“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Janine Ripper

Last Updated on: December 9th, 2016

FITS Series Welcome ImageFITS Series Welcome Image

It’s the first Monday of the month, and so today we are continuing with the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well, with Janine Ripper as the FITS. Make sure you read all the way to the end so you don’t miss out on her speciall offer, too! 😉

Now please welcome Janine to center stage. 😉

Take it away, Janine!

Janine Ripper headshot

 

Why I Got Into Freelancing

You could say I’m fairly new to freelancing.

It was in April 2014 that I left my 12-year career in project management after being stressed out and unhappy for what felt like the longest of times.

Between the daily commute, working in an office, and office politics, I felt like I was going mad. And then there was the job itself. Struggling with chronic anxiety my physical health started to take a dive, and so I took matters into my own hands and plunged… right into unemployment.

No savings. Exhausted. Unhappy. To be honest with you, I didn’t have a plan. All I knew was this: it was the right thing to do, especially after having my third car accident in a year and a half (the third in my own driveway!). The universe had been sending me some pretty strong signals, and on that specific day it was telling me to stop!

Up until then I had been blogging for four years, which I loved, but I really never believed I could make money from writing. I’d always resisted the urge to monetize my blog, and in the back of my mind I guess I had convinced myself I wasn’t a good writer even though I had a steady follower base and writing was all I had ever wanted to do…

After turning down a project management job offer after a lot of soul searching, I decided to investigate starting my own business. Initially I branded myself as a Virtual Assistant but found myself leaning towards clients who wanted me to write blog posts for them and help them with their social media presence. So I ended up designing a service offering where I combined blogging with social media management, and it took off from there. Social media management and blogging brought in an immediate income allowing me to investigate what it was I really wanted to do. I ended up targeted writing jobs for topics I was passionate about (such as travel, and as I upped my social media presence and started to talk to people openly about what I was doing, like-minded people started to gravitating to me. I like to believe that the universe stepped in again!

The Highs and the Lows

Freelancing hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been financially lucrative. It’s actually been really stressful (although satisfying – now that’s a contradiction!).

Jumping into freelancing with no idea what I was doing resulted in a steep learning curve where most of the time I’ve felt like an out-of-control freight train. It also caused a lot of financial strain, but that goes hand in hand with the whole business start up thing. The lack of a pipeline, the uncertainty on where your next pay cheque will come from, and the clients who just don’t pay on time… oh, and then there was Christmas. With most businesses closing down for the period I certainly had to cut back on the presents! There’s also the expectation in some areas that freelancers will write for peanuts. It can be devaluing, but admittedly I took the hit to initially build up my portfolio.

In saying that, I’ve never been happier. I feel incredibly satisfied with my work. I’ve met the most amazing people. I’ve been presented with awesome opportunities. I’ve got some clients who are retaining my services, which provides me with a certain level of stability, and to a certain extent I am in the position to choose who I want to work with and write for.

Over the last six months I have learned so much about myself – what it is I really want in life and the kind of life I want, as well as gaining a whole lot of confidence in my ability and the belief that I can do anything! Watch out world!

I’ve also got a new direction for my blog thanks to all of my learnings, which is focused on life change and wellness – I’m really excited about it! Oh, and I’ve co-authored a book Heart to Heart: The Path to Wellness that is out this month! Heart to Heart: The Path to Wellness is a collection of true-life experiences written from the hearts and minds of more than 40 inspiring authors, including featured contributors Dr. John Demartini and Bob Doyle from ‘The Secret,’ and me! I still can’t quite believe it!

Heart to Heart - book cover

Janine’s 9 Freelancing tips

1. Peanuts it is

I’m going to go against the grain here and tell you to initially prepare yourself to work for minimal fees so you can build up your portfolio and get some testimonials. I started off at $30 USD and quickly went up from there. Just remember to set yourself an end date – set a date in cement for when you will start charging realistic rates.

2. Love projects

There are such projects you would sell your arm to write for. Whether its an organization, cause or topic you are passionate about, the words flow through your fingers like water, leaving you feeling elated and like you are walking on air. These are what I call ‘love projects’.

One of the things I always dreamed of doing was travel writing – and this is one of my current love projects. Potentially it will bring in more money for me in the future, but at the moment I just love it so much that I do it for free.

3. Network

Talk to people, both online and offline. Join groups. Establish referral programs. Build your social media presence. Blog. Attend networking events. Guest write. You just never know where your next opportunity will come from. I scored one sitting in the dentist chair!

