This week, I invite guest Miranda Marquit, the foremost expert on freelancing in the personal finance community. Miranda has no background in finance, but leveraged her work ethic and networking skills to become one of the most prolific and visible freelance writes on finance topics. And she makes over $100,000 per year doing it.
- Miranda Marquit – Confessions of a Professional Blogger
- Planting Money Seeds
- The Complete Beginner Guide to Freelancing
- Confessions of a Professional Blogger: How I Make Money as an Online Writer (Miranda’s Book)
Eric Rosenberg: Ladies and gentleman, boys and girls, children of all ages, welcome back to The Personal Profitability Podcast for episode number 15. 15, it seems like just yesterday I was recording 14.
Today, I have a very special guest. We’ve recently been talking a lot on the blog about freelancing and how to get started there. On our last episode, I was talking about how I started freelancing myself and became a part-time freelancer but I wanted to give you the whole story of what freelancing could offer so I brought on a special guest today, Miranda Marquit.
Miranda, I met through the Financial Blogger Conference (FinCon). We had great hang outs and conversations there. She is on with us today to share her journey to how she became a full-time freelancer and talk about all the downsides, the upsides and everything in between. Let’s give everyone a howdy howdy, Miranda.
Miranda Marquit: Howdy howdy! Thanks for having me on. I would just like you to know that in Idaho, where I live now, you can get your driver’s license at age 15. So this episode can be driving a car.
Eric: Fifteen? Wow! Look how fast I’ve aged in just these months, now I can drive a car.
Miranda: That’s right.
Eric: That’s funny. I guess, this is for all the farms and what not, out there people need to drive a little younger to help out.
Miranda: Yes, it’s crazy. I’ve had my driver’s license since 15 but when I went to get insurance back where I lived in New York, they would not accept that I have had my driver’s license that long. It kept, the software that the insurance agent was using and just kept pushing it back out. It was crazy.
Eric: You had to just lie and say you were 16 when you got it, I guess.
Miranda: I did.
Eric: In New York, it’s 18, isn’t it? I think.
Miranda: I don’t know what the driving age is there.
Eric: I think it’s 18 but anyway —
Miranda: All I know is that New York could not wrap it’s head around the fact that I do have my driver’s license since I was 15.
Eric: Well, I’m impressed. I did get a car when I was 16 so you got a year on me there.
Miranda: There we go.
Early Days as a Freelancer
Eric: Anyway, why we’re really here today, not to talk about driver’s license although it’s an interesting topic. We’re here to talk about freelancing.
For listeners out there, Miranda is really one of the top recognized experts in the financial blogging community on all things freelancing. She has written extensively about it, has a blog about it. I actually linked to it in an epic freelancing post that came out a couple of weeks ago on Monday.
I’m really thrilled to have you here, Miranda, to talk about it so could you share how did you get started in freelancing and where did you make your first freelancing dollar?
Miranda: My first freelancing dollar was made… Oh gosh —
Eric: We’re going way back —
Miranda: We’re going 10 years back.
Eric: Which in blog years is like 90 years ago.
Miranda: Yes, it’s like forever ago. It’s way back and so I’m trying to remember. My first freelancing dollar was probably made writing keyword articles back when that was a thing.
Eric: Okay, I remember those days.
Miranda: Yes, vaguely in the far past of Google. When you could write something that was 350 words long and stuff a bunch of keywords in it, put it on the internet and Google would find it. That was probably my first freelancing dollar. Nothing really exciting. Nothing really fancy. Nothing high brow.
All writers, myself included, dream of writing something high brow when they get, you know, I’m going to write all these high-minded pieces, get paid for it and it’s going to be an intellectual life of the mind. I’m going to get paid for it. Now, I ended up writing keyword articles. That was the first I did.
Eric: When you started, did they find you or did you look out and say, “Oh. I want to make a few dollars on the side” or “I’m looking for a new career”? How did you get started? When did that come to you?
Miranda: Basically I wanted to be able to work from home. My son, at that time, was right around three.
Miranda: I wanted to be able to work from home. I had finished, I got my Master’s Degree in Journalism. I finished my Master’s Degree in Journalism. My husband, at that time, was just getting started on his PhD program and so I just decided that I was going to do this from home and that’s what I was going to do.
