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How I Balance Working From Home and Being a Mom

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This morning, I was checking in on a few social media groups I frequent when I saw something that caught my eye. An article about work-from-home life, in which a mom of two was venting about how different freelancing from home has been compared to what she had imagined it would be when her kids went to school.

She had planned to write more, but found that all her "extra" time was quickly spoken for by other things. She was running to the grocery store, squeezing in exercise and volunteering at her kids school. By the end of the week, she was spending less than 17 hours working on her writing.

I get that. I have three kids at home and a spouse that works full-time. Every single day feels like a competition between at home life and my work-at-home life. Do I catch up on emails or clean the bathroom? Do I go for a walk or write a quick draft?

Even so, as I read through her essay it became really clear the me that the author was making one big mistake that was robbing her of her writing time. I know, because I've done it and I've talked with countless work-at-home moms who were doing the same thing.

She wasn't treating her job like a job.



Her job was the last on her to-do list. It always got pushed aside in favor of her "mom" tasks. That works OK if writing is your side thing or hobby. If you're just trying to make a couple hundred a month. It won't work, it doesn't work, if you want to freelance from home full-time.

That is why, when I get asked how I balance my work-from-home and mom life, my answer is always the same:

I set office hours.

It isn't a popular answer. I understand, I hated the idea at first, too! I became a work-from-home mom because of the mom part. I wanted to be home with my kids more. Why would I start setting office hours that would make me unavailable to my kids?

It wasn't until I tried and super failed at freelancing full-time and being available to my kids full-time that I realized that everyone, my kids included, benefited when I took my job and my time with them seriously enough to separate the two.

Now, before you peace out of here because I am telling you something you don't like, hear me out. I'm not at all suggesting you start working 9 to 5 at a coffee shop down the street while your kids are in daycare. Although you can certainly do that if it works for you, that is not at all what I mean when I say I have office hours.

The beauty of freelancing is that my office hours can be whenever I want.

For me, when I'm really rocking my schedule (and when my kids are sleeping at night) that looks like squeezing in a full 14 hours of work while they're still asleep. Getting up at five each morning allows for two solid hours of work each day and if I'm lucky, I can also squeeze in some yoga or shower before they rally. Outside of that, I have "office hours" three to four afternoons a week, depending on my workload. Usually, I spend the mornings with my kids, homeschooling and playing outside, and then when they sit down for lunch I head out to work while they're with my mom.

(Side note: I know what you're thinking. If you had a mom who could help full-time, you'd be freelancing full-time, too. You're right. It IS totally awesome that she is so available to help, but I have also hired a babysitter in the past and would totally do it again in the future. It's worth it.)

My working afternoons typically allow me to get in another 15 hours of uninterrupted work. That brings my weekly total up to just under 30. In my opinion, 30 hours is a sweet spot for making a healthy income freelancing. I know a lot of women who make pretty great money working these hours. These days, I'm doing more because I am working on a huge project, so I also have a few evenings a week where I pull a second shift, working from seven to 10 and I often work on Saturday mornings while my husband takes our kids to the park or to his parents to play.

It is a lot of juggling, but it really is ideal for our family. It allows me to spend a lot of time with my kids (eight or more waking hours each day!) and it allows me to do the job I love.

So, what about everything else?

Good question. I'm not about to pretend I've got this figured out. I'm still trying to figure out how to fit in exercise consistently and how to find time for restful activities for myself. Right now, I read a bit before bed each night and try to get exercise while I'm with my kids a few times a week (usually a hike or chasing my daughter while she rides her bike).

My mom and I cook dinner together when I get back from working in the afternoons. I do basic upkeep cleaning in the morning for half an hour or so while my kids play. On Fridays, if I am able, I do what I call my "better weekends checklist" which is seven things that keep my house "clean enough" like vacuuming and bathroom cleaning.

