Contena® is an online program designed to help you get started with remote writing. We help you to create everything you need to get paid to write from the comfort and safety of your home. We also find jobs and companies that hire remote writers.
We have helped thousands of writers to make money from remote work and our community includes many of the top freelance writers from around the world.
Meet Contena Superstar Kenzie Bradshaw, a 20-something who has been growing her business as a freelance writer since 2017.
Before starting her freelance career, Kenzie earned a degree in Soil Science with a specialization in soil physics, and she had jobs ranging from snake handling with the Fish and Wildlife Service through the AmeriCorps program to helping create new flavor profiles for Sargento cheese.
She discovered “the reality is that many traditional professions would rather hire a specialist over a generalist.” However, as a freelancer, it has helped to have a variety of areas she’s knowledgeable about and comfortable with.We think it’s great that Kenzie shows how pretty much any road can lead to a freelance writing career.
Her love of travel and freedom along with a 3-month trip to Thailand encouraged her to shift away from the traditional workforce and try her hand at getting paid to write.
However, before she started with Contena, she’d “been on those other websites. I’ve been there…” (We’re going to spare you the details of the first job she was offered- it’s not good), but she says, “I turned it down because it was so creepy and I had so many questions. I got all kinds of red flags.”
Kenzie quickly learned that signing up for Contena Academy and working with her coach, Amanda, provided the support and quality that other sites couldn’t provide. The extra eyes and ears were especially useful for a new freelancer.
"Amanda was so encouraging to me. I had no idea if my writing would be commercial enough to be worth anything, and I was worried that my lack of a single area of expertise would put me at a major disadvantage.Amanda really helped me to polish my style and encouraged me that by being able to write in a wide variety of topics, I would have a greater chance of success."
Kenzie was hired for a regular gig quickly after starting as a freelancer: “I landed my first position with Wide Open Spaces with a minimum of 12 articles a month” which isn’t surprising for someone who says, “I’m a fight to the top, butt-kicking, ‘watch me rock this’ kind of girl!”
Confidence, like Kenzie's, can help freelancers when they’re first starting out.
Though Kenzie still has a part-time job, (which we think is a great way to supplement your freelancing career when you’re first starting out), her goal is to “make [writing] my sole job.”
There’s no shame in taking your time to transition to full-time freelance writing, and we asked Kenzie about what has helped her grow her freelance business so far.
Here are Kenzie’s top tips for freelance writing success:Between [Amanda] and the training modules in Contena Academy, I learned to look at freelancing jobs with new eyes. I learned how to vet employers, deciding who was worth my time and who wasn’t. It’s hard to take that first step and say ‘I’m going to be a professional at doing this’ and put yourself out there and do it. There’s this hesitation that, if you don’t do well right off the bat, then you’ve failed and you’ll be doomed for a 9-5 forever. An instructor told me, ‘you need to look at every failure as an investment in learning, and if you can’t do that, you’ll never make it as a freelancer.’ I didn’t feel like I had anything special to say when I started, and by the time I went to my coach and started applying this stuff, I realized all of my experiences really helped me. So you need to mine your life for these awesome nuggets you can write about. When you take [really low rates], that’s your new level. That’s the standard you’re accepting. What you waste on these kinds of positions is time you could have spent looking for a much bigger fish. Don’t keep a minnow on the line when there’s a bass out there. Professionally, it will make you feel better if you have a bit broader of a base. If you’re freelancing, you need that base of consistent clients or you’re going to be paranoid all the time…Try it all until you find what [type of work] fits. When I was just getting started, it was nice to have [my coach] there to run ideas by or get some positive feedback or words of wisdom before applying. That was so, so helpful. I mostly took my process [to be successful at freelancing] from the training in Contena Academy…when you start applying for jobs you need to take and tailor that process to the industry you’re applying to but it was a great place to start. One of the things people forget to do is to track their income. Make a spreadsheet, see how much is coming in each month, know how much you need to live each month and what would be excess. Stay organized in the beginning and you’ll avoid stress later.
Though freelancing can work for just about anyone, we’re strong believers that there are specific reasons why she's perfect for freelance writing.
Kenzie is tech-savvy, able to multi-task, and understands that the job market is evolving. She also pointed out that due to her age, with less responsibilities like kids and a mortgage, she can make the jump into freelancing. She says, starting freelance writing as millennial, “There’s more flexibility to take a risk earlier on.”
So, what’s next for Kenzie?