There was no job to quit. There was nothing else to do. There was just my husband’s student loans and me trying to make rent. What I did was I hit the job boards. There were freelancing job boards out there that you can look at and look for freelancing work. That’s what I did, is just look for freelance job boards and applied for all of these different jobs. That’s how I got my first job, was applying through this freelance job through a freelance job board.
Eric: Was it like one of those big content mills like eHow or anything like that? It was a specific job you were brought on to do?
Miranda: Yes, it was a specific job for catalog, a kind of retailer place and they did window treatments like blinds and curtains. I just wrote 350-word articles about window treatments, about Brazilian blinds, Roman shades and those kinds of things. They were looking for someone to write regular articles so that they can populate their site. At that time, when Google was just starting to be really a popular search engine and a 350-word article could help somebody find you, find your high quality window treatments. I applied for that job and that where it is.
In the meantime, I did other things. I did start writing for an Associated Content at that time. I was there right when Associated Content first started. I wrote for them just because it was a way for me to basically set my own pay scale. As many as you wrote and turned in, that’s as many as they paid you for. Once that started up, I started doing that and then of course, it became Yahoo voices and then now it doesn’t exist. The life cycle of the internet right there.
Eric: Do you remember what you got, if you don’t mind sharing, what you were paid for those 350-word articles?
Miranda: Oh, so sad. Five dollars a piece.
Eric: Five dollars a piece. We all have humble beginnings. My first pay writing things was actually, I didn’t realize it at that time that it was link building through blog which is brand, brand new. I was like, “Sweet! Someone will pay me $10 to write a blog post on my own blog about something that I would maybe write about anyway and put in link in to some UK insurance company? How cool is that?” That was how my first online dollars for my finance blog started.
My first real online dollar I earned, I don’t even know if I’ve talked about this about it on Podcast or the blog before, when I was in a high school, I was huge pro wrestling fan. It was still called WWF back then. I made a fan site and I wrote about all the wrestlers on my Geo city site…
Miranda: Oh nice! Geo cities.
Eric: I had learned HTML and all that to make it work. There was pre-dating and Google didn’t even exist yet. Yahoo had a banner ad network. You can put banner ads on your sites —
Eric: If people click on your banners, you’d get a nickel. I think I made like three dollars from that.
Miranda: Very cool! Look at you.
Eric: I was in high school, I made three dollars. That’s sweet.
Miranda: Good job! Hey, you know —
Eric: Didn’t even cover a Chipotle burrito. All that work.
Writing for Different Websites
Eric: I’m guessing you make more than $5 for 350 words now. How did you progress your career from window treatments? What came next after that?
Miranda: As I’ve said, I started writing for Associated Content when I started out. I just started applying for a lot of different jobs. One of the first things that I started doing after the window treatment good times was the website called “phys.org”. It’s a Physics website.
In a former life, I was a Physics major. I had always wanted to do science writing. I had had a former classmate of mine at Syracuse where I did my Journalism Graduate degree. He was working at Discover magazine. He ended up throwing me a couple of front-of-the-book type pieces to do on a freelance basis. That was nice. I had that to help out a little bit.
I did apply for this phys.org website because I did want to be a science writer. I thought that’s what I would do, was to write about Science. I got that job. They were concerned that I didn’t have a degree in Science but when I showed them some of my writing samples and showed them that I have the ability to interview people, condense what they said and make it relatable, that’s when they decided to hire me. I had just had enough science knowledge to understand and interview these scientists but I wasn’t so steep in it that I couldn’t translate it for like regular people, right?
Eric: That’s the important thing. If you want normal to read your stuff, you have to write for normal people.
Miranda: That’s right.
Eric: My sister, she’s in medical school now. During her undergrad, she was doing research and she was a listed co-author on a published article on a major science journal. I understand at a very high level what they were doing but I couldn’t even quote the title because it was so complicated. I’ve showed it to a real scientist. “There you go. Yes, that’s really cool.” I have no idea what that even means. That’s not English words there.