I have a full-enough social life, although it probably doesn't look that full. I'm an introvert so I don't need much. I have good friends in our homeschool co-op and our hiking groups I visit with during those activities. I meet up with a college girlfriend at story time or the park once or twice a month. I give up a few hours of sleep occasionally to have wine with a friend after my kids are in bed. We go to church and small group. My husband and I got out on a date one or two weekends out of the month.

I say no to the rest.

There is no magic answer.

I make working from home work for me because it is important to me and my lifestyle allows it. I think you can make it work, too.

Mary

P.S. Don't forget, I'm working on a five-day course filled with detailed instruction and exercises that will help you take the first steps towards your writing dream. 

It is going to be completely free to anyone subscribed to my email list and I am launching it on September 15th. I can't wait. Sign up for my newsletter to avoid missing out on the action. 



Here's Exactly What You Need to do to Land Your First Freelance Writing Job

Sunday, August 13, 2017

No matter how passionate I am about something, if I'm not feeling sure of my ability to pull it off, I will drag my feet.

It's my MO. 

I want to pitch a new publication, I even have a solid idea, but I let an incomplete draft sent in my email inbox for weeks instead buckling down to write it and hitting send. It's classic self-sabotage, fueled by insecurity. I have such a hard time committing the time to something if I'm not sure it is going to bear results.

We just spent the week at the beach as a family. It was a good time for me to step away from work a little and reevaluate where I am headed next. A little time off and distance gave me the chance to see something big--my self doubt is keeping me from my full earning potential.

It doesn't really matter if it is anxiety masked as procrastination or if I'm simply chickening out and turning a big project down, I'm making moves that are keeping me from really taking my career to the next level.

This week, I started to wonder if you are doing the same thing. I started to think that there might be a couple of you out there who really want to write but your fear of failing is keeping you from sending that first email or writing your ideas down. 

Getting started as a freelance writer is intimidating, but I think it is time both you and I started taking our dreams seriously. I think it is time we make it happen.


4 Steps to Landing Your First Freelance Writing Job

Before you can get started as a freelancer, there are a few things you have to do first. From the outside, writing for a living can appear to be a luck-based career or something reserved only for the ultra-talented. I know, because I have found myself thinking the exact same thing about entrepreneurs who are a few steps ahead of me. 

The truth is, becoming a freelance writer doesn't require stumbling onto unexpected internet-fame or being a naturally amazing writer. Neither of those things describe my freelance story. 

I'm not internet famous, that's for sure, and I am no where near the best writer out there.

The real reason I have experienced so much success as a freelance writer is because I created a plan of attack and I kept at it until  I experienced breakthrough.

Here is exactly what I did when I decided to start pursuing freelancing writing as more than just "extra cash." Here are the four steps I took to start writing for a living.

I found my niche.

First things first, I figured out what I wanted to write about. For me, it was writing about my life as a new mom. At the time, it was what I felt I knew the most about, so it felt more comfortable than trying to break into personal finance writing or giving advice on time management. 

It wasn't long before I discovered that parenting may have seemed like the obvious choice but it wasn't the only thing I wanted to write about. A little success writing about mom life gave me to confidence to break into writing about mental health, personal finance, wellness and other lifestyle topics.

Before you can start pursuing writing as a career, you need to figure out what you want to write about. Although it is good to know a little about the topic, you don't need to be an expert before jumping into a niche. 

If you're not sure what's out there, Gina of Horkey Handbook has a comprehensive list of freelance writing niches you can download. Check it out here

I gathered my writing samples.

I'm going to be honest: I didn't have much going for me when I first started pitching editors. I was a less than amazing blogger and I really didn't have any samples worth sharing with a potential client. So, I started by cleaning up a few blog posts I had written on my own blog and I offered to guest post for free a few times for fellow bloggers. These were not the amazing samples I wanted, but I had to start somewhere. 

Before I started sending pitches, I gathered my writing samples and did an honest inventory of my best writing. Once I had three or four pieces of work I was proud of, I committed to using those samples to sell myself to editors and potential clients. 