She’ll continue to create content for her anchor clients, further develop her e-commerce store, and she’ll take what she’s learned through Contena’s training modules and keep applying for more work.
We’re confident that Kenzie will continue to grow her freelancing business and, when she’s ready, ditch the part-time job and work 100% for herself.Ready to get started as a freelance writer? Check out Contena today!
So, you’re wondering what Contena is all about, huh? Awesome - we’re glad you have questions.
We get lots of people wondering what Contena is, how it helps writers, and if they should join.
Because of that, we put the most asked questions all in one place. We hope this helps you learn more about us and to decide if a Contena Academy membership is right for you.So, let’s answer all of your questions about Contena: What is Contena?
Contena is simply the best way to start making money from writing.
We show you how to create everything you need to start a great freelance writing business and help you find the best remote and location independent writing gigs. Yes, there is a cost to join Contena, and we want to show you why that’s worth it.How does Contena work?
When you activate your Contena membership, you receive access to all of our resources, including a training program which shows you exactly how to get started with freelance writing.
We designed our course so that you can create everything you need to get started with freelance writing in about a weekend.
We keep it super simple and straightforward.
You can also access our writing job finder which only includes the best remote writing jobs out there. You can apply for as many jobs as you like, and you can even reach out to a success coach whenever you have questions.
We do a lot of the legwork for you and saving you time with your job search, in addition to the training modules you have access to.
In addition to the jobs found on our writing job board, members receive access to our massive database of companies that hire remote writers in our writing submissions section.
Platinum members also receive access to a dedicated coach, who will help you to refine your portfolio and offer valuable feedback and recommendations. Check out what Contena Superstar Kenzie said about working with her Contena Coach.
Not only that, but you can also set up your writing alerts and check out our writing leads which is a database of the information and leads we collect.What can I get paid to write about?
Many different types of businesses and industries need content. The types of content will vary (blog posts, ebooks, web copy, etc.) and you’ll find many different topics that people will pay you to write about.
We tend to see lots of job opportunities related to technology, education, wellness, finance, beauty, and other growing industries. Those topics not your thing? Don’t worry – there are lots of other freelance writing opportunities.
In fact, we gathered some of our favorite listings here.Do I have to complete the course to get started looking for jobs?
Our training is included with all of our memberships, however, completing the course is totally optional. As a Contena Academy member, you are free to access our writing job finder and other powerful tools at any time. With that said, we always encourage our members to complete the training, especially if you’re new to freelancing, because the strategies that we teach have been tested and proven to increase your engagement rate and success with landing new clients.
And if you’re a seasoned writer, some of the information might still be great to review!I don’t have any experience with writing professionally, is Contena for me?
Many of our members are totally new to freelancing when they join Contena. We designed the course so that you can create everything you need to get started in about a weekend, even with no experience.I’ve been freelancing for a while, is Academy for me?
We’ve found that more experienced freelancers enjoy their Contena membership for the following reasons:The time that our writing job finder saves them in their job search efforts The ability to reference modules in the academy that support their current needs Having access to a Contena Coach to help them level-up their freelance writing business Can I work from home?
At Contena we are totally focused on finding the best remote and location independent writing gigs that allow you to work from anywhere. So yes, with jobs found through Contena you can work from the comfort of your own home 🙂Does Contena cost money?
Contena is a paid membership site.
Your Contena membership gives you access to a complete course for starting your freelance writing business, plus our suite of powerful tools for finding the best remote and location independent writing gigs, and companies that <3 remote writers.
We also offer a few different membership options, including payment plans to make Contena as affordable as possible.
Memberships start at around $40 per month when paid in full for the year, however, we do offer monthly payment plans.Why should I have to pay to find work?
Well, you don’t have to pay to find work - there are many free job sites and resources out there.
Contena is for those who want a proven framework for success with remote writing. We provide everything you need to get started with freelance writing and show you exactly what works. This includes access to training, support, and a large database of pre-vetted leads for you to pursue.
We’re cutting down the time it will take you to build your business because you don’t have to scour multiple sites for education or job listings and you can avoid sifting through jobs that don’t pay much or are sketchy.Is there a trial?
As you can see – we’ve created Contena to provide you with a lot of value, so we don’t do a free trial. However, all of our plans come with a complete 30-day satisfaction guarantee*. Just show us you did the work.How do I join Contena?
You can join Contena by creating a free account here.
Once you create an account you will be added to our waiting list and notified when we open for new members! Once you’re enrolled, you’ll have immediate access to everything you need to launch your freelance writing career!