Miranda: Yes, that was great. That was a great gig that I did for several years. I had that gig and then I had, just when RSS was starting to become a thing and just before blogging started taking off as a true marketing tool rather than just writing articles to populate some of these websites, just as blogging was starting to take off as a real tool in 2005 and early 2006, I was approached by somebody who saw my work on Associated Content. Throughout all these time, I basically spend two hours a day just writing articles and submitting them on Associated Content to pay the rent.
Eric: At that time, how did Associated Content pays go? Were you paid per article? Did you get a —
Miranda: Yes, you could submit for immediate review and payment and then you would get also residual income for page views.
I always submitted for immediate payment and they would pay anywhere between $5 and $50 per article depending on who you were and the quality of your article. I actually, towards the end of my time writing there, when I sort of started tapering off, I was making on the high end of what you could make at Associated Content just because of my output. One of the articles on the site put the Grand Canyon in Colorado.
My quality of —
Eric: I have been to the Grand Canyon and I’m from Colorado and I could say they’re not in the same place.
Setting Aside Time for Writing Projects
Miranda: It was really immediately obvious that even though I may not be the best writer out there, I was pretty good for Associated Content.
Eric: You have something to offer.
Miranda: I did. I spent two hours each day consistently producing that content because that was rent-and-grocery money.
Eric: Was that really enough, the two hours a day to cover the rent and more?
Miranda: Yes, for the speed that I write. Yes, it was.
Eric: That’s a really inspirational tidbit for people out there. There’s a lot of people who think, “Oh, I can never freelance especially people of full time jobs like me. How would I have time to do this?” Two hours day, even one hour, if you were paying the rent with two hours a day, imagine if you’d start with one hour a day. There’s so many great opportunities and I’d hate it for people to be afraid from trying because they feel that they don’t the time.
Miranda: Yes, for sure. You can definitely, whatever job’s that, like I said, I mean, I had somebody who, her name is Robyn Tippins. She’s done stuff with Yahoo community. She’s done stuff with current TV. She’s done some other stuff in the past but at that time, she was working for a different company. They were looking to start marketing, to start selling blogging services to companies as part of their marketing project.
She was on Associated Content looking for people who were consistent and who could be reliable posters. She just saw that I did on my own without having… She just saw my output, right?
Eric: You were prolific.
Miranda: Yes, I was. That’s the thing that got me where I am today. It’s just like straight output.
Eric: How long did it take you on average; let’s say you were writing a 500-word article? How fast could you crank out 500 words?
Miranda: This is so embarrassing. If it’s something that I know really well and it’s something that doesn’t require an interview and it’s just like a general knowledge, general purpose, general article that’s just cranked out, I can do it in 10 to 15 minutes.
Eric: That’s pretty sweet. That’s not embarrassing. You should be proud of that.
Miranda: If it’s something that requires more work, more effort and more research and something that I’m not really familiar with, or if I’ve interviewed somebody, it can take anywhere from half an hour to an hour.
Eric: So if we think about the math on it, if you were spending, let’s say you’re writing 500-word articles and you could write one every 15 minutes, two hours a day, you could see how the money would add up pretty quick.
Miranda: Yes, that’s kind of why I stay with the [inaudible][00:15:26] just at the speed I was writing them, they kind of help. I was being paid at the high end for that. I mean, you can start to build up to a living. I mean, the going rate for an article of 500 words is not five to fifteen dollars anymore. It’s higher. Somebody could potentially earn more.
Building a Reputation
Eric: If you were someone brand new with very little experience but knew a lot about a specific topic and they came and said, “Miranda, can you connect me with someone who wants to hire who does this? What should I charge?” What would you think a new person, brand new starting out, should charge for a 500-word article today?
Miranda: I was at $20 to $25 at the low end. You can get away with it, $50 to $75. I was just starting out. I make more than that for most of my stuff right now.
Eric: That’s great. Let’s say $25, starting brand new, no experience, you could do one of those a day, five days a week, that’s some spending money there.
Miranda: It is. If you’re going to ask that, I mean I would say you’d need to have some sort of expertise in the subject to make up for the fact that you haven’t been a writer. Does that make sense?
Eric: Yes, that makes sense
Miranda: Yes, it’s —
Eric: As you build that portfolio, you can obviously charge the more, which both you and I have done.
