I am so excited to share with you our third official guest post on KayWritesStuff. I love connecting with fellow freelancers and having them share their experiences and advice with all of you.
Today’s guest post comes from T.J, who has some great advice about working as a freelancer part-time. Check it out!
It’s hard making ends meet in today’s economy. Many people struggle to stretch a full-time salary wide enough to cover the extra expenses that often crop up when we can least afford it. My life changed dramatically about five years ago, ultimately resulting in me looking for part-time work to supplement my income.
I’m someone to whom writing’s always come easy. I didn’t have the passion or discipline to pursue writing for a living; instead, I’ve used that ability to create tons of technical writing over the course of my technical career. I’ve only recently realized that the skill I’ve taken for granted could be used to earn extra money.
I want to touch on the realities of part-time content writing. Those with the discipline and drive can make content writing a satisfactory second career. But it’s no easy breezy side gig.
Temper Your Expectations
Kay’s got a great article up on the Barefoot Model type of promotion many sites use, pushing content writing as an easy way to make lots of money. Read it, absorb it, know it, because everything she states is dead-on.
Content writing is WORK, with often sporadic pay. The only ones making money are these sites preying on desperate writers. Part-timers looking for every short-cut possible need to be particularly aware of what I consider to be predatory behavior.
Understand content mills
At some point, you’ll probably end up at one. Know that they’re NOT designed to bring in huge amounts of money for writers. They’re designed to earn as much money as possible for the site owner, meaning that the writer’s the one ending up on the short end of the stick.
Swallow your pride
You’ll see work out there for as little as $.01 per word for a 1,000-word article. Yes, $.01. You break that down over the precious few hours you can spare to devote to writing, and it doesn’t come close to minimum wage. It’s not for the faint of heart.
Accept that the big bucks aren’t going to be rolling in when you start out. Take these jobs as what they are, a starting point. The work you do won’t be the most creatively stimulating.
Be Prepared To Work
When you write part-time, you have half as much time to improve, so every hour needs to count twice as much. If you’re going to make part-time content writing worth your time, take the time to master these skills.
Know your style guides
I recommend familiarizing yourself with the AP and Chicago Style guides. Pick one and stick to it consistently. You’ll work much faster that way. Be aware that many content providers have their own style guides to master as well.
Let your words flow
Write your article, take a breather, then go back and edit. When you only have about four hours per day to devote to writing, editing as you write costs you valuable time.
This is where those $.01 writing jobs come in handy. Use them to practice your research skills, gain speed, and improve your writing. Don’t write down to $.01 per word standards. Write up to the level you aspire to.
Rhythm is key
Produce content every day to get into the habit of writing. I’ve come home exhausted from having to fix a broken piece of software, yet still needing to deliver a 750-word article on receding gums.
I’m able to do this because I made writing a part of my day, something that has to be done along with brushing my teeth and taking a shower. I write something even if I’m not getting paid.
Push past the exhaustion. You won’t get faster if you don’t write. You won’t get better if you keep putting it off. Part-timers can’t afford procrastination.
Know your limits
It’s possible to carve out a nice niche for yourself by investing around 15-20 hours per week. The key is not over-extending yourself, and knowing exactly what you’re capable of producing given the time you have.
Success Is Possible
For me, success is earning an extra $1,500-2,000 per month, and I’m close to hitting that mark after less than six months of investment. Not a day goes by where I don’t devote at least 30 minutes to looking for new income streams.
I carve out a few hours each month to take some sort of online writing course. I never consider myself to be above the need for improvement. Blogs like Kay’s that focus on actually earning a living writing have been invaluable resources.
Put in the work. Keep grinding. You can make part-time content writing work for you.