How I Became a Location Independent Freelance Writer

How I Became a Location Independent Freelance Writer

Writing is what I love doing and I managed to turn it into my career. But that wouldn’t have been as enjoyable without having the freedom to work from anywhere and move to my favorite country. So after I became a freelance writer, I also took a few steps to become location independent.

Let me share how that journey looked like for me and maybe inspire you to take the leap and not just become a freelancer but also travel the world or just leave your home country and never look back.

Stage 1: Overcoming The Doubts

I believe all change happens on the inside first. In the case of becoming a freelance writer and a lifestyle designer, you’d first need to do a couple of things related to developing a strong mindset.

To begin with, define what you don’t like about your current lifestyle. Be clear about it and see yourself living a better life some time from now. This vision will also help you realize what you truly desire.

For me, it was freedom and independence but in a specific way.

I mean, I don’t really need to travel the world. It was enough to spend a few weeks in Thailand and to always have the chance to get back to a destination like that if I feel like. But what I truly desired was to leave my home country, Bulgaria, and instead move to the Netherlands.

However, my transformation started many years ago, before I even knew that’s where I wanted to live. First, I wasn’t satisfied with my life back then. I was already in my 20s and I always felt like I wasn’t spending my time right. So something had to be done.

Doubts are scary.

In fact, they are one of the reasons why so many people all over the world never start a business, end a relationship, travel or else.

Once you get through that stage though, you start having hope, you visualize a better life, and you finally take action. And once you take the first step, magical things begin to happen.

For me, that first step was to define my passion (personal development) and combine it with writing, which I simply loved doing and felt like it was the right way to spend my time.

English is just my second language. I had no official degree in what I’m doing. I wasn’t tech-savvy and had no idea how the Internet actually worked.

But the desire for a different life and more meaningful activities was stronger than any lack of knowledge or experience. So I dedicated the 4 years of my life during university to building the foundation of my online business and the lifestyle I enjoy today.

Stage 2: Getting The First Clients

This is How I Became a Top Rated Upwork Freelancer

I began writing, first on my blog (more on that below), then for others. But the magical ingredient here is reading.

I spent a ton of time (still do and probably always will) reading about people who were already living the life I was after. And that changed it all. I overcame all the doubts because I saw all that I wanted was possible. If other people were living like that and they all started from nothing, then it’s just a matter of time till I get there too.

That encouraged me. And my motivation never decreased because of some people I started following consistently and seeing their progress kept me action-oriented too.

It was time to earn my first dollars freelancing.

The good thing about the Internet is that you don’t have to be anyone in order to land your first gig. Once you do, the second one is easier. You just need someone to pay you for your freelance services so you can have confidence in your abilities and improve your skills.

I never thought I’d be able to call myself a freelance writer, not to mention be location independent together with that. But I left the big picture behind for a while and focused on simpler things. Such as:

What can I do today to land my first client?

After researching, I realized there are sites for freelancers where employers post jobs and I can apply to each that seems like a good fit for me. And so I did.

I created my profiles, had low rates (because any money was good money for me then if it was online), and applied for a few jobs. I had no idea what to say exactly so I just went with what felt right.

I introduced myself when pitching clients and told them how I can help them with their project. Rejection here is normal as there’s a ton of competition.

Eventually, someone hired me for a job and I made my first $20 or so.

It was a short and sweet gig and I did a good job. The communication with the client was smooth.

It’s hard to land someone for the first time, especially in my case. On my profile they could see Bulgaria and that English isn’t my native language. Also, that I’m new to the site and have no previous feedback. Basically, not the most trustworthy freelance writer to hire.

But there are new employers to such platforms too and they are ready to hire you as long as you have something to offer them.

So if you want to make money online and eventually turn that into a business, become location independent and work remotely, or just want to do what you love freelancing, then create your profiles on sites like Upwork, Guru, Freelancer and PeoplePerHour and start pitching.

Stage 3: Building a Blog and a Brand

5 Tips to Negotiate a Higher Salary in an Interview

The 3rd crucial step in my journey to becoming a location independent freelance writer was this blog.

Let’s Reach Success started as a personal blog on self-improvement. But consistency was the key and I seemed to be good at this. It’s because I love writing too of course. It eventually turned into my biggest project and today it’s my portfolio.

There are more than 1600 articles in the archives, a whole book store, proper design (thanks to this premium theme), authority, and a story behind it. Which makes me and Let’s Reach Success kind of a personal brand.

If you haven’t started a site yet, you’re wasting time. Whatever it is that you wanna do online, you need that one platform.

I’ve written a quick guide on how to do that. Check out How to Set Up a WordPress Site on Bluehost. Don’t worry, the technical aspect is easy and I’ve outlined the few simple steps you should take to have your site up and running in less than 30 minutes.

