From $0 to $20,050 in 20 Months as a Freelance Writer

Michael Leonard

I never thought it was possible to earn $20,000 in 30 days — let alone from freelance writing.

Before I quit my corporate gig at Yelp in 2017, I barely made $10,000 in one month (and worked there for nearly seven years).

But I was able to earn $20,050 in my 20th month as a freelance content writer.

Sure, I typed my fingers to the bone, but I made double what I ever made in the corporate world and never had to go into an office.

During my biggest month ever I wrote a 50,000-word book, 30 long-form blog posts, email sequences, video scripts, and more.

Honestly, it wasn’t that fun looking back but it helped me pay off a ton of credit card debt and join a high-level mastermind for 2020.

But more important than money, it reshaped my identity.

I now have proof that I can attract clients that are willing to pay me big money without working for anyone else. It made me realize that if I can do it once, I can do it again.

The cool thing about freelancing is that things change quickly — just a few years ago, I was a broke blogger who barely made $500 a month. So if you’re at the beginning of your journey, please know that you can scale quickly.

Use my 10-step process to start scaling your writing business today.

Learn New Skills

I want to be very clear — making $20,000 in one month didn’t happen overnight. It’s a culmination of four years in the making.

From 2016 to 2018, I was a broke, struggling blogger. When I finally pivoted to freelance writing in 2018, I was already well versed in things like blogging, writing, SEO, and other digital marketing trends.

But this only happened because I invested a lot of money into online courses and coaching to speed up the learning curve. I studied topics like SEO, webinars, funnel hacking, paid ads, and social media like my life depended on it. This ammo helped me not only grow my brand but also provide more value to potential clients when I started freelancing.

So if you want to scale your writing income, make sure you become an expert in your niche. This will help you charge more and become a trusted resource for clients.

Invest in you before you ask clients to do so!

Get in the Habit of Writing

I’m not one of those writers that will tell you that you should write every single day at the same time. I’ve found this can lead to burnout, kill your creativity, and maybe even resent writing in general.

But, I do think you should make writing a regular habit to learn how to get into a flow state. This will help you when you have tons of deadlines hanging over your head but have taught yourself how to get stuff done quickly.

Writing is an art — not everyone can do it, and it can take years to really “find” your voice and style. But it’s up to you to experiment, test out different styles, and find what works.

Over time, this will help you build confidence that will allow you to pitch more clients and be proud of your writing business.

Create Epic Samples

If you want to land high paying clients, you need to show that you can do the work. You wouldn’t go to a 9–5 job interview without a resume, would you?

While I’ve never made a formal writing resume, I’ve created a lot of samples to showcase my work for potential clients. I had 100+ posts on Fearless Motivation and another 30+ samples on my writing website. This made it easy for clients to say yes and hire me in the first place.

So if you want to scale your writing business, create more awesome writing samples. Don’t just have three to five generic blog posts on your writing website and expect people to work with you.

Instead, create custom samples geared toward each client. Then, you can use it as a guest post, repurpose on Medium, or add the sample to your own blog.

If you really want to show clients you’re committed, you can hire a designer on Fiverr to format and customize them as well. Remember, having so many samples will prove to clients that you can do the job and that you are invested in your success.

Pitch Like Crazy

The number one way I was able to make $20,050 in one month is because I attracted the right clients.

And to get the right clients, you have to pitch like crazy. You can’t settle for mediocre clients and expect to drastically scale your income.

You need to be ruthless about finding and retaining clients that pay well, give you exciting work, and have long-term growth potential.

Remember, pitching is just a numbers game — get your offer in front of more people so you can land more clients!

Raise Your Rates

If you want to scale your freelance writing income you really only have two options to do so:

  • Get more clients
  • Raise your rates

While you should get more clients, if you have too many, I’ve found it’s incredibly difficult to manage all of them at once. The most I ever had at one time was seven clients, and I’ll be honest, I hated it.

It was hard to manage that many points of contact, write about so many topics, and hit all the deadlines. Eventually, I didn’t feel like I was giving them my best work and dropped two clients.

The other option to make more money as a writer is to raise your rates. While this might feel scary at first, I suggest raising them sooner rather than later. Even if you don’t “feel” ready, raise your rates.

This will help you step up as a writer, show more confidence in your abilities, and allow for more room when negotiating. Plus, it will prove to clients that you are confident in your business and can get the job done.

Create Empowering Routines

If you want to scale your online writing business, you need to have solid writing routines.

It’s nearly impossible to consistently pump out epic content for clients if you have no structure or discipline in your schedule. But I will say, find what works for you — there is no one way to do this online writing thing.

Everyone is different so test out different schedules and writing routines to figure out what works best for you. But here’s what I know: Each day you should always know what you’re doing the following day.