I made contact with the people who could help me get started.

Here is where freelance writing stopped being an idea I toyed around with in my spare time. Before I could make any progress, I had to get brave and start making contact with the people who really mattered. This meant I made friends with other writers who were a couple of steps ahead of me, I put my pride aside and I asked for help. It also meant I was started a list of editors and their contact information. This was a list of people I wanted to write for, along with their contact information and anything I could gather about how they preferred receiving pitches.

I sent cold emails and pitches until I heard "Yes!"

I have been so fortunate to find really amazing clients and build relationships with loyal editors who are committed to helping me put my best writing out there. I don't want you believe for a minute that my success is all about me, I have received so much support and help along the way.

At the same time, I feel like I need to be upfront about just how hard I worked to get started because I don't want anyone reading this post to believe sending a couple emails and a few Facebook friend requests got me where I am today.

At first, I was sending as many as twenty emails and pitches every single day. I was stalking job boards religiously. I was applying for anything and everything that felt like a good fit. I was pitching every idea I had to editors I had never emailed before and I didn't stop until I started hearing yes. 

I truly believe this is the only guaranteed way to experience some success. You've got to decide you are going to spend as much time as it takes to start getting published and then you have to start sending those emails.

Let me help you get started.

While writing this all down, I tried to be as specific as possible about the steps that help me start my freelance career, but for some of you it might not be enough. The truth is, it is much harder to do these things than it is to blog about them. 

That's why I want to help you get started. 

I'm so excited about your writing dreams that I decided to create a five-day course filled with detailed instruction and exercises that will help you take the first steps towards your writing dream. 

It is going to be completely free to anyone subscribed to my email list and I am launching it on September 15th. I can't wait.  Sign up for my newsletter to avoid missing out on the action. 

-Mary

4 Mistakes I Made When I Started Freelance Writing

Monday, July 31, 2017

Just last week, I booked a photographer to take a head shot for my professional Facebook page. I've been a full-time freelancer for quite awhile, but I still don't have an up-to-date, professional head shot for my website or social media pages. 

It is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I have done a lot of things out of order. Here's the thing: when I first started writing, I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know what I needed to do to do things "the right way." I made a lot of mistakes and I learned a lot of lessons through trial and error.

Lucky you, this is your chance to learn from my mistakes and to start off on the right foot. Avoid these mistakes I made early on, putting in the hard work now will save your time and headaches in the future. 


I didn't keep track of my income.

Early on, freelance blogging was just a side gig I used to make ends meet while I was having three babies in four years. I never really thought I would make much more than a few hundred a month, so I didn't think tracking my income mattered in the long run.

Well, you can probably guess how that turned out. My freelance writing work took off and I was making significantly more than a couple hundred a month. By the end of my first year, I had a mess to sort through before I could file my first tax return. I spent hours pouring through old bank statements and going back and forth with clients about what number should be printed on my 1099 form. It was a mess.

If I could go back in time and change things, I would  have created a spreadsheet as soon as I got my very first check as a freelance writer. I would have kept each and every payment in the spreadsheet so I didn't have to fix my records at tax time. 


I didn't keep an updated portfolio or resume.

Sometimes, when you're hustling, it is easy to push tasks to the side that don't seem to be directly making you money. As a new freelancer, I got so focused on landing that next gig and invoicing for my next paycheck, I let a lot of things slide. Until I launched this blog, I didn't have an updated portfolio or resume. At the time, I had more than enough work, so a portfolio seemed unnecessary. Of course, I eventually experienced a lull in my work and needed to provide a potential client with a clear picture of my experience. I ended up scrambling late at night to update my portfolio and resume before I could apply for the job.

If I could go back in time and change things, I would made keeping my portfolio and resume updated a weekly task on my checklist. When you devote just a few minutes to these type of tasks, you don't have to devote hours later on in your career. 


