Extra Income Update: $6K In Freelance Writing Income

writingtoolsIn April, I hit my 6-month mark as a freelance writer.

I have multiple streams of extra income (from managing online communities to critiquing resumes) but I thought it would be interesting to break out writing from my total income and see how much I’m really bringing in through that channel.

And to my surprise, I realized that I  recently surpassed $6,000 in freelance writing income since I started.

I keep close tabs on my extra income so I’m not really sure why I was surprised when I saw that number. It’s definitely a good surprise so I will give myself a little pat on the back 🙂

A lot has definitely changed since I first started and freelance writing has opened up a whole world of opportunities to me. Did I ever think I would be able to make income as a freelance writer? Definitely no. But here I am, $6K later. Here are my takeaways so far:

  • While I do enjoy to write, I’m not a particularly good writer. I never thought anyone would want to read my writing, let alone pay me for it.
  • I started off taking writing jobs about anything and everything. While it was nice just to have a gig, some of those jobs took me a LONG time because I had no clue what I was writing about. From now on, I’m trying to pick a niche or two and stick to it.
  • In my first month of freelance writing, I made a measly $80. I steadily increased month of month. However, I’ve seem to stalled. Getting past $1k a month is a struggle.
  • I started off looking for jobs on Elance and I was actually very successful. However, as a writer, I think I’ve outgrown that. I’ve starting to put myself out there by personally reaching out to people. It’s taking me some time to make any progress but I think I’ll get there (hit me up if you need a writer! 🙂 )
  • While I do enjoy what I do for the most, there are some days where it’s painful just to put a blog post together. I’m finding it more and more difficult to motivate myself after a full days work.

So where do I go from here? I like to reassess my goals every month or two, right now they are:

  • I want to further explore other ways to make extra income. As I mentioned, writing isn’t my only stream of extra income. I work in eCommerce at my full time gig and am trying to parlay that into my freelance work as a digital strategist and content manager. It’s been a hit or miss in terms of finding these types of gigs but I think there’s a need out there.
  • I want to grow this blog. This blog is essentially my portfolio of writing examples and while I don’t really monetize it, I’ve made a lot of connections through it.  I also love to go back and read my post from last year or even last month and see how much I’ve grown as a writer.
  • My goal is to double my extra income within the next 3 months. I’m hoping that I can increase it enough so that I can cover my expenses and have a little buffer…which will then allow me to leave my full time job and take an extended (working) vacation, like I’ve always wanted. It’s certainly a big goal and definitely life changing but I think it’s totally realistic.

And there you have it! I’ve made a lot of progress in a few short months but I know there is a lot more I can do. Ready for the challenge!

My Newest Side Hustle: Fiverr

fiverrI first stumbled upon Fiverr when I was looking for some help redesigning my blog logo. Another blogger mentioned they had used Fiverr with success. If you’re not familiar with Fiverr, it’s a site where people post gigs that they’re willing to do for 5 bucks. There are actually a lot of graphic designers  on there willing to design a logo for $5. So I decided to give it a try. I mean, why not…I didn’t have much to lose.

Well, turns out I wasn’t very happy with the design I ended up getting. It was kind of plain and boring and something I could’ve easily done myself in Paint. I decided to let it go since I didn’t want to argue over 5 bucks. On the bright side though, this experience did introduce me to the world of Fiverr. There are hundreds of people on there who seem to make a legitimate living from it. Being the side hustler that I am, I thought it might be fun to give it a shot.

I thought long and hard about tasks I was willing to do for $5. It actually took me awhile because there just isn’t a lot. I certainly am not willing to write a 500-word blog post or be a virtual assistant for an hour for $5 (but there are people who are). To be the most profitable and efficient, I needed to think about a gig that wouldn’t require a lot of time or research.

I thought back to my college days. I was part of a couple different business clubs on campus and one of the things we did was offer resume critiques. I must’ve looked at and critiqued hundreds of resumes during that time so I’ve seen my fair share of dos-and-don’t’s. I’ve also worked and reworked the formatting of my own resume a countless number of times, which gave me a template to use. So there my idea was: I was going to critique and edit resumes for $5.

If you take a look at Fiverr, you’ll notice that there are plenty of people offering resume critiques so I wasn’t really expecting to get many hits. Surprisingly, I got my first order a day after I posted my gig. Since I didn’t have any feedback at the time, I’m not really sure what set me apart or why anyone would choose me. Maybe it was my college background? Who knows. The first resume took me about 30 minutes, which was way too long to spend on something that I would be making $5 on. But its OK, it was my first one. I’ve since been getting about 1-2 resumes a week to edit and have gotten the time it takes me to do it down to about 15 minutes.

