She built a successful freelance writing and virtual assistant business from scratch in less than six months (while working full-time and being a mama to two toddlers).
Gina was able to earn more than $4,000 in a single month – just as a side hustle. And she’s been able to more than 5 X that since going full-time. Read on to see how she got started.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your freelance journey.
My husband and I were just like any other couple working full-time in Corporate America two years ago. We started our family, realized that's not how we wanted our life to be and started making changes.
We had already been paying down debt, which helped. We then cut out everything we could in our budget, so my husband could quit his job and start staying home with our kids (currently ages two and three).
After a decade-long career as a financial advisor, I realized it wasn't what I wanted to do “for the rest of my life, ” and I started looking into freelance writing last April. I was able to build up my business from $0 to $4k/m in six months, which gave me the opportunity to make a big career change at the end of last year by quitting my own job and becoming a full-time freelancer.
Do you have any special training?
Not as a writer. My degree is in Psychology, and of course, I had the proper investment and insurance licensing in place in order to operate as an advisor.
I’ve always loved to write and have written a couple of first drafts of chick lit fiction novels in the past. It wasn’t until last year that I realized what a market there was for non-fiction writing on the web.
“Every business needs a website, and virtually every website needs a blog.”
And someone needs to write that content.
Each month on your blog you give a detailed income report. How much are you currently making and how do you do it?
This month, I’m projecting to make about $7,500 again. If I do, this will be my third consecutive month over $7k.
My income is pretty diversified, which I like (not too many eggs in any one basket). I am a high-end virtual assistant for two large webpreneurs, have a roster of freelance writing clients, do some business coaching and sell a course for aspiring freelance writers.
Give us an example of how you landed one of your first freelance writing clients.
I actually had a lot of luck with job boards in the beginning. I probably still would, but I don’t pitch for new work very often. I know a lot of people don’t like them, but it worked for me!
A couple of weeks ago I had two INBOUND leads via Google. I.e. people were searching for freelance writers online and my name popped up. That felt a little “point of arrival.” I did a small job for one of them and passed the other along to another writer I know that’s just getting started since our budgets didn’t match.
How do you minimize income peaks and valleys?
Knock on wood, but my income for the most part continued to grow over the last ~14 months. We do have a cash reserve set aside, we budget and try to keep on top of our money as best we can.
I probably have an advantage over this one from my past career experience, but getting rid of almost all of our debt sure helped too. This November, we’re slotted to pay off our second mortgage and then our last remaining debt will be our first mortgage – I’m so excited!
What was your big turning point?
I don’t know if I have a “turning point” per se. For me, aligning myself with other successful freelance writers and webpreneurs has been hugely beneficial. Quitting my job was a pretty big deal too!
I started working with a coach early on and I network online like crazy, so that I can tap into other people’s skill sets, rather than trying to learn everything on my own.
For example, I pay a web guy to help me with my site. I pay people to help me with marketing. And I’m trying to wrap my mind around hiring my own virtual assistant – I’m a little bit of a control freak, so this one is hard for me!
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own freelance business?
Just do it! I’m serious – don’t think you have to have this big plan, a perfect website or samples to get started.
Get started by committing to what you want to do, learn about the industry and take action. Don’t stay in the learning phase too long before taking action though. Figure things out as you go and believe in yourself.
There’s a ton of opportunity. You’ll also face a fair amount of rejection (through non-replies, for example). But that’s okay. Not every client will be a good fit for you and vice versa.
Remember, “Every company needs a website and virtually every website needs a blog.” Writers are needed for web copy and for blog content.
Tell us about your course and how it can help aspiring freelancers.
I’d be happy to! I launched 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success late last year.
It’s geared towards brand spanking new freelance writers for the web (including wannabe’s) and those that are newer to the business. The course is delivered via email and is self-paced – you could take it in as little as a few days or stretch it over a month or two if you want.
There are 32 lessons (plus some follow-up) and each one is succinct and actionable. In fact, I assign you “homework” at the end of each lesson that you should be able to do in a few minutes, before moving on to the next lesson.
The course retails for $100 and there’s also a coaching option which includes one half hour coaching session with me for $200 or $400.
Thanks so much for having me. If anyone has any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer.
To find out more about Gina Horkey and becoming a freelance writer, click this link.
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