I wasn't bold enough to ask for more money.

As a brand new freelancer, I felt grateful for anything a publication was willing to pay me for my work. Any time an editor offered me a specific rate, I would quickly reply with a "Yes! Sounds perfect!" 

What I didn't know early on was that there is so much room for negotiation in freelancing. I didn't realize I could respond with a "Could you do better?" or counter their rate with something a bit higher. 

If I could go back in time and change things, I would have been more bold. I would have asked for more money on some of my earliest jobs and left them behind if the answer was no. 


I didn't take my writing seriously.

Early in my writing career, I lacked a lot of confidence in my writing skills. I remember telling a friend that I almost believed that the editors who hired me were doing me a favor, that they didn't really think I was a good writer. 

I didn't take my writing seriously and it cost me time and money. I took jobs that paid way less than what my work was worth and I didn't seek out certain jobs because I assumed I wasn't a good enough writer.

If I could go back in time and change things, I would have more confidence in my work. I would bravely pitch publications I saw as too good for me or my writing and I would avoid talking down my writing to others to save face.  

Take my advice.

Take your writing dreams seriously enough to avoid these mistakes. Plan to make money and track that income from day one. Treat your writing like the career you want it to become and keep an updated and professional portfolio and resume. Value your work enough to say no to low paying jobs and to ask clients for more money. Take your writing seriously enough and believe in your skills enough to put yourself out there, to ask for the work you want.

-Mary

P.S. You can't avoid these mistakes if you don't know how to get started. I want to help you with that. Join my newsletter for more free advice on become a freelance writer and shoot me an email if you want to learn about the one-on-one career coaching I offer.

The Myth Keeping You From Chasing Your Freelance Writing Dreams

Monday, July 24, 2017

Earlier this month, I got an email from a mom who wanted to write more but was struggling to find the time. She had a lot going on in her life. Two young kids, a part-time job and financial stress. She ended her email with a question I'm fairly certain every working woman has heard at least once since becoming a mom.

How do you manage freelance writing, taking care of your kids and your home at the same time?




Honestly, I've always had a hard time answering this question because my answer is something between "I don't" and "I just do." I know these answers seem contradictory to each other, but the truth is they're the best representation of how I manage motherhood and freelance writing at the same time.

The truth is, I only do the things that are important to me.

This mindset is certainly a work in progress for me, but when I realized how much time things that didn't matter to me were robbing from my life, I started giving them up. 

These days, I only do a few things. I write, a lot. I spend a good chunk of time with my kids each day. (At least four hours, but usually much more.) My husband and I get out of the house together a few times a month, sometimes for a quick cup of coffee, sometimes for dinner and a movie. There are a handful of friendships I'm invested in on a regular basis. 

That means that there are a lot of things I'm not doing. I only clean a little. (I have a short list of upkeep each day, and a longer list that takes me two hours on Friday mornings.) I'm saying no to activities and events that don't directly align with my priorities. I cook, but I have seriously simplified that part of my life to a handful of favorite recipes we rotate through a few times a month. 

I also have a lot of help. I'm in a position to hire a mother's helper for four hours a week, my mother-in-law helps out two to four days out of the month and my mom (who lives with us) usually helps with housework if I'm behind or takes the kids for a three or four hour shift, once or twice a week. My husband takes on the bedtime routine regularly. This little things add up and give me the time I need to get my work done. 

There are things I'd like to improve about my schedule. So many things. I'd like to spend less time on social media. I'd like to be getting more sleep and more exercise. I'd like to spend less time in my car. Of course, my life as a work-at-home mom is a work in progress and that's OK.

It wasn't until I started reading I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time, that I realized there was a myth holding back women like me who wanted to start pursuing their writing dreams while parenting young kids.

The myth is the belief there isn't time for writing and being a good mom at the same time.