So there you have it, our most-asked questions, answered!! If you’re ready to take your freelancing career to the next level, set up your Contena Account here.
* Terms and conditions apply. You can see the terms and conditions for our 30 day satisfaction guarantee here.
We’re so excited to introduce you to Contena Superstar: Tim White. He’s had fast success after signing up with Contena Acadmey so we asked him to share his best tips. One thing we want to tell you: He was hesitant to join, which is part of why we wanted to share his story with you.Meet Tim:
In January 2018, Tim began his full-time, professional writing career. Prior to that, he spent most of his adult life in medicine as a paramedic and a nurse, starting a dog training business in 2016 after he left medicine.
He said, “I would occasionally find opportunities to write about medical things, sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid. But, I never actively looked for it…I got a few short stories and things published and I’ve always written just for myself.”
As a professional in the medical field, that’s where Tim focused his energy.
Even though people would tell him he could get paid for his writing he’d always say “Well, I love writing, but I love medicine a little bit more.”
Eventually he decided to leave the medical field and “writing was the next obvious choice, because you gotta love what you do.”
To get to where he was in his first profession, he obviously spent a lot of time studying. So, it’s no surprise that when he decided he wanted to shift gears to writing, he took a similar approach, learning as much as he could.
Tim says, “I started doing research on how to actually make money writing, what kind of writing is profitable and what is not. I realized the kind of writing that you need to do to make any kind of significant money is not the kind of writing I had experience at.”
Some people would be discouraged by that, but instead, Tim dug in, “and started to look at other freelancers and their personal websites,” learning from each one and paying special attention to the people who had careers like the ones he aspired to have.
It was during this research that he stumbled onto Contena Academy.
He says “I back-burnered [signing up for Contena] for a while because the price tag kind of scared me away.”
We love this honesty. We know there can be sticker shock.
But, he told us, “I’ve always been an investor; you’ve got to invest or spend money to make money kind of attitude. I kept seeing reviews from other writers who said they don’t use Contena anymore, but that they did. Or that they hadn’t used it, but had positive impressions. And when I saw that there was a 30-day guarantee and you could get your money back, I said ‘Screw it, let’s see what happens.’”
And what happened is impressive!
Very quickly, Tim was able to go through the training lessons in Contena Academy, work with his coach Amanda, and secure several lucrative contracts.
While Tim is the first to tell you that there are many ideas of what success is (the idea of success is actually a topic he loves to write about), we’d say he’s been quite successful.
So, we decided to round up some of his best tips and share them here. You might want to print this out, or take some notes, because Tim told me “In the first major round of pitching 8 or 9 clients, the three main clients I wanted to work for all ended up eventually hiring me.”Tim White’s Words of Wisdom My primary criteria [when looking for jobs] was that I’m not going to write about something I don’t care about, I don’t want to write about or I don’t believe in, so I looked for clients who deal with subjects I like to write about and went from there. None of first three contracts were posted in Contena’s writing leads or job finder; I was just using the skills and knowledge to look at other places. The obvious advantage of Contena’s job finder (not everyone is willing to do this; I’d rather pay money than deal with a lot of BS), is the fact that Contena filters all of that out and only shows me legit clients. I’m perfectly happy to pay for that. The approach I’ve had that’s been by far the most successful, if you can, don’t compete on the same grounds that everyone else is competing on, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience…for two of the three jobs, there was an enormous amount of applicants, so my advice is be completely honest with what you do and don’t know and really push your strengths. Look for strengths that other people aren’t thinking about. My writer’s website didn’t help at all in the way I wanted it to, and it helped in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had no paying traffic come through my website, but it has helped in the sense of learning semi-competent web design. I’m learning about what makes a good website and how to do that myself. In that skillset are things that are relevant to writing, like SEO. That’s been far more important than getting paying clients…by the time I was applying for these contract jobs, I already had a dozen or more posts on self-improvement (the niche I was applying for) and I could show that this is an area I’m passionate about, have written about and researched. Interacting both with writing and other writers, I’ve been very independent, do-it-myself kind of type…I think the biggest problem I’ve seen or heard about from other writers is an issue with confidence, and it tends to be one