Improvise, Adapt, & Overcome (My Freelance Journey… part 1 of 3)

“Disclosure: There are some affiliate links below, but these are all products I highly recommend. I will not link to anything that I haven’t verified and/or personally used.”

Over the next few weeks, I will be taking you on a detailed journey… my journey… of how I am overcoming a huge stumbling block. I will be going over what I have learned and experienced, as well as what I am still trying to figure out. I hope this will be of some help for anyone else thinking of changing careers or just striking out on their own.

This first week I will be discussing

  • how, and why, I stumbled upon freelancing,
  • getting started,
  • continued learning, and
  • starting a blog.

Then, next week I will go over

  • deciding on a niche,
  • social media and Pinterest,
  • keeping it all together, and
  • looking for freelance jobs.

Finally, I will be talking about

  • how to juggle everything,
  • creating multiple income streams, and
  • plan B… aka… just in case.

You won’t want to miss a minute so don’t forget to sign up for the blog mailing list so you will be notified the minute the next installments are released.

Once Upon A Time

Everything in the world was going swimmingly. In 2015 hubby and I were all excited because we had just relocated from a house to our new home, a 5th wheel (because we wanted to), hubby retired from truck driving (due to his health), and I owned a brick-and-mortar flea market (which was doing considerably well).

We then spent the next year getting adjusted to our new living quarters (tight at times), getting to know each again (hubby drove for 20+ years), and planning out our travels as soon as I was ready to retire (but not too soon).

Then, in the fall of 2016… our tiny world came crashing down! The owner of the property where I had my store decided to put the property up for sale. Whoa… what?

  • Fact – I had 6 months to figure something out.
  • Fact – Six months isn’t that long in the grand scheme of time.
  • Fact – I had no idea what I was going to do.

We did not have a plan B. Heck, we didn’t have any plan at all. Why would we? Everything was seashells and pink flamingos (my RV decor). I did spend some time looking for another property to relocate but everything was either too small, too expensive, or off the main road. So, now we (mainly me) had to figure out what to do.

Defining Your Reason, or Why, to Freelance

I had to take a deep breath and lay everything out (figuratively) in front of me. I had to decide what I wanted and how I wanted it. Hubby is retired and we live in a 5th wheel, so we are mobile, and I needed to make (at least) $1,500 per month to supplement hubby’s retirement and be comfortable.

What could I possibly do? Did I really want to be chained to a desk for someone else? Now, keep in mind I had been self-employed for quite a while so I’m a little rusty with being employed. What am I good at? What do I enjoy doing?

Photo credit: Haute Chocolate

At this point, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do but I continued to research and I found a very informative ebook, The Work-At-Home Survival Guide, by Caitlin Pyle. It was loaded with useful information and specifically highlighted 5 different types of freelancing. I looked into all options but soon realized… I had forgotten how much I loved writing. How could I have missed that one, small detail about my life?

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Getting Started with Little Knowledge, Time, or Money

Okay, so I decided to look into freelance writing. But, you can’t just slap “freelancer” in front of “writer” and expect the money to start rolling in. Especially when you aren’t sure how to be or become a freelance writer.

I took a free 7-day freelance writing course via email to attempt to learn the ins-and-outs of this new career path. What I learned was that I knew ‘squat’ and that was not what I needed to hear.

Tick, tick, tick… That is the sound of the clock counting down on my 6-month window. I started to realize that I needed more in-depth knowledge of the behind-the-scenes of freelancing. And there is no app for that.

I started my list of things-to-know and kept adding to it as more information came available and, boy, I was such a newbie. I had no other choice than to bite the bullet and pay for 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success through Horkey Handbook. It was extremely informative on establishing my new writing endeavor as a business.

I had internet during the day but not at home… yet. This meant that during the day, while I was taking care of flea market business, I was doing the course online. At night, I would go through each module and print it out so I could reread, highlight, take notes, and try to understand what to do. My list of things-to-do to become a freelancer was quite long and I still didn’t understand most of it.

