Freelance Blogging: How I Make $4,000+ A Month Working Part Time

Carol Tice

By Tom Ewer

For the past four months, I have averaged nearly $4,200 per month in freelance blogging earnings while working just 3-4 hours each weekday.

I now make about as much as I did from the job that I quit in 2011 in less than half the time.

And yet I have no formal writing qualifications. Far from it in fact — I nearly failed English at school. Not only that, but I’d barely even read a blog before May 2011, let alone written blog posts.

That said, you may be wondering how I got from zero income to $4,000+ per month in just a year.

The fact is that I am nothing special — I believe that any capable writer has the potential to follow in my footsteps and exceed my achievements if they wish.

How? Let’s start at the very beginning of my freelancing story.

Passive Income Dreams

In May 2011 I decided that I no longer wanted to work for a boss.

I was pretty happy in my job, but I had an irresistible yearning to strike out on my own.

At the time I had no idea what I would do to make a living but it is fair to say that freelance blogging would have been very low on my list of considerations.

I spent most of 2011 toiling away on various passive income projects to no avail. I spent countless hours building websites with the intent of ranking in Google, only to see them tossed aside by algorithm updates or penalties.

In short, I was getting seriously discouraged with my lack of progress.

My Turning Point

It was only in September 2011 that I finally turned to freelance blogging as an option, out of pure frustration with my lack of progress more than anything else.

I spent about ten minutes on the ProBlogger Job Board, submitted a few pitches, then thought nothing more of what I had done for a day or so. After all, I had gone through the process as more of a way of letting off steam than anything else — I didn’t actually expect anything to come of it.

But I was wrong. After a few days I got a reply to one of my pitches. WPMU, arguably the biggest blog about WordPress on the web, were offering me a paid trial.

Just a couple of weeks later, I had my first blogging role.

The pay was modest, but in my mind I had crossed an enormous gulf. At least one person in the world was willing to pay me for my words. Where could I take this?

How I Quit My Job

The monthly pay from my first client amounted to just a few hundred bucks a month, which was never going to be enough to pay the bills. However, I now felt like I was as close to quitting my job as I had ever been.

I could see the path — now I just needed to follow it.

In a move that you would consider either brave or stupid (or both), I handed my notice in.

At the time, I had just one client who was paying me enough to cover perhaps my mortgage but nothing else.

My logic was simple — if this client was willing to pay me $x per hour to write, and $x per hour was enough to cover my outgoings if I worked full time, I was good to go (in theory). I had a few month’s savings to tide me over and I felt that I could build up a sufficiently viable business in that time.

In preparation for my leaving, I submitted another bunch of pitches to online job listings, informing prospective clients that I would be available to work from mid-January 2012 (when I would be returning from vacation).

However, one eager prospective client offered me a role straight away, and I felt that it would be foolish to turn the opportunity down. That job was for the ManageWP blog, where I am now the editor.

So, with just two clients and nowhere near enough income to cover my expenses, I left my workplace for the last time in December 2011 and headed off to Florida for a well-earned vacation.

How I Built My Business

Perhaps the most remarkable fact about my story is that I haven’t sought out a single client in 2012 — they have all come to me, either via my blog or bylines spread across the web on clients’ sites.

I started my blog, Leaving Work Behind, in June 2011 as an accountability journal for my making-money-online exploits. I never had the deliberate intention of using it to attract freelance blogging referrals.

I never followed a deliberate strategy to secure clients — and yet the referrals started trickling in. With that in mind, for those who are interested in freelance blogging (or freelancing in general), I cannot advocate the value of blogs enough.

I slapped up a basic Hire Me page and in February, my third client found me — a small business based in the UK (where I live) whose owner needed help producing blog content.

From that point on, it was just a case of retaining my existing clients and waiting for new ones to appear, which they did, steadily throughout 2012.

I now work with a core group of five clients on an ongoing basis. This highlights one of the great advantages of freelance blogging — once you have secured a client, they can be yours for the long term.

And because prospects come to me, I spend no time marketing my services — my “non-billable” hours are very low.

How Did it All Come Together?

You might think things just fell into place for me, but that wasn’t the case. It took a lot of work (and plenty of failings) to get to where I am now.

If I were to assess my freelance blogging success to date, I would say that it is based upon three fundamentals:

  1. Good pitches
  2. Good samples
  3. A steady stream of prospective clients

Those are the three areas that I would advise any aspiring freelance blogger to focus on — write good pitches, make sure that you have great examples of your work, and put yourself in front of plenty of prospective clients (or draw them to you).

