How to Make the Leap to Full-Time Freelancing: Advice from 7 Successful Freelancers on Everything from Marketing to Money

I’m so excited I could pop! Remember when I got the contract to write a book for the trade publisher this past December? Well, the book is finally available for pre-order on Amazon (delivery: Sept 2nd).


A special report entitled “5 Things You Should Know about Freelancing in a Global Economy That Will Land More Clients” will be sent to everyone who pre-orders. Details on how to get it at the end of this post. One more thing before we get to the meat of this post …

Let Me Blog for You!

Almost every author (unless you’re of Stephen King status) will tell you that writing a book is the easy part. Promoting it is where the “real” work comes in. So I’m up for contributing guests posts to blogs/websites. Just shoot me your questions about freelancing (no more than 3-4 please) and I’ll get them back to you within 3-5 days (depending  on how many submissions I receive).

Now, to today’s post …

What It Takes to Be Successful as a Freelance Business Owner

I had some amazing contributors to this book. Seven freelancers took time out of their busy schedules to dispense some hard-earned, first-hand advice. Actually more did but some contributions, unfortunately, got cut. Following are excerpts from those who made it into the book.

1. Jennifer Brown Banks: PenandProsper.blogspot.com

Jennifer writes the award-winning freelance blog, Pen & Prosper (PenandProsper.blogspot.com). It has been rated one of the Top 100 Blogs for Writers on numerous occasions. Her contribution is entitled “How to Master Branding.” Here’s a golden nugget from her masterful insights.

The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook on AmazonAccording to the book Shark Tank: Jump Start Your Business, based off the popular reality show, “A brand is much bigger than just a product or service. It’s the emotional response to your business—the visual and psychological representation of your identity.

Three Ways to Tell If Your Branding Is Working

Aside from the elements listed previously, here’s how to assess whether your branding efforts are building your business:

You spend less time on marketing and cultivating new business than when you started out. Clients routinely come to you without direct pitches on your part—due to your expertise, reputation, or referrals.

Here’s an e-mail from a recent client as an example: “I’ve enjoyed your blog since following your comment from Think Traffic and think you’re one of the best on the topic of writing for the web. I’ve been struggling a bit on my blog’s reboot. Do you consult for a fee?”

The business comes to you. That’s the power of branding!

2. Cathy Miller: SimplyStatedBusiness.com

Cathy is a freelance business writer with more than thirty years of professional experience. She specializes in healthcare, employee benefits and wellness and can be found online at SimplyStatedBusiness.com.

Cathy had perhaps the most unusual leap into freelancing that I’d heard in a long time. She explained it in her piece, “How to Turn a Past Employer into a Freelance Client,” writing:

My exit from a corporate career of thirty-plus years could be the poster child for staying too long at the party. I had visions of freelancing years before. My inaction on that dream boiled over one day when I slammed down a phone during a call to a conference room full of senior executives. No, I did not get fired (thankfully, I had an understanding boss). However, I did quit my day job.

After I dashed off my resignation letter, reality hit. I was no longer corporate employed. I needed clients. What better place to start than with people already familiar with my work? My former employers. The following tips may help you score freelancing gigs from a past employer.

Cathy’s advice was so good, I think she should turn it into an ebook too! I learned a few things — and I’ve been freelancing for a long while too (since 1993). As an aside, my previous employer was my first client as a freelancer. I had already been freelancing for the company for a couple of years while I worked full-time, so I already had them as a client.

Cathy underscores the point beautifully about how smart it is to target a previous employer for freelance work. It can be like taking candy from a baby — if done correctly. And she gives some great advice on how to go about it.

3. Todd Mitchell: CodeWritePlay.com

Todd is a gaming industry journalist with experience in professional software and indie game development. Follow him on Twitter @mechatodzilla, and visit him online at CodeWritePlay.com.

In his contribution entitled, “From Software Developer to Gaming Writer,” Todd shares how a tweet started him on the road to  full-time freelancing. Good ole social media; it can open a lot of doors!

In the beginning of 2015, I was a senior software developer for a successful industrial engineering company and my wife was ending her term as a chief medicine resident at a prominent area hospital. We’d just moved into a house we’d purchased one month prior, and our first child was due within two weeks.