extreme or the other. Some writers are not confident enough in their skills and ability to write or find work and others think they’re way better than they are, and they pitch that to the client and the client finds out you’re lying and that’s not good either…first and foremost you need to be honest with yourself and the client about what you do and don’t know. Clients respect and respond to a willingness to jump into something you don’t know and learn it (to an extent). If you know 70% of what they want, and 30% is unfamiliar, just do it. Devote some extra time to the part you don’t know: research it and practice it and that’s gotten me much farther than just playing it safe and sticking to only what I know. When I first joined Contena, I was already pitching to clients, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was kind of using the fact that I don’t know how to pitch to figure it out. I was sending emails to people and seeing who responded and who didn’t, and figuring things out that way. Once Amanda got on board and I used the Academy’s modules on pitching and marketing, the single most important things that’s helped me is that everything needs to be framed in terms of what can you do for the client to specifically increase their success. You almost have to phrase your pitch as a very soft assumption that you’re going to work for them. If you ask a question, like “Will you hire me?” it sounds weak. I have several pitch templates saved in my gmail now. They’re variations on the same thing, which is “I love to write about what your company does.” If I’m responding to a specific add, I’ll talk about how I can help with that need. Or if they didn’t post an ad, I’ll say “I think your site can do much better with these simple changes. Can I write just one article for you, no strings attached at an introductory rate.” People respond to sincere, confident offers of help to make their service or product better. Too weak and too strong are both bad. I would really stress to people don’t write about things you don’t care about. If you have 2 clients and one wants to pay you half as much but you really, really love the topic, do that. Don’t just follow the money or the prestige of where you’re working. The fastest way to burnout is to write about things you don’t enjoy. Don’t just meet your deadlines, absolutely slay your deadlines. If they give you a week, get it done in two ways. The quality of your work should always be your top priority but make speed #2. One client mentioned fast-turnaround times is why they hired me.
Tim is obviously passionate about writing and sharing that information with others.
Before we wrapped up our conversation, I asked him “If someone was skeptical to join Contena Academy, like you were, what would you say?”
For me, the 30-day refund period was instrumental. I doubt I would have signed up without it. You really have nothing to lose. I don’t think I would have been unsuccessful without Contena, I would have eventually gotten here anyway, but it’s a question about how you want to spend your time. It saved me a tremendous amount of effort and saved me from doing a lot of trial and effort. Not everyone will think that’s worth the money, but I certainly do.
When you get paid to write, you want to maximize the money you get.
Freelance writers want to make money! And it’s so exciting when we start finding paid work and the money starts coming in.
However, if you’ve been a freelance writer for any period of time, you know that there are some unique realities when it comes to making money:Your income is not always predictable Even when you’ve signed the contract, submitted the article, and invoiced, you might be waiting a while to get paid. In the world of freelancing, you can be waiting a month (or more!) for payment Most (if not all) of your income will not be taxed and you won’t be eligible for benefits, so the money you take home needs to be earmarked for other things- you can’t just spend it all (It’s so tempting though!)
On the blog, we’ve tried to cover lots of ways to make money as a freelance writer: from getting legit writing jobs and pitching new clients to the different ways you can make money as a freelance writer and making sure you know about some awesome side-hustles.
But- we also wanted to make sure that we covered some ideas for how to make the most of that money that you do make, and share tips for your finances as a freelance writer.
And who better than to give us some advice?
Tiffany Connors, Staff Writer with The Penny Hoarder (yes! THAT Penny Hoarder!). Tiffany is a jobs and careers expert, so we thought she’d be the perfect person to give us some tips on managing money as a freelance writer.
We started off our call talking about the realities of being a freelancer and how it can be really exciting to have that freedom, but as Tiffany pointed out,You no longer you have an employer (which is sort of like yay!) but now you are the employer, so it sounds so freeing, but now you’re responsible. So, IT, billing, marketing- you’re responsible for all of it. So if the printer dies, you need to decide what to do.
It’s also important to remember (especially for the newer writers), that you might feel great about a rate you’re getting paid, but when you factor in all of this: taxes, insurance, self-employment taxes, etc. you might not feel as good about your rate. Remember that not all of the money is coming home to you!