The reality is that you always have time for your priorities. Of course, different priorities are borne of different lifestyles and different circumstances but I would guess that the women who truly don't have time to write and hour or two a day aren't reading my blog, either.

If writing is priority in your life you will find time for it and it doesn't have to come at the expense of your family.

The thing about priorities is that everything can't be your at the top of your list, which means some things have to be sacrificed. These sacrifices don't have to be spending less time with your kids or giving up hanging out with your husband before bed.

We know that family is your first priority, but what comes in second place? Could you rearrange some things to fit writing or your career just below the time you give the people you love?

Of course, it might mean letting go of a few chores that don't actually matter to you or saying no to activities that suck up your time but don't fill your cup. It might mean getting up early or staying up late or working through your kids' nap times.

If writing truly is important to you, you're probably going to be more than OK with these changes.

If you're not willing to sacrifice some things to write, then it might be time to rethink your priorities. Are you truly passionate about putting words on paper or is it simply a hobby you enjoy when free time presents itself? There is no wrong answer here but how you answer will determine how you move forward.

If writing is a priority, now is a good time to examine what fills your days, to ask yourself what can be edited out of your schedule to make space for the things you love. (I recommend tracking your time for a week using Laura Vanderkam's spreadsheet.)

If a little self-examination has made it clear that writing isn't a priority during this season, now is a good time to give yourself permission to let this ambition go. Just because full-time freelancing is my thing, that doesn't mean it has to be yours.

-Mary

P.S. Did you find yourself in the first group, as a women who really wants to give this whole writing thing a go? Let me help you! Shoot me an email and we can talk more about what it looks like to work together to turn your writing dreams into a reality.

This post may contain affiliate links. I never suggest a product I haven't tried and found to be worth the purchase.

The Four Action Steps that Turned My Part-Time Freelance Gig into a Full-time Job

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Once I started freelancing, building up my income was a slow and steady process. Even though my original goal for my writing career was to make right around $1000 each month so I could stay home with my kids full-time, that goal changed roughly a year after I began freelancing.


Necessity pushed me to consider freelancing as a potential full-time career in the beginning of 2016. My husband was unemployed for nearly five months and when I became our primary source of income, I had to start taking my work seriously as a means of providing for our family. Even though I’ve shared a little bit here about how I got started as a freelancer and I’ve talked about why I took my freelancing full-time on DailyWorth, I’ve never taken the time to flesh out the detail of how I made that happen.


Essentially, there were four action steps that helped me transform my part-time freelancing work into full-time income. Today, I want to share those with you.

I fired my lowest paying clients

It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the first things I did when I realized I wanted to increase what I was making as a freelance writer was firing my lowest paying clients. I started freelancing mostly as a ghostwriter, making pennies a word writing blogs and articles for small businesses and content mills. Even though I was incredibly grateful for that work and the experience it provided me, there came a point when it was getting in the way of my success. I couldn’t find better paying work because I was constantly trying to meet a deadline for my lowest paying clients.


As nervous as it made me at first, I can now see that firing my lowest paying clients was one of the most important decisions I made for my freelancing career.

I found anchor clients to cover what I had to make each month

When I starting freelancing more, I knew there was a set amount I needed to make each month to feel confident in my ability to provide for my family. Freelancing isn’t always a dependable source of income, but there are certainly ways to lock-in steady paychecks each month.


Essentially, an anchor client is any client you can really depend on for steady work each month. In early 2016, I had a lot of regular clients but many of them were assigning me an article here and there, and I often had to chase down the work by pitching my ideas until I heard a yes. I did have three anchor clients at the time that were paying me $600, $500 and $300 a month so I knew there were jobs out there, but I needed more anchor clients if I wanted to establish a healthy baseline income.


The truth is, none of my new clients were paying me all that much when I broke it down into a cents per word rate, but they were reliable and that was invaluable to me at the time.