The worst thing you can do is wake up, look at a blank screen, and try to figure it out. Instead, plan your week in advance and spend a few minutes each night reviewing the following day.

Establish a Niche

I’m pretty sure it would be nearly impossible to make $20,000 in one month if I didn’t have a niche. It’s much harder to demand higher rates if you’re a generalist writer.

Remember, clients don’t want to work with any writer — they want to work with someone who knows their industry. Niching down will help you become an expert and allow you to stand out among a sea of writers who can seemingly write about anything.

Also, while choosing a main niche can feel scary, remember you can always pivot or add a second niche like I did.

Pick a second niche

A chunk of my income in that epic month came from my secondary niche — golf writing. Yes, I get paid to write about the crazy game of golf. In the past year, roughly 20% of my monthly income comes from golf writing (sometimes more).

So while I suggest all writers have a main niche, don’t be afraid to have a secondary one as well about something you’re really passionate about. Even if it feels really niche or you think there isn’t much money or opportunity, I bet there are websites out there that need people just like you to create content for them.

It’s easy to add a new page to your website and not distract from attracting clients in your main niche too. Plus, it’s fun, easy to write, and keeps me motivated if I’m feeling burnt out.

Ask yourself, “What do you love that people would pay you to write about?”

Set Income Goals

Since I quit my job in 2017, my goal was to always make $11,000 in one month.


Because the most I made in the corporate world was around $10,500.

So $11,000 became the goal. I wanted to prove to myself that I could make more being my own boss than working for someone else.

After reading “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield, I wrote down my goal and put it in my wallet. It lived there for years — but I saw it every time I pulled out my wallet to pay for anything.

I constantly thought about it. For years, it felt like a pipe dream… until it wasn’t.

So if you want to grow your writing business, I can’t encourage you to do this enough as well. Write down your income goals and review them regularly.

Affirm to your subconscious mind what you are working toward repetitively so it can help you start to attract the right people and situations into your life.

Write it down, make it happen.

Become a Trusted Freelancer

Step nine to scaling your writing business is to become a world-class freelancer. Most people think that great writing is the key to success, but I think it’s a very small part of the equation.

I’ve found that clients want a freelancer who hits deadlines more than they want incredible writing. While you can’t suck at writing, you don’t need to have a degree or feel like you’re an expert to succeed either.

Instead, you want to go above and beyond for clients.

Become more than a just pen for hire and create real relationships with clients. Get to know them, study their industry, know their competitors, and communicate regularly.

Having this type of relationship will allow you to ask for more work, ask for referrals, and partner together for new projects.

Never Give Up

When I was first starting out as a freelance writer, making $20,000 in a month was never on my mind. I just wanted to pay the bills and have people read my work.

I won’t lie, there were some dark days. At times, I hated some of my clients and resented writing altogether. Other times, I doubted myself more than I had in my entire life.

But even though things weren’t going how I wanted them, I never gave up. I just kept telling myself, “If other people have done it, I can too.”

You need the same mentality to build a successful freelance writing business. If you have a goal and a clear “why” to create a burning desire for success, you can do it too.

If you just keep going, amazing things will happen.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” — Earl Nightingale

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this 10-step framework will help you scale your income over the next year. Remember, nothing great happens overnight so stay patient and trust the process.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Learn new skills: Invest in yourself before you ask clients to do the same — this will make it easy for them to say “YES.”
  • Get in the habit of writing: This way, you can get into a flow state easily and pump out content once you attract new clients.
  • Create epic samples: Show clients that you want the job by customizing samples that are so good they can’t say yes fast enough.
  • Start writing routines: Find a routine that works best for you and allows you to get more done in less time!
  • Pitch like crazy: None of this works without clients! Get your offer in front of more people so you can scale quickly.
  • Raise your rates: Remember, you only have 24 hours in a day — getting more clients isn’t always the answer. Instead, raise your rates to hit your freelancing goals.
  • Niche down: Clients want to work with experts, not generalists. Add a second niche if you want to mix it up as well.
  • Set income goals: Give your mind a target by always setting monetary goals. But make sure to detach from them and focus on the actions it takes to reach your goal (no matter how long it takes to achieve it).
  • Become a world-class freelancer: Build amazing relationships with clients so you can retain clients and have consistent income.
  • Never give up: You’re only one client away from changing your life but it’ll never happen if you throw in the towel.

Now, go out there and make it happen!

*Photo by Michael Puche on Deposit Photos

Comments / 0

Published by

My name is Michael Leonard and I am the creator of Inspire Your Success. I'm on a mission to help readers build online writing businesses and quit their jobs to live a life of freedom!

Scottsdale, AZ

More from Michael Leonard

Comments / 0