One Fateful Tweet

I frequently used Twitter to network and draw inspiration from colleagues. That’s how I saw the tweet: RT: We’re expanding our editorial focus and we’re looking for new freelancers!”

This editor worked for a large network of gaming sites. They did what my friends and I did with blogging, but for money. Maybe it was the transitional time I was in or the numbness I felt from recent failures, but I reached out without hesitation. In an e-mail that was probably too long, I introduced myself and explained why I might make a good contributor for their site. … An unexpected response came later that evening.”

Although he got off to a shaky start, Todd managed to find freelance success and is currently working on finishing up his first book.

4. Laura Pennington: SixFigureWritingSecrets.com

Laura is a former teacher and marketing associate who found freelance success in 2012 and hasn’t looked back since. She’s a frequent guest contributor right here on this site, and can be found online at SixFigureWritingSecrets.com and on Twitter @sixfigurewriter.

In her contribution, “From Inner-City Schoolteacher to Freelance Writer,” Laura divulges how she made the leap into freelancing. It’s a poignant story that reveals how possible freelancing is for anybody. She wrote:

I was an overworked and burned-out inner-city schoolteacher who had recently made the jump to corporate America when I realized that this wasn’t going to fulfill me in the way that I had hoped it would. I stumbled across freelance writing while doing some Google searching during the summer of 2012, where I landed on www.InkwellEditorial.com, among a few other sites.

Replacing My Full-Time Income

Within just a couple of months as a freelance writer I had met and surpassed my day-job income and realized that not only was I passionate about it but clients were giving me great feedback, indicating that I was a solid writer. Since then, I have expanded my freelance writing business to earn six figures a year and I left my day job.

How to Keep the Jobs Flowing In

In order to keep a continuous flow of work coming in, I focus specifically on clients who offer me monthly recurring work.

Laura also shares her most successful marketing method – which contributes to getting that all-important “recurring work,” as well as some other insightful tips that helped her become a six-figure freelancer relatively quickly.

5. Successful Fiverr Gigger: Akira007

Akira007 is an ebook designer and Photoshop expert who can be found on Fiverr at http://Fiverr.com/users/akira007. He gave an amazing, in-depth tutorial entitled “How to Leverage “Cheap Gig Sites” to Earn a Full-Time Living” on Fiverr. I told him he should write a book. The info was beyond amazing! Following is an excerpt.

I’ve been a top-rated seller on Fiverr for three years. I offer a few services, mainly CreateSpace book covers and all kind of Photoshop services. I know many don’t hold sites like Fiverr in high regard, but I’ve managed to make a full-time living doing what I’m good at.

When I first started out, there were no gig “packages” like there are now, where you can immediately start to earn more than $5 for a product/service, so I did some research to see how I could gain repeat customers. To get firsthand info, I became a site user instead of just a Fiverr seller. While a lot of the work I ordered was good, a lot of it was bad too.

I was astounded at just how low some of the quality was. I immediately saw my opening. I knew I could do better. So, I did, going over and beyond on each order. This got me recognized by the Fiverr staff, who awarded me a top-rated seller star, which took my business to another level.

Akira007 went on to offer 17 steps to achieve selling success on the site. Again, it would make an AWESOME ebook for those who think that slaving away on “cheapie” sites has to mean slave wages!

6. Anne Wayman: AboutFreelanceWriting.com

Anne can also be found online at AnneWayman.com. She ghostwrites books and coaches writers. Her contribution is entitled, “What Freelancing Taught Me about Money, Self-Worth, and Honing My Craft.”

I had somehow grown up believing almost anyone could write well. That meant, of course, that my writing wasn’t very valuable. I first began to suspect I had an above-average skill when I worked for a magazine. Every month I completed my assignments long before anyone else. The editor there was kind enough to confirm my observation. I was so glad that I dared ask!

I’ve learned that money, for most, is inextricably linked to self-worth—not that you value it for the sake of valuing it, but rather as one measure of your talent, the worth you bring to clients, and how you view yourself in relation to your competition. If you don’t value your talent, who will?

Money (How to Price; What to Charge). Self-Worth (Self-Esteem). Honing Your Craft (Upgrading Skills). These are some of the top struggles new – and experienced freelancers too – have. Anne has been freelancing for many years. Her insight into these potential career-derailing problems are invaluable.

