How I Earn $3,000 per Month as a Freelance Writer

Sira Mas

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

When I started my career as a part-time freelance writer a few months ago, I expected things to go very slowly. It’s not that I was being pessimistic or didn’t believe in my skills. I wanted to be realistic. So I avoided setting excessively high expectations.

However, after a few weeks, I noticed things were slowly starting to work, and I was surprised. Fast forward to today, and I’m making approximately $3000 each month from writing.

This has been possible thanks to more than one factor. First, since day one, I have been writing every single day — early in the morning or after work. Second, I have four different income streams:

  • Upwork
  • Fiverr
  • One client met at a networking event
  • Online publishing platforms

What’s more, I realized the engine that is making this possible is the combination of a few habits I consistently stick to.

These habits are often underestimated, but I can tell you for sure that putting them into practice, maintaining them and being consistent is key.

Practicing active reading every day.

Before considering myself a writer, I consider myself an avid learner. And it will always be like that because I know I still have a lot to learn and there’s always space for growth. For me, continuous improvement is a necessity, not an option. That’s why I spend 30 minutes on active reading daily.

You might be wondering what I’m talking about exactly. To begin with, active reading is one of the habits that most helped me grow and earn the first money as a writer. This doesn’t mean reading is the source of my income — I would be a millionaire. But it’s what helps my writing improve every day.

Active reading means spending some time every day reading articles or books from the top authors in your favorite topics, and taking notes of anything you consider useful to develop your writing skills. I do it in the morning, while having breakfast, but it can be done at any moment of the day.

I usually write down sentences, new words or sentence structures I feel can add value to my learning experience and writing style. Simply put, when I feel I’m learning something new and it can make me a better writer, I take notes.

For people like me whose native language is not English, I find it particularly useful since it helps you strengthen your language skills — which is essential if you want to become a successful writer. Thanks to it, I’m slowly developing my own writing style and voice in English, which is helping me landing new clients and starting to slowly get more visibility on publishing platforms.

Putting your phone away.

“Time is money.”
— Benjamin Franklin

When I let my phone distract me, I basically waste my time staring at an object. I often remind myself of this simple idea, because it’s effective.

According to a study conducted by the London School Of Economics in 2015, banning mobile phones at schools improves student performance. This can be applied to anyone and is an indirect proof of how our phones can limit our productivity.

A recent study from the American Psychological Association, also showed how the mere presence of a cellphone can be sufficiently distracting to lead to poor performance. All this demonstrates how simply hiding your phone can increase your productivity.

I’m building the habit of putting my phone in silent mode and leaving it in my bedroom drawer. It definitely works for me. When I keep the phone out of sight — and out of arms-reach — I temporarily forget about its existence and can focus on writing and producing quality content.

When it comes to successfully being productive, it’s almost all about removing distractions. Let’s be honest: our smartphone is a great and practical tool, but one of our worst time-suckers too. And time is money.

Taking frequent microbreaks — or forget about being productive.

“There is virtue in work and there is virtue in rest. Use both and overlook neither.”
― Alan Cohen

It’s so easy to let writing absorb your time and energy. I don’t know about you, but when I remove distractions and write, time just flies. It sounds nice, and even romantic. But sometimes it’s essential to stop and let your brain recharge for a few minutes, or you can forget about being productive.

The mistake I made far too many times was to spend two or three hours in front of my laptop without stopping. I felt exhausted in the end and couldn’t produce the outcome I wanted.

On the other hand, since the day I started to take a short break every 45 or 50 minutes, I have noticed a difference. Now after each small pause, I get back to work recharged, energized, and more productive. And the reason is simple: our brain works more efficiently when we regularly take frequent microbreaks.

I also noticed that using my microbreaks to check my phone or watch videos on YouTube remaining sat at my desk doesn’t make me feel well-rested. So what I do now instead is locking the laptop screen, getting up, and doing something else — like working out, taking a walk or preparing a smoothie for example.

Working on your articles with professional proofreaders.

Reaching out to a proofreader for help doesn’t mean sending them your article and letting them do the work. It means writing good content yourself as if you had to publish it on Forbes, then looking for a good proofreader with good reviews on a freelance platform, and asking them if they are willing to set up a call with you and analyze together the piece you wrote.

It’s a customized service many proofreaders are willing to provide if you ask for it. They usually prepare a customized offer for you — I provide this service in Italian, my native language, and I know this is something many freelance proofreaders do.

I recently found a professional and experienced proofreader, and we had two calls so far. It’s one of the best investments I have made so far for my career as a freelance writer since it’s helping me refine my writing skills. It’s like taking private writing classes online. I do it once every two weeks, but I will soon start doing it more often, probably weekly.

Now you might wonder why I give it so much importance. Remember this: if you regularly work on your writing skills with someone experienced, it will help you increase your chances of becoming a successful writer. This also translates into finding more clients and getting the visibility you deserve on publishing platforms.

Following your own rhythm.

Many successful writers say they publish one article per day, and that’s one of their key habits to earn extra money every month. They have all my admiration because it’s not easy to do it. However, delivering one article per day doesn’t work for me. It’s not that I’m lazy, but all my good articles have one thing in common: I worked on them for at least two or three days.

In an interview on the Blogging Guide publication, Nicole Akers said something interesting, “I don’t publish every day, but I write every day and publish when I feel the writing is ready.”

This resonates so much with me. Maybe because I have a full-time job and don’t have the whole day to work on my writing side hustles, maybe because I write in a language that is not my native one, or maybe because of both things. If I tried to publish an article per day the quality would probably below. So I follow my rhythm.

The point is this: if something works well for others, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for you as well. Follow your own rhythm and find what works for you. In fact, it’s the best way to be productive and see results.

If you can publish one quality article per day, you have a gift, so go for it. Just make sure to give priority to quality over quantity — remember you get paid for the first one.

Joining mastermind groups — or creating your own.

A few months ago, a few friends and I created a Whatsapp group where we would only talk about our freelance projects and personal development. Most of us are writers and have a blog, and what we all have in common is our entrepreneurial mindset and our passion for self-improvement.

In January, we started to meet in person every two weeks to make it more professional. At every session, we talked about our individual projects and progress. In March, when our country was declared on lockdown, we started setting up online weekly meetings on Zoom, and we now connect every Saturday afternoon.

The idea is this: each person has 15 to 20 minutes to talk about their project or business — some of us also share their screen and show more details, such as their website, the tools they work with and their metrics— then the rest of the group share their views and opinion on the project and give suggestions.

After every meeting, I feel recharged and motivated to keep going on the path I chose. It’s nice to see how simply talking about our ideas with like-minded people can inspire and motivate us to take things to the next level.

Learning from my friends is helping me grow not only as a writer but also as a freelancer. I’m learning every day more about SEO and social media marketing, which are essential skills for any solopreneur.

As R.L. Adams mentioned in one of his articles on Entrepreneur Europe, the beauty of masterminds is their ability to help its members learn from the collective experience of the group. Because fellow members guide each other. Often someone in the group has already overcome things that other members might be going through at that moment. And this makes everyone learn something useful at every meeting. It creates synergy.

If you’re willing to put in the work and follow the advice given in this article, you can definitely earn your extra $3000 — and more — each month. If this Italian girl can do it, you can too.

It all comes down to being consistent, having more than one income stream, and combining the following habits:

  • Practicing active reading every day;
  • Putting your phone away;
  • Taking frequent microbreaks;
  • Working on your articles with professional proofreaders;
  • Following your own rhythm;
  • Joining mastermind groups.

Thank you for reading this article, I hope that putting these habits into practice will help you succeed in your writing career.

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