Last Updated on: June 20th, 2017
Here is another entry in the F.I.T.S. (Freelancer In The Spotlight) Series on Wording Well.
The “Freelancer In The Spotlight” today is Joe Warnimont.
Be sure to stick around to the end, because I asked Joe a couple of questions, and have plans to ask him more in the comments!
Now please welcome Joe Warnimont to center stage.
Take it away, Joe!
How Joe Got Involved in Freelance Writing
I started freelance writing when I was at my first marketing job, straight out of college. It was in the golf industry, and although it allowed me to gain a better understanding about golf, that wasn’t exactly the most interesting industry, and not many people golf anymore.
I’ve always enjoyed writing down story ideas and random thoughts in a journal, but throughout high school and college, nothing ever came of this random hobby. I started structuring these thoughts when I built a blog and created twenty blog posts to start selling my writing to clients.
No, I didn’t start writing because of the passion; I eventually wanted to make money off of it. It never made sense to me when people said they just wrote for the love of it. Sure, it’s fun, but writing takes lots of work, and if you don’t have a plan to eventually gain recognition or make some sort of living, you can’t ever make a career out of it. You can’t drop that office job.
So, I built a blog in an effort to pitch to companies for my freelance services and to even make a bit of money through book sales and affiliate links.
I started knocking on digital doors, chatting with people on Reddit, posting my links and following other bloggers I enjoyed to let them know that I want to share my stuff with them and I’m interested in their stuff.
I was let go from my job about two years in, which was the best thing that ever happened to me. I probably would have stayed there for five more miserable years and not taken the dive into full-time writing.
I won’t lie; during the first year of freelancing I was quite poor, and no one understood my decisions. My parents kept asking which jobs I was applying for, and my friends joked that I was a deadbeat.
The way I see it is that you can’t just walk into any profession and start dominating. Doctors go to medical school, teachers go to grad school, and pretty much anyone who wants to advance their career puts in several years of being poor to develop a skill.
Living poor for one or two or three years is just graduate school for writers, as long as you’re teaching yourself and working hard.
As for me, this year and a half gave me a chance to strengthen my writing, take a few online classes and refine my pitch to companies.
I decided to mainly write blog posts for technology and outdoor adventure companies.
I set a goal for how much money I wanted to make every month and didn’t stop pitching clients through Problogger postings and cold emails until my client list made this much money.
Now I have enough work to cover eight hours of my day, and then I have time after that to work on my blogging and finishing up my sci-fi novel.
Joe Warnimont’s Top 4 Freelancing Tips
There are plenty of freelance writing tips you can simply search for on Google, but there are a few lessons I’ve learned that have helped me maintain a consistent revenue stream.
1: Move Your Focus to Blog Posts
During my first year of freelance writing, I picked up any job I could. Website copywriting, press releases, blog posts and product descriptions. After that year, I took a vacation to Italy, even though I really couldn’t afford it. When I returned, I noticed that most of my jobs had ended. It wasn’t that my clients forgot about me, but that I was doing jobs that had expiration dates.
When you write website copy, this is a one-and-done job. After that you have to scrounge around for a replacement job.
Press releases and product descriptions are just as flaky.
I decided to focus primarily on corporate blogging for two reasons:
- these companies actually had money to spare, and
- the jobs were ongoing.
I was able to sign clients who wanted two or three or four posts per week, and there was no end date.
2: Focus on a Niche
It’s much easier to land a job for a tech company when every piece on your portfolio is about mobile phones, website templates and cloud computing.
It’s a deathtrap when you accept work from every industry.
You don’t give yourself a chance to dominate in one area, and clients don’t see you as an expert if you write about everything.
3: Invest in a Timer
It’s tough to succeed with writing, because it’s so easy to get up for a snack every fifteen minutes. For some reason setting a timer on your phone gives you a little nudge to not be a waste of space.
Note from Lorraine:
Free online timers can be used, too. Some include:
If you don’t like any of these, you might find one among the Top 15 Of The Best Online Alarm Clock Websites.
4: Forget About the Marketing Experts and Just Build Relationships
Facebook is not a place to build a platform, it’s a place to connect with people.
Your blog isn’t just for pumping out content and hooking people to buy your stuff.
I’m guilty of overthinking this, but writing and making art is quite simple when you think about it. If you take pride in your work, hit your deadlines and outsource the parts you aren’t good at, you shouldn’t have any problems.
All these social media marketing tips and blog post optimization tools are just cluttering your workspace.
Think about it. If you are writing a book, all you have to do is finish the book. Setting your deadline is essential because your work is never going to be perfect. After you’re finished writing, you need to outsource the parts you’re not an expert in. This means hiring someone to complete your book cover along with someone to make edits. After those simple steps are taken, you should have a product to sell. Then your socialization efforts on your blog and social media start to pay off. Ten Twitter posts selling your new book are not going to put more cash in your pocket.
Trusting relationships push people to buy.
Joe’s takeaway tips:
- Find your niche
- Move your focus to blog posts and building relationships
- Use a timer
A quick Q and A:
Lorraine: Are there any other freelancers who have helped you along the way, or whose blogs you follow? Any particular blog post that had an influence on you?
Joe: Carol over at Make a Living Writing has always been quite helpful in my freelance journey. This post really got me pumped to start making money with my writing: How I Made 6 Figures as a Freelance Writer in 2011.
I also listen to the Smart Passive Income podcast by Pat Flynn, which helps me through the business side of things.
Joe: Accounting system? Honestly I just pay an accountant to do everything for me ($100 a year, which I can write off), and track my finances in an Excel sheet. Paypal also pretty much tracks everything for me in case I’m missing something. Paypal is perfect for invoices too.
Which of Joe’s tips “spoke” to you?
What accounting system do YOU use?
Are you a niche writer?
I’d appreciate it you thanked Joe on Twitter, too!
Check out the other freelancers in this series:
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.
Joe Warnimont is a freelance writer for tech companies out in Silicon Valley and outdoor adventure companies all over the world. He makes a living off this income, and pushes people to take simple steps towards building viable businesses through writing. Check out his blog called WriteWithWarnimont, and connect with him on Twitter.