And while it’s easy to say, “I want to make more money” or “I’ll work on getting more clients,” sometimes that takes more time than we’d like. It’s important to make the most of the money that we have (and that’s also true even when you’re happy with your income!).Tips to Save Money as a Freelance Writer Tiffany's first tip is that there are two people you have to pay. First is the government, so make sure you’re set up so that you have the money set aside for taxes, because if you just put aside savings and you don’t put aside money that you know is going to go to the government, your savings is just going to dwindle very quickly. The second person you pay is yourself…If you don’t put paying yourself in the budget, you’re going to come up with a hundred ways to spend that money. How do you make sure you pay yourself? Tiffany says: Get tricky. Make a tip jar and every time you get paid by one of your clients, give yourself a tip. If you’re earning $200 an article, you give 10% ($20) into the tip jar, automatically. Just having it out-of-sight, not immediately ready to use is a way to trick yourself into savings, whether it’s a jar or another account, set it up so it’s automatic…. You can use “set it and forget it” apps like Stash or Acorn where you’re automatically saving. And if you want to get paid, you need to make sure you’re staying on track of invoicing and payments. You’ve got to make sure that money is coming in! Tiffany says, set yourself up for calendar reminders…every Friday at 2:00 I invoice, or every Friday at 3:00 I send reminders to all of my clients who haven’t paid yet. You come up with your own invoicing system but you have to do it. Tips for Freelance Writers to Make More Money
Aside from the obvious: get hired for more writing jobs and finding higher paying writing jobs (because we know you’re already working on that), we asked Tiffany for tips about making more money as a freelance writer.One of the ways we’ve found freelancers can make more money is work-from-home jobs. There are some great side-hustle jobs. Maybe you can find an overnight shift working a call center. Is it the most glamorous job? No, but some of these jobs are giving benefits, so if you’re doing a job at night and earning benefits, that frees you up for a lot more of the money that you’re earning as a freelancer to just go right back to you. Sometimes with freelancers it becomes this idea that if I’m not 100% freelancing, I’m somehow failing, but you’re not a failure. There are slow periods- maybe through the holidays you’re not going to get as many jobs so maybe that’s when you go into a retailer and get a holiday side-job. So, you get a job for three months, save up the money, then after the holidays, start ramping up your freelancing again.
But, if you’re determined to stay focused on writing, or be “writing-adjacent” with the work that you do, we wanted to know what Tiffany would recommend.Most writers have their thing that they like to do. I’m a journalist- that’s my thing. But I do side-work sometimes in marketing. I took a Google AdWords class and figured out how to do more SEO and maybe that’s what you need to do- going into a program and getting a certificate in SEO and being able to leverage that into another additional position besides just writing- I can edit this for SEO, I can optimize your site. Or if you get good at WordPress, setting up people on their website for a smaller company, that can be a big help. Tips about Taxes for Freelance Writers
Though Tiffany is not a tax expert, she does know a thing or two and has some great tips when it comes to taxes:Go to an online calculator, figure out how much you’ll owe and set it up so that you take a percentage out [of your paychecks] and put it aside I would recommend investing, especially that first year, in a tax accountant and getting advice from a professional- someone that you can call and say “my tax needs have changed- let’s revaluate.” You need to revaluate as you go through the year Be aware that there’s a self-employment tax when you’re a sole proprietor or a single-member LLC. You can look into setting yourself up as an S-corp for the tax structure. [Again, we’re not experts, and this is a step you likely wouldn’t need to take until your business is well up and running] Think about quarterly taxes; if you have multiple clients, keep records and receipts and detail which clients which receipts are for because as you go along, if you’re getting more clients and you’re getting busier, it’s easy to lose track and some of those expenses can be used as deductions How to better manage your money on a shorter-term basis
We’re not trapped at a desk or in an office all day, every day. We have flexibility.
But that also means we may fall into certain spending traps. Mine? Starbucks (Ahh, Starbucks!). I’m more productive here (I say here, because I’m writing this article at Starbucks!). So, I’m at Starbucks regularly.
Which means I’m productive, but I’m also spending more than I’d like to admit on chai lattes. I asked Tiffany what else freelance writers can do to help curb spending.There are definitely lifestyle changes that you can make- again, these can be short-term. You got Netflix, HBO Go, and cable? Maybe you can cancel one for three months or pause on the gym membership: if it’s nice outside, go for a walk instead. One of the things I used to do was adjusting your thermostat. If you adjust your thermostat, I think by 3 degrees, it can save you 30% on your energy bill. So just making that cut and understanding that this month I wear a sweater every day when I’m working from home. And if you’ve got the high-speed internet at home, there’s no need to go to Starbucks [I know, Tiffany, I know!!]. Sometimes it’s just little things like that. With the short-term money management, is not banking on money that isn’t in your hands- by building a little emergency fund. The experts say to have three months to cover expenses, but if that’s unrealistic, having $100 dollars or extra money to pay the rent, or simply having some extra money aside so you don’t have to rely on credit cards or get into debt when that printer breaks, that’s a big part of it.
