freelance writing

9 Essential Lessons I’ve Learned in 8 Months of Writing for Income

freelance writing lessonsTime flies really quick and it’s funny how much one can do in such a short period of time.

I was the last person to imagine that freelance writing will be such a great part of my life – I didn’t even have any plan for it to be a long-term business, but I’m growing to love it every day.

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I’m now very proud to be a freelance writer and I see myself writing for years to come. One thing I have noticed however is that there are some fundamental lessons that will influence the career of any freelance writer no matter how long he/she has been writing.

The 9 lessons I have learned below helped make freelance writing extremely easy for me while at the same time ensuring I don’t sacrifice my desires just to make that extra cash.

Lesson #1: It’s Not about Working 8 Hours a Day and 7 Days a Week

One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people have great misconceptions about freelance writing. They see freelance writing as a kind of strenuous job that requires you to work 8 hours a day and 7 days a week to make a great income.

The reality is that the contrary is the case and if you are very smart you will be able to make a lot more by doing a lot less as a freelance writer. Sometimes I only write for 3 hours a day, and there are weeks I don’t even write a single article for a client, yet I’m still able to make thousands of dollars at the end of the month.

Freelance writing is not the kind of hell most people picture it to be. It is great fun if one can learn how to get the best from it.

Lesson #2: The Amount You Earn Isn’t Dependent on the Number of Clients You Have

I know this sounds funny but you’ll be amazed to see how true it is.

While having a few more clients might mean an increase in income and results for some freelance writers what it signifies for other writers is bondage. I’ve only been a freelance writer for 8 months now and it is starting to become evident that the amount you earn isn’t dependent on the amount of clients you have.

I have had people offer me $10 for an article, and I have written for clients in upwards of $100 per article. One thing I have noticed is that the best way to earn more money isn’t by getting just any client, but by getting the best clients!

The best way to get clients to come to you is by starting a blog; I go into more details on how to get clients to contact you through your blog in Stop Pitching Clients.

All those low paying gigs are an insult to your career and I’d advise you to flee from them like a plague.

By taking every single job that comes your way you are committing yourself to jobs and clients that will only end up wasting your time and that will also end up depriving you of future opportunities.

Lesson #3: The Amount You Earn Isn’t Dependent on How Many Days You Work

This is a more recent lesson and something I have been leveraging effectively quite lately.

If you read my income reports and you see those nice income from freelance writing you would think I’ve been working pretty hard and that I sometimes have to sacrifice my sleep to make it possible. The reality is that I haven’t for a single day sacrificed my sleep in my entire freelance writing career just to get work done. In fact, those income you see are the product of a few days work. I spend the majority of my time watching movies, reading books, playing games and doing other things. I only spend an average of 8 days working for clients in a particular month – the remaining days are spent doing whatever I want.

This isn’t the same with every freelance writer and for some people working for more days signifies more income, but I have learned to make the best of every single day. I can decide to work for 6 hours at a stretch when I work, I can decide to work for 10 hours.

It’s all about getting the best from every single day – whenever you work, try to get two times your usual work done in less than half the time, without sacrificing quality. In other words, be a content producing machine.

You can read about my productivity secrets here.

Lesson #4: There is Nothing Called Writers Block

I know that is such a bold claim especially since I’m someone who used to believe there is writers block.

One of the revelations I’m starting to see as I grow as a freelance writer is that there is nothing called writers block. You can only give out what you take in and the only limit to your productivity is your intake. If you are a writer who does a lot of writing and gives reading less priority then you will no doubt run out, but if you’re a writer who reads more than you write then you will definitely never lack ideas.

You need to understand however that we sometimes need to take a break. Give yourself a day off or two and you will find yourself supercharged when you decide to start writing again.

Lesson #5: The More You Write the Better You Become

I get emails from people regularly and some people believe I’m a talented writer.

In case you’re yet to know I’m a young writer from a non-native English-speaking country and I’m no different from any of my friends from other parts of the world. I also wouldn’t pretend that my writing is anywhere near perfect, but one thing that is clear to me is that the more you write the better you become.

