Guest Post by – Debbie Wolfe
I started my work at home adventure a little over a year ago. I decided after working a 9-5 for 16 plus years, I was ready to stay at home. My oldest was heading into kindergarten and I had a 10 month old in daycare. The hour-long commute and daycare expenses were not making it worth my while working outside the home anymore.
I knew I would have to have some sort of part-time income. I couldn't get a phone job because I had a toddler at home. I turned to freelance writing. I had a degree in creative writing; therefore, writing was an obvious career path for me to follow.
I learned three lessons very quickly in the first month of my new freelance writing career:
1. Web writing is nothing like creative writing.
2. Most web content companies pay poorly.
3. The majority of the topics/niches are boring.
I started, like most new online freelance writers, with content mills. Content mills are an easy way to get in the door, but they also pay the least. I quickly grew frustrated with the topic choices and pay rate. I remember my first article; it was about HVAC/Air conditioning. I had no knowledge of the subject. I had to research the topic before I could write it. It paid a penny a word and I wrote 550 words. I made $5.50 on an article that took me almost 2 hours to write.
I knew I had to find something better than content mills, but no one would let me get a foot in the door. I had no prior web writing experience and the only writing samples I had were short stories and essays from college. I could only get work with content mills. I continued writing for several content mills for a few months. When I realized that I was working full time hours for $30-$50 a week, I thought I might have to go back to my old job. I finally was fed up with working for pennies.
I was hired as a blogger for a freebie site right before the holidays. This was my turning point. The site did not pay well, but it introduced me to the world of blogging. I learned how to write for a web based audience, use keywords and social media to gain a following. I was still spending a lot of time writing for little pay but this was the catapult I needed to start blogging on my own.
Three months later, my husband and I decided to start a garden blog. I wanted to write about something that I actually liked. After months of writing for pay on subjects that were extremely uninteresting to me, I no longer loved to write. My husband and I needed a fresh start. He was frustrated with his job as well.
For me, the blog became an outlet for my creativity. I wrote about what I know and things I love … food, crafts and gardening. I honestly did not care if anyone looked at the blog or not. I wrote because I wanted to write. I loved writing again. When you do what you love, it comes through in your writing. I started to notice that I had readers, and I even started to get comments.
What is the point of this whole story? Well, two of our readers happened to be editors of big home and garden websites. My husband and I were offered contributor jobs to these sites because of our writing skills and home and garden knowledge. Although we do not make money directly from our website, it has landed us lucrative writing gigs.
To this day, I write on my blog for free. I do not make any money from advertisements or affiliate sales yet. Perhaps someday I will. For now, it is my canvas to create. If you are out there, trying to find a way to make money by freelance writing, try writing for fun. Your voice really shines on the page when you are writing about something you truly love. Plus, you never know who might stumble up on your site.
About the Author
Debbie is a freelance writer for HGTVGardens and SheKnows.com. She and her husband blog about gardening, food and crafts on their blog, The Prudent Garden.