We have the best money making tips for freelance writers from our friends at The Penny Hoarder. How to make more money, save more money, and other financial tips and hacks for freelancers. #FreelanceWriting #Freelancer #WorkFromHome #SideHustle #Money #OnlineBusiness #Writing #WritingJobsLonger-term financial planning advice for freelance writers
Obviously you’re going to need to speak to an expert to figure out what’s best for your situation and particulars, but while I had Tiffany on the phone, I had to ask about this since freelancers no longer live in the world of automatic 401K deductions (that means bye-bye company matching too!).Retirement is one of those things you don’t necessarily think about, but set up an IRA and do it now- stop putting it off. You can max it out every year (talk to your financial advisor to figure what’s going to work for your and how much you can contribute). Health insurance: if you’re getting that high-deductible health insurance plan because you’re a freelancer, look into a health savings account (HSA). Check with a pro, but your contributions might be tax deductible, and your contributions can roll-over from year-to-year. So, you’re not only setting yourself up for money that you can use for health reimbursement, but even in retirement, you can use that account, so you’re setting yourself up in two ways. One other thing I would highly recommend for freelancers, for long-term, is setting up a Limited Liability Company. An LLC is a business structure that protects you in case there is a lawsuit against your freelance work. Nobody wants to believe that’s going to happen, but it does. So just protecting yourself, your assets, your car, your home, whatever you have, is important. You can talk to a lawyer about setting up an LLC. Final Money Tip for Freelancers
When you’re getting started, it’s easy to look only at what’s going on that month or that week, but as you go along, I would at least start to notice trends in your year-to-year. So if you’re a writer for the holidays, you’re getting busy in August and September and it’s uneven work, and even if you have regular clients, there’s going to be dips; see if you can budget that.
Seeing that big dollar sign in September is awesome, but either use it to pay off things, make that car insurance payment- make it every 6 months because you know that’s when your big payments will come through- or that’s the time you’re setting up an automatic deposit to your savings account so that you don’t touch it. Because it can be really easy to see it, spend it, and then really suffer for it because you didn’t save.
These are some fantastic money tips for freelance writers from Tiffany Connors from The Penny Hoarder.
When it comes to money, it can often feel like there’s not enough of it (or that you’d like more of it). While we want you to be able to make more money, we also want you to make the most of the money you’re bringing in!
Jennifer Marino Walters is a metro-area mama and the founder of Double Duty Twins (Plus One!) where she writes about parenting and various children’s topics. She also tweets up a storm here!
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, what did you do in your previous life?
My name is Jennifer Marino Walters, and I am a freelance writer from Brooklyn, NY. I am a mom to twin boys who will start kindergarten this fall and a toddler girl. I am also an Army wife — my husband, Keith, is a lieutenant colonel. My family has moved around a lot, but we currently live in the Washington, D.C. metro area.
I was an editorial assistant at TIME For Kids magazine in New York City when I met my husband. I moved with him to Northern California for 18 months while he attended grad school. While there, I worked as a communications manager for a children’s non-profit, but I really missed the publishing world. So when the Army transferred us back to New York for three years, I became an assistant managing editor at BizBash and then a senior editor at Scholastic.
How did you first get into freelancing?
We were transferred to Colorado Springs in 2010, where the publishing industry is virtually non-existent. Since the cost of living is much lower there than in New York and we were ready to start a family, I thought it would be the perfect time to try my hand at freelancing. I already had lots of editor contacts at Scholastic’s website and magazines as well as at other publications, so it wasn’t difficult for me to start getting assignments.
Over the years, I have steadily increased the amount of work I take on. I now write most regularly for Scholastic Online, Care.com, and Bentley University, but I write for many other clients as well.
You have three children under five years old. How do you find time to be a successful freelance writer?
I have a nanny come about 12 hours a week and get a lot of work done while she’s here. The twins currently attend preschool three half days per week, so I do simple tasks like answering emails and sending invoices while my daughter plays or colors at my side. She takes a two-hour nap every afternoon when the boys are home from school, and since they are now at the age where they can entertain each other, I can get writing done during nap time if I need to. But unfortunately, I do often have to carve out time on evenings and weekends to write while my husband is home. During particularly busy periods, I sometimes stay up until 1 or 2 a.m. to finish stories. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and sometimes I don’t get enough sleep!
Your blog is called Double Duty Twins. Can you explain what that means?