The highest number of articles I ever wrote in a day a few months ago was 7, and after that I broke down…I lacked ideas and even felt sick, but these days I write 10 articles in a day as if it is nothing and I’m pretty sure my articles keep on getting better, not worse. The reason for this is that introductions just come to me as if it is nothing, I get the ideas as if it is inside of me and the writing just seems to flow as if I’m destined to write. There really isn’t any secret! It is because I do it everyday.

The best way to learn a skill isn’t by learning it, it is by practicing it!

Lesson #6: Every Writer Needs Constant Motivation

There are days when I find it completely difficult to write, not because I lack the ideas or I have no experience in the field, but because I’m suffering emotional distress.

I have noticed that the most dangerous threat to the work of any creative person is emotional distress. There are worms and trolls everywhere around you and they have no other job to do than to eat you up.

It becomes really difficult to write when you’re suffering from outside criticism, and in situations like this it is best to strengthen yourself. You need to realize that some people just don’t want to see you succeed, so instead of thinking about their ‘irrationality’ start seeing them as the trolls they really are and start focusing on being the best you ever can be.

Above all, surround yourself with people and things that motivate you. It doesn’t matter how much it will cost you, it will end up paying itself on the long run.

Lesson #7: It is Disaster to Take Work that You Cannot Do

You might not be sued for it, but it will cost you dollars on the long run!

I also learned this lesson early on in my freelance writing career. It is best not take a job if you don’t have what it takes to do it, no matter how lucrative it may be. The reason for this is that instead of that job contributing to your income and portfolio it will end up costing you precious time and money, and might even put you in the bad light of a client.

Every single minute wasted on something you’re not qualified to do is a minute better spent on something you’re better at.

Lesson #8: Your Best Work Might be the One You do for Free

I’ve seen several writers become confused when you start telling them to have a blog, to market themselves and to even submit guest posts to other blogs. They believe there is no point in writing for free when you can easily get paid for your work.

The best thing you might do to build your business might be to write that free article. I wrote over 270 guest posts before getting my first client but I have made over $30,000 with them in the past 8 months (it might be small to some people, but that is several millions in my country!)

No free work is too much as long as it will expose you to a bigger audience. Write that free guest post, submit it to a big blog and let guest blogging do its magic!

Lesson #9: It’s All About Results

So you want to ensure you keep on getting jobs? You want to ensure you have a raise in income? Why not stop thinking about yourself for a minute and spend some time thinking about your clients?

Do you think they have a money tree in their backyards so it is extremely easy for them to pay you? You are writing for businesses and the better the business of your client becomes because of your writing the more gigs you will be getting on the long run.

It’s true you shouldn’t waste your time thinking about what doesn’t concern you, but if a client is giving you a job with an expectation you’re sure can’t be achieved, make it clear before starting the job. It’s better not to work for a particular client than to work and not be paid!

By Bamidele

Onibalusi Bamidele is the founder and CEO of Writers in Charge. Follow him on twitter here.

55 replies on “9 Essential Lessons I’ve Learned in 8 Months of Writing for Income”

Real great article.
I do not dedicate to writing but that’s something I think on in a near future.

So true, I didn’t expect that there could be that kind of income for writing.

Another well-written and detailed post, your writing gets better with every one so you obviously have a talent that is worth the money you get!

Thanks Gregory!

It’s funny what determination and consistency can do.

Tony @ Investorz' Blogsays:

Wonderful article Oni!

Thanks Tony!

Michael @Blast4Trafficsays:

Wow, there is nothing like “writers block.” I had to think for sometime to get the real meaning of that and guess what? it’s absolutely true. It’s what you take in (knowledge) that makes the difference between what you write and what you block.

If that is the only single thing I took away from your blog post today, I’m satisfied. This has motivated me to go out right there and succeed.

I’m so grateful Onibalusi – don’t be tired, God is your strength and I’m proud of you.