4. Do your industry research

Research the standard industry rates for the countries you are targeting for work. It’s different across the board. The rates in Australia are a lot higher than other countries, so going in a quoting Australian rates for a job with an American client I really wanted to work with would be quite silly!

5. Working from home is hard

Initially, I loved working at home, and still do to a degree, but it’s made me incredibly lazy. Some of my days consist of getting out of bed, walking to the desk, moving to the couch, and then heading to bed, all with laptop or phone in tow.

In throwing myself into my business and the online world I somehow forgot to get off my ass, to exercise, to eat well and to unplug. With my renewed focus on wellness, I’m now on a mission now it’s 2015 to start the year the right way!

Trust me, skipping meals and surviving on coffee is not sustainable for anyone, and your body isn’t meant to sit in one position for days at a time, let alone a few hours, so do yourself a favor and schedule in your breaks. Oh, and make sure you clock off at a respectable hour! You still have a life to live!

6. Get organized

For such an organized person, man can I procrastinate. With no one to tell me what to do it’s up to me to ensure that I get up at a respectable hour, get motivated, and get down to work. Easier said than done when thoughts and doubts keep swirling around your head.

There’s a lot of free software available online to help you get organized. There’s also the old school way – paper to do lists, which is what I use. My eyes especially thank me for those paper to do lists as they get a chance to look away from the computer screen.

7. Savings

Okay, so even though people thought I was very brave for quitting my job with no job to go to and no savings, in hindsight I would highly recommend putting away some savings before leaving any paid employment for a freelance career. Call it a security blanket. It certainly would have saved me a whole lot of stress and white hairs, which are now coming on with a vengeance.

8. Get a side job

After talking to a lot of people who also started their own small business, I realized that a lot of people starting out actually maintained a job on the side.

I had gone six months thinking ‘no, I can’t do it, I can’t sell out!’ BUT ‘ I need to pay the bills.’

Seriously, you still need to live! There is nothing wrong with taking a side job because it provides you with a certain level of stability whilst also providing you with the luxury of choosing the freelancing gigs you accept without compromising your standards.

So get a part time job, even if it’s stacking shelves in a supermarket. I have (well, I’m, writing project management documentation)! It’s only two days a week, but it’s what I know and it gets me out of the house to hang around people…because it turns out this introvert actually missed people!

9. Be authentic

Authenticity. It’s such a buzzword at the moment, but I tell you what, living authentically, and being authentic in your writing, is so worthwhile. Live according to your values. Show up as the real you. Write from the heart. Let your voice shine through. By living and writing authentically you will inspire others to do so also, and most importantly you will be so much happier for it.

LIFE CHANGE image

Connect with Janine on her website, Reflections from a Redhead , on Twitter and on Facebook .

Check out the other freelancers in this series:

Some Life Updates and Info about Freelancing from #freelancewriter Lorraine Reguly

An Interview With “F.I.T.S.” Series #freelancewriter Elna Cain

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Sean Vandenberg

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Candace Simonson

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter DD, an Addicted-to-Heroin #Freelancer

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Alicia Rades

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Corinne Kerston

F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Ali Luke

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Joe Warnimont

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Brian Morris

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Harleena Singh

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Crystal Nay

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Christy Birmingham

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Tom Bentley

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter William Ballard

“F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Deevra Norling

Freelancing Tips From Kirsty Stuart #freelancingtips for #freelancers

7 Reasons for the FITS Series on Wording Well (with results!)

If you want to raise your freelancing rates, read How to Ask for a Raise (and Get One!) from your #Freelancing Client.

If you want to know why you should be gathering testimonials you can use on your website, read about The Power of Client Testimonials.

15 thoughts on ““F.I.T.S.” SERIES: Featuring #freelancewriter Janine Ripper

  1. Janine, I could relate to your story 100%. In fact, we almost tell the same story. I was also miserable, unhappy and burnt out when I decided to quit the 9-5 to freelance. I also find it financially difficult and am still trying to hack this freelance thing!

    And yes, I have a side gig of house/pet-sitting that helps me get by. Easy money and can take my laptop along to wherever it is I am staying. Most people have wi-fi, so can continue being busy online.

    And working from home is tough in the sense you can waste time and not get down to something productive. You even start convincing yourself the mucking about you doing is actually productive! I’m not a morning person, so I am not one of those freelancers who is up at the crack of dawn and has the laptop switched on by 7am! But I believe everyone’s rhythm is different, so I follow my rhythm. I’m more likely to still be tapping away at 10pm at night, than at 6am in the morning. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Travel writing is one of my loves as well – and you can absolutely get paid to do it! A love project that pays – wouldn’t that be great.