I created a pitching schedule and followed it religiously

Pitching is a massive component of making decent money as a freelance writer. Even some of my most reliable clients don’t assign me topics, I pitch my ideas to them and hope for a yes. When I first started freelancing I believed that I needed to wait for an idea to hit me in order to pitch, but full-time freelancing taught me chase down the ideas and pitch them on a strict schedule.


In late 2016, I created a weekly pitch schedule. On Mondays, I had to pitch a specific client twice and another once. On Tuesdays, I always pitched two new publications. On Wednesday, I sent over four ideas to each of my anchor clients. You get the idea.


The thing about my pitching schedule is that I didn’t consider it optional. I put my schedule into my weekly Trello board and my week wasn’t considered over until I had checked off everything on my list. Even if I thought all of my ideas were awful, I sent them over. Staying in the habit of pitching was more important than being certain I would hear only “yes!” from the editors I contacted.

I networked with freelancers and editors on a daily basis

Until I became self-employed, I had only networked with others in my profession when I was looking for a new job. As a freelancer, I quickly learned that networking had to be something I was doing on a regular basis. I can honestly say that connecting with a small group of women who had goals that were similar to mine was what made all of the difference when it came time to boost my income. We offered each other feedback on pitches. We kept each other accountable about reaching our goals. We shared editor contacts. We worked together to make sure everyone was succeeding.


I also learned to network well with editors. I made a habit of introducing myself through Facebook, LinkedIn and over email, even if I didn’t have a story idea at the moment. Frequently, the relationships I built became opportunities. In fact just last month, a quick connection a made over LinkedIn turned into a new anchor who needs as many as five articles a week!


When it comes to full-time freelancing, there are many action steps you can take to increase your income, but these are the four that made all the difference for me. Do you have any freelancing tools that have transformed your business? I want to hear all about it!

-Mary

Do I Need a Blog to Become a Freelance Writer?

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Keeping a personal blog was what allowed me to become a freelance writer. If you remember from my first post, an editor finding my blog and asking to republish one of my posts was the most important connections I made early in my freelance career. I was able to leverage that connection into my first paid writing gig. That gig gave me my first clips for my freelance writing portfolio.

I have talked to a lot of women who don't blog, but they write privately and would like to start publishing their writing. More often than not, they ask me the same question:

Do I need a blog to become a freelance writer?


The answer? It really depends.

A blog certainly is not the only way to start a writing career. If you’re just getting started, the most important thing, in my experience, is that you have writing samples. So, whether you’re writing in a google document, writing on your blog or taking on unpaid assignments from websites who will publish new writers, you’ve got to have a way to get writing samples under your belt.

So, no, you don’t need a blog to become a freelance writer, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider starting one anyway.

In my opinion, even though a lot of people believe that personal blogging is dead (I'm not one of those people), a blog is the most common sense way to start gathering your writing. It doesn’t really matter if you’ve been published or not, making your blog the one place you share you clips or the writing you've been doing on your own time is simple and I'm a big fan of keeping things easy.

Honestly, I’m not an expert on blogging. I’m working on that, but I since I’m still learning I feel the most comfortable referring you to someone who really knows their stuff. Kristin Larsen of Believe in a Budget does an amazing job at outlining how to start a blog in less than 15 minutes on her blog.

I started my blog. Now what?


Now that you’ve set up your blog, it’s time to start writing. I’ve been mostly a really terrible blogger (really!) but the one thing I learned is that the things you publish on your blog should mimic what you see yourself publishing elsewhere.

Do you plan to writing personal essays about parenting? Start writing those essays on your blog.

Do you want to writing about food? Start a food blog, telling the stories of local restaurants.

Consistent writing that fits well in your desired niche is going to refine your writing skills, help you generate more ideas and give you samples to fall back on until you have published clips. You don’t need to write frequently or even try to grow your audience, you simply need to write.

Time to get started. Quit waiting for the perfect idea or the perfect life circumstance to come along. Start your blog, start writing your heart out and make your first steps towards your freelance career.

