Do you love to write? Do you like sharing your knowledge? Do you enjoy the challenge of learning, researching and getting past writer's block occasionally? But… you are a mom (or dad) with very little extra time on your hands… Have you ever wondered if freelance writing is a viable career for SAHMs (or SAHDs)? Or how you could possibly make a living doing it?…
Meet Gina Horkey! She has done it and enjoys sharing her experiences with others.
Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to three kiddos. Additionally, she started her VA business as a freelance writer and administrative virtual assistant. Now she's a professional writer and online business marketing consultant. She's got a decade of experience in the financial services industry. Gina enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. If you’re interested in starting a freelance career, consider going through Gina's list of 200+ niches.
Gina, Could you give us a little history and tell us how you got into freelance writing?
I’d love to! My name is Gina and I identify as a married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers. I’ve been freelancing for two years now and full-time for over a year.
When I started this whole thing, I was in a career that I was no longer in love with and as the breadwinner (my husband is an SAHD to our now two and four-year-olds) I felt stuck. I tried to fall back in love with finance first by furthering my education, but finally came to terms with the fact that it wasn’t “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” I.e. I couldn’t imagine another 30 years doing the same thing!
So I started Googling around on tax day, 2014 and stumbled across some resources on freelance writing. I’ve always loved to write, have even tried my hand at a couple of fiction novels, but never considered non-fiction writing for the web as a viable option.
And it totally is!
From there I built my business on the side of my full-time job until I could put in my notice. I hustled hard, getting up at 4:30am most weekdays in order to work on my freelance writing business. And it’s paid off!
There is a general concept that it is hard to make a living as a freelance writer. Is this true?
Sure. Freelancing, in general, is hard.
You have to first build up your clientele and then be prepared to replace clients as your or their situation changes. But it’s also pretty awesome!
Some people make their living strictly as freelance writers. I started as one and still get paid to write for clients, but I also do virtual assistant work, have since launched products and am finally gaining traction with affiliate marketing.
So it’s completely possible, but it doesn’t have to be where 100% of your income comes from. And it’s like anything else, the more you put into it, the more you’ll get out!
Is this something that a stay-at-home mom can do in her limited amount of time? Is it a flexible career?
I have two “students” that are making a living while staying home with their SEVEN kids that they HOMESCHOOL! Crazy, right?
It all comes down to being organized, focused and not wasting time on unimportant tasks.
Realistically, what is the minimum amount of time you would need to devote to this on a daily basis?
It all depends on what your goals are. If you want to earn a few hundred bucks per month, it’ll look different than wanting to earn a couple of thousand.
You might have to put in more time prospecting in the beginning, but once you have your clients, it’s just the writing work and some admin stuff (invoicing, etc.) that you’ll need to do.
So maybe, at least, an hour or two per day? Again, if your time is limited, you’ll want to concentrate on activities that directly contribute to the bottom line – prospecting in the beginning and meeting deadlines once you have clients!
Can you make a decent income doing this part time?
Sure, I see former students making anywhere from $200 – $3,000 per month. It all depends on your niches, the time you have to dedicate (part-time could be 5 hours or 20 hours per week, right?) to it and the quality of clients you take on.
I.e. your business will look a lot different if you have clients paying you $50 per post versus $250 per post. Both types of clients exist, it’s just a matter of connecting with the right ones!
Is this a career that a stay-at-home mom could make into a full-time career once the kids are older and she has more time on her hands?
Yep. Many have!
And I think starting it while they’re still at home is smart. It takes a bit of time to get up and running and have regular clientele, so if you started part-time and wanted to take it full-time in a year or two, you’d already have that base, experience and you could ask your current clients for more business or referrals once you had more time.
Is it hard to get clients and have a steady workflow?
I don’t think so.
It was my goal to have recurring clients from the beginning, so that’s what I focused on. I needed to build that predictability before I could leave work behind, which is why I focused on blogging for companies, rather than one-off projects like copywriting or press releases (which I still took on).
So if recurring work is important to you, make that your objective and market yourself accordingly.
Do you ever have to go meet clients or can you do everything from home?
I do everything from home and my clients exist worldwide. I did once go to an in-person interview for a manuscript project (which I didn’t get because he decided to partner with a close friend on the project) and that was a fun change, but VERY rare.
What kind of skills do you need? Do you need to have a degree in English or journalism?
Nope. I don’t.
You should have decent writing chops (your writing skills will grow over time), be a self-starter, willing to put yourself out there and get rejected and be organized (i.e. never miss a deadline).
What kind of office equipment do you need besides a laptop and an internet connection?
None. When I started I used our old laptop, a “dumbphone” and the internet. I graduated to a Chromebook shortly thereafter and just recently bought a new laptop and a smartphone.
The main thing is some sort of computer and internet access. If you have those you’re golden, because Google provides everything else you need for free (Google Docs, Google Voice, etc.).
What are the basic start-up expenses?
I spent less than $200 to launch my freelance business (on hosting, a domain name and a freelance writing course). If you didn’t launch your own website or take a paid course, you could literally do it for free.
What is the best part of this career for you?
The flexibility of schedule and unlimited income potential.
We recently returned from two months in South Padre Island, Texas. We would NEVER have been able to do that with my previous career. I worked while we were down there and we plan to return next year!
Any advice for moms who want to give it a go?
Just get started. The time is going to pass anyway, so if you can find an hour or two per day to work on your freelance writing business, do it!
And if you want a step-by-step guide to get you going, check out her FullyBookedVA program (where you can become an article-writing ninja that everyone wants to hire).
Plus so many other skills you'll need to be the GO-TO virtual assistant.
And part of the program includes giving you hot leads looking for VAs with your skills (that they also teach you how to do).
Check out their $19 mini-course, Jump Start Your Virtual Assistant Business to see if it's a good fit for you.
Lastly, why not you, why not now? My mantra. 😉
Thank you, Gina!
Have you had any freelancing writing experiences? Anything you would like to share? Or any questions you have? Just start typing below!