How To Get Started In Freelance Writing – An Interview With Carrie Smith From

Do you like to write?

Why not put that skill to work for you and earn some extra money writing for others.  In fact this is exactly what Carrie Smith from Careful Cents did.

She was stuck in a tough financial situation with $14,000 of debt and decide to take a more proactive approach to her situation and she started freelance writing as a way to pay off her debt and in 2012 she paid all of her debts off and quit her full time job to pursue her passion, becoming a full time freelance writer.

Since then she’s written for The Huffington Post, AllBusiness Expert,  GoGirl Finance, and many other places. On top of that she’s also been featured on LifeHacker, Yahoo Finance, Kiplinger, and Business Insider just to name a few.

Finally, Carrie has stared adversity in the face and didn’t back down.  If you are someone who’s facing tough financial times then this is an interview you will definitely want to read.  In the interview I ask Carrie five question on how to get started in freelance writing and how she turned it into her life’s passion.

So if this is something you are interested in read on…

Q1: What Inspired You To Get Into Freelance Writing and How Did You Get Started?

I actually started freelancing (or side hustling as I referred to it) as a means to pay off some consumer debt. I had just gotten out of a bad divorce and was left with over $14,000 of personal debt from an auto loan and credit cards.

I made good money from my accounting job but I was still unable to pay for a decent apartment, and knew it was time to turn my life around. So I started looking for ways to up my income, and I did that through a bit of freelance writing and working part-time at a seasonal tax office.

By the next tax season, I was becoming known as the small business expert with my tax clients, and received loads of questions about how to grow a business properly. I enjoyed talking about this and seeing how I could help local small biz owners and entrepreneurs, so I started my website, Careful Cents, in the summer of June 2011.

This is when my freelance writing took off even more because I was able to showcase my work through the online portfolio on my blog.

Q2: What Are Some Of The Basic Task You Help Your Clients With?

I actually have two main areas of work that I do for clients. I’m a freelance financial blogger, so I regularly write articles and blog posts for startups and small businesses.

I have an accounting background so I tackle topics like self-employment, investing, taxes, bookkeeping, productivity and more.

In addition, I’m also a managing editor, so I work with bloggers, startups and entrepreneurs to manage their website’s content, create and keep up an editorial calendar, manage a team of writers, and help craft valuable content that’s engaging.

I take their websites up a notch, so the content’s not only information but has actionable advice for readers to use.

Q3: As Someone Who Is Just Getting Started With Freelance Writing How Would You Go About Finding New Clients?

I actually encourage new writers to stay away from job boards. Yes, they can be a smart way to build your portfolio, but you can easily get stuck in a cycle of bidding for horrible jobs with low pay. My strategy is to start by building up your network, as well as your portfolio, by guest blogging or even writing for free.

That’s what I did in the beginning. I reached out to brands or bloggers I wanted to write for, and offered to be a regular contributor for free.

I was able to hone my skills, work with amazing editors, and even get a few awesome testimonials out of it. The key is to put a time frame on how long you will work for free, and transition that free work to a paying gig.

This method takes a bit longer than bidding on job boards, but you’ll build a stronger foundation, create valuable connections with blog owners and editors, while being able to command higher rates a lot quicker.

Q4: How Much Should Someone Go About Charging For Their Writing Services And What Is The Best Way To Do It?  ( Ex. Pay per article or pay per word)

When I first became a freelance writer, I charged a flat rate for each post. I quickly learned however, that if you don’t set a word limit a lot of clients will ask you to write a ton of content for a low rate.

So I began charging a pay-per-word fee instead. This worked very well for a while, until I felt like I was nickel and diming clients because I was so focused on word count. Next I experimented with creating multiple tiers of services, based on a general amount of words. For example; a 500 word post cost $50 and a 750 word article cost $75, etc.

Now, however I do a hybrid of both and have a custom rate sheet based on each client’s needs, topic and industry. I focus more on the type of project, versus how many words or posts they need.

I’ve learned that enjoyment in my work is just as important as the price I quote, so I focus on that more than the bottom line.

For instance; some clients don’t have a large budget, but I still want to work with them because I believe in their mission. For other clients who do have larger of a budget based on their industry, I’ll charge a higher rate.

Q5: What Is One Specific Piece of Advice You Would Give To Someone Just Getting Started In Freelance Writing, and What Are Some Of The Pitfalls They Should Avoid?

Find a business mentor or coach right now! Seriously, this has been the most impactful thing on my self-employment career to-date.

If you can’t afford a business coach, then find an accountability partner or mastermind group. You can also reach out to a business mentor and pick their brain.

The point is, to find someone who can help support you and your business, while keeping you accountable. As entrepreneurs it’s difficult to get out of our own heads (and out of our way), and a business mentor or mastermind group can be instrumental in sharing guidance, ideas, and constructive criticism.

Don’t make the mistake of going it alone as a freelance writer or contractor. Find a supportive community who can be there to support you along the journey.

Wrapping Up

Wrapping this article up the one thing I really like about this interview is what Carrie said about finding a master mind group or a mentor.  I recently started a small mastermind group myself and it has been very helpful for my business.

Finally, if you would like to read more my interviews you can check them out here.  I feature a new interview every month with new and interesting people who are earning an extra income to help them improve their finances.

So what are your thoughts, are you a freelance writer or you thinking about starting your own freelance writing business to improve your financial situation?  Share your thoughts and comments below.

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