I’ve been on Fiverr for almost 2 months now. Here are my key takaways and learnings:

  • Don’t forget the fees – So $5 isn’t actually $5 in your pocket. Fiverr takes $1 per order and then when you transfer the funds to Paypal, they take a percentage. I’m actually making a little less than $4 per resume.
  • Be specific – At first, I didn’t specify how long of a resume I was willing to edit for $5. Someone sent me a 5 page resume (first of all… no one can really justify having a 5 page resume…). I updated my gig description to say I was willing to edit up to 3 pages. Any more and they would have to make an additional purchase.
  • Time is of the essence – I’ve been tracking my time very carefully. Some resumes take me longer than 15 minutes but I think that is my average. I really don’t want to spend much more time than that since I can spend that time doing one of my writing gigs (for more).
  • Remember the add-ons a.k.a. where the money is at – Fiverr gives you the option to provide add-ons to your customers, after you’ve successfully completed 10 orders. For instance, for an additional $5, I’ll edit your resume in only 2 days (my average time is 4). For $10, I’ll edit your cover letter as well. If you can provide some valuable add-ons to customers, you have the potential to make a lot more.

My experiment on Fiverr was more for fun than for income and I’m not sure how much longer I’ll continue to do this since I’d much rather spend my time writing. But with the right gig, you definitely have the potential to earn some nice extra income.

And on the flip side, if you’re looking for a freelancer to do some quick work, Fiverr is a great place to start. Even though I didn’t have any luck with getting a logo designed, plenty of other people have. And it’s only $5, not much of a risk.

Would you consider working on Fiverr? What would you do?

How I Use Elance To Make Extra Income

When I shared how I make my extra income, a lot of you were surprised I had so much success on Elance. I surprised myself as well. When I first ventured onto Elance, I never really expected to get anything out of it. I heard it from multiple sources…there are only crap jobs on Elance…you’ll be paid pennies…you won’t find anything worth you time. While most of that is true, there are actually some good writing gigs on Elance. Apparently, I’m doing something right because I’ve had some moderate success there. Here is how I’ve been using Elance:

To start, I set up my profile. You get to include a little headline about yourself – mine is “Writer & Blogger”. I could probably get more creative with this but it works. I also have a small blurb that sums up my skills. I find that it’s important to include that you are a native English speaker. Many people on Elance aren’t so it gives you a little bit of an advantage if you are. Also, I include a link to this blog in my profile. As I’ve said before, this blog is probably the single most important thing that has helped me get jobs. It’s essentially a live portfolio and it also shows potential clients your commitment to writing. I also think it’s important to upload a profile image. While some people may be uncomfortable sharing their picture with the Elance world, it helps you connect with potential clients and shows them you’re an actual person.

elance profile

If you’r a writer, it’s pretty easy to find writing jobs since Elance has a Writing & Translation category. I usually filter by this category when I do a search. I then narrow my search some more by searching on the word ‘blog’. I’m particularly interested in writing for blogs but there are other writing jobs on there too (ie. books, ebooks, etc). Then, I have to sift through hundreds of jobs postings, which is the not so fun part. A couple things I look at is the price (if they have one listed, does that work for me?) and topic (I prefer writing about topics I know about since it’s so much easier. Doing research can be very time consuming and clients on Elance probably aren’t going to pay you extra for it). I also try to avoid any listings from clients that look like content mills.

Once I’ve found a job to apply to, I put a proposal together. A proposal consists of a short summary about anything, your requested earnings, and estimated time for delivery. I tweak my proposal depending on the job I’m applying for but here is the gist of it:

I am a freelance writer, blogger and editor. I have a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Finance and am a native U.S. English speaker. Topics I write about include, but are not limited to, personal finance, eCommerce, digital marketing, career, etc. I am also skilled in SEO, social media, and WordPress.

Aside from writing, I also work in eCommerce, with experience in the beauty, apparel, and baby industry. In my spare time, I run a personal finance blog called Savvy With Saving (savvywithsaving.com), where you can view samples of my writing.

Thanks for your consideration!

Pretty simple. As for my rate, I worked for cheap in the beginning to get off the ground but now, I don’t do anything less than $25 an hour.

I end up having a low success or win rate since I’m not willing to write a 500 word article for $5. But for the jobs I do get, a few of them have turned into longer term relationships. You just never know!