Miranda: Exactly. Yes, it takes time. I’ve had people like, “How have you done this? How have you built up this reputation? How did you get these high things? I want to this in six months.” I’ve been doing this for 10 years. I didn’t start making six figures until maybe I’ve been doing this for five or six years maybe.
I think it takes time if you want to build up that reputation. I mean, I guess, you can probably do it faster and I’m kind of a slow mover. I build on solid foundation to solid foundation. I don’t take a lot of risks. I suppose if you took more risks, you got out there more and you promoted yourself more, you could probably speed that process up. It did take me five or six years to get to the point where I was making six figures as a freelancer.
Eric: That’s also a great success story. Six-figure freelance. That’s how the full-time thing works. On the last episode, I was saying the reasons that I didn’t become a full-timer and the big thing for me was the stable job, which I know I’ll get every paycheck and things like health insurance. I have a little baby girl on the way so that means a lot more now than it did when it was just me living in a cheap apartment in Denver by myself.
Eric: Thank you.
Miranda: I didn’t know you were expecting. Well —
Eric: We have a little girl on the way —
Miranda: You’re not expecting but —
Eric: My wife. I mean, I’m expecting my wife to do something. With all that, the mortgage, the family and all that, it makes me feel comfortable in my part-time freelancing world making a great supplemental income but doing it full time, seeing people like you with great success stories making six figures, you can see how someone might make the jump from having a full-time job and freelancing on the side become a full time into the freelancing world.
Multiple Income Streams
Miranda: There’s a lot ways you can do that. I mean, as far as I was concerned, what I started doing was I lined up quite a few gigs as a staff writer on other people’s blogs. When you work for the independent bloggers, you cannot charge as much because they can’t afford to pay as much. The thing was, at one point, I was writing for 20 to 30 different blogs.
Eric: That’s pretty amazing. I used to see your name. I still see it all over but I used to see it —
Miranda: You used to see it a lot more.
Eric: …every single friend’s website, I’d see your name pop up on everyone’s site like “What? Miranda is there, too? Wow!”
Miranda: There was a time where you could not escape me. I felt a little bad about the fact that you could not escape me but —
Eric: How many hours were you working at your peak hours?
Miranda: At peak hours, I was probably working maybe 30 hours a week, blogging.
Eric: It’s still less than 40 hours a week in making a full-time living there.
Miranda: Yes. What I did was I had a core of, they weren’t high-paying jobs, rather a core of low-paying jobs that were steady. They contracted with me and I just provided one or two blog posts a week for them. Every month I’d invoice them.
What I did was I had these low-paying jobs but they have kind of long-term security. That was my core. That was the rent and the groceries. As I got those, I cycled off for writing for Associated Content. Does that make sense? They paid more than Associated Content so I sort of moved on.
Eric: You’ve upgraded a little.
Miranda: I upgraded. I had this core. I just wanted to make sure that I had the core because I was the primary breadwinner for my family. Well, technically, I still am now the primary breadwinner for my family. I’ve got a son to take care of and he’s going to be a teenager. Teenagers get expensive.
Eric: They cost more than babies, I’m guessing. At least after the initial getting them out part. That’s the expensive part —
Miranda: Right. Yes.
Eric: Once you get them home, they’re all not that expensive.
Miranda: Well, there are the diapers.
Eric: That’s true. I presume they’re not cheap but there’s more expensive, worse things in the world. When I was teenager, I wanted things like XBoxes. It wasn’t Xbox yet. Those were the nixes. When I was a teenager, I wanted the —
Miranda: You wanted the sweet Sega system, right?
Eric: A little younger than that one. I did have a Sega. That was in high school. It was a PlayStation 2. It was the good one I got in high school.
Miranda: I see.
Eric: In 300 bucks, compared to diapers, with all of the games and then I needed a TV. It becomes quite an expensive collection. That’s my taste.
Miranda: If my son wants all that business, he can pay for it himself.
Eric: That’s what I ended up, having difficulty. My parents were like, “We buy you your old Nintendo when you were a kid. Now, you can go get a job.”
I did. My first job that was not freelancing-related at all, I worked at a Boy Scout camp. That was my first job. I was paid five dollars a week my first summer. It pays —
Eric: That didn’t pay for your uniform but I had help. My parents paid for that. They were happy, too.
