Last Updated on: August 4th, 2017
Today’s F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) is Gina Horkey, creator of one of the best courses for new freelancers that I’ve come across! I met Gina through Elna Cain, a freelancer who lives in my city, and who created an equally awesome course called Write Your Way to Your First 1K. Elna and I regularly get together at Starbucks, and she will be featured in the F.I.T.S. series next month.
Before I turn things over to Gina, however, I want to ask you one question: Did you pick up your free gift yet? Get it when you subscribe to my author newsletter. (Yes, I’m shamelessly promoting my author website, folks!)
Now that my shameless self-promotion of my author site is out the way, please welcome Gina Horkey to center stage.
Take it away, Gina!
How I Got Into Freelancing
Once upon a time I dreaded going to work each day.
I worked for almost a decade as a financial advisor and had a thing going. My husband had recently quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad to our two toddlers, I worked less than 10 miles from home, made a good salary and had a lot of future potential in my career.
Despite all that I had going for me, I felt unhappy and unfulfilled. I’m a doer, so when I notice a problem, typically I want to fix it ASAP. Working in finance was my first “real career.” I had wanted to quit before, but I don’t like feeling like a failure (and that’s what I imagined quitting would feel like).
Try, Try Again
So instead of immediately looking at alternative career paths, I tried to throw myself further into my work and look for ways to be happier in my current career. I enrolled in the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) program and proposed a plan to buy into the larger practice that I worked as a part of.
I went through and passed the exam for the first of six courses (it’s kind of like getting a Master’s degree, but specific to the world of personal finance) and started the second on investment planning. That’s when I realized this is NOT what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was good at it – I just wasn’t passionate about it.
I liked working with clients and helping them to achieve their goals, but it wasn’t enough to keep me there for the next 20-30 years. I wanted and needed more!
Trying Something New
Once I was finally honest with myself about what I really wanted, I gave myself permission to look into other options. I turned to my trusty friend Google and started a haphazard search that ultimately led me to Leaving Work Behind and Tom Ewer.
I really connected with Tom and his story about leaving his former career behind to become a successful freelance writer. I’ve always liked to write and have spent many daydreams wishing I was a published author. I’m fairly intelligent – why couldn’t I do this too?
So I submerged myself into the wonderful wide world of freelance writing. I took a course, launched my own website and blog and started pitching for jobs. Within two months, I had an unpaid writing gig writing for the Huffington Post and my first paying client. I was ecstatic!
When I commit to something, I typically see it through. My friend Shannon once told me that I’m the only person that she knows that actually does what I say I want to. I took it as a compliment!
For example, I said I was going to run a full marathon – I did (I’m NOT a natural runner). I said I was going to write a book – I did (I just never got to the second draft). I said I was going to quit my job – I did (but I’m getting ahead of myself here).
As I mentioned, I have two toddlers and a wonderful husband. I also was working full-time (but only four days per week). I had people to answer to and that depended on me – financially, emotionally and who needed my attention – and lots of it!
So, I had to be extra diligent about my working schedule. I would get up at 4:30 in the morning (thankfully I had the foresight to auto-brew some coffee) and work on my freelance writing business for an hour or two each morning. I also got to work on Fridays and would get a babysitter from time to time on the weekend when I could (my husband was working weekends on a large building project for my parents at the time).
I was diligent, focused and made the most of the time that I had. My “why” for starting this whole writing business was so that I could continue to provide for my family (I’m the breadwinner) and try to find a better long-term career fit for me. And I wanted writing to be it!
Teaching What I’ve Learned
Within the first six months of launching my freelancing business, I was making over $4,000 per month. Someone suggested that I should start thinking about launching a product and at first I blew it off. Who was I to launch a product so soon?
But then I started to review the notes I had taken from the beginning of my new business. I realized that by documenting my journey, I had created a blueprint of sorts that could help someone else launch a successful freelance writing business. So I did what I did best – took action and started writing.
For the month of November, I wrote at least one new lesson each morning. What I had at the end of the month was a 30 day course to help aspiring writers launch a web-based freelance writing business.
I decided to make it into a “take at your own pace” email course. Meaning you purchase and get lesson one delivered to your inbox immediately. You determine when to get the next lesson by hitting the “done with lesson” button at the bottom of each email. In essence, someone could take it in a month, in a few days or stretch it out longer if they’d like – it’s up to you![Tweet "New to #FreelanceWriting? Check out this step-by-step outline to getting started!”]
Where I’m at Now
I currently have a very diversified freelance business (in April I earned more than $7,500). Writing is still at the core of it, but I’m also a virtual assistant to two very successful webpreneurs, my course is doing well and I actively coach almost 20 other freelancers (writers, web designers/developers, editors and more!).
I love that my business is varied – it keeps it fresh and interesting. It can be challenging at times too, as there are a lot of irons in the fire at any given time and my attention is diverted. Honestly, I NEVER feel like my to do list is complete and find myself overwhelmed from time to time.
I try to keep it under control by planning my days and weeks as best I can (using the Pomodoro technique) and try to focus on the next right thing. Feelings of overwhelm can often lead to fear, freezing up and inaction. The key to overcoming fear lies in the answer to this ancient proverb:
“How do you eat an elephant? One piece at a time!”
So I urge you, keep moving forward, keep doing the next (hopefully right) thing and don’t let fear get the best of you. My mantra for the year (feel free to steal if it resonates with you) is:
Why Not Me, Why Not Now?
Why not you, why not now? What have you got to lose?
Gina Horkey is a writer for hire, with a background in personal finance. She also offers coaching services and really enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and say hello and download a free copy of 8 Tips to Start Your Freelance Career off on the Right Foot!
And don’t forget to grab her super-helpful course!
(She’ll give you the opportunity to make some money at the end of it, too!)
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