Blogging is a must for every freelance writer. Here’s why:

First, you get to showcase your work. You can write articles all the time and show them to clients. Whenever you want to start writing about a new topic, you’ll simply start covering it on your blog and then provide samples to employers.

You become known as an expert. If you stay consistent and provide unique and quality content frequently, people will know you’re the go-to blogger in the niche. Together with your unique voice and all other things you’re doing on the side, you can build a name for yourself. That means clients will start finding you soon.

Blogging is a learning experience. There’s a lot going on in the archives on my blog. If I go back, I can even see how I’ve grown over the years. Your writing will change too and that’s okay. Your site becomes your biggest project, especially if you’re a writer yourself. Also, it’s thanks to wanting to improve Let’s Reach Success that I’ve learned so much about optimizing content, making money from a blog, and more.

Stage 4: Setting Up an Online Business

Now that you’ve overcome the doubts, have landed your first freelance client, and have your own blog, you can turn that into an online business soon.

First, of course, you’ll need to have some decent income monthly to be a proper location independent freelance writer. Although plenty of people register a company from the beginning and then slowly grow their freelance business.

However, in the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. I was paying taxes and fees for the freelancing platforms I worked with and that was enough. I wasn’t sure how much more I could make each month.

When I got to a few hundred dollars monthly, though, (which is an amount you can live with back in my home country if you aren’t paying rent), I decided to fix the legal part and register as an independent worker there and start paying my taxes.

Over the next months, I truly believed I’m now a freelance writer earning money from my craft and loved it. Of course, I also wanted to grow, build skills, land better clients, improve my site and see what else I could be doing online.

Stage 5: Choosing Your Ideal Destination and Moving There

amsterdam - the dream location

When I was making $1000/month from my blog and freelance writing services, and because the business was online, I finally felt like I could soon move away and start a new life.

The country I wanted to live in was the Netherlands. I already had friends there and knew it was the place to be for me. So I booked a place in Amsterdam with AirBnB and dedicated these 10 days to finding my new home.

I needed it to be affordable and in a good neighborhood and that’s exactly what I got.

Because I wanted to be there so much and worked hard for it, there hasn’t been a day since I moved that I didn’t wake up with a smile on my face.

That’s one of the main aspects of lifestyle design. Doing work you love and making just enough to be able to live the way you like.

Of course, Amsterdam isn’t cheap so I had to limit my expenses and change things.

Stage 6: Living The Location Independent Lifestyle

I did some traveling too. Spending 5 weeks in Thailand cost me a lot in terms of money (although it could have been cheaper too but I didn’t prepare well) and focus. But it’s safe to say these weeks have been the craziest and most adventurous ones in my life.

I might go back there, but that’s not necessary. I love my daily life too and don’t need an escape from that. The important thing about being a location independent freelance writer is that you have to enjoy the freedom of being where you are. And if you earned your chance to get there, it tastes even better.

Stage 7:  Mastering Working Remotely and From Home

Location independence and freelancing aren’t for everyone as it’s not easy, there are sacrifices to be made and plenty of challenges. One of them is getting distracted and not doing focused work on a daily basis.

One thing I did right though was to build some good productivity habits and eliminate procrastination and distractions early on. In fact, that was when I started making my first money as a freelance writer.

It’s nice to imagine how you can live and work from anywhere 6 months from now. But if you don’t build the discipline in advance and learn how to structure your day so you can do your best work, you won’t make it.

Here are some things that can help:

My Best Productivity Principles

How to Stay Productive While Living The Laptop Lifestyle

Stage 8: Growing The Freelance Writing Business

My focus is on increasing my income now. I got to over $3500. These come from sponsored posts here on Let’s Reach Success and freelance writing for clients.

I’m working on other things too such as increasing book sales and building systems to earn passive income from affiliate marketing. But these don’t come naturally to me so it takes time.

So that’s how I became a location independent freelance writer and how you can do the same.

Here are the exact steps I took to become a location independent freelance writer:

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How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money

How This Family Guy Makes $10,000/Month Online Teaching Others How to Make, Save and Invest Money - Interview with R.J. Weiss from TheWaystoWealth.com

This is an interview-style post with R.J. Weiss from The Ways to Wealth.

Hey R.J. What’s your background and what do you do?

I blog about all things personal finance at The Ways to Wealth.

Before I went full-time into blogging, I spent ten years in the financial services industry. Specifically, helping families buy the right type of life insurance.

During my time with a full-time job, I’ve always had different side hustles going on. From freelance writing, Amazon FBA, conversion rate optimization, to website design — there were many projects I pursued outside of work.

How did you start your career in finance?

I got started in finance straight out of college working for my the family insurance business. As I love the financial planning side of things, I choose to specialize in life insurance planning. This led me down the path to obtaining the CFP® Certification.