When I turned 16 and got a car, my parents said “You can have this car”, which is total piece of crap. I had to insure it and pay for the gas and the repairs.
I got a job at Target, the one by my house. That paid for my car and those needs plus a little leftover to go buy PlayStation 2 with my employee discount.
Eric: Yes. I got like 15 or 20% off. That adds up on 300 bucks.
Miranda: Yes, it does.
Eric: It’s still less than diapers though, I guess. Before we get started to coming back around.
Anyway, so now you’re the primary bread winner. How many hours to make if you’re still in that 6-figure range? How many hours a week would you say you work to maintain that now?
Miranda: Right now, I probably work about 20 hours a week.
Eric: Maybe I should go full-time on freelancing. Now you’re making me think twice.
Miranda: I don’t write for nearly as many blogs anymore. Now, I’ve transitioned to writing for mostly corporate clients. I’ve actually come full circle because when I first started doing the blogging, when I first started moving from just doing articles for the website or articles for the Physics website and I started doing the blogging, it was for corporate sites. It was for corporate blogs.
Then, I got away from working for the corporate stuff and did a bunch of stuff for the independent bloggers.
Writing for Corporate Clients
Miranda: Now I’ve come full circle, I’m writing mostly for corporate clients again.
Eric: You’re charging them more than the first time around.
Miranda: Oh my gosh! Yes.
Eric: How did you make the leap from the $50-$75-$100 a post rate to what you charge the corporate clients today?
Miranda: I have a Communications Degree. I did PR stuff. I just went back to what I learned about what to expect to pay professionals doing these things and I went back to the old school print rates like for magazines and what I got paid when I did a few things for Discover magazine. I went back to those rates and said, “This is what I’m charging corporate clients” when they ask.
Eric: And they all said, “Sure. You’re worth that.”
Miranda: And they said, “Of course. Yes. Fantastic.”
Going back, I just kind of come full circle and part of being able to land those corporate clients is once again, because it’s all in the financial space, it goes back to building community, building connections and relationships in a community and building your reputation, most of the corporate clients that want to work with me want to work with me because they know I’ve built up this reputation over these 10 years in my niche, right?
I focused on the personal finance niche after probably about 2007, 2008 is when I started really focusing. I mean, I’ve been writing. I’ve been in the personal finance niche since 2006 but I started really focusing my energy on the personal finance niche on 2007, 2008. Finally, in about 2009, 2010, it all starts to blur after a while. Probably 2009, 2010 or so, maybe the latest is 2011, is when I kind of moved away from the people I was writing for in the science website and in the tech world. I did write for some technology websites.
In fact, actually, it was last year when I moved away from Logan, Utah. I was writing for the local newspaper. I wrote a tech column for the local newspaper because —
Eric: Do you think, if you had, instead of personal finance, if you’d picked a science subject or a tech subject, you could be in the same place today revenue-wise just in that other area or do you think it’s a special thing in finance space? Is that just because you put your effort and time there?
Miranda: I think I can probably do reasonably well in the tech sector and science and technology. I don’t think quite as well. I think there is something about the personal finance space and about companies in the personal finance space especially the older companies —
Eric: The big old banks —
Miranda: Yes, the big old standbys, the banks, the investment companies because they are transitioning into the digital age and they’re really interested in making that transition. They’re interesting place because they understand what you do is worth. Does that make sense? Because they understand from a corporate standpoint what to expect to pay and they understand what it’s worth. They also understand that they need the help in this area.
That’s one of the reasons why I think the financial space is a special case. I probably would not be making quite as much if I had ended up in another niche. I think I’d be doing well enough to make a living. I could probably get at that point where you’re making a living but I don’t think I would be making quite as much and I don’t think that I would have the situation I’m in without being in the financial world.
Tips in Choosing a Niche
Eric: If you were, going back to the new guy we just said, what a first-timer might expect to get paid per article if they were starting out. If you could give them advice on how to pick a topic area or something that they can try to become the recognized expert in. What advice would you give them?
Miranda: I would say, you’d definitely need to get to know other people and that niche as well. It’s kind of interesting when you’re a professional freelancer and a professional blogger, everybody is sort of the competition but they’re also not the competition, right? You’re in it together. Like you were kind of the competition but you’re not. We’re in it together.