As far as I am concerned, for any capable writer, freelance blogging is a truly awesome option.

You can earn a full time income from part time pay, which affords you the flexibility and freedom to live your life as you see fit.

You could spend the additional time working on passive income projects (as I do), work full time and earn a great deal more, or simply spend more time with your family. The world is your oyster and you are free to do with it as you please.

I won’t say that freelance blogging is easy — because it isn’t — but the end result is well worth the work.

38 Comments

  1. Dave

    Tom:
    would like to know more…I am a master plumber of 27 years, and would love to “blog” and help people. I enjoyed your article and would love to find a new income source as my age is against me, in a physical job. My years of experience make this a logical progression into this day and age. I just do not know how, or where to present my ideas to get out there and get noticed. Any help would be greatly appreciated. –Dave from Nebraska–

    • Carol Tice

      Have to say I’m not really sure the best way to leverage plumbing knowledge as a blogger! But you might check out my Step by Step Guide e-book (See the ‘my ebooks’ tab above) if you want to get freelance gigs. For blogging, I recommend A-List Blogger Club’s “Kickstart Your Blog” course — you can read about that on my Products I Love page. I built this blog with A-List’s help.

  2. Elliot Forbes

    Great read and very inspiring! Hopefully I’ll be able to follow suit and join the high earning freelancers before I can finish off my Uni course!

  3. Joe

    Hi Tom and Carol,

    Drat I signed up for the webinar but realised I have just missed it, even though I am 17 hours ahead of you guys!

    I am about to embark on the same journey that you have taken Tom. Ive resigned from my job after xmas to focus all my time on writing, blogging and freelancing. Ive never done either of them before really, just writing for free.

    I have a bit of savings that will give me long enough to get going!
    Im very glad I have your story to follow and learn from, truly inspired 🙂

    Time to take the plunge.

    • Carol Tice

      Email subscribers to this-here blog got a link to the replay, so hopefully you got a chance to at least listen after the fact, Joe.

      And if not…note that I send my subscribers cool stuff like that now and then. 😉 So it’s useful to be one!

    • Joe

      Oh yes I look forward to those emails 🙂
      Is it possible to resend the replay link ?

    • Carol Tice

      Sorry Joe — one-time deal for my subscribers. You could ask Tom though… 😉

    • Joe

      No worries 🙂
      Lesson here guys is subscribe to email from makealivingwriting.com, not the RSS.. this is exactly why RSS is dead 😉

    • Carol Tice

      I’m SO glad you bring that up. I have over 1000 RSS subscribers and I feel bad for them, because they are not getting so many goodies!

      I’ve sent stats on how well my ebooks did, all kinds of behind the scenes stuff on my pricing experiments for my classes…and it all goes out on email only. I release a lot of inside stuff on email that’s never seen on the blog. You totally want to subscribe on email here!

  4. koundeenya

    That’s so inspirational. Personally, I’ve also been a freelance writer online for blogs and have been making some money. But not much. I couldn’t make my living with them. I lost all my hope. This one truly motivated me. Thanks a ton

  5. Kevin Carlton

    Tom, I particularly like your remark “I spend no time marketing my services — my ‘non-billable’ hours are very low.”
    I can relate this to the ultimate goal I have for my own (new) site. Rather than just being a website for the sake of it, I want it to be a lead-generating machine.
    That way, I don’t have dress up in a suit and go out to networking meetings and business breakfast clubs, where occasionally someone might just put work your way only on the basis that ‘they know you’ (a bit of a generalisation, but I’m sure people know what I mean).
    And going back to the lead-generating machine bit, aren’t machines just brilliant? Once you’ve set them up properly (in this case, your website) they do the work, so you don’t have to (within reason).

    • Carol Tice

      Personally, Kevin, it also took me about 18 months of building my inbound marketing like crazy before it really started to roll for me. Now it’s a thrill to get nibbles coming to me about every week, without having to do anything except write my blog and keep my LinkedIn updated and looking active. Those have been the 2 biggies for me.

      Can’t wait to talk all about this on the call!

    • Kevin Carlton

      Funny you should mention LinkedIn because I’ve been tucked away out of circulation for so long that I don’t have a great number of connections. Yet, curiously, this has been one of my biggest sources of traffic so far. Therefore, I have to give the platform a big thumbs up.

      First enquiry from website came in after 6 weeks for me. Of course, a telephone enquiry is still just an enquiry and you still need to convert as many of these as possible into actual business.

      A potential theme for one of your future posts?

      Thanks for the reminder about the Open House Call.

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