From Broke Blogger to Wealthy Writer: 5-Steps to Pivot

Michael Leonard

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Most bloggers don’t make much money.

Sure, some make a killing but in general, the majority of blogs don’t make a ton of money.

According to this website and survey results from ProBlogger, only 13% of blogs earn over $1,000 monthly.

But I don’t need any study to tell me that blogging is tough, as I lived it first hand.

In May of 2017, I quit my six-figure career to make money blogging, despite having made $200 ever from my blog.

After reading countless income reports from other bloggers, I figured, “If they can do it, I can too.”

Sadly, my optimism and hard work didn’t pay off. After seven months of 50+ hour weeks, my blog had made about $5,000 total.

When you consider how many hours I worked, it made minimum wage look appealing. Things got so bad financially that I resorted to flipping stuff on eBay and OfferUp to help pay some bills.

It wasn’t until I was on a family vacation at the end of 2017 that I finally hit rock bottom. When they were down at the pool, I spent a few hours each morning working on my blog, trying anything I could to get something happening.

I was defeated.

While I tried to play it cool, deep down, I was hurting. I felt like a failure, I beat myself up, and quite frankly, I was ashamed of lack of results.

I had been working hard for seven months, with almost nothing to show for it. My blog wasn’t growing as I thought, the site barely made any money, and my dream of entrepreneurship was failing… miserably.

So when I got back to reality, I knew I couldn’t keep living like this. I realized that eventually, I’d burn through all of my savings and have to go back to a 9–5.

But I knew it wasn’t an effort problem. My writing was solid, I just didn’t know how to get people to the website.

So I pivoted from blogging to freelance writing to monetize my writing skills. I figured if other blogs already have traffic, they can worry about blog stuff and I’ll focus on writing.

It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life. In a few months, I made more as a freelance writer than I ever did with my blog.

And in 12 months, I 10X'd my monthly income.

Now, freelance writing is my number one income stream and earned over $20,050 in one single month.

If you’re a struggling blogger, understand that you can make the pivot too.

If you’re tired of all the blogging stuff that takes time (Pinterest, social media, website, SEO, etc.) and just want to write, I suggest freelance writing.

Take these five steps to pivot to use your writing skills to make money online.

Step 1: Admit That Your Blog Isn’t Working

When I quit my corporate job, I was determined to make money blogging.

It’s not that I didn’t want to write for other sites as a freelancer but I just wanted the “freedom” of not having any clients and being my own boss. I guess I was just stubborn and wanted the passive income that bloggers constantly tease online.

After adding up my monthly income in 2017 for taxes, it became very clear how badly it was failing. I had nearly as many write-offs as income.

The first thing I had to do was admit that my blog was failing. It was a hard pill to swallow as I put my blood, sweat, and tears into the project but it was necessary.

“The desire to change things must begin with accepting things as they are.” — Marty Rubin

Once I acknowledged blogging wasn’t working, I could take an objective view of what to do next.

It wasn’t until later on that I realized that sometimes life is happening for you, not too you.

Step 2: Establish Yourself as a Freelancer

Once you’ve accepted that your blog isn’t working, it’s time to pivot into freelance writing.

The first thing I did to establish myself as a freelance writer was to buy an online course from a professional writer and build my own writing website.

My writing website is 100% separate from my blog. I did this intentionally as I wanted to clearly differentiate my blog vs. writing services for potential clients.

I took about three hours and created a basic website to show off my portfolio, services, and an about me page. I also built out my Upwork profile and LinkedIn profile so I could start landing gigs on those platforms as well.

Once I established my brand, I felt my identity shift and the decision to declare myself to the world as a writer felt real.

If you’re transitioning from blogger to writer, please don’t skip this step!

Building your own writing website helps you:

  • Build trust with clients
  • Display your testimonials
  • Show off your writing samples
  • Let’s potential clients know you’re committed to your craft
  • Helps clients learn about who you are and how you can help them

Watch this Youtube video if you have more questions about easily creating a writing website.

“Freelance isn’t for everyone. You’ve got to be aggressive and enjoy working alone. But you could make more money than you ever imagined.” — Nicole Williams

Step 3: Pitch Clients

Once you’ve established your online brand, the next step is pitching clients and finding gigs. From my experience as a writer, and now as a freelance writing coach, this is where most people get stuck.

Most people are terrified of pitching because they are terrified of rejection. The hard truth is though, that if you aren’t pitching, you won’t make money writing!

For me, this wasn’t as much of an issue because, in 2018, my back was already against the wall. I knew if I didn’t make money writing, my dreams of being my boss and working for myself would die.

So I pitched like crazy; the fear of rejection wasn’t even on my mind.

I remember one day, I sent over 50 cold pitch emails to financial advisors, personal finance websites, and money blogs.

Other days, I would apply to 15–20 jobs on Upwork to any gig I thought I could land. To stand out from the sea of other writers, I created custom pitches for each one and sometimes custom samples as well.

And on other days, I would write 2–4 free guest posts to build my portfolio and network with other websites.

In the beginning, I heard a lot of “No’s” and there were a lot of crickets along the way. But eventually, I realized that pitching freelancing clients was just like my old sales job — it’s just a numbers game.