Eric: There are two parts. I’ll use a stock market analogy for this is a personal finance focused website. When your one company does really well, their stock can go up and down quite a bit. When the economy does really well, it’s like a bunch of rubber duckies in a bath tub. When you raise the water level, they all float up.
Miranda: That’s true.
Eric: If we can all move up together, I’d say that in any freelance space, it’s good for everybody. I’m sure you want to be the one who catches the wave and rides to the top but we all go up and down together as writers or any other freelance professional, I think.
Miranda: Yes, definitely. I think that’s a good comparison to make. I really think that getting to know people in that area and getting to be a part of the community because a lot of these niches now have communities. Travel writers have communities. Tech writers have communities. Parenting bloggers have communities. They all have communities. If you can get in and get to know people in that community, become a part of that community and actively participate, then it’s easier to build a reputation. It’s easier to establish yourself. And it’s easier to meet the corporations and the companies that are in that niche, right?
You don’t get just invited, like the parenting bloggers that end up going to Disney World, right? They get invited to Disney World.They’re part of that because they’re part of that community and they’ve gotten to know that.
For a personal finance blogger, I always say, “If you want to get to know the companies, you want to be able to meet the companies, you want to be able to meet other bloggers and you want to be able to meet those connections and start building your reputation, you got to go to FinCon.
Eric: Yes, that’s really been pivotal in my, the growth of my blogging and my freelance writing.
Making the Connection
Eric: Connecting with people face to face, who are willing to pay you for something that you offer, that is hugely valuable. All my clients are favorite clients. One of my favorite clients, I’ve ran that, there was an event called “Ignite”. They do them around the world. They’re five minutes speaking events and we do an Ignite FinCon, that I’m the guy who runs. I did the talk and one the things I said, “I’m a freelancer for hire”. At the end of my talk, somebody came up to me who work for a big investing company and they said, “We’d like to hire you.”
Eric: We talked the next day and they became a client a week later. It was all signed and done. It couldn’t have happened without that face to face meeting.
Miranda: Exactly. I think that it’s really an odd thing because when I first started 10 years ago, the whole point of being online and being an online freelancer was that you never had to meet anyone ever.
Miranda: Maybe you never even had to talk to anyone on the phone.
Eric: I still have clients that I’ve never spoken to on the phone that I’ve been a year or plus clients who are very good. I find that the top payers are the ones that you have more personal relationships with.
Miranda: Oh definitely. For sure.
Eric: Just for people’s knowledge, I’ve talked about FinCon quite a bit in this Podcast but there are other similar industry conferences. I actually kicked myself that I missed it when I lived in Denver and it was two hours away in the mountains. There’s a big one, I think it’s called TBEX, something like that —
Miranda: Yes, TBEX. Yes, that’s a good one for travel —
Eric: That’s a big travel blogger conference and I write a little bit about travel. I have a friend who went with all these huge connections. There are different perks to different industries. In finance, people are probably a little more money-driven. That might be part why you can demand higher rates. If you are a travel writer, you get free trips and things.
I know people who’ve gotten sent to resorts and these awesome trips all around the world because they’re travel bloggers and they’ve built up an audience. Or they are freelancers who have that reputation that if you give me this experience, I will get that experience out there. You obviously have to have journalistic integrity and be honest. You can’t just write cool reviews because you got free stuff. But travel blogging has conferences. Every industry has its thing.
Miranda: Right. There’s Type-A Parent for the parenting bloggers. That’s a really good one to go to. There are plenty of conferences. Your first move should be, “What are the industry conferences? What’s going on in my niche? Where should I be?”
Eric: There really is a conference I find for everything actually. My brother-in-law does heavy equipment work, with big tractors and things like that. He went to Las Vegas a couple of years ago for the World of Concrete Expo. I just happened to be in Las Vegas. It was around my birthday earlier this year. I saw these big signs of “A World of Concrete Expo”. If I wanted to be a concrete blogger or a construction equipment blogger, this will be the place to be. I mean, if there’s something for concrete, there’s something for everybody.
Miranda: Oh my gosh. Yes, for sure.
