How do you start working as a writer who actually gets paid?

This is a question that people ask me all the time.

I have a background in teaching, special education, sport, health, and well-being.

So, I didn’t ever plan to start working as a writer – I just somehow managed to fall into the world of freelance writing!

I have always loved writing and it was something that came easily to me at school and university, but I never thought  in a million years that I would become a paid writer!

It started many years ago, when I was a Mum to an 8-year-old daughter and a 4-week-old son, and our family had moved to the Sunshine Coast for my husband’s new job. I had taken maternity leave from teaching, and since I didn’t have any contacts at the local schools here; I had planned to start some casual relief teaching when my son was old enough. 

My mind was put into a spin when I started thinking about how I was going to juggle family life, with day-care and school drop-offs, class preparation, and the uncertainty of relief teaching in a town where I hadn’t taught before.

And then out of the blue, I was contacted by a training organisation that I had previously worked for. They wanted to hire me on a casual basis to write all of their course outlines, lesson plans and assessment items.  At the time, this seemed like the perfect solution as I could do all my work from home when my son was sleeping.  At one point, I got so much work that I needed to hire a Nanny. In the mornings, I would get my older daughter off to school and spend the rest of the time playing with my son.  I would start my writing work during his afternoon nap and the nanny would take him for 3 hours in the afternoon until dinner.  This arrangement worked really well as I could write without interruption and my son still got to spend the day in his own house.

Then I fell pregnant with our third child, and I was thrust into the world of having a baby, a toddler, and a tween.  Life was busy, and I took on whatever writing jobs that suited our family’s schedule at the time. I started writing children’s books, blogs, reviews, and content for many well known early childhood organisations.  Although I dabbled with some different forms of teaching along the way, I never returned as a full-time teacher.

I couldn’t believe that I finally found a job that actually paid me to work from home and to write about the things I love the most in the world – child development, education, parenting, inclusion, and social emotional wellbeing. 

Over the last 7 years as a freelance writer I have:

  • published 2 best-selling children’s books and as a result secured paid author visits and speaking engagements at schools and kindergartens.
  • ghost-written and published numerous children’s books.
  • embarked on a collaboration project with Krysten Taprell, The Therapist Parent to publish a series of SEL picture books (more information to come soon).
  • been awarded as the AusMumpreneur Author of the Year for 2020.
  • won government grants for writing projects.
  • written for numerous early childhood organisations.
  • travelled overseas twice and travelled around Australia for 12 months.
  • and most importantly, I have been to every one of my children’s sports performances, parent teacher interviews, and recitals.  Freelance writing has also given me the flexibility to change my timetable quickly when the kids were home sick or when we went into lockdown homeschooling.

Why are there so many writing jobs available?

Due to social media and increased internet use and consumption, marketing has changed so dramatically in the last ten years.  Now there is a really high demand for quality, meaningful content – but no-one has time to write it.  As part of their marketing budget, companies are now hiring freelance writers, like myself to do this for them.

What are the benefits of being a freelance writer?

The biggest benefit for me is definitely the flexibility that comes with being a freelancer.

You can work from anywhere in the world!

You create your own schedule and can work whatever hours you want.

If you prefer to work early in the morning, you can do your work then or if you are a night owl, you can work into the night.  For me, I would take the children to kindy or school and get most of my writing work done between the hours of 9am and 3 pm.  I love the flexibility of always being available to attend appointments, class recitals or sports days and I don’t have to have that awkward conversation with an employer about taking time off when my child is sick.

You have a creative outlet to express yourself and have your voice heard.

Writing is a purposeful way to explore the world and express our opinions and ideas into words.  Sometimes I don’t even know what I think about a subject, until I actually sit down to write about it. Writing allows me to make sense of what is in my head, to get clear on my standpoint, synthesise my knowledge and then articulate it in a way that is easy for my target readers to be able to understand.

Writing is a unique way to leave your digital footprint on the world for generations to come.

Just as our ancestors left us stories and messages through cave paintings, etchings on wood and pictorial symbols – we now have the opportunity to do the same through blogs, social media and email. It excites me to know that my grandchildren and great grandchildren will be able to access my writing for many years to come.

You can wear whatever you want!

This is one of my favourites.  I’m a casual dresser, so I love being able to wear clothes that are comfortable!

You are the boss.

I really love being in charge of my own timetable.   I get to decide how much work to take on, how much to charge clients, when I want to take a break and where I want to work from. 

Save time on travel and getting ready for work each day.

I know a lot of people who spend up to 3 hours out of their day getting ready for work and travelling. Imagine if you had 3 extra hours every day!

What do I need to take into consideration?

Freelance writing has been amazing for me and my family, but there are also some other things to take into consideration before contemplating a major career change:

  • It’s sedentary work and writing or looking at a computer screen all day long can be mentally and physically draining.
  • Money may not always be regular, but it is quite possible to have regular clients and work as well.
  • You work alone (for some this may be a positive).
  • You become open to online criticism, as not everyone will like your work.
  • If like myself, you have never been in business before, you will need to learn a lot about business operation like invoicing, book-keeping, taxes, marketing etc.
  • It takes time to learn how to work from home effectively. There are a lot of distractions like washing, dirty dishes, phone calls, deliveries, visitors etc and it really takes time to learn how to set boundaries and safeguard your working time.
  • The sole responsibility for everything falls back to you.

Where do I start?

I know how overwhelming it can be when you want to start something new. The internet and social media are overloaded with information and “experts” offering the latest advice. It can be hard to know who to listen to or what to believe.

And that’s why I developed my own e-Course : Copy That: Beginners Guide To Working as a Paid Writer.

I will give you the exact blueprint to be able to fast track your way into becoming a paid writer.