Freelance Writers: 3 Tips on Transitioning from Writing for Clients to Writing for Yourself (Becoming a FT Self-Publisher)

In yesterday’s post here, we discussed how to find time to write if making money from self-publishing is one of your goals as a freelance writer.

As I said in that post, in 2010, once I realized that over half my income came from self-publishing, I put the pedal to the medal and started churning out more. Of course, this added a lot of hours to my work day.

Another reason I decided to write this post is, I’ve gotten quite a few emails from freelancer writers over the last few months who have said that they’re finding that they just don’t enjoy writing for clients.

Many of these freelancers are still putting their writing skills to use though – just on their own projects. With self-publishing being a natural outlet, I thought I’d share some of my experiences.

3 Things I Did to Transition Away from Writing for Clients to Concentrate More on Self-Publishing

With the above being said, following are three things I did to make the transition from writing primarily for clients to writing for myself.

1. Get Finances Straight: When you decide to stop focusing on your main income stream, realize that your income is going to take a hit. How severe depends on a lot of factors, but it will decrease.

So I prepared for this by paying off as much debt as I could and getting a financial cushion in the bank.

How much should you  have in an emergency fund? Financial experts vary widely on this. For example, Suze Orman advises anywhere from 8 months to a year. Dave Ramsey on the other hand says to keep at least $1,000 on hand at all times.

I didn’t have nearly as much as Suze advises, but had more than Dave suggested. As I had steady (almost daily) income from ebook sales, I didn’t freak out too much about not having a huge chunk in savings.

2. Time Block My Days: If you clicked out and read yesterday’s newsletter, you know that I do a lot – write for clients, publish a few blogs, article marketing for existing products, manage client projects, etc. So I knew going in that I was going to have to add hours to my work day. Hence, I became a time-blocking fool.

As a freelance writer, putting “write” on a list doesn’t work for me because there are different types of writing. It’s why I so identified with the LifeHack post, Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks, which said:

I need to set aside time for specific types of writing. There’s blocks of time for my work here at Lifehack, there’s blocks of time for my fiction writing, there’s blocks of time for my personal writing and there’s blocks of time for when I am working on my book project.

That’s what I have to do to ensure that I get all of my writing done during the week, and it keeps me focused on the area I’m supposed to be writing on rather than the very broad category of simply “writing” that I’ve used in the past. Narrowing the category down to the specifics has boosted my productivity by keeping me on track and allowing me to fulfill all of my writing needs.

This is me in a nutshell. For example, my time-blocked days look something like this:


7:30-10:00: workout
10:00-11:30: SM
12:00-1:00 BLOG POST FOR IW [InkwellEditorial.com] OR SWJ [SeoWritingJobs.com] (for Tuesday or Thursday)
1:00-5:00 Write on Existing Ebook in Progress
5:00-6:-00 Update Existing Ebook


7:30-10:00: workout
10:00-1:00: 2 Article Marketing Pieces
1:00-2:00 Eat/Nap
2:00-5:00 Write on Ebook in Progress
5:00-6:-00 Guest post for e-Junkie (or other targeted site)

Now does my time-blocking always work out the way it’s supposed to? Nope, absolutely not. But it does keep me on track in that I can look at it and see exactly what I’m supposed to be doing at any hour during the day.

I try to handle most of my emails, admin duties and other stuff that may pop up during the week on Fridays.

3. Find Your Motivation: I’m the type of person who needs some motivation in order to stay on track. And financial freedom is a big one for me. So, I ran some numbers to see where I would be in one year, three years and five years if I produced X number of ebooks and sold X number of copies at X price per month.

$1,000 Per Month in Ebook Sales (Short Fiction): The Numbers

In yesterday’s post, I linked to this post on writer Dean Wesley’s Smith’s blog. The post discusses how to make a living writing short fiction (eg, a story of around 5,000 words). Following is how he laid out the way to get to $1,000 per month within a year:

100 stories x 5 sales per month average = 500 sales per month around the world. Income from sales is $2.00 per sale. So 500 x $2.00 = $1,000.00 per month or $12,000.00  for the year. (Again, a lot of factors to drive this number up or down such as number of pen names, ability of storytelling, ability to do covers and blurbs, and your choice of topics.)

If numbers aren’t your motivation, what is? Find it – and keep it front and center EVERY DAY.

Concluding Thoughts

My transition to being a full-time self-publisher still isn’t 100% complete. Why? Because I own/operate an SEO writing company and still take on client projects. I do this because I have income goals I strive to reach each year and my self-publishing income alone is not enough (yet!) to get me where I want to be.

Could I survive on just my self-publishing income? Yes, definitely.

Would it be tough? Not as tough as in 2011 or 2012, but still too tight of a squeeze for me to be comfortable because I put a good chunk in a retirement account (ROTH IRA) each month, which means my take home can’t fall below a certain level.

The bottom line is, it’s never been easier to make a full-time living as a self-publisher these days thanks to sites like Amazon. And if you plan for it, you can be there quicker than you realize, as my sis’s self-publishing income proves (see section near bottom of this post entitled, “Out of the Norm” Self-Publishing Success Story).

I hope this insight helps you with your self-publishing dreams if you’re trying to transition away from writing for clients to writing for yourself.

Share Your Thoughts

Is self-publishing something you’ve tried as a freelance writer? Do you no longer enjoy writing for clients? Do you think you could make a go of being a full-time self-publisher? What would hold you back OR make you give it a go? Please share in the comments section below.


P.S.: Get 4 Ebooks for One Low Price — The Ultimate Self-Publishing Package!

P.P.S.: You can now order any of our products (like the SEO copywriting course) and take up to 6 months to pay.

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    1. Deneen Bitah says:

      keep up the good work

    2. Seeing your time blocking schedule is a great help! I am notorious for not taking full advantage of the 24 hours I have to work and live. It is especially great to see that you spend a few hours on working out. Sometimes I get so focused on getting on the computer that I forget to go outside — terrible for my thighs! 🙂 I have to be better at time blocking so that I can have a general guide for what I am supposed to be doing and when.
      Halona Black recently posted…How to Use Facebook Groups to Build Your Money Making Email List Without Looking Like a SleezeMy Profile

      • Halona I couldn’t survive with out time blocking my days! I’m glad seeing mine may help give you some perspective on how to time block your schedule.

        While I do fall off schedule from time to time, having it front and center keeps me focused. It’s why it’s the only freelance writing goal I set for this year. I wanted to make sure it became an ingrained habit.

        As for the thighs — well, that’s why I get that workout in first thing. It (and thus my thighs) are too likely to fall by the wayside if I don’t! LOL! 🙂
        Yuwanda, Site Editor recently posted…Quick Tip for Freelance Writing Success My Profile