I had no money. As a disabled teen unable to attend traditional college and certainly unable to sustain a traditional job, even part time, I was desperate to obtain some form of income. I didn’t have the luxury of my parents being able to provide me an allowance or pay for any credit cards for me. I didn’t even have a bank account at the time! I also knew I wanted to make money doing something I loved and would have fun doing, which was being a blogger. It takes money to make money though, so I had to at least get some sort of day job. I thought about skills I had, things I was really good at and could get paid for while working from home. I learned that freelance writing was a lucrative career. I was an excellent writer, so I was very excited to hear that people made excellent livings online in the comfort of their own homes or wherever they pleased, writing about topics they were passionate about. Plus, since I wanted to be a professional blogger and blogging was basically writing on the internet anyway, what better way to get paid for something I already planned on doing? While I was building on my own blog and waiting for that to blow up, I could get paid writing for other people too!
The beginning was quite frustrating: scanning content mills and craigslist ads started to grow old and tired. The pay was terrible, but I figured at least I was building a decent portfolio, right? Then I moved on from those and on to job boards. I found a few clients that actually paid writers what their time was worth. However, most were one-off jobs. I was new to the whole thing and thought I wasn’t worthy to charge what the really established and experienced ones did anyway. I should’ve been grateful someone wanted to pay me $60 for an article instead of ignoring my email, right? At the same time, it wasn’t nearly steady enough to provide me money I needed on a daily basis. I still needed a day job to fix that!
I researched and applied for dozens of work at home jobs for months only to get a rejection letter or no reply. I depended on survey-for-pay type sites for a VERY long time, making literally cents per survey. I got a transcription job that was fairly easy to do and paid decently, but it took a lot of time in front of the computer, which isn’t very good for a person with chronic migraines. They let me go after a few months, and I felt knocked back at square one.
Fortunately after countless hours of research, here and there assignments on content mills and job boards, promoting my own blog, and a few unpaid article submissions, my work began to pay off.
My blog attracted a few people that eventually reached out to ask for my writing services. I’ve connected to more potential clients on LinkedIn, and I’m currently building clientele with more small businesses online. I’m also a regular contributor for a hugely popular women’s website, and the pay is very generous. In fact my eyes bugged out of my head when I saw my first check, especially considering the fact that I only had one published article before that pay period! I’m meeting mini-milestones that I never thought I would get to back when I was about to throw in the towel and quit.
Although I’m not yet making a full-time income and some weeks are much better than others, I’ve moved up from making lunch money to “Oh cool, I can go do some shopping!” money. My ultimate goal is to earn a monthly income of five figures combining the success of my blog and writing services. The fact that I am just a few months shy of becoming 20 years old and I’m disabled, yet I’ve managed to achieve what I have achieved, gives me more confidence than ever before that I will meet many more milestones and achieve great things in my career. I am excited to see where the journey takes me and I encourage others no matter their age, education, or health status to go after what they want and deserve. You can do it just like I did!
Here are the most important things I’ve learned so far as well as some tips that are sure to help you succeed:
· All that matters at the end of the day is your skill. It truly doesn’t matter whether you have a degree or not, whether you have been doing this for three years or three seconds, or whether you’ve been published before on a bunch of big name sites or not. If you’re positive you know what you’re talking about, have a good grasp of basic grammar, spelling and punctuation, and can prove you give great results, you’re just as qualified as anyone else.
· DO NOT sell yourself short. Again, all that matters is your knowledge and your skill, not a piece of paper or a huge portfolio of working with companies like Coca Cola and Walmart or big sites like Huffington Post. If you do your job well, you deserve what YOU believe is worth your time and effort, not peanuts!
· You need three P’s: persistence, patience, and perseverance. In the beginning, it’s hard to prove yourself and make yourself known online and in the small industry this is. Although freelance writing is truly big business, there’s indeed a lot of research and digging around to learn about what happens on the inside, and how to infiltrate. You’ll send a lot of pitches, sometimes wait for days or even weeks for a reply. Sometimes you may not get any reply, and have to research more people and companies to contact. The hardest part is connecting with and making a worthwhile deal with clients, but once you do, you’ll be proud of yourself and all your hard work will pay off!
· You also shouldn’t get discouraged when money fluctuates. Your pay depends on the number of projects you complete, and sometimes you’ll be shorter some weeks or months than others. So it’ll be difficult at times for you to stay positive when the bank account’s a bit lower than usual, or when you’re short on work and need to recruit more clientele, or if a client drops you out of the blue. Keep doing what you know works, and keep putting out good quality work. You may learn that sometimes accomplishment isn’t always about earning the most money, but in the results your work caused.
· Lastly, believe in yourself, continue to put your all in your work, never stop networking and building connections, and don’t even think about quitting. You won’t be happy until you’re making a living doing what you truly enjoy!
Haneef Davenport is a freelance writer and blogger for hire from Washington, DC. She specializes in the niches of beauty, fashion, health and wellness, and lifestyle. She is passionate about sharing helpful information, creating fun conversation about pop culture, and empowering women and young girls to feel and look their best and shares that passion through writing on the internet. You can find some of her work on sites like TheTalko.com. In her free time you can find her practicing piano, shopping online, cooking something really delicious, or binge watching “The Golden Girls.” Catch her on Instagram @hellohaneef to see what she’s up to, and check out her blog, rosegoldpearls.com.
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