How to start Freelancing with no experience and make a full time income in less than 180 days – Interview

How to start freelancing

The other day I was visiting Leaving Work Behind (great website that you should definitely check out) and stumbled upon an article from Gina Horkey in which she talked about her Freelancing job and how she managed to make a few thousands dollars on the side in a short period of time.

As I was pretty sure you would like to hear her story, I decided to interview her.

In this interview you will find out, among other things:

  • How she got started
  • How much she’s been earning
  • What it takes to be a successful freelancer
  • How much you can hope to make
  • + some extra tips

So here it’s…

Entering Gina

1) What type of freelancer are you?

I started out as a freelance writer, but now also serve as a virtual assistant to a well-known webpreneur. In the future I hope to expand into social media management. I think it makes sense to diversify your freelance business early on if you can!

2) Why did you start freelancing?

I’m self-employed in a sense already, but realized at the beginning of this year that I wasn’t very fulfilled by the work I was doing and didn’t have the amount of flexibility that I craved. I started poking around online and came accross Leaving Work Behind.

I recently got the opportunity to share my journey from my first ~6 months on Tom’s site in a post titled: How I Increased My Freelance Blogging Rate from $50 to $150 an Hour. This was a milestone moment for me, because I got to guest post on the very site that gave me my start in the business!

3) What does it take to be a freelancer and is it hard?

One of the things that I’ve tried to keep in mind during my journey thus far, is to treat everything as a learning experience, rather than taking it personally. At times I do better than others! It is a hard business and especially with writing, you are putting your work – which in essence is a piece of yourself – out there for all to see and judge if they’re so inclined.

It’s not impossible though. It’s also not hard in the sense that almost anyone really can do it. You need a basic understanding/handle of the English language, a computer, an internet connection and a fair amount of drive. Being a freelancer (or self-employed in any sense) requires being a self-starter and finding a why to serve as motivation to get and keep going.

One of my favorite quotes is by Earl Nightingale, “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.”

4) What action step did you take to start freelancing?

My post on LWB goes into a bit more detail, but really I did just that, I started. I took his course (worth every penny), launched my website, set up a Facebook fan page and started tweeting.

I was lucky enough to land an unpaid blogging gig for The Huffington Post (or HuffPo for those in the know;-). I did this by replying to a job ad I found (to this day, I can’t pinpoint exactly where, sorry!). I didn’t wait until I was qualified. I became qualified by putting myself out there, getting a chance and taking action.

5) How much money can beginners expect to earn from freelancing?

This is an interesting question. I can only answer based on my own experience. I recently posted my first ever income report (for the month of September) and I detailed my earnings throughout the past six months as well. This is what it looks like from a high level view:

  • April-June: $0 income$205 expenses = -$205 profit
  • July: $805 income – $191 expenses = $614 profit ($409 rolling profit)
  • August: $1,540 income$264 expenses = $1,276 profit ($1,685 rolling profit)
  • September: $2,280 income$555 expenses = $1,725 profit ($3,410 rolling profit)

I keep my own profit and loss statement (via a Google spreadsheet) for each month, as well as a rolling total. This will help come tax time, but it also keeps me accountable to my goals.

Since I only include income received in the above, I also keep a projected income spreadsheet for the next month or two. This helps me to project out what my billables should be. I’m projecting ~$3,500 for October and have $2,400 on the books for November so far.

So far I’ve been able to increase my income each month, but that is bound to stop at some point. It could be sooner than later, as I’m currently juggling freelancing in addition to my full-time job and two toddlers, housework, etc on the homefront.

6) How many hours do you spend freelancing every week on average?

As I mentioned above, I freelance on the side right now. I have actually put in notice at my office and will be selling my practice to freelance full-time after the first of the year. This is really exciting for me and what I had my sights on from the beginning. I originally wanted it to happen by 5/1/15, but I’ve been able to move up my goal. From what I gather, this is common among others as well.

Currently I get up at 5 a.m. Monday-Friday to do my VA work and get organized for the day. I am able to get some stuff done during my work day too, but not a ton. I currently only work in the office Monday-Thursday, so I’ve also hired a babysitter on average once a week to work for another uninterrupted period of time. I sneak in work on the weekends when I can too.

I don’t do a great job at tracking my time right now, but if I had to guess it is probably 10-20 hours per week on average. I know that’s quite a range, but it also varies based on what’s due that week and what we might have going on as a family.

After the first of the year, I’d like to work between 4-6 hours per day, five days per week. Doing the math that’s roughly 20-30 hours per week. Right now at my day job I only work 32 hours, so ideally I’d like to start generating the same amount of income in less time. I don’t expect that to happen January 1, but would like for that to be the case by the end of next year.

7) Do you have any tips for beginners who want to get started?

Just start! If you have no basis for what you’re getting into, consider taking a course like Paid to Blog. I learned everything from how to set up a website, hire me page, etc and how to develop my pitch and start finding writing gigs. It is one of the things that I credit with my success so far.