I started it while I was pregnant with my twins. At first, it was just a platform through which to keep friends and family updated on the pregnancy and babies, but I was hoping for it to eventually turn into a parenting resource as well as a place to showcase my freelance work. I was really focused on the twin thing when trying to come up with a name, and that made me think of “Double Duty.” I thought it was perfect because it reflected so many aspects of my life: parenting two babies at a time, being a mom and a writer, being a military spouse and the sense of duty that comes with that.Ultimately, I think all parents pull double duty in so many areas of their lives, so it’s a name they can all relate to.
Besides spending extra time with your children, what is your favorite thing you’ve been able to do because of your freelance writing career that you wouldn’t be able to do if you had a typical 9-5 job?
It really does all boil down to spending more time with my family and being able to take care of my kids. I like not having to cram all my appointments and errands into the weekends, so that I can spend Saturday and Sunday relaxing and having fun. I like having more travel flexibility and being able to fit in workouts. I like being able to choose the projects I work on so that I am always enjoying my work. Overall, working from home makes life more fun and less stressful.
Is there anything you regret or would have done differently early on?
I am still not good about creating a work schedule for myself, which means it is hard to stay disciplined. I am hoping to be better about that once my twins start kindergarten in September, because I think it will really help me manage my time better.
Many of our members have families, like you. What advice would you give to someone with a family who is looking to dive into freelance writing?
It is really hard to find balance as a freelance writer. Since you don’t have set work hours, you’ll always feel like you should be doing something else.If you have a big story due and you’re playing with your kids, you’ll think, “I’m on deadline — I should be writing!” And when you’re working, you’ll be thinking, “I should be with my kids right now!”
So my advice is to not give in to the mom (or dad) guilt! Do your best to live in the moment and devote yourself fully to whatever it is you are doing at any given time, whether that’s working or playing with your children.
You write for clients but also manage your own blog. Do you find writing your own content or working with clients more challenging and why?
I definitely find writing my own content more challenging. When I write for a client, its website or magazine has a distinct voice. I know I need to write in that particular voice. But with my blog, I have to find my own voice, and that’s always tough.
I also find it more challenging to motivate myself to write for my blog since I am not getting paid. My time is so limited, so when I do have a chance to write, I work on the assignments that will earn me money first. It makes me feel better about spending that hour or two away from the kids or staying up late. Perhaps that’s why months can go by between blog posts, but I am hoping to get better about that!
Do you still write for fun? Are you working on any side projects?
My blog is for fun, and I try to keep up with it as much as I can, but it’s very challenging. I do consider all of my writing to be fun, though — even the work I get paid for!
As far as side projects go, I wrote four books about the seasons for young children for publishing company Red Chair Press. The books will be available in stores and on Amazon. It was unlike any other writing project I’ve done, so I’m very excited for the books to come out!
Lastly – what is one small thing that an aspiring writer can do today to improve their freelancing business?
Think outside the box of traditional magazines and websites and reach out to everyone you know! You’d be surprised at how many businesses and organizations need good writers to create web content, marketing materials, brochures, etc. I never would have imagined that non-profit organizations and universities would turn out to be some of my most lucrative clients!
Want more of Jennifer? Keep up with what she’s writing!
Kat Boogaard is the founder of Lemonade Linings the formula of which is BIZ OWNERSHIP TIPS + POSITIVITY + SELF-DEVELOPMENT + DOG PHOTOS = LEMONADE LININGS. She also tweets awesome things.
Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, what did you do in your previous life?
I live in a small town in Northeastern Wisconsin. Most people that find my work immediately assume that I reside in a larger city—such as New York or San Francisco. But, I really love the small town life!
Before switching to freelancing full-time, I worked as a Marketing Assistant for my local Convention and Visitors Bureau. We promoted travel to the local area in an effort to draw more visitors dollars into our economy. Marketing travel was definitely a fun gig, but I always found myself itching to venture off on my own!
How did you first get into freelancing?
I began freelancing when I was still employed full-time—I suppose “side hustle” is the trendy name for it now. I wrote for a few small, local publications and collaborated with a few area businesses in my free time. I really enjoyed it, and made an effort to continue building up my side business. Eventually, I decided to just take the leap and dive into that completely! It was terrifying, but also really thrilling.
Your blog is called Lemonade Linings, can you explain the origin of this cool, alliterative name?
My blog is something that I started when I was still working full-time. I didn’t have as many opportunities to write and express my creativity as I would’ve liked, so I began blogging as my own creative outlet. Since then, I’ve managed to build a really awesome, engaged community!
As far as the name is concerned, I consider myself a pretty positive person—I always see the glass half full.Two of my favorite sentiments about positivity are, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” and “Every cloud has a silver lining.” So, I mashed the two together, and Lemonade Linings was born!
