Hi everyone, today we’re back for another inspiring post about someone who’s managed to go beyond the 9-5 and live life flexibly, exactly the way she wants to live it.
They say one of the best things about blogging is that you get to meet a lot of inspiring people from all walks of life and we just have to agree. Like Ryan Biddulph, Rebecca Lake certainly is inspiring.
She’s a single mum who works as a successful freelance writer and blogger and who also homeschools her children.
How awesome is that?
Parents know just how difficult it can be juggling work and family but if you add personally taking care of your child’s education to the mix, the stress can go up to a whole new level.
So, if you just found yourself in exactly this position and you’re worried or confused, then read this interview and allow Rebecca to inspire you and encourage you.
It can be done. And you can do it.
So Rebecca, how did you get into freelance writing? Who/what inspired you to start your own business? Why did you choose this niche in particular?
After my second child was born, my husband and I decided it made more sense financially for me to stay home with our children instead of paying for daycare and commuting expenses to my full-time job.
I started working as a virtual assistant for a woman I knew who owned a VA company, then transitioned into freelance writing after deciding it was a better fit based on my skills.
I wasn’t really looking to start a business at the time, I just wanted to make a little extra money. And I had never not worked so having a little side hustle was a creative outlet as well.
Did you enrol in workshops, get mentors, join clubs or take courses?
I did not take classes, courses or anything else to become a freelance writer. I learned purely as I went from each new experience and I’m still learning today.
That part of being a freelancer and running a business never stops. I became an expert in finance by writing for brands and websites in that niche consistently.
What was it like to start your own brand/business? What’s the most fun/rewarding part? What are some of the challenges and how did you manage these?
Well, starting a business was something that happened on the fly. I became a single mom and had no income other than what I was earning with my side hustle so I decided to scale it into a business.
With blogging, that has been a more conscious decision.
The most rewarding part of freelancing is definitely the financial freedom and flexibility I’ve been able to achieve.
With blogging, I really enjoy making personal connections and helping people solve problems when it comes to figuring out how to manage their business, money or time.
Time management has been the biggest challenge for me personally with freelancing and blogging and it’s something I’m still working on mastering.
What are the first ten steps you took to get started?
With freelancing, there were no real steps, I just jumped in. I applied to some content mill-type websites, got accepted and started writing. It was all learning on my feet from there.
With blogging, I was more deliberate. I first thought about what niche I wanted to write in and who I wanted to write for. Then I started outlining a content strategy, thought about how I would market my blog, started working on blogger outreach in Facebook groups and set quarterly goals for what I wanted to achieve. Setting goals has been very helpful because it’s given me a tangible plan to work from.
Knowing what you do now, is there anything that you would’ve done differently?
Oh, there are always things you’ll wish you’d done differently.
With freelancing, I wish I’d learned a little more about what freelancing really was and how to make yourself stand out but I learned all that anyway. I just took the long way to get there.
With blogging, having a watertight plan is important because, without a plan, it’s hard to make progress.
What are some tips you’d like to share?
If you’re going to start your own business, definitely think carefully about your ‘why’ first. Why do you want to start a business, what do you hope to achieve, how much time and effort can you and will you put into growing it? Growing a business isn’t something you can do overnight and you have to be dedicated and focused from day one.
In terms of attracting clients or repeat clients, identify what it is that you offer that makes you unique. What is your value proposition? Why should someone hire you?
Once you figure that out, it becomes much easier to target the kind of ideal clients you want to work with. And once you start getting clients, you can keep them or attract new ones by delivering stellar work every time. Be professional and make your clients’ lives as easy as possible by giving them exactly what they want or as close to it as possible. This is a great way to get referrals and build your reputation, both of which can help you grow your client base.
For businesses that are looking to hire a freelance writer, ask yourself what you want or need a freelancer to deliver for you. Then, look for the freelancers who have that specialized knowledge or expertise that fit that need. Look at their clips, their online footprint, their visibility on social media. This can help you find someone who’s established and experienced.
But don’t overlook new freelancers either. Sometimes a freelancer may have zero clips to their name but they have that “thing” that you’re looking for when it comes to creating a killer copy or a stunning blog post. Keep the total picture in mind and be communicative.
Tell freelancers what you want clearly, otherwise, we’re in the dark.
What services do you offer? Who are your main clients? Do you specialize in a specific niche?
My main service as a freelancer is writing and I specialize in content writing, blog writing, reported stories and white papers.
My niche is finance, which includes personal finance, small business and investing.
My client base includes major banks and insurance companies as well as highly visible finance sites, such as U.S. News and CreditCards.com.
Can you share with us some pros and cons of hiring a freelance writer?
On the pro side, if you get a good freelance writer who knows their stuff you’ll never have to worry about content not meeting your needs. Freelance writers are adaptable and the best ones can mold their writing style to fit your tone and voice.
On the con side, if you’re hiring a freelance writer for your business there’s always the possibility that you and the writer won’t work well together. Sometimes you just have different visions about what a final piece of content should look like. Other times, it’s just a personality thing. But to me, that’s really no different than hiring an employee.