-Mary

P.S. I know getting started is hard. If you want to talk it through, I'm still taking on coaching clients for August. Shoot me an email. We'll video chat and email back and forth all month about what steps you need to take to start freelance writing.


*This post contains affiliate links.All opinions expressed are my own.

How Much Money Can You Make From Freelance Writing?

Monday, July 10, 2017

I have a love/hate thing when it comes to talking about money.


The truth is, I love setting monetary goals for myself and my freelance business. A dollar amount is a concrete way to challenge myself to grow. It pushes me to pitch better paying publications, to be more careful with my time and to improve my writing skills.


At the same time, talking about money is awkward. The nitty gritty of what I make and what can be made makes some people uncomfortable and I feel vulnerable when I share the specifics.


The truth is, whether or not there is any money in freelancing is one of the questions I hear most often. Before women devote their spare time to writing, they want to know: Is it worth the effort?


The answer is complicated. I know, I know. You want specifics. There's more of that below.


Making money from freelance writing really depends on how much time you can devote to your work, how long you’ve been writing and what kind of writing you plan to do. Obviously, your writing skills also play a part in how much you make, but I’m a big believer that anyone with the tiniest bit of natural talent can improve their writing with enough hard work.


I know women with young children who make a couple hundred dollars a month, working less than ten hours a month, because they just need a little extra cash to make ends meet. I also know women who have put their husbands through school and women who have made six figures writing for online publications. And this is just in my small community of writing friends.


I fall somewhere in the middle. Remember, when I first started freelancing, my only goal was to make enough to quit my job. My first month freelancing while working outside of the home, I made $50. By the time I quit my job in the summer of 2015, I was making around $1000 each month. For a long time, my monthly income stayed right around a grand each month. I was completely fine with this number. It allowed me to stay home full-time, which was my original goal.


Here’s the thing: I was working a lot. I was writing multiple articles a night after my kids went to bed just to invoice for $50. (I told you, pennies a word was what some of my first clients paid me.) It wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I started to realize there was a better way to do it. I fired a few clients and found better paying work, which meant I was working less but making more.


In December of 2015, I invoiced for just over $3000. It felt pretty amazing. Since then, my income has varied a lot. The only months I’ve made less than $2000 were the last month of my third pregnancy and maternity leave. There have been a handful of months when I have invoiced for right around $5000, which is the most I have ever made in a single month. Of course, what I have made has always depended on how much time I have devoted to my work and how much help I have had with my children and household tasks. My most profitable months were months when my husband was home full-time, my mom was living with us or I had hired help.




That’s the beauty of freelancing. I can ramp up my work when we have big expenses headed our way and I can slow down when I need to lean into my family life or catch up on rest. It is really what makes freelancing the perfect fit for young moms and the reason I started this blog.

I’m not sharing all this to brag or to intimidate anyone who is just getting started. My point in writing this is to answer one of the most common questions I get and to encourage women who aren’t reaching their income goals. You can support your family freelance writing, you just have to know how to get started.

That is why I started this blog in the first place. When I got my first check from my writing, I was thrilled but I was also overwhelmed. I knew there was a big leap between $50 and what I needed to make to stay home full-time, but it seemed like getting there was a secret. No one I knew was talking about the specifics and I plan to do that here on my blog, on my newsletter and by offering some one-on-one coaching calls. I'm so excited to help you reach your goals.

- Mary

P.S. I'm sharing more resources, including a list of frequently asked questions on how to pitch editors at online publications, with my newsletter subscribers. You can sign up here!

How I Turned My Blogging Hobby into a Work-From-Home Job

Monday, July 3, 2017

I’ve written a few essays about how I became a full-time freelance writer. For DailyWorth, I wrote about how my freelance work really took off when my husband faced a few months of unemployment in 2016. For SheKnows, I wrote about how foreign the reaction to Rory Gilmore’s pregnancy was to me since it was honestly having kids that motivated me to to start writing in the first place.