Eric: For some our listeners, just because we talk about personal finance so much here on this Podcast, don’t feel like you have to be restrained to that. It actually helps me and Miranda if you don’t go that way because all the boats go up together. All the rubber duckies would be more rubber duckies, I guess.
You’ve got to find what you’re passionate about and what you care about at some level. If you’re not interested in it, it is so hard to keep doing it over time.
Miranda: Oh my gosh. Yes. You want to do that’s interesting. I’d never thought I’d do money. It’s just somebody asked me to write about it one day. I was like, “I guess it’s like Math” so —
Eric: Science, Math, money, that’s all —
Miranda: Yes, it’s all the same.
Eric: IRA, Newton’s Third Law —
Miranda: That’s right. But I do find it interesting. I love money. I think it’s very interesting to write about, especially when you start factoring in behavior and sociological factors. It’s just very interesting to write about but at the same time what keeps me really focused in the money niche are the people. If you can find something that interests you plus you get to meet interesting people at these conferences, then it’s much easier to keep going and much easier to battle that burnout.
Overcoming Blogger Burnout
Eric: Did you ever have days or months that you feel like, “How do I keep doing this? How do I go forward?” Did you ever feel the blogger burnout?
Miranda: A little bit, yes. There are days when I’m just like I really don’t feel like writing. I don’t want to do this. What am I thinking? Why? There are some days.
Sometimes during tax season, when I’m writing yet another blog post about the difference between tax credits and tax deductions. I’m like, “Why? Why?”
Eric: Could you explain it right now? I’m kidding.
Miranda: No. Using different words?
When I’m writing my 5th post about how to get your child involved in their own back-to-school shopping and saving money, when I’m doing that, there are times that I’m just like, “Why? Why?”
Eric: What tricks do you use to get yourself through it?
Miranda: Mostly, it just goes back to, if I’m really having a hard time, I’ll just go take a break. Go workout, go for a walk, go watch a movie, play game with my son or take a shower. Just something else. Just take a break and then come back to it. Sometimes, if you’re on a deadline, you don’t have that luxury and you have to do what Stephen King says which is “Just get to work.”
Eric: Yes. Put the words on the page. Turn off Facebook. Put your phone away.
Miranda: And just do it.
Eric: Yes, I get that.
Miranda: Sometimes you do. Sometimes you have to power through. We always think, “Oh, well. It’s this charmed life.” A lot of the time, it is. I get to choose my hours. I get to choose my clients, for the most part. Once you get to a certain level, you can turn down the work if you don’t want to do it.
Eric: I had a couple that I’ve said, “Thank you. I’m ready to move on.” It’s bittersweet because you’re turning away money and someone who has put their trust in you but you know there are bigger dollar signs down the road or better have already come up that’s why you’re making that move.
Miranda: Or you just want the time back.
Eric: Yes. As a freelancer full time, that’s a huge perk. When I’m at my day job, full-time work in an office, if I get stuck on a spreadsheet, I can’t go and play a game with my kids and then come back in an hour and get back to work. That would be frowned upon in my industry.
As a freelancer, so long as you get your work done and you meet your deadlines, you can pretty much do what you want, right?
Miranda: Yes, definitely. I know I just moved across the country and I didn’t have to meet my deadlines. I was just like I’m moving across the country so this is going to be like —
Eric: … and there you go.
Miranda: Really, that’s not something I would do on a regular basis but if you built up that reputation and you know, normally, I’m on time. Normally, I‘m early. When you’ve done that and if you can become to some, maybe like for three years, I’ve done everything on time, this one week while I’m moving across the country, it’s just going to be late.
Eric: I need a couple of more days.
Miranda: Yes. A lot them are very understanding about that if you’d let them know ahead of time and as long as it’s not something that becomes a habit. You don’t want to become the flaky freelancer that they don’t want to work with.
Eric: Did you ever take advantage of that location independence you can have? Do you take extended trips anywhere? Do you still level on more normal stay-at-home-travel-take-vacations kind of life?
Miranda: Yes, since I have a son and he’s at school, I’m still kind of limited as to how nomadic I can be. Because I refused to home school, I think people who homeschool are awesome. And that’s great, that’s sweet. But I don’t think either my son or I would live through that.
Eric: I don’t think there’s home school like in my family’s future, definitely not be for us.