I realized I needed more guidance so I decided to also take WriteTo1K by Elna Cain. That jump-started my writing to a whole new level. This fantastic course was less on the business side and more on the where-to’s and the how-to’s and the why-not’s. Within weeks I got a couple of guest-posting gigs.

It was starting to come together but I had to take it a little slower though because I’m still trying to close a business and internet time was still limited. I just have to wait a bit longer before I could become an all-out freelance writing ninja.

Photo credit: Haute Chocolate

Learning and Honing Your New Skill Set

I already knew how to write but now I was learning how to do it as a business. I needed a blog. I needed social media. I needed a way of keeping track of my day. I needed to learn to look for freelance jobs.

What order do I learn all this? What do I focus on? Where do I begin?

The answer was quite obvious. You start at the beginning and you go step-by-step. Easy enough, right?

Not when you are a type-A perfectionist who wanted everything yesterday.

In the meantime, I checked out some tools for my new freelance career. The best tool out there for checking punctuation, grammar, readability, and flow, is Grammarly. You can read over a page multiple times and always miss that one misspelled word or forgotten comma. Grammarly isn’t perfect but it has saved me a time or two. There is a free or paid option to choose from. I am happy enough with the free version for now.

The best way to keep all of your documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in one place is in Google Docs. It is cloud-based, so if I decide to type something at night all I have to do is go online and sync my two computers. Voila! They are in both places. If something happens to my computer, I can log in from anywhere and nothing has been lost. Also, if you are into writing, most publications prefer that you submit your piece with a Google Docs.

Another great place to find some insight into your new craft is in Facebook Groups. On more than one occasion I asked a question in a group and received all the info I needed. In many instances, others are asking the same question that you are thinking. You can also feel special by answering a question that someone else poses.

Time is money and money is time. I really needed to get everything figured out sooner than later so I had to suck it up. Every day I would download and print out everything I thought I needed. And every night I went through what I was learning, taking notes, and, most importantly, writing. I was writing out possible outlines for blog posts, title ideas, and subject ideas for the very near future. I soon realized that I can type faster than I can write, so I invested in another laptop.

Photo Credit: Haute Chocolate

Starting a Blog

Yeah, let’s go there. I kept reading that I needed a website. So I finally did it. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and it took me three months to finally get my new blog in order. I revised and rewrote and moved items around and was getting comfortable with my blog when I found out I couldn’t monetize on that particular platform. Well, back to the drawing board.

I needed to do more research and ask more questions (thank goodness for those wonderful Facebook groups). I compared different options and listened to what everyone was saying about their website platform and settled on through SiteGround.

I didn’t make this decision lightly though. I was on a live-chat with someone on SiteGround Support for over an hour before finally saying yes. Their support team was great to work with and they didn’t get frustrated with me when I asked those very non-techie questions.

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After a week of my site being down, while it was being transferred, I finally got it back and it looks… well, okay. It still needs some tweaking but I am so glad that I made the decision to do it correctly, even though it had to be done twice. FYI, I have gotten a LOT more viewers and a much better response since I made the move.

Well, I started a blog… Really? It isn’t as simple as having a ‘blog’. Oh, how I wish it was. Time to check out the how-to’s all over again.

I did some more research and found Bread and Butter Blogging. I really wish I had stumbled upon this course BEFORE I ever started a blog in the beginning. It explained everything you need to know about starting a blog. If you are considering starting a blog or if you need a refresher course, start here first. It will save you a lot of time and energy.

What’s Next?

Well, that’s it for this week. You have followed me on my journey, so far, from “Oh No” to “Look at what I can do now!” Most importantly, we all learned that having a backup plan is important because you never know what can happen.

Next week we will be talking about deciding on a niche (picking out a subject to focus on), the need for social media, how to stay grounded, and looking for freelance work. Don’t forget to get on the “Blog Mailing List” so you will be notified when the next installment comes out.

Do sign up for the ‘Handy Resource Guide for Freelancers’. It lists all the resources that I have already mentioned and all the resources that I will be sharing… All in one place.
And lastly, feel free to ask me anything. I will do my best to guide you in the right direction.

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