame of mind positive and people-friendly as “brain food“– good human relations is a crucial part of being a successful freelancer. Not long ago, two of my clients were able to complete a satisfactory business transaction – they both live in India – with me as their mutual link.

Benefits

Six months later after taking the plunge, I was making at least the same amount of money as “before,” but now my kids have their Mom home with them. Not only have my expenses gone down but the quality of my life and those around me has definitely gone up. My home seems to function better and my kids are flourishing in school because I can attend their PTA meetings and soccer games. I’m available to help them with their homework instead of leaving them to fend for themselves until sometimes 10 p.m. when I eventually returned home from my job. That for me was the worst part of working for someone else – I was at the mercy of a schedule which worked against me.

As a side benefit of freelancing, I have been traveling more, even taking a long-desired birthday trip to Brussels and Venice while keeping my workload under control. With the work flexibility offered by freelancing, I also completed a very intense bilingual tour guide course which should pay off as another source of income between bread and butter writing jobs.

Be sure to save some of your earnings in case of a dry spot or two – I’ve experienced them and they’re no fun – but all in all, a single day of freelancing is better than 100 days working for someone else in my very humble opinion. If it’s something that you’ve always wanted to do, let me be the first to urge you to just start the process and continue.

CA born and bred, Anastasia Kingsley Kinkusic has been living in Europe since 1999.  Married with two kids, she’s a college educated business lady who switched gears to be a SAHM and freelance writer and editor, dabbling in tourism and translation.  Follow her on HubPages at http://eurocafeaulait.hubpages.com/ where she write about Croatia, financial planning, American and Mediterranean recipes, national parks, creativity, and living green.

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4 comments

  • Thanks for the inspirational post! Hopefully, the Internet (as well as yet to be developed technologies) will enable more and more people to pursue their passions in life and simultaneously make a living. People aren’t meant to spend time in gridlock traffic and away from loved ones, stuck performing a job they don’t love. Congratulations on your liberation!

  • Thanks, Britt! I too was skeptical at first but now I am a believer. Still, I like to get out of the house so being a tour guide gives me the best of both worlds. There is a great book out there “Your Money or Your Life” written several years ago by the Dominguezes, it got me to think differently and shows that you really can have it all if you want it badly enough. Thanks for commenting.

  • I absolutely agree with you, Anastasia – working freelance from home is amazing; I will never go back to work full-time in an office setting again. I also left my full-time job (in Oct. 2010) to work freelance, and now earn about 50% more a month than I did in my old office job. I will say, though, that if you’re an experienced writer/editor (I was; I left my job as a senior TV news producer and had a graduate degree in journalism), you’ll never have to start as low as $1-$3 an article – I think my lowest paying gigs starting out were $15/per.

  • Hi Elizabeth, well I’m glad you got a bit more, but I think you missed my point. There were other jobs that were well paid – I edited a Russian firm’s website in two days and got half my month’s salary, and others. As a bilingual translator, these get $50 per page of translation – no two jobs are the same.

    What I was trying to reinforce is that a freelancer should probably take as much work as possible, at least when just getting started, to develop a client base and a good reputation. I am happy to say I have clients that have been with me over a year, now, and the work keeps increasing. In the beginning it’s important to “build”.