Don’t worry about things being perfect first. I’ve made numerous changes to my website, pitch, etc over time. My first pitch was horrible! I don’t care though, because I’ve evolved over time and with experience. I’m sure I’ll say the same thing about where I am now a year from now!

Try not to spend more than you make. I’ve been very conscious about not spending more money than I take in on my business. You can get a domain and hosting for under $100 for a year. Besides that, an internet connection and computer, you don’t really need anything else.

In all actuality, you don’t need your own website either. I’ve used Pinterest as another way to display my writing portfolio. I think it’s a great alternative and very visually pleasing. If you don’t have a want or need to start your own website/blog, that’s a great way to start.

Thanks so much for having me on The Becomer and for letting me share my story! It’s been one wild rollercoaster ride so far, but I’m optimistic about my future in freelancing. Even if I end up a big failure, I won’t look back at myself in 20 years and wish I would have tried!

“Gina Horkey is a freelance writer, with a background in finance. She’s passionate about designing a flexible lifestyle suited to meet the needs of her young family of four and hopes to inspire others to do the same. Please stop by Horkey HandBook and say hello and/or connect with her on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest.”

Now I want to hear from you! Are you a freelancer? If not do you consider being one? Let me know in the comments below!

Simon Cave

15 comments… add one
  • Sarah October 17, 2014, 2:37 pm

    This was very helpful – thanks!! I am also a freelance writer and it took about 5 months to surpass my goals. They were small at first ($700/month) but I remember on the 5th month I surpassed my goal and invoiced $980. It’s been an uphill curve since! Freelancing really is a wonderful career – it’s allowed me to bring in an income while staying home with my girls. I’m very thankful to do this!

    • The Becomer October 17, 2014, 3:08 pm

      That’s wonderful Sarah! Keep it up 😉

    • Gina October 17, 2014, 6:05 pm

      Sarah – that’s great! I think for both of us, starting small and building on success is key! That and knowing it’s going to take some time; you can’t expect results overnight:-) Good luck as you continue to build your career around your family!

  • The Dame Intl October 17, 2014, 11:27 pm

    I just launched a hire me page on my 4yr old lifestyle blog with diverse online services from blogging to SEO to social media to transcribing. I’m yet to get any work through it but I’m holding hope! I’m intimidated by the freelance job sites out there where you have to bid for jobs so I hope I can make this happen without having to use them.

    • The Becomer October 18, 2014, 12:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment! I hope this interview helped.

    • Gina Horkey October 19, 2014, 1:08 pm

      Hi! It’s a great place to send people to. If you get a lot of traffic, then people might find you that way, but you should also try and promote it too! Good luck:-)

  • neon warge December 29, 2014, 6:24 am

    This is an excellent article! Very uplifting! Now I am inspired to kickstart my freelancing career. Though, I am targeting to freelance as a developer, this article has given me ideas to consider (i.e. social media). Also, I do agree that we have to diversify on every field. I believe this will help me identify my niche more than just focusing on one field. I feel like the possibilities and opportunities are endless. One of the most important thing I realize now is that I will be needing my own personal website soon. It will be a good start to practice on my web development skills. Thanks again for the information. I hope I will read an article like this soon.

    • The Becomer December 30, 2014, 2:15 pm

      Hey Neon thank you so much for your comment! You seem to be on the right track. Keep doing what you are doing

  • Ben Luthi January 7, 2015, 5:22 pm

    I love seeing people succeed with this! I’ve had similar success, but I definitely need to start diversifying my business. As much as I love writing, I’m too scatterbrained to keep myself focused on it as a full-time thing.

    • The Becomer January 8, 2015, 9:38 pm

      It definitely requires some discipline 🙂

  • Sayed Hussain Imam gulsher February 21, 2016, 8:44 am

    This is a valuable piece of advice for me.

  • keyur savaliya August 30, 2016, 5:07 pm

    thanks for sharing great ideas to devlop business in part time.actually i am trying to devlop import from china and sell in india business part time.i am looking for some automated process.can you share any example?

  • TJ November 28, 2016, 3:27 am

    Great artIcle, am now motIvated to see what I can do with it

  • Rhonda Wells March 2, 2017, 2:09 am

    I loved reading this interview. Gina’s beginnings are in the reverse of how I began freelancing. I began as a VA. I’ve had 3 long-term clients and a few short terms. Now I am maintaining 2 clients while I dive into the blogging world.

    Curious where this adventure will take me. My first pitches were horrible as well. Eventually you get a feel for it.

    I find the guest post thing harder to come by. I’m sure my skill at pitching for posts needs shored up, among other things.

    Any advice? Trust me I’ll take it! 🙂

  • Ahmmed August 8, 2017, 9:25 am

    Good Job keep it up! I really enjoyed the interview regarding great startup.
    Thanks for sharing the nice Experience.


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