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

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