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Becoming a full-time freelance writer is many a blogger’s dream.
Because we already have an affinity for the craft (and hopefully some talent and a willingness to learn), it feels like a logical step to take in order to build the lifestyle of freedom we so desire–whether it’s freedom from a strict schedule, freedom from being bound to a cubicle, or the freedom to make a decent living from anywhere there happens to be WiFi.
Of course, the road to becoming a thriving, full-time freelance writer is a bumpy one, with obstacles all along the way. I tried freelance writing at the start of my own blogging career, and, like most beginners, got frustrated by the usual roadblocks: not knowing where to find writing opportunities, not knowing how to write proper pitches, and being completely clueless about pricing, among many other things!
I felt I was talented enough (and certainly hard-working enough) to excel as a freelance writer and even pursue it full-time, but without a clear road map of how to get there, I quickly gave up. My story is far too common, and today I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be this way.
Allow me to introduce you to Holly Porter Johnson, a blogger and full-time freelance writer who has turned her passion into a healthy six-figure income and wants to help others do the same through her new online course, Earn More Writing.
With the right guidance from someone like Holly who’s been in your shoes before, the progression from hobby blogger to full-time freelance writer not only seems feasible but well within reach–so long as you’re willing to work for it.
Not only is Holly working full-time while maintaining a popular blog, but she and her husband Greg have been able to leverage their work-from-anywhere lifestyle to travel the world with their two children in tow.
It’s all quite inspiring if you ask me, and I’m thrilled to be able to share some of Holly’s story and expertise here with you today in an exclusive interview. Enjoy!
Interview with Holly Porter Johnson of Club Thrifty
First, please tell us a little bit about your background, who you write for, and how you got started as a freelance writer.
My foray into online content creation started by accident. I was working as the Director of Family Services in a funeral home when my husband and I started a blog – ClubThrifty.com – in 2011. Once I started blogging, I realized I could use my writing skills to score paid work online. Eventually, I learned to leverage my online presence to find the best writing work out there.
After 12 months of writing part-time, I quit my full-time mortuary job to become self-employed. This was a huge step for me, but also a scary one. I was only earning around $40,000 per year at my job, but leaving meant losing my work-sponsored cell phone, my 401(k) match, and numerous other benefits.
It’s been many years since then, and I am making more than enough extra money to pay for my own benefits. Not only am I Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar, but I write for Frugal Travel Guy, U.S. News and World Report Travel, Wise Bread, Lending Tree, and others.
How much are you earning through freelance writing now, and how long did it take you to reach that level?
I invoiced for around $180,000 in freelance work in 2015, and that doesn’t include income from my blog. In 2016, I am on track to invoice for $225,000 in paid writing work. I never thought I would be able to say that, but it’s absolutely true. My earnings have progressed naturally since I started writing online content in 2011.
How much can a beginning freelance writer expect to make?
Most writers can earn at least $50 per article when they’re first starting out. That might not seem like a lot, but it’s a tidy sum if the work only takes them a few hours.
When I started, I tried to earn at least $75 per article but frequently earned more like $150. Years later, I am earning at least $300 for almost anything I write. Most of the time, I earn a lot more.
What does a typical workday/workweek look like for you?
Since my kids are in school all day, my workday is extremely typical. I start when they get on the bus at 8:10 a.m. and I try to finish before they get off the bus at 3:40 p.m. Sometimes I work after 8:00 p.m. to catch up, but not all the time.
What do you like most about being a freelance writer?
I love having complete control over my time and deciding exactly when I work. I work a normal workday most of the time, but I like the fact I can switch things up when I need to.
I also love having unlimited vacation and freedom. I was limited to just 20 PTO days at my old job, and that wasn’t nearly enough. Now I can take time off whenever I want, provided I get my work done ahead of time.
As an example, I just booked an 18-day trip to Europe for the four of us next summer! There’s no way I could have done anything of the sort at my old job.
What is the most challenging part of this career?
The challenging part is knowing that it all depends on you. As a freelancer, you have to “eat what you kill” to a certain extent. Without an employer, you are out on your own to find work, negotiate payment terms, then actually get paid.
My husband also stays home with me to work on our blog, so that’s some added pressure. No one in this house has a “real job,” so it’s up to us to make it work. Failure is not an option.
What is one step someone could take today if they wanted to start working toward a freelance writing career?
In my opinion, it helps to have a blog or online portfolio site. With an online “home,” it’s much easier for potential clients to find you.
Editor’s note: Ready to start your own blog? Find my detailed tutorial here.
What inspired you to create the Earn More Writing course?
I created this course after receiving the same questions over and over for years. A lot of people have asked how I got started and how they can do the same. Earn More Writing answers every question I have been asked and explains everything I wish I knew before I got started.
Please tell us about it and what students can expect if they enroll.
My course includes nine video modules that explain how anyone with writing skills can turn their skills into dollars. We also include an array of printable resources that will help you find work, make editors happy, and increase your rates over time.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you see new freelance writers making, and how does your course help them to correct it?
Most freelance writers give up way too early! They expect their success to happen overnight, and often before they do any of the hard work!
My course explains the process and timeline of the average freelance career. It shows you exactly what you need to do to position yourself for the best-paid work, but also guides you through baby steps at the beginning.
What do you feel sets your writing course apart from all the others out there?
There are a few other writing courses on the web, but not all of the courses were created by people who actually write for a living. That’s the reason I created this course. As someone who actually writes for a living and knows the realities of this business, I have a lot of information to offer!
I am not a professional course-seller. I am a writer.
Any final words of advice for the aspiring freelance writers reading this?
Don’t give up without giving your freelance career a real shot. The entire process is overwhelming, and a lot of people quit far too early because they get frustrated. Take the right steps at the beginning and you will earn money writing. Like anything else, it takes time.
Earn More Writing: Start Your Freelance Writing Career the Right Way
If you’re serious about building a career as a full-time freelance writer, Earn More Writing might just be the perfect resource for you.
Holly’s program is thorough and well-rounded, covering everything an aspiring freelance writer will need to know in order to succeed. The following nine modules are included in the Earn More Writing course:
- Module 1: How to Establish a Blog & Brand
- Module 2: How to Build Your Portfolio and Pitch Clients
- Module 3: Defending Your Workday
- Module 4: Making the Transition from Broke Writing to Rich Writing
- Module 5: Finding (and Keeping) Your Dream Clients
- Module 6: Getting Paid
- Module 7: Get More Work by Making Editors Happy
- Module 8: Taking Your Income into the Stratosphere
- Bonus Module: Get Rich Ghostwriting for CEOs
Because Holly has been there and done that as a freelance writer, her course offers valuable insights from her own experience overcoming some of the most common challenges. After all, these are the same strategies she has personally used to quit her day job and earn hundreds of thousands of dollars as a freelance writer.
Not only that, but you’ll gain access to a secret Facebook group where you can network with other writers, exchange ideas and encouragement, and continue learning long after you’ve completed the course material. I can say from experience that access to groups like these is an absolute GAME CHANGER and that Holly’s group will no doubt become an invaluable resource in itself.
Those that opt for the PRO package will get even more great bonuses, including a 30-minute coaching session with Holly and expert feedback on up to three writing assignments or pitch letters.
I’m a huge proponent of investing in yourself, especially when the skills you learn stand to change the way you live and work for the better–not to mention earn you more money in the process! So if freelance writing has always been your dream, there’s no time like the present to make it happen!