What made you start blogging?

The Ways to Wealth, which I started in 2016, has been my 5th blog.

The others mostly fizzled out most due to a lack of interest. But, in 2009 I started a personal finance blog called GenYWealth.com (no longer around) that had some success.

The idea GenYwealth.com was to write about what I was learning about studying to take the CFP®. The blog was, by all means, a success. I was able to gain valuable knowledge, pass the CFP® exam, earn some extra money and build up a good community.

I then took this knowledge and started a business blog, which allowed the insurance agency I was working for to generate leads.

I started The Ways to Wealth because my passion is personal finance–from investing to travel hacking, I love the challenge of optimizing my finances.

How was The Ways to Wealth born?

I didn’t have much of a plan for starting The Ways to Wealth when I purchased the domain name.

I was actually thinking it would be a niche site, which was inspired by Pat Flynn’s niche site duel. Then, I came across the income reports of Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and wisely changed direction to a more traditional blog.

This change came about 6-months after starting to blog.  I did a timeline of the site in one of my income reports.

What worked best when trying to grow the site?

I had a decent knowledge of SEO. So at first, I started growing the site with email outreach. One of the first posts I had about best investing books of all time, had about 15 links to it.

This was nice to start with but was quite slow to build up, as it can take a while to earn Google’s trust.

The big turning point came when I started to understand Pinterest. I spent a few frustrating weeks on the platform, then it finally started paying dividends.

I went from about 100 sessions a day to 1,000, which was huge for me at the time.

How did you get to 3 million monthly viewers on Pinterest?

the ways to wealth pinterest 3 million monthly views

I lay out my Pinterest strategy here. But at the core the idea is to:

1) Write high-quality content that Pinners want to click through, read, and share.

2) Pin to my own and high-quality group boards, with a keyword-rich description.

3) Continue to Pin my best pins across my own boards/group boards, ruthlessly eliminating Pins that don’t perform well.

One thing to keep in mind is impressions don’t mean much on Pinterest. What counts are clicks to your website. So, you want to design not for impressions but clicks.

What aspects of the online business are you outsourcing or automating and how?

The first thing I outsourced was Pinterest design. I’ll design about 30-40 pins a month, so this was big time saver for me.

Of course, it took some work to get going. At first, I hired 5 or so people on Fiverr. I found one decent designer but the work quality deteriorated over time.

I then went to Upwork and posted a job for a  graphic designer. I found a great team down in Argentina, who I’m very happy with.

I’m currently experimenting with working with a ghostwriter. A few of my latest posts have been transcribed from my recording, with the ghostwriter making sense of it all.

I can compile about 3 posts in 90 minutes, then take another 90 or so minutes to prepare them. Saving me around 3-4 hours per post this way.

What’s your main income stream and why do you think it works for you?

My main source of income for the blog is affiliate revenue. It works because the partners I do have are high-quality businesses, who deliver value and solve real problems. This makes it easy to naturally link to such a partner.

When did you start making more than $10K/month and what was the turning point?

My first month over $10K was in January of 2018. In December of 2017, income was around $3,000 and in July of 2017 around $500. So, it was definitely a jump.

What happened then in January?

First, personal finance is at its peak interest in January.

Second, I had multiple Pins go viral.

Third, in November I started driving traffic via Facebook to the site. So, in January I could take campaigns I’d been fine-tuning for a few weeks and scale them.

How do you balance work and family life?

I have a routine I stick to Monday through Friday.

When inside of my designated working hours, I work. When outside of these hours, I’m not.

This is a lot easier said than done. But the thing important for me is not to take work everywhere I go. This means I don’t have any apps on my phone that are work-related (email, analytics, etc..)

What are you 3 best finance tips for newbies?

  • Focus on your savings rate. How much you save is the most important decision you’ll make.
  • Small incremental improvements add up over time. My favorite example is increasing your savings rate 1% every quarter, means you’ll be saving 20% of your income in just 5 years.
  • Study happiness. Become a student on how to increase your level of happiness. The natural result is you’ll want less overtime, making the game of personal finance a lot easier to win.

What books, blogs or podcasts help you stay motivated along the way of growing an online business?

I read a fair amount to keep fresh ideas in my head.

My favorite podcast is The Tim Ferriss Show.

Two blogs I enjoy reading are:

Farnam Street
Barking up the Wrong Tree

And as far as books. I try to read one a week. A few books I would recommend to online entrepreneurs would be:

Deep Work by Cal Newport
The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss

Pin this post if you enjoyed the interview.

Check out my interview with R.J. from TheWaystoWealth to see how he entered the finance niche, started making money blogging, began bringing traffic from Pinterest and monetizing it with affiliate marketing, and is now making $10,000/month from his online business. #blogger #interview #blogtraffic #incomeideas #income