The more you pitch, the more likely you are to get a yes.

My approach worked, and I started to get people saying yes! Some of my first clients were from cold emailing, in-person meetups, guest posting, and Upwork.

By month four of becoming a freelance writer, I had four recurring clients and made nearly $4,000!

The best part?

My hours.

I was only working 15–20 hours per week making more than I ever did as a blogger with a fraction of the stress.

So if you want to make money as a freelancer, you need to go all-in on pitching. Test out different pitches, different subject lines, and different job boards.

Remember, the more you pitch, the more likely you are to get one person to say yes — which is always the hardest.

After one person says YES everything gets easier.

Step 4: Write About What You Love

When I first started out as a freelance writer, I was in the personal finance niche and dabbling in a few other topics. While I loved helping people learn how to master their money, I grew tired quickly of my writing assignments.

I would have to write 5,000-word posts about life insurance, Roth IRA’s, and other topics that became very dull and dry. In fact, I began to hate my work and resent my clients. It felt all too familiar with the job that I left the year previously.

So I pivoted (once again) with my writing niche and switched from personal finance to personal development.

This led to creating a viral video with nearly 2,000,000 views, landing tons of new clients, and enjoying my writing projects.

Remember, you can enjoy what you write and get paid to do it!

Writing about topics you love will help you write faster, attract more clients, and not dread working each day!

“If you are not doing what you love, you are wasting your time.” — Billy Joel

Find a second niche

If you’re like most people, you’ve often heard the term, “The riches are in the niches.

A lot of writers say to stay in one niche and not do anything else, but I disagree. I know from experience that you can have more than one niche and still be thought of as an expert in both spaces.

For me, my main niche is personal development and my second niche is golf writing. I have made $40,000+ in the last two years writing about my second niche.

Never in a million years would I have guessed that 20% of my monthly income would come from golf.

So if you’re passionate about a topic totally unrelated to your main niche (ex. movies, sports, music, etc.), don’t be afraid to research it and apply for gigs.

There is no harm in checking out the market and getting a few side gigs. For me, golf writing helps me think about something different than my niche and connect with people in the golf world.

Step 5: Separate Writing Clients vs. Blogging

While I was growing my writing business, I didn’t give up blogging because as I mentioned, I’m stubborn.

But growing a blog, managing a freelance writing business, and pursuing professional golf is nearly impossible. After I pivoted, I had anywhere between 3–8 freelance writing clients at a time, most of which had recurring content.

But sometimes, I would miss my blog and go back to it even when I needed to get client work done. This led to some lazy editing and unhappy clients.

I lost my biggest client at the time ($3,000/month retainer client) because I didn’t spend adequate time on their project.

The lesson?

Prioritize what’s important.

My writing clients were much more important (as they actually made me money), but I was still stuck on growing my blog.

That revenue hit hurt my bank account and ego but I learned a vital lesson… You can’t do it all!

Finally, at the end of 2018 and most of 2019, I temporarily quit blogging to focus on growing the writing business.

Now that it’s grown so much, I’m able to hire VA’s and writers to help grow my blog, so I don’t have to spend as much time on it.

If you insist on doing both, make growing your writing business a priority and with extra cash, hire help to grow the blog.

Outsource anything you don’t like doing (or aren’t good at) so you can stay in your zone of genius. Some things I’ve outsourced include:

  • SEO
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook ads
  • Podcast notes
  • Podcast editing
  • Website design
  • Social media management

Remember, you’re only one person, you can’t do it all!

Final Thoughts

I’m not saying that you can’t make money blogging.

I’ve interviewed several on my podcast, Inspire Your Success, who make five figures per month and some have even sold their blogs for $1,000,000.

But, most people don’t realize how much work it is growing and monetizing a blog, especially in the beginning. You can’t just write about what you want and expect your laptop to print money on demand.

To be a successful blogger, you need too:

  • Niche down
  • Create an email list
  • Write SEO friendly content
  • Learn how to drive traffic to your blog
  • Map out different monetization strategies
  • Hire writers and grow a team (unless you want to work countless hours)

And the final step?

Stay patient!

Blogging is far from overnight riches which is why most bloggers quit.

But if you just want to write and not worry about all the other activities from blogging, give freelance writing a shot.

Freelance writing has changed my life and I know it can do the same for you.

If you’re ready to make the switch, make sure to:

  • Acknowledge your blog isn’t working. Forgive yourself and move on!
  • Create your freelance writing brand. Start a website and declare your new writing services to the world.
  • Pitch, pitch, and pitch some more! Remember, pitching clients is just a numbers game.
  • Write about content you love. And if you have a side passion, don’t be afraid to get a second niche as well.
  • Separate your blog vs. freelance writing clients. If you’re doing both, you need to spend your time wisely. Don’t lose your biggest client as I did from trying to make your blog work. Prioritize what’s making you money!

If I can find success with a zero freelancing background and at the time, marginal writing skills, I know you can too.

Stay relentless, stay passionate, and make it happen!

Photo by knostantin32 by Deposit Photos

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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
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