I love how your blog is so empowering and encouraging to women! How do you incorporate this #bosslady mindset into your writing?
You know, when I started blogging, I had assumed that I would want to write about style and beauty like so many other female bloggers my age. And, that’s exactly how I got started. However, after going through a major career shift, I found that I had different things I wanted to talk about. Productivity, self-development, fulfillment, and building a freelance business were all things that made my heart sing. So, I really altered the focus of my content.
I think this mindset of empowering women to also build lives and careers they love just shines through naturally. It’s something I’m super passionate about, so it sort of filters its way into anything that I’m writing about! But, with that being said, I don’t want to exclude men either. Guys, you’re also completely entitled to careers that excite you!
You produce so much content. How do you keep finding great ideas and avenues to pursue?
I’ll be the first to admit that this is a struggle for me. Particularly since so much of my content is related to career advice, it can be challenging to constantly come up with fresh ideas and pitches.
First, I think any good writer also reads a lot. There’s so much inspiration you can pull out of things that have already been written—whether you disagree with a point that was made or want to expand on a minor detail. I also often go through and read some of my own older work to see if there are any nuggets of inspiration hiding in there.
When all else fails, I like to ask my network for their thoughts. What are they struggling with? What do they want more information on? What questions do they have? Believe me—your connections are a bottomless well of inspiration.
Our members always ask about fluidly connecting their blogs with their Twitter and Instagram, and you do this so perfectly. How do you make all these pieces work together?
Ironically, my own social media strategy is something I hope to refine and polish this year. However, I think there’s one key thing you need to keep in mind when it comes to branding yourself and your blog on social media. My secret is to pick one key focus, and then stick with that. For me, that’s career development—whether you work a traditional 9 to 5 or are starting your own business.
Pretty much all of my blog content centers on that topic, as do most of my tweets and Instagram posts. I think this creates some cohesiveness that lets my target audience truly know when they’re in the right place. They know they aren’t going to hear about my favorite lipstick or what I ate for dinner.
They’re able to ascertain right away what they’re in for—and if it’s something they’re interested in sticking around for.
I can tell you love interacting with your readers through social media. Can you talk about why this is important to you?
Honestly, I never would’ve dreamed that I’d have so many people sending me messages about my work. No matter how many tweets or emails I receive, each one is a real thrill to me! As a writer, it’s so rewarding to not only know that people are reading your work, but actually taking something tangible from it that they can use to improve their own lives.
Additionally, I don’t want to just be this faceless writer behind a computer screen.I want to connect with people and let them know that I’m a real person—a person who has been through a lot of the same things they’re going through now.
After I wrote a piece about lessons I learned from quitting my full-time job, I was inundated with messages from people who wanted to do the very same thing but just felt stuck. It was so interesting to hear all of their stories and offer some pieces of advice to help them navigate their way through it. Connecting with and helping other people is—without a doubt—one of my favorite parts of publishing my work.
Is there anything you regret or would have done differently early on?
This is a question I get a lot. And, of course, hindsight is 20/20—there are likely tons of things I would’ve done differently. But, when I think about it, I don’t really have any regrets.While I definitely encountered my fair share of roadblocks and frustrations along the way, they all taught me something valuable.
So, instead of looking at them as mistakes, I get to view them as learning experiences. Honestly, I wouldn’t change much!
Are you working on any fun side projects?
Oh, of course. I’m one of those people with a constantly growing to-do list (although, I’m sure any freelancer or entrepreneur would say that exact same thing!).
Right now, I’m working on redesigning and rebranding both of my websites (my business website and my blog) and bringing them into one place. I’m really looking forward to not having to balance two totally different brand identities. Once that’s all set, I’m really excited to start stepping up the quality of my content, offering downloadable extras with my blog posts, and (hopefully) building an email list of people who want to do the very same thing I did in regards to building a freelance business.
Long term, I’d love to offer some digital products such as ebooks, e-courses, and worksheets to help people get their own freelance businesses rolling. I’ve got big plans—now I just need more time!
Lastly – what is one small thing that an aspiring writer can do today to improve their freelancing business?
I’ll sing the praises of networking all day long. And, building a freelance business is really all about making connections.Send an email to that person you’ve been meaning to get in touch with. Put out a complimentary tweet to another writer. Send a personalized LinkedIn request to someone you’d love to work with.
Do what you need to do to connect with others and continue growing your network. Believe me, your connections will pay dividends as you continue to build your business!