You decide you want to become a freelance writer, so you put in your notice at your 9-to-5.
You haven’t planned ahead for this life-changing decision… at all.
So you don’t have any savings.
And you don’t have a spouse/parent who can help you out if your finances go downhill.
“It’s going to be okay,” you think to yourself.
You walk out of your last day at your day job, excited to head home and work as a freelancer.
But then reality sets in.
You don’t have any work.
…And no work means no money.
Suddenly, fear takes over.
Your thought process starts to look like this.
- Oh shit. What have I done!?
- I need to find freelance work, like, NOW.
- I better take on any client I can get.
See the problem here?
If you start freelance writing when you’re broke, you’re going to become desperate to find work.
And most people who are desperate to find work end up making fear-based decisions about their freelancing career.
That typically translates to less moo-lah and crappy quality clients.
Before long, you find yourself stuck in a cycle of desperation, which means you never truly advance your freelance writing career or find high-paying work.
Why You Shouldn’t Become a Freelance Writer If You’re Broke AF
1. Being desperate fucks with your mindset.
When you need money, you give off a certain vibe.
It comes across in the pitches and emails you send to potential clients. (“Let me know if that rate doesn’t work for you and we can talk more about a lower rate!”)
It comes across in the copy you write for your freelance writer website. (“I can work with whatever your budget is!”)
It comes across in the way you market yourself. (“Hmmm. I know I should niche down, but I’m scared that doing so will make my client pool smaller. I better just stick to being a generalist!”)
It’s bad for business.
I’m not saying that business owners never feel fear (no WAY).
Business owners feel the fear and make bold, risky decisions anyway.
They look at something as risky, but they move forward with their decision because they have the self-confidence + strategy + skills necessary to make shit happen.
And let me tell ya, that confidence that you can make things work will come a LOT easier if you’re not under constant pressure to make enough money to put food on the table.
2. Having a desperate mindset means you’ll resort to sites like UpWork and Fiverr.
When you’re desperate, you won’t use the marketing methods that set you up for long-term success as a freelance writer.
I’m talking about methods like cold emailing, LinkedIn marketing, guest posting, etc.
Instead, you’ll think to yourself:
These more advanced marketing methods are going to require me to learn something new… and won’t they take a long time to pay off anyway? I need money NOW, so I’m going to sign up for a bidding site and multiple content mills. At least I’ll make some quick money then.
Think about this:
Cold emailing landed me over $800 worth of freelance writing work the FIRST month I did it – all because I had my mind set that I wasn’t going to use shitty bidding sites and mills.
What if you tried cold emailing instead of UpWork?
Are you too scared to spend time cold emailing just because you know that UpWork is at least a sure way to make money – even if the pay sucks?
If so, it’s time to change something about your approach to freelance writing so you can market yourself independently.
3. Fear will stop you from making necessary investments in your business.
I have to admit – I regularly creep on freelance writing groups online.
You know, like Reddit and Facebook groups.
One of the most frustrating things I see writers say?
Oh, I’m not going to spend money on my business until it’s already making money! That just wouldn’t make sense.
The first time I saw someone say this, my jaw just… dropped.
It turns out, lots of freelancers think this way.
And my friend, if that’s the mindset you have, you’ve got it all backwards.
More specifically, you have an employee mindset rather than the mindset of an entrepreneur/business owner.
A business owner doesn’t just look at the price tag of a business investment.
Instead, they think, “This is going to pay off and help me grow my business faster. Worth it.”
When you’re broke, you can’t think like that.
Instead, you’re stuck thinking like a desperate freelancer because you need cash fast.
Let’s go over an example.
When you become a freelance writer, you need to set up a professional freelance writer website as SOON as you possibly can.
One that positions your niche expertise and makes it clear that you’re a business owner.
And that involves paying for hosting.
Maybe even paying for a WordPress theme.
In other words, you might have to shell out a couple hundred bucks.
Often when newbie freelance writers hear about this cost, you’d think they were being asked to sacrifice their firstborn child to a fire-breathing dragon.
Because they aren’t thinking like a business owner yet.
Usually because they can’t – they’re so desperate to make money that every cent counts.
Want to know how a freelance writing business owner thinks?
“Okay, so this is going to cost a bit upfront. That’s okay, because I know a pro website will help me land high-paying clients faster. I have a marketing strategy in place, so my website will pay for itself QUICKLY because I’m ready to work hard and land good clients.”
In other words, they don’t just look at the price tag of something.
They look at the return they’re going to get on their investment.
And yes, I practice what I preach – just in case you were wondering. 🙂
I shelled out cash for a website when I started freelance writing.
I used LimeLeads to get cold emailing leads too. Even though I didn’t have much cash to work with – at all.
Because I see myself as a business owner – not a desperate employee.
And I know that, if worse came to worse, I’d hustle my ass off and be able to make money.
