By Susan Finch
Living as a freelance video editor and writer in New York was a thrilling experience that helped me build confidence as I figured out how to cover my expensive bills, go out with friends, and put a little away. I prided myself on being able to take care of myself financially, but one day realized I was going in circles.
I was racing around at a breathless pace, trying to book gigs and get published anywhere and everywhere. So much so that I never took a step back to grow my personal projects. It was a dizzying process and largely unfulfilling. My freelance writing career was based strictly on money and not on lifestyle. I felt like something was missing.
It wasn’t until my husband, and I ended up moving back to my hometown of Atlanta when I was pregnant with our first child that I suddenly realized how precious time is. Every minute was sacred. Suddenly, dabbling in this or that in my freelance career was wholly unsatisfying and it didn’t scale well.
For example, I once wrote 1,000-word product description for cheap, uninspiring furniture. It was terribly boring, tedious, and didn’t pay well. I needed better clients, more satisfying work, and more hours in the day. Ultimately I needed a better system with a different fee structure that went beyond just money.
That’s when I realized I could get more out of my freelance writing career if I boosted my income while growing incentives at the same time. I spent time strategizing on the type of material I wanted to write while figuring out which topics would yield immeasurable perks like travel, free products, and toys for my family.
Here’s how I did it.
1) I Created My Own Lifestyle Content Strategy.
Save yourself tons of stress and frustration by focusing on both lifestyle and income when venturing into the world of freelance writing. When every hour counts, you should focus your freelance career around a carefully crafted strategy. I focused on well-paying and relatively easy-to-find work like content marketing and business writing to cover my bills.
I paired that with social media consulting, travel writing, and local event reviews. I knew all of those paths could yield perks like admission to events, conferences, press trips, and shows. It took some time to grow my content business and figure out how to connect all the pieces, but soon I was getting paid to write about things I enjoyed while scoring perks I loved.
2) I Created My Opportunities Based On Our Budget.
It can be daunting to venture into lifestyle content and creation as a sole proprietor responsible for your financial success. But I felt completely liberated by the wealth of opportunities available to me regardless of my location.
My life is not contingent on a paycheck from a 9-to-5 to make ends meet. For example, last year I realized I had capped out in my work hours, and there was simply no more room to grow my career. I would need a babysitter if I wanted to work more and earn more, yet it didn’t make financial sense to hire the help. At the same time, we had a ballooning PreK tuition that would hit us when school started. Unlike someone who has to ask their boss for a raise or knock on doors to find a part-time job, I decided to find better paying freelance clients instead.
Still focusing on my passions and what I wanted our life to look like, I found travel entrepreneurs and startups who needed help with their content marketing strategy and had a budget for it. This kept my feet planted in the types of topics I loved, while maximizing my clips and credentials as a travel writer and travel content expert. You can scale up or down depending on your lifestyle needs, while focusing on finding clients with a budget to match.
3) I Focused on Earning More than Just Money.
As a work-at-home mom, there’s only so far you can scale without investing in daycare, a housecleaner, errand runner, or some other type of service that gives you back more time to work. Trading time for money can be a downfall for working moms trying to grow their income without getting stuck at a plateau. Meanwhile, focusing on perks can incentivize your work and give you new directions to move.
For example, one of my favorite clients is a travel website. While the pay isn’t competitive enough to keep me from taking on other work, I am invited on press trips to places like Disney and the Caribbean. My writing work also attracts PR professionals who regularly invite me to attend local events at museums, the botanical gardens, puppet shows, plays, and festivals where I can usually take my kids. Now my freelance lifestyle career yields returns that go far beyond a monthly paycheck.
4) I Leveraged Freelancing to Give My Resume a Boost.
Not all moms want to create a lifestyle career to retire from their 9-to-5 or even abandon their other work-at-home ambitions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t strategically use a lifestyle career to build new skills.
Wish you knew how to build infographics that convert so you can get a promotion at work or find new projects? Focus on creating compelling articles accompanied by infographics. Showcase this type of content on your blog to attract new clients or offer it to your existing clients as an added service for which you can charge.
I used my freelance work with various clients to figure out how to add thousands of visitors to my blog every month solely from using Pinterest. One of my clients paid me to figure it out and help grow her online presence. This paid training gave me the tools to give my website a boost while creating a new income stream.
Creating a tightly focused, intentional lifestyle career isn’t difficult, it just takes clarity and persistent action. Start by deciding what you want your life to look like, and how the type of freelance work you market yourself for can deliver on your wildest dreams.
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Susan Finch is a travel and small business freelance writer who blogs at MothersWhoLaunch.com. Want to learn more about creating a lifestyle content career? Get Susan’s “5 Paths to Profitable Lifestyle Content You Can Hack in 6-Weeks or Less”.