Hey friends! Sorry for the radio silence, but I’ve been a busy little bee this past month. I mentioned in my last post that I was taking a step back from Her Geekery to focus on starting up a freelance writing business. Well, I did manage to create an awesome online business…but there was one little problem.
I hated it.
Okay, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t hate all of it. I loved the flexibility it promised and I can’t even express how great it felt getting off the phone with my first client. We agreed on a rate, talked about what she expected from my writing, and set me free to start working…
…I just plain didn’t like what I was writing about. See, when you start freelance writing, everyone says you need to pick a profitable niche. Something you know about and that people are willing to pay you for. I know about marketing and social media for small businesses, so I decided to focus on that.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t having fun. I wasn’t writing about anything I really enjoyed and I felt like I was trying too hard to be a “professional writer.” I didn’t like it, so I stopped. Yeah yeah, I gave up after only a month. Maybe I didn’t give it a fair shot, but sometimes when you know, you just know. You know?
I realized that what I really enjoy is writing for fun. Writing about things that make me happy without worrying too much about appealing to a target audience and monetizing my content. Sure, I still want to do those things…but I want to do them on my own terms. So here I am!
Her Geekery is the only blog of the many I’ve started that I still like after an entire year. So why not focus my efforts on making this blog everything I want it to be? Sure, it might not be the easiest road to freelancing full-time, but I’d rather work at something I love than force myself to do something I don’t like.
Anyway, I wanted to share a bit with you all about my experience starting an online business while it’s still fresh in my mind. I mostly had fun, so if you’re thinking about starting a freelance business, I say go for it! Here are some things to keep in mind:
Consider your initial investment.
Freelance writing takes little to no startup expenses, so it wasn’t exactly scary going in. I created a website and utilized SEO best practices, marketed myself through Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn…and that was it. I didn’t technically pay anything starting out since I used the web hosting I had previously purchased for Her Geekery and marketing through social media doesn’t cost a thing. Even if I hadn’t had the hosting going in, it’s a small investment (typically between $4 to $10 per month), so starting my business wasn’t going to break the bank.
Depending on the type of business you want to create, your initial investment is going to vary. If you want to start selling amigurumi animals on Etsy, for example, you’ll need to buy the materials (yarn, crotchet hooks, stuffing) and pay the initial listing fees on Etsy ($0.20 USD per listing). You need to consider how much your business will cost and whether you’re willing to make that investment right now. Taking the leap into freelancing is much less scary when you’re starting a business that doesn’t take a huge financial investment to start. That shouldn’t discourage you from doing something that will cost more! It all depends on what you’re interested in, but it’s a huge factor to keep in mind before you start.
It’s A LOT of work.
I know that seems like common sense, but man, I didn’t realize just how hard it would be! My days went like this: go to work for nine hours, come home and whip out the laptop, spend four or five hours watching Netflix while building my website, go to sleep. Wake, rinse, repeat.
After my website was finished, I worked on building my social media presence. I made my Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest and posted on them consistently. I read everything I could find about appealing to a target audience, applied what I learned to my social media, and watched them grow. My Twitter went from 20 to 400+ overnight…which I’m not going to lie, totally freaked me out. It kept growing after that, so I was thrilled to see that it was something I could pull off!
Then I actually had to start writing. I worked forever on creating the graphics for my first post on my new website, sat down to write about marketing for businesses, and whipped up something I was proud of. Then I did it again, and again….aaaaand no one was reading my posts. I was putting so much effort into writing these, and no one cared. I mean, duh, you’re not going to have a super engaged following after only writing a couple posts, but it was still really disappointing.
What I’m trying to say here is that you need to prepare to hustle and to be disappointed when your hard work isn’t appreciated. I know that sounds pessimistic, but I want to be real with you. Your business isn’t going to grow overnight. It takes a lot of work, and if you’re already working a full-time job…just expect lots of late nights and early mornings for a while.
You can’t make everyone happy.
It’s just not going to happen, so don’t stress about it, okay? Here’s a quick story: a couple of potential clients reached out to me a week after starting my website. I spent time researching their companies, working up writing samples for them, sending them over with high hopes…and never hearing from them again. That sucks, right?
It’s going to happen a lot when you’re starting out. That’s not a bad thing though, I promise! I was upset about those people not responding to me and spent a lot of time worrying about where I went wrong. Does my writing suck? Did I offend them in some way? Do they think I’m asking for too much money? The truth of it, though, is that it doesn’t matter. Sure, it would have been nice to have some feedback, but it’s not a big deal. They didn’t want to work with me, and that’s all I need to know.
I learned a lot from their lack of response. I learned that I can’t make everyone happy, and that’s okay. It’s important to bounce back quickly and keep trying, because for every one person that didn’t like my writing, two more clients who loved it would show up! It’s alright to be bummed for a couple days, but don’t let rejection keep you down.
I realize now that this post comes across as a bit of a downer. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for that to happen! Freelancing is hard work, but it’s also extremely rewarding. I’m still working as a freelance writer, but I’m writing on my own terms and not trying to grow my business like crazy anymore. I’ve read some incredible stories from ambitious women who turned freelancing into very successful careers, like Jorden Roper and Melyssa Griffin. These awesome ladies prove that it absolutely can be done! You just have to find something you love and hustle your butt off.
How about you? Have you considered starting an online business? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!