One last tip – after you’ve completed a job, be sure to ask for feedback so you can build up your profile. Sometimes clients do it on their own but a lot of times, they forget. If you did a good job, most people will be willing to write something for you.

elance feedback

When I first started Elance, it was sort of a shot in the dark and it still kind of is. You need some patience if you’re going to use it since the bad jobs outnumber the good. But keep looking, they are there.

Have you ever used Elance? What are you experiences with it?

Side Hustlin’ : How I Make My Extra Income

writingIn October, when I had been side hustling for a couple months, I wrote a post about what I was doing to make some extra income. A few people asked me for a more detailed post and of course, I was more than happy to write it. Now that I’m actually sitting down to write this post, I feel a little bad since this is going to be pretty boring. I wish I had some great secret to tell you. But nevertheless, I hope this helps!

I started side hustling in September of last year but didn’t really get serious about it until October. I had read in the blogosphere about what other people were doing as side hustles and writing seemed like a good fit for me. I wouldn’t call myself a great writer but I can write or at least string a few words together so I thought I’d give it a try.

I started my search for freelance writing positions on Elance. If you’re not familar with it, its like a job site for freelancers of sorts. Initially, it was hard to get hired for anything since I didn’t have any reviews or feedback yet. I decided to take some really low paying jobs just to get me started. I was able to increase my rate steadily after I had a more complete profile on Elance and more samples to show them. I will say that the one thing that has helped me land jobs the most on Elance is this blog. If you have your own blog that you update regularly, it’s kind of like a live portfolio. Alot of people say that the jobs on Elance don’t pay enough and most of them don’t. But there are good jobs to be found there – you just have to look. I’ve actually found most of my freelance gigs there and have had some moderate success on Craigslist and ProBlogger. I haven’t ventured onto ODesk yet but maybe soon.

I’ve also found a couple virtual assistant jobs on Elance but I tend to stay from those since it gets pretty boring. I’d rather write. I’ve also done some consumer surveys through sites like eRewards. They don’t pay a whole lot and you only get gift cards but its something (I signed up for eRewards years ago. I believe you have to be invited to get an account).

I’ve also had luck on my side. A couple of the clients I have worked with referred me to other people so I gained some new jobs that way.

And there you have it! That is how I side hustle. I now make around $1000 a month through my side hustles. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll make enough for writing to be my main hustle. But for now, its a nice chunk of extra change to have every month. Like I said, I wish I had something amazing to share but I don’t. In the beginning, it can be a lot of work for not much in return. But stick to it! You be a side hustling pro in no time.

November Recap & December Goals

photo (2)I can’t believe we’re heading into the last month of 2013. November was an amazing month and having a long holiday weekend to end it was just what I needed. Thanksgiving was lovely, as always, and filled with family, fun, and little bit of shopping (just a little!).

Extra Income

I started exploring ways to make extra income in September. I never really expected to make much or for it to go anywhere. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I made just under $400 in October, which I was already really happy with. November turned out to be a much better month though. This past month, I made a total of $785 in extra income. This is mostly made up of freelance writing. I also did an online focus group, which I made $75 from. I don’t really expect December to be better because of the holidays but I’m hoping to at least match what I did in November.

Life Updates

The BF and I are starting to plan our “big” trip of 2014. We try to have at least one big vacation every year. This year, we’re thinking Asia – a few places we’d really like to go to are Taiwan, Hong Kong. and Tokyo. We’re not sure exactly how many cities we’re going to be able to visit and we’re a little restricted by time since it’s not reasonable for him to take more than 2-3 weeks off work. Have you ever visited Asia? I would love to hear about it!

Blog Updates

I’d really like to get more serious about this blog as I head into 2014. I really love keeping a blog but I’ve been slacking off lately and not posting as consistently as I use to. That’s partially because I’ve had more freelancing work and I haven’t yet figured out how to have a good balance. In the past, I had a tendency to just throw posts up that weren’t so great. I’m trying to do less of that and focus more on content. I also haven’t changed my site design since I first started and it’s looking kind of stale. I’ve been thinking about hiring someone to do a full redesign. Any suggestions?

December Goals

I’m always so bad with reaching my goals every month but I’m going to try to end 2013 strong…

  1. Work out 2-3 times a week – I’ve been doing the Couch to 5K app and surprisingly, it isn’t as painful as I thought it would be!
  2. Make $800 in Extra Income – I hope to make somewhere close to what I made in November
  3. Cook dinner 5 days a week – I use to order in 4-5 days a week so this is a large improvement for me.
  4. Begin planning our 2014 vacation – we need to figure out destinations and timing.
  5. Spend time with family and friends – I have a whole week off for the holidays so I’m hoping to catch up with as many people as possible.

How was your November? What are you goals for December?