    Thank you for your post.

  2. Hi Lorraine,

    Thank you for introducing us to Janine. Your story Janine is wonderful. I can relate to it so well because I’ve been an entrepreneur since forever offline and online. Those ebbs and flows of income need to be balanced out for sure. I find it is like that in just about any business.

    Your story you shared is uplifting and gives people hope. As a freelancer, it is no easy task, but landing clients that will use you continually is the bit price (happy dance) and you keep on going.

    The most important thing of all is that you are living a happy life. I rather go through life with less as long as I am happy was always my motto!

    -Donna

  3. says

    Very true Carol. I like to think if you stick to quality and be yourself (write authentically) then you will come out on top no matter how many freelancers there are trying to make it online. I’ve been working part time in an office since I wrote this article and boy do I miss those days Im not at home! It’s made me reassess ‘how’ I will work once I’m working at home full time again (i.e. not procrastinating so much and sticking to a schedule / time blocking).

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  4. says

    Hey Max! Lovely to hear from you. It’s nice to hear that you aren’t alone isn’t it – that others have or are going through something similar. Let us know how you go with the pitch – that’s so exciting! Good luck!

  5. says

    Hi Lorraine and Janine,

    I always love to hear how other freelance writers made it. Thanks Janine for sharing your story!

    I also agree that working from home is challenging. Not only am I freelance writing, but I’m taking care of the house and my twin toddlers! That’s why it’s important for me to be as productive as I can be.

    Great hearing about your Janine!

    Elna

    • says

      Hi Elna. Great to see you here again. I still am amazed that you are a WOHM… and have twins!

      We’ll have to catch up soon at Starbucks. 😉

  6. Carol Amato says

    Hello, Lorraine and Janine,

    It’s wonderful to meet you, Janine! Wow, you’ve had a lot of experience in project management which can absolutely help you in your freelance work, that’s great.

    In this economy there are more freelancers trying to make it online than ever before. The good news is there is more demand for content than ever before, so that’s a beautiful thing.

    Yes, I agree that working from home is hard, yet I’ve adapted into it quite nicely. I was working from home in many fields before starting my online business, so I suppose my learning curve was not as steep as some.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂 Certainly wishing you all the best.

    ˜Carol

    • says

      Hi Carol. Thanks for dropping by to say hi to Janine. I’m really lucky to have her guest post on my blog this week.

      It’s great to hear that you love working from home. I do, too!

      Talk soon,
      Lorraine

  7. hi lorraine and janine; thanks for some great advice. i recognized myself in a couple of your comments. One, when i was working in my family’s carnival we were broke a lot of the time and often got by by the skin of our teeth but i loved it thought i was helping to build something special so didn’t think of it as sacrificing anything. and you mentioned having a side job. some people call my selling amusement equipment a day job but its as unreliable as coaching if not more so. a few weeks back someone sent me a listing for a job announcement at a university for a advisor specializing in helping their visually impaired students and yes i put my name in. i feel like having the regular income for a while would make it worth having to work on my sites at night and on weekends. and you mentioned love jobs. i would love to write a post for boys life as i am one of the few totally or legally blind eagle scouts. think i will send them a pitch letter. wish me luck. thanks again for sharing all this great advice. blessings, max

    • says

      Max, I think you definitely should send the Eagle Scouts a pitch letter. I’m sure they will be happy to hear from you… especially considering how much you have accomplished during the last year! 🙂

      Best of luck, my friend!

  8. says

    Oh Penelope that is so true! Understanding the working hours has been incredibly hard (as in, from my fiances perspective), since they are almost opposite to his. And sticking to a schedule myself…haha always a challenge!

  9. Penelope James says

    Love to hear that you love your freelance work, Janine. Also love that you’re so open about your personal problems when you were working as a project manager. You give some good advice particularly as regards money.The freelance life is tough and you have to get used to irregular checks, intense work one week and nothing the next, and the feeling of being used and misused. I’ve been working freelance for the last 25 years: catering, teacher, translator, transcriber, research writer, book editor, article writer, and journalist. I think what is hardest is to learn to work at home, stick to a schedule, and make other people, friends and family, respect your working hours.

    • says

      Penelope, it’s great to hear from you… and make your acquaintance, too. 🙂

      Out of curiosity, what are your transcription rates (for converting audio into text), and how do you calculate them?

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