Aha bro,

I’m glad you’re now able to figure it out 🙂

There’s no point in trying to write and write when you have only nourished yourself with little.

Thanks so much for the awesome support bro!

Aside from your writing jobs you should also work on several products and services that you can sell on your site. This may give you more time in the future.

I have my plans Andreas 🙂

Absolutely agree on the “finding the best clients” thing. As a writer, it can be tough not to compromise and take work for less than you’re worth, but if you put a little effort into finding the right people to work with, it’s definitely worth it!

Also, I can’t recommend Stephen Pressfield’s book, “The War of Art” highly enough to anyone struggling with writer’s block or a lack of motivation. He’s got some very interesting points about how to treat a creative pursuit (like writing) as a job and ensure the work gets done.

Thanks for sharing!

Hi Sarah,

That’s exactly my point – having no clients is better than having clients that are likely to destroy your career.

I’ve been hearing about “The War of Art” lately and it seems I really need to get that book!

I suggest you do Oni. Sun Tzu was a brilliant man and his book is inspirational to entrepreneurs as well.

Hi Kalen,

I have The Art of War by Sun Tzu. This one is actually different and is more like a book for writers instead of for those in power. I’ll try to get it this week on Amazon.

I too used to experienced writers block but I get over it as fast as possible by making sure I do something that can make me to feel like doing it. Thanks Oni for the nine tips you just shared here 🙂

I’m glad you enjoyed it bro 🙂

Hi Oni,

Great post!

Two things that resonate loudly with me are your 2nd and last points:
1. Don’t be afraid to fire your clients (apply the 80/20 to rule to them just as you would to other things.
2. The market pays you for output. It (your clients in this case) doesn’t care how you get the job done, only that you get the job done.

Many offline businesses are loathe to turn away clients but a bad client will cost you not only monetary loss but they also suck up your time resource to go and get better clients. I would encourage anyone to look at their client list and chop the deadwood. You’ll know who they are instinctively – they’re the ones you don’t like hearing from.

Keep up the good work!

Hi David,

Aha, the 80/20 rule can be very effective for freelance writers. It’s now your duty to look for which clients are the most effective and focus on them. Every other client should be dropped!

The last point also is my favorite. If you focus on getting a lot more results for your client then they will be more than happy to spend their dollars with you.

I’m really glad you enjoyed the article!

Great post, i’m thinking of writing for income. I guess don’t consider having lots of clients is a good thing. It depends on how much they pay and whether they have lots of work for you.

I think that pretty much sums it all up!

The art of writing is re-writing. This can be a hard concept for many people, however, it’s something I’m learning (from you) everyday. You’re one of the hardest working people I know.

I’m glad to hear that Jonathan! 🙂

Thanks for sharing your experience from my point of view Writing is the very important part of blog post we can say this thing very confidently if somebody don’t no how to write a content for great blog post then it’s means he/she wasting their time.

I think writing is an ongoing process where we learn slowly better by more reading then writing. How I can get more client for writing as I am new in the business?

I will be sharing more tips on getting clients and making money writing on this blog over the next few weeks. Make sure you subscribe to be notified when those posts are published.

I hate it when I see content writers selling themselves short and not charging enough! If your not going to use it for your own site(s) your better of keeping it for later if not charging a nice premium!

Exactly my point!

You’ve really learned a lot in a very short period of time. I solute you for your dedication to freelance writing. By the way, I really like your email mini course and i advise it to every person who want to pursue his or her writing dreams.

Thanks so much for the recommendation of my course, it really means a lot to me 🙂

Writing for income is a dream for me. I have learned a lot from you. Hope one day I can also earn from my blog like you.

Hi Saurav,

Believe in yourself and keep trying and you will start getting great results over time.

When I read your Articles, I feel like I can do it too but its way to difficult to do it practically. Needs lots of patience and practice. You are really great at this field.

Hi Dipendra,

Just get started! You never know how easy it can be!

social book marking listsays:

This is really a damn article.