4. You’ll put up with a bunch of unnecessary bullshit.
Pretty much every freelance writer – even those who start off with the right mindset and some extra cash – deals with client bullshit at some point.
If you’ve ever freelanced, you know what I mean.
Those clients who call you at 9PM on a Sunday night.
Those clients who try to negotiate in a ridiculous way. (“Oh, you charge $200 for this? Well, how about $50 instead?”)
Those clients who try to increase the scope of work a lot but refuse to pay more for the additional work.
Yeah. Not fun.
Freelancers who are broke deal with this a hell of a lot more often.
Because low-paying clients – the kind you settle for when you’re desperate to make some cash – are often also the most difficult clients to work with.
So do yourself a favor, and try to get in the financial position to turn these clients down.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying every client is going to be a dream to work with, even if you DO start you biz when you’re not broke.
But it’s going to be a hell of a lot easier to turn down demanding, difficult clients when you don’t need the money they’re offering to pay you.
5. You won’t charge what you’re worth.
Instead, you’ll work with anyone and everyone, regardless of their budget.
Heck, you might even end up making less than minimum wage as a result.
I mean, imagine you get paid $10 to write 1,000 words. It takes you 3 hours to finish.
Just over $3 per hour.
Damn. That’s rough.
And here’s something else to think about:
When you become a freelance writer, your hourly pay is NOT equivalent to the hourly pay of a full-time employee.
(Side note: You shouldn’t charge hourly – you should charge by the project. But that’s a blog post for another day!)
I mean, you don’t get health insurance (at least you don’t where I live).
You don’t get free office supplies.
You also have to account for the hours you spend handling admin tasks, like invoicing and email.
That means you need to charge MORE than someone at a full-time job would charge for the same amount of work.
Now, sure, if you’re a total newbie to writing online, you may not be able to charge what copywriting experts with years of experience charge.
But you don’t have to write for one penny per word either.
Calculate a good living wage for you, and figure out how much you need to charge based on that.
From there, you can gradually increase your rates as you grow your expertise.
6. You don’t need a lot of money – but you at least need a marketing/financial plan.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying you need to have tons of money to start freelancing.
You can be pretty broke and still succeed if you’re willing to work your ass off, make smart investments in your business, and go into freelance writing with an effective marketing and growth strategy.
I mean, shit.
I was pretty broke when I started freelancing since it happened when I unexpectedly got fired from my full-time job.
I also didn’t have parents or anyone else to fall back on financially.
But I’m not naïve to the fact that it’s not always as simple as “just build your freelance writing business – it’s easy!” or “just go out and get a job!” or “make money!”
You may be in an extreme situation where you can’t just easily go and do these things. I get that.
But at the same time, a LOT of you reading this CAN do these things – you’re just not putting in the WORK required to make it happen.
This is the mindset that made all the difference for me:
I was going to make freelance writing work, no matter what it took.
I literally told my husband I would take any part-time job near our apartment if it meant I could become a freelance writer (even though it never came to that).
Even if I had to work from early morning until late at night every day for a while.
Even if the pay sucked worse than my pay at the 9-to-5 I had just been fired from.
Because a part-time job meant I’d have time AND money to work on my freelance writing business, which was all I really cared about.
If you’re going to start freelance writing when you’re broke, you’re better off taking up a flexible part-time job so you have enough money to avoid fear-based decisions.
(Waiting tables? Lyft? Online Customer Service?)
Or starting your freelance writing business as a side gig while you’re at your full-time job.
Yes, it’s a challenge to work that much.
But it’s not a “forever” thing if you do it right.
Give yourself an income goal and a realistic but challenging deadline to meet that goal.
Not only will this motivate you – it’ll help you keep a positive mindset knowing that you can decrease your working hours (and maybe even quit your job) by the date you’ve set.
Another important thing to note here:
I knew my niche, and I was ready to bust my ass cold emailing my target clients.
That’s a big reason why I was able to become a freelance writer fast.
(I grew my business to $5,000/mo in 4 months.)
Busting your ass doesn’t guarantee success – you NEED to have an effective marketing plan for your business too, including:
- A profitable niche.
- A freelance writer website that SELLS.
- An idea of what you’re going to do to grow your business every day.
You can learn how to do all of these things (and more) when you enroll in my free course right here.
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
Oh GOD. Another email opt-in. I’d rather chop off my pinky toe with a machete than deal with more BS in my inbox.
As someone who has signed up for many ummm… less-than-impressive freebies, I totally understand.
And thats why I put WEEKS into creating the best free course for freelance writers out there.
A course that can ACTUALLY help you win clients.
Full of actionable advice. No fluff – just the exact steps to making a full-time freelance writing income.
Don’t settle for penny-per-word UpWork clients anymore.
Stop dealing with cheapskates on Fiverr.
My free course will help you get your marketing plan in place.
Commit to taking action! Let me know what you’re going to do to become a freelance writer (the RIGHT way) in the comments section.