What I haven’t explored in writing is the actual steps I took to get to where I am today. I was waiting for the right time and place to share the details in black and white.

Lara Casey asks a simple question of anyone who uses her PowersheetsWhat fires you up? It was answering that question that made me realize it was time to talk about how I turned my blogging hobby into a full-time job and it was time to talk about it in extensive detail. Thanks to the guided self-reflection I did using Lara Casey’s Powersheets, I realized I was really passionate not only about my freelancing success but also the freelancing success of other women who dream of working from home.

I know firsthand what it feels like to be spinning your wheels, trying to figure out what you are meant to do while you are mothering young kids. I remember asking myself so many questions, trying and failing at so many work-from-home plans and giving up on ideas before I ever put a plan into action.

I knew I wanted to be home with my kids but I also knew I needed to be adding to our income. When I look back on my first couple of years as a mom, I remember it being a time of desperation. I couldn’t possibly imagine a scenario where I could have a career and get to spend the time I wanted to with my kids.

When my I became pregnant with my second daughter in 2013, I started to consider for the first time that freelance writing was an option.

How My Blog Helped Me Start My Freelance Career

In 2012, as a newly pregnant mom, I started a blog to document my pregnancy and the homemaking lessons I was learning along the way. I knew there were women making money off of their blogs by selling ad space or accepting sponsored posts and that was honestly my original goal when I started blogging more regularly. To be perfectly honest, I was a terrible lifestyle blogger. I was OK with words, but no matter how hard I tried, a styled life was so not my thing.

I kept on blogging because I liked it, but I quickly gave up on the idea of making money off of my blog. I tried and failed at a few other business ideas because I wasn’t really considering what was best for me, I was simply doing what everyone else was doing. (I’ll talk about this more later.)

In 2013, when I was pregnant with my second daughter an editor at What to Expect emailed me about republishing a blog post I had written. I must have been feeling brave that day, because I responded with a quick yes and a “How can I learn more about writing for your blog?”

A few weeks later, I made my first $50 as a freelance writer.


How I Turned Supplemental Income into Full-time Income
After that, things moved slowly for a long time. I was writing for What to Expect one to three times a month and looking for other work. I picked up some work as a ghostwriter, writing blogs without a byline for small businesses.

I was making pennies a word but I was glad to be making some kind of money on the side. It wasn’t until over a year later, a few months before my second child turned one, that I had the opportunity to pick up a gig that would actually put a dent in my monthly income goal for staying home full-time.

A friend of mine connected me with the editors at Mom.me and I started writing four articles a month for them. This really changed things for us, to be perfectly honest. We were barely scraping by and now I was making enough supplementary income to help cover some things we had honestly been ignoring up until that point.

Starting as a regular contributor at Mom.me didn’t just change our finances, it changed how I felt about freelancing. What I previously saw as a chance to make a little extra cash  I could now envision as a way to replace my part time job if I worked hard enough and made the right connections.

My first year at Mom.me, I learned a lot about becoming a freelance writer. My editor was endlessly gracious to me and my poor understanding of the difference between just telling a story and using a story to get a point across. I was also networking with a lot of women who were just like me and this friendship led me to new jobs. By June of 2015, after I accepted a regular writing gig at Romper, I was making enough money to quit my part time job and stay home full-time.

It wasn’t a ton of money, but it was enough to make ends meet. Plus, working from home saved us money on things like child care, food and gas and relieved so much stress for me since I wasn’t balancing working outside of the home and being a mom very well.


I was happy with the ways things were going at that point, but eventually my part-time income wouldn’t be enough for our family any longer. Eventually, I would take my part-time writing and turn it into a full-time income (even though I don’t work full-time hours). More on this later

- Mary

P.S. I'm sharing more resources, including a list of frequently asked questions on how to pitch editors at online publications, with my newsletter subscribers. You can sign up here!

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