7. Bev Gray: TheTheoryofBevrything.wordpress.com

Have you ever wasted three hours on Facebook, when you know you should be knocking out those articles for a client? Or, got caught up running errands, when you know you should have been sending out those marketing pieces? Or felt guilty watching an episode (or two) of Gunsmoke in the middle of the afternoon, when you should be revamping your freelance website?

Ahhhh … good ole procrastination. Many of us wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves without it! Bev contributed a hysterical piece on procrastination entitled, “The Power of Procrastination.” She wrote, so poetically …

I for one, am a master procrastinator. Enlightened in the art of dawdling. I can faff about with the best of the best. I can make a plethora of different things, but the best thing I make is excuses.

I dally daily without even realizing it. Because if someone asked me, “What are you doing?” I wouldn’t respond with the truth, procrastinating. I’d say something that doesn’t sound remotely like loafing. I’d say things like cooking, shopping, running, swimming, paddle boarding, googling, organizing a cabinet, walking the dog, changing my air filters, checking social media, watching a funny video of a stranger’s baby, etc.

Take now for instance. This moment in time right now. I am procrastinating. I’m supposed to be writing a screenplay, but instead I am writing this article. …

Bev ends her piece with, “Do you want to be a famous reader? Or do you want to be a famous writer?”

Her piece really makes you pick apart your procrastination habits — and stop “dallying about” so much, as she puts it. See her cacophony of posts on everything from politics to social media at TheTheoryofBevrything.wordpress.com.

Freelancing: You Never Have to Go It Alone

Although my name is on the cover of this book, as you can see, there was some great input by other freelancers, which brings me to one thing you should remember as you maneuver the freelance waters … you’re never alone.

Freelancers ware some of the most helpful people around. Even if you can’t reach one personally, there are forums and Facebook groups and ebooks and blogs where you can find help with whatever you need.

What’s Covered in The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guidebook

Nothing is left to chance. We cover a lot of ground, including, but not limited to:

  • How to Determine What to Sell (What’s Your Freelance Niche)
  • How to Get a Freelance Emergency Fund in Place (and how much it should be)
  • How to Price Your Services as a Freelancer
  • What Your Business Plan Should Include & How to Write It
  • How to Build a Brand on a Shoestring Budget
  • How to Save for Retirement as a Freelancer
  • Medical Insurance Options for Freelancers
  • How to Say No to Clients
  • When/Whether to Incorporate
  • Business Numbers Every Freelancer Should Know
  • How to Mentally Prepare to Freelance
  • And so much more!

PRE-ORDER NOW (Click graphic to be taken to order page)Pre-Order The Ultimate Freelancer's Guidebook on Amazon

Share Your Freelance Advice

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a freelance career today? Please share in the comments section below.

P.S. How to Get The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide Bonus Content

Special Report: 5 Things You Should Know about Freelancing in a Global Economy That Will Land More Clients. To get this bonus content, send the receipt for your pre-order to info[at]InkwellEditorial.com on/before September 1st. Put “Pre-Ordered UFG” in the Subject line. On Sept 1st, you’ll be emailed the special report.

P.P.S. More Excerpts Coming Your Way

Every Friday until the release (perhaps more often and after the release date), I’ll be doing excerpts from the book. Next Friday, we’ll discuss How to Mentally Prepare to Freelance. Lack of self-confidence is one thing that cripples new freelancers the most.

You’ll never learn how to demand what you’re worth – which can be the difference between continuing to freelance or slinking back to a job you hate – until you master this skill. So come on back next week, ok?

Here’s to your freelancing success! 🙂
FYI, for new releases, you can follow my Author Profile on Amazon (just click the “Follow” link under the profile pic to the left).

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    1. So excited for you, Yuwanda, and honored to be included with such great company. I can’t wait to get my copy. Wishing you all the best! 🙂
      Cathy Miller recently posted…Business Communication Evaluation: World’s Simplest TemplateMy Profile

      • Thank you for the kind words Cathy, and for your awesome contribution.

        Note: Don’t forget to email me your address so I can send you a copy of the book when I get it.

        Continued success! 🙂

    2. Congrats, Yuwanda! It was great to be included here. Thanks.
      Jennifer Brown Banks recently posted…Coming in August! Stay Tuned…My Profile