How do you differentiate yourself and your services from those of other freelance writers?
I’ve established myself as an expert in my niche and I’ve built a good reputation for being easy to work with. There have been the occasional blips where I haven’t been able to fully satisfy a client but overall, my biggest strengths, apart from being a solid writer, are being timely with deadlines and responsive to client feedback.
Can you share with us one of your favorite projects? Why do you say it’s your favorite?
I don’t have a favorite project, per se. Rather, I have several editors who are my favorites to work with because they’re either excellent advocates for the freelancers they manage or they’re just great people.
I enjoy any project where the topic is something I’m interested in and I have some room to use my particular writing voice and style to create content.
Can businesses also find you through online workplaces (ex., Upwork, Fiverr)?
Me specifically, no.
I believe I have profiles on those sites but I don’t use them. But there are plenty of freelance writers who use those kinds of platforms to connect with clients. The majority of my clients find me through LinkedIn or they find a piece of writing I’ve done online and email me directly.
Do you have upcoming events/activities (ex., webinars, workshops)?
At the moment, no. I’m just too busy! I’m considering creating a freelance writing course but I haven’t begun working on it. I do offer a free toolkit on my blog that offers some helpful resources for anyone who’s hoping to get started with a freelance writing career.
You mentioned in your About Me page that you started freelancing as a side hustle before turning it into a proper business. Can you tell us more about what you had to do to get from A to B?
So, I’ve already discussed that a bit but in terms of specifics, once I realized that my side hustle was going to have to become a business, I went into overdrive trying to build out my client base.
I spent part of every day applying to freelance writing jobs through job boards and online ads, connecting with editors and brand managers through LinkedIn and emailing editors and businesses directly to offer my writing services.
Within the first six months of doing that, I was able to double my monthly income and within a year after that, I’d doubled it again. It’s really about putting yourself out there and letting people know who you are and what you do as a freelancer.
In the beginning, the jobs won’t come to you so you have to be willing to market and promote yourself and get your name out to the people who are in a position to hire you.
What was the highlight of your journey? What was the low point? Did you ever consider giving up or going back to the 9-5?
Breaking the five-figure mark for monthly income was definitely a high point, as was passing into $200K+ per year in annual income territory.
I’m still amazed every day that I’m able to make the income that I do as a freelancer with no journalism background or any proper training as a freelance writer.
The low point happened right before that first six-month milestone when my income doubled.
I was struggling to find work and I just finally said to the universe, “You take over because I can’t anymore” and right after that, the floodgates opened and my business has grown steadily since. But I never considered going back to any kind of 9 to 5 job.
I homeschool my kids and I decided to focus on my freelance business so we could still have the kind of flexible lifestyle we’d gotten used to.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to transition from full-time employment to working from anywhere?
Have some money in the bank for starters, enough to get you through the first six months at least because it can take time to get your business going.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and be visible.
Figure out who your ideal clients are, then work on getting yourself in front of them as much as possible.
Build connections with other freelancers in your niche.
Set specific and clear goals for yourself that you can work toward.
And learn from everyone–editors, clients, other freelancers, bloggers–it’s all one big learning experience so soak it all in and use what you’ve learned to level up your business.
Aside from being a freelance writer and a blogger, what else are you working on? What else keeps you busy?
I have no other businesses or side hustles at the moment; freelancing and blogging are enough!
Aside from being a freelance writer and a blogger, what else would you like to share about yourself?
I’m a homeschooling, single mom of two living in a small beach town.
Reading is hands-down my favorite hobby; I love reading historical fiction, history books and biographies.
When I have time to watch TV, it’s usually anime shows with my tween daughter or Game of Thrones reruns, with some Doctor Who sprinkled in.
Can you give us a picture of what a typical day looks like for you?
I wake up around 7 each day and let the dogs out, then take a shower and get dressed.
While I have breakfast, I spend time promoting my blog in all the different Facebook groups for bloggers I belong to.
From 9 to 1 is when I tackle freelance writing work.
Afternoons are for reading novels aloud with my kids, homeschooling and walking the dogs.
Then dinner and afterwards, spending one-on-one time with my kids. From 9 to 12, I usually work on my blog then go to bed so I can get up and do it all over again.
During the school year, I’m also shuffling one or both of my kids to soccer, church or homeschool co-op.
You’re also a homeschooling mom on top of everything else. How do you juggle everything? What advice would you give other SAHMs who would like to do the same?
Have a routine!
This is the single best thing you can do for yourself if you’re a work at home/stay at home mom. Have a routine for yourself, your kids – plan out each day thoroughly so you’re using your time efficiently.
And remember to pencil in time for self-care as often as you can. Taking even five minutes to just recenter yourself and clear your head can make such a difference in your days.
And there you have it. Another inspiring post from another inspiring person.
For more information on Rebecca, please do check out her blog. She’s over at Boss Single Mama where she shares all she’s learned “about building an online business and gaining financial freedom, while still balancing all the stuff that goes along with everyday mom life!”