Being a stay-at-home-mom is a rewarding job, but the pay is garbage!
So what do you do when you want to remain at home with your children, but…
the money is tight…
the budget is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d to the limit…
couponing is getting you nowhere fast…
and you just don’t have enough to go around…?
You start a business.
I know what you’re thinking: “Me, start a business? I don’t have a degree! My kids need too much attention! I’ve been out of the workforce too long. I don’t have time!”
Listen, Mama – I understand how you feel. I’ve been there! But excuses don’t pay the bills. And I can assure you that, yes, even you can start a business.
To be clear – when I say business, I’m definitely not talking about joining some slimy MLM and selling to your warm market (a.k.a. harassing your family and close friends to spend their hard earned cash on overpriced makeup, oils, wraps, and shakes). Those businesses are founded upon an unsustainable model that is designed to enrich a tiny percentage of folks at the top while everyone else loses money more often than not.
What if I were to tell you there’s a skill you already possess that could earn your family an additional 4 or 5 figures every single month? Not only that, you already do it every day…for free.
If you guessed writing, you deserve a gold star!
Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
The time you currently spend keeping boredom at bay at social media watering holes could be used to begin a satisfying and profitable business as a freelance writer.
Best of all, this is a business you can start with very little money. All it requires is the ability to string a decent sentence together, perseverance, the ability to research, and creativity.
The following is a basic guide to getting your freelance writing business up and running. If you put these steps into practice, you will be headed on the right path toward a brighter financial future.
Set your mind to it
Attitude is everything. Treat your business seriously from the get-go. You’ve got to make some mental adjustments in order to step into your new reality as a work from home mom.
First, audit your schedule! Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. While it is true there are some who can afford to buy more time in the form of hired help, even a mompreneur (that’s you!) can carve out time by trading non-essential activities for business building habits.
That reality show you use to escape the realities of never-ending housework? Out the window. Your favorite, addictive social media game? Kiss it goodbye.
Remember why you’re doing this. How would it change your life if you had an extra $1,000-5,000 or more each month? With hard work, this is how much you could be making with freelance writing.
Pick a specialty (niche)
Writers who are very knowledgeable about certain topics or writing styles make more money and find more work than general writers. The best specialties are those which pay high rates, draw upon skills you have, that you would be interested in learning about.
Were you a programmer before leaving the workforce? You could make a killing as a tech writer. Spent 5 years as a financial advisor? Ka-ching! That’s the sound of you cashing in as a freelance finance writer.
There are various writing niches you could explore, but I am focusing on business blogging in this post. Learn how to write in more technical styles and you can really cash in!
Develop your craft
You do not have to have a degree in English or Communications (or a degree at all) to be a successful freelance writer, but you do need to know how to write reasonably well.
Brush up on your grammar with The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation (available 100% FREE online) and hunt down a copy of The Elements of Style by Strunk & White.
Select a few top blogs in your niche to read daily so you will become familiar with the type of style you should use. Studying good copy will make you a stronger writer.
Re-purpose social media
Social media can be very powerful tools for business. Make sure you have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and anywhere else your potential customers are likely to hang out.
Most importantly, set up a Linkedin profile. A Linkedin account is a must-have for freelance writers to connect with bloggers and business owners who will pay for your services. You could even find a mentor in the form of a more experienced writer who has been in your shoes.
Once you have picked your specialty (or niche), it’s time to brainstorm various topics that relate to your field. Try to come up with at least 30 ideas for possible posts.
If you get stuck, try doing a Google search for blogs in the same field. Pay attention to the types of posts and other content being shared most frequently.
Whatever you do, don’t plagiarize! Take notes about what appears to work and try to incorporate those elements into your own writing.
Produce three samples that are 750-1000 words in length (the longer, the better). Does that number make you pause? I’m willing to bet you write more than that on social media or via text on a daily basis.
How to format your samples:
Research how to write for the web. Make your pieces easy to scan. Use lots of white space, bullet points, section headers, and ellipses. Stick with simpler language and short paragraphs with no more than 2-4 sentences each.
After you’ve written your sample, take a break from it for 24 hours. Re-read it out loud and listen to how the words flow. If anything sounds awkward while you’re saying it, it’ll be awkward for others to read it.
Get a second pair of eyes on your copy to catch anything you may have missed (your spouse is a good candidate).
Create your website
You’ve got to market your services in order to begin making money. Your own website is the best way to introduce the world to your amazing skills.
This is where you will end up having to spend some cash on your business. You can get away with a free option in the beginning but plan to save some money to have a proper website built for you or to purchase the tools you need to do it yourself (no coding required, unless you like that sort of thing). A professional website is not that expensive and it can go a long way towards getting you high paying writing jobs.
Remember that list you made of blogs in your industry (see step 3)? Get it out again and check to see whether they are accepting guest posters. You are going to use your samples to showcase your abilities and land the writing opportunities you need to beef up your portfolio.
Aim for 3-5 solid guest posts on established blogs. When the posts are live, be sure to share your work on social media.
Warning: Artists provide their work for free on these sites, but some do require to be credited if their work is used. Don’t get into legal trouble here.
Support the points you make in your post by linking to reputable sources. Notice I have done that throughout this post. Not only is linking out a good way to support what you are saying, it is also a good way to optimize your content for search engines.
Now that you’ve got a nice portfolio with live, bylined posts, it’s time to pitch for paid opportunities. Set a goal to send 5-10 cold pitches daily during nap time. Make sure to include links to your best pieces and propose a piece you think would be great for the blog for which you’d like to write.
Important-make sure you’ve researched whether someone has already written about your proposed topic. Do a search on google for “[proposed topic]” site:[website.com]to find out. If someone has covered your topic, think of something else to write.
Keep track of where you are pitching and remember to follow up. Editors and business owners are busy people. Remember, today’s “no” could be tomorrow’s “yes”. Check in periodically with blogs that have turned you down in the past to see if there are current opportunities that are a better fit.
Good writers keep improving their abilities. You don’t need a degree, but you do need to develop yourself with ongoing training.
Get a library card and check out books on writing.Use that same library card to get a free account on lynda.com to learn skills you need to run a business.
Udemy has regular sales of courses for as low as $10. Subscribe to their mailing list so you can catch the next one. Try to pick up some (or all) of Shani Raja’s courses when they are discounted. Thank me later.
Some of the best writing courses for first-time freelancers also have pretty affordable payment plan options:
Subscribe to the newsletters from the following blogs and put what you read into practice:
Take a deep breath. The journey to build a business is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time and do it the right way.
Every business requires hard work and investment to grow. Ultimately, you will get out of this experience what you put into it.
The ball’s in your court! What changes are you going to make in your schedule to make financial freedom a reality? I want to hear from you in the comments!