Well this is very true that man learn by practicing rather then keep working on advices of other, we need to practice rather then just learning.

Thanks 🙂

Another great article! You’re absolutely right, emotional distress can absolutely be the biggest downfall of any creative person. Whether I’m writing or making art, bad emotions can always keep from doing my best. They smother my inspiration and put my creativity on hold. I love all the tips you give! Thanks for sharing 🙂

Aha, I think that’s my worse enemy when it comes to writing – I’ve been doing a lot to overcome it lately though.

You are a model for every freelance writer Oni! I have been a freelance writer, but I have focused on using job boards instead of managing a blog up til now. Your strategy obviously works great. You have built a great reputation through blogging and you know your clients will come to you.

I have learned over time that it isn’t about the amount of time you work when writing or running any business. When I first started, I worked 70+ hours a week and didn’t see a dime. After a few months, I was making $300 a week working 20 hours. Now, I can work half that and earn twice as much. Like you said, it isn’t about how many hours you put in.

I also agree with the fact that the best way to make money may be to invest in something that doesn’t pay right away. This isn’t just true with writing, but the time you spend networking and investing in social media sites.

You’re completely right, the free content might be the best, but in the end the effort you put,you’ve wished you would be paid. No doubt taking work you cannot do from clients will only decrease your reputation. Nice insights.

Muhito @ InBaak Gamessays:

Thanks for this post Oni. Self Motivation is a culture we all need to cultivate.

Great article Oni,
I also want to be writer and want to keep writing. Your post has answered some questions that had been with me for a long…

If you spend the time for writing that you have mentioned in the post,you have natural talent.I think there is no competition with natural talent.You have understood the anatomy of writing.Also you have taken the start at very good stage.

broccoli soupsays:

It is good to relax and do work with determination.From this post I can conclude that you are in good state of mind for writing.You write with concentration and do a lot of work in less time.

As you’ve said, the more you write, the better you become. I’m seeing that my writing is improving the more I write as well. It’s a definite skill that needs to be practiced.

Like you’ve said, some of my best work has been for free, but that’s to build my reputation and to allow people to see I can write on a variety of topics.


Wow. Seventeen huh? Well I must say I am thoroughly impressed. Where are you located? I’ll definitely keep following your blog. You’ve dropped some jewels here.

Alcohol Based Hand Sanitizersays:

Oni…. I can see your mail income source is your writing. And this is why you are doing so. Excellent staff

Cristian Balausays:

Finding those “best clients” its the hardest job of working as a freelancer. Every week I find some potential clients but most of them turn out to be unprofessional, they want quality content, perfect grammar, researched and they offer 1$ for 300 words. I’m curious if anyone would deliver what they want for that rates.

It feels so nice to read from you Oni. You said it well 30k bucks are nothing for few resits in USA but it is valuable in my country, even in my country too 🙂 I wish you may succeed in your life and cross all those hard barriers. 🙂

It is so hard to get a writing job as a freelance now a days because there are plugins and software that does all that and more for the clients.

There are software that would spin 100 articles from one single article. Or plugins that grab different articles on the internet for your blog depending on your niche.

All of the points you mentioned are great tips for wannabe writers out there like me. I am not a full time and excellent writer as you but I am starting to love to write anything that strikes me! As what you said practice improves our writing skills and ideas will flow out smoothly. Thanks!

Wow!!!….this is the best and most honest post i’ve ever read about freelance writing….Oni you’re a genius and a blessing to the blogosphere…..thanks alot and remain blessed

I agree 100% you need to keep reading to build up your own data bank of information you can write about.

I personally try and write about what I’m doing in real life. FOr example when I come across a bad renovation that has gone bad and how they can fix it.



Patrick Lynchsays:

Extremely good article and I am feeling a real ‘slump’ right now as my client base is drying up due to a reduced need for article marketing. Your writing has however given me increased impetus so for that I thank you! I know my writing is quality, it’s just a matter of being seen. The ironic thing is that I market my clients well but am hopeless when it comes to marketing myself!

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