On October 10, 2020 I became a freelance writer. I spent the first few hours of my newfound freedom terrified that I had made a terrible mistake. That’s when I decided I was making $10,000 a month – and only Then! – Would I consider my new career a success that nobody could take from me? At that point I would know I was on the right track.
Eight months after starting my freelance lifestyle, I reached my goal: In May 2021, I made $10,495.33.
Here’s how I did it and where it all came from:
1. I wasn’t an overnight success story
Don’t let anyone tell you that success happens overnight because it doesn’t. In May I made $4,999.26 from my blog And youtube taken together, but this was not a random, one-off event. This was the result of two years of work, writing, filming, editing, networking and learning.
Long before I even started freelance work, I was doing part-time work. This platform I had built for myself was enough to continue growing when I became fully freelance and finally had the bandwidth to spare. I posted less on both sides blog And my YouTube channelbut I had a much better understanding of what my audience wanted and how to give it to them.
It was crucial that I also had an audience. If I had attempted to become fully freelance without this support, I would have struggled. Instead, I blossomed.
2. I had a backlog of customers
Last week I had a rare experience: someone asked me to work for them and I said no because I was too busy. In hindsight, I should have set that as my “you did it” milestone. I had the luxury of turning down paid work! I could hardly believe it.
Part of me thought it was stupid to turn down any paying job, but the other sane part of me realized that this is the perk of being a successful freelancer: I can say no to work and keep my free time to myself.
In May 2021 I had five clients and made a total of $4,475.00 from them.
More importantly, I made work that I enjoyed and enjoyed every piece I wrote for these clients. These did not all come together overnight, but appeared individually. Some stayed, some left, some referred me to other clients. It was a relief that half my income came from sources I controlled, rather than relying on some wishy-washy platform algorithm.
3. I failed to sell myself
The last part of my big $10,000 month was selling myself and my services, totaling $1,021.07. I was disappointed – less than 10% of my record month was the value I provided directly. I left most of it to other people or platforms.
As I began my journey, I wanted to split earnings evenly across my three streams: platforms like YouTube, clients who paid me to write for them, and my own products and courses. It was a little sad to realize that I hadn’t managed to sell as well as I originally intended.
It’s difficult to promote my courses and services. I know so many other writers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs feel the same way. Sales don’t come naturally to most of us.
But I should be better at it. And I know it can be me. While I’m discouraged that I’ve failed to market myself, I recognize that this is an area where I need to improve in the coming months.
4. I worked 16 hours a week
The real success is of course not the money I have earned. It’s the time I’ve spent not working.
In May 2021 I worked a total of 65 hours, 40 minutes and 39 seconds. (I use Clockify to track my time.) I’ve spent countless hours reading books, playing video games, and spending time with my cats. My husband and I went to a Braves game, to the Six Flags, and took walks around the neighborhood.
My lifestyle is valuable for the money it gives me but also for the time it gives me. I have already written about it how much I love to work as little as possibleand how I believe the true value of the freelance lifestyle lies in that free Part of it. In May I realized how right I was.
5. I’ve allowed myself to experience downturns
Remember how I said last month I turned down the job? I could have said yes, and I could have had a higher income in June. Unfortunately, June did not come close to matching the income from May. Still I said no.
In June I was stressed due to unforeseen life events. I did not sleep well. I was anxious and nervous and had no motivation to work or accomplish anything.
Part of me wanted to persevere and try to secure a higher income. I felt like I had reached that $10,000 milestone and that I should reach it every month from now on. Instead, I took a month to relax and recover from the pressure.
June income was more modest. It wasn’t a five-figure amount. And I’m glad that I let myself be driven not only by the ups and downs of work, but also by my own spiritual energy. Again, the real lesson I’ve learned isn’t that income matters – although of course it does! — but that the benefit of freelancing is that it can take me a month to just be a vegetable and nobody’s going to die, not even me.
You could read this article and say it took me 65 hours of work to make $10,495.33 in May. But the honest truth is that it took me almost three years to reach this milestone. I started writing, blogging, creating and freelance work in September 2018. That first month only brought me $3.32. Now, two and a half years later, I’m a success by any of my old definitions. I have a job that I love, I have enough time to do the things I enjoy and make enough money to be more than comfortable.
My success also depended on me learning many lessons that will continue to grow me. For example, I had to learn the hard way how to price my services. My first freelance writing client only paid me $30 for a blog post. Today I know that I can ask for much more.
And it requires continuous effort and improvement to move forward. I know my income streams fluctuate, so I need to improve where I’m weakest. Today is about selling myself. I am sure that tomorrow I will uncover new vulnerabilities that I can fix and improve.
I made $10,495.33 in a single month as a freelance writer and anyone else can do the same if they’re willing to work as hard as me.