Miranda: Since there is a school issue, most of the time, the trips go around school holidays. We would go for week on spring break and that’s fine. We’d take trips during the summer. We go camping. We do stuff like that. This is really more of a normal sit-home kind of life.
When he’s done with school, I don’t know. I might want to travel more than maybe become more of a nomad.
Eric: You never run off to know the limit of number of vacation days you could take —
Miranda: Oh yes.
Eric: … and get stuck in the summer and like, I wish we could take an extra week if you can.
Miranda: Yes, I can. I never ran into that problem. If I’m like, you know, I’m going to go to the spa today, because my son is at school. I do a lot of that kind of stuff when my son’s at school during the day so that I’m home when he is. I’ll go to the spa. I’ll go have my hair done. I’ll go meet somebody for lunch. I can do that. If I want to shift some of my work to Saturday morning, that doesn’t matter. I can do that.
Eric: Do you typically work Monday through Friday during the day? Do you regularly work on weekends and evenings and have more sporadic hours.
Miranda: Yes, I try during the school year I tried to just kind of work Monday through Friday and have a set kind of work time. During the summer, things get a little bit crazier. During school holidays, things get a little bit crazier. Where I just sort of work when I can and then Saturdays and Sundays come into play or it’s kind of like, “Well, we’re going to go do this on Wednesday” so that means I’m going to have to do work on Saturday.
Eric: That’s great. We’re getting towards our time now so I’ve one last open-ended question.
Miranda: Go ahead.
Advice On Starting a Freelancing Career
Eric: If somebody had never freelanced before and wanted to get started in anything, whether through writing or otherwise, what kind of tips and motivation could you offer for them?
Miranda: Well, I would say, start out, start out by setting aside time to do the work. Set aside work time and set aside job-finding time. That’s what I did in the beginning.
I had my two hours where I did Associate Content and then I would spent two hours looking for work. I’d spend time working at the websites or I’d update my resume or I’d work my website or work on my portfolio. Here’s my solid work time and when I’m done doing the solid work, then I spend time looking for more work. Does that make sense?
I’d say if you want to do freelancing part-timer or if you want to transition to full time, you’d definitely need to set aside a chunk of time where it’s work development, getting work – applying for jobs, fixing your portfolio, building your website, connecting with people in your field, those kinds of things. You’d definitely need to take time to do that.
Other than that, it really boils down to making the time to work and making the time to keep looking for work.
Eric: That’s great advice and hugely valuable. This whole thing has been fun. It’s been interesting. I’m sure lots of people will get lots of great use from it.
Miranda: I hope so.
Eric: Because you’re such an awesome and inspirational person, I’m sure many listeners will want to come find you and connect with you. You even have a book they might be able to read. Could you tell a little about that and where people can come find you?
Miranda: Yes, the book is called “Confessions of a Professional Blogger”. It’s just a basic handbook on getting started. It’s not about how you’re going to make six figures in the next six months. It’s not super glamorous. It’s not about monetizing your blog. I’m going to get that out there right now —
Eric: But it’s focused. It’s on a topic.
Miranda: It’s focused on how to get started as a freelancer.
Eric: I have a link to that on Amazon through, in the show notes. You can go to personalprofitability.com/episode15. You’ll find that there and links to the awesome places Miranda is about to tell you about where you can connect with her.
Miranda: Right. It’s mirandamarquit.com. I write about all things freelancing there, more freelancing tidbits there. I have a YouTube video channel now where I have short two to three-minute videos about just like freelancing questions people send me so it answers them. It’s a video series. You can get to that through mirandamarquit.com. My personal finance blog is plantingmoneyseeds.com.
Eric: Well, there you have it, everyone. Miranda Marquit, the amazing freelancer, extraordinaire. I’m going to keep throwing adjectives —
Miranda: … or something.
Eric: Yes, or something. Thank you so much for taking the time to be here with us today.
Thank you, everyone, who has listened. I appreciate you making it here to the end.
If you have a minute and you like what Miranda and I had to say in the Podcast in general, it would make a huge difference to me to get the word out. If you could just leave a little rating in iTunes, hopefully you’d click the five-star button. If not, send me an email and let me know what I could do better for you.
Until next time, everyone. Stay profitable.