The Secret of My Success: Building a Career as a Writer

Last Updated on by Michael Brockbank

I was asked recently if I had any advice, tips, or tricks that I can share that helped me build a career as a freelance writer. This was from a viewer on YouTube, and I’m sure I’ll make a video about it in the near future. But today, I’ll share things I did to get where I am today.

And as soon as this blogging experiment is over, this will probably be one of the first videos I make.

At any rate, the methods I use to become the writer I am today are really nothing extravagant. There are no “hacks” to “cheats” to get where I am.

For the most part, it all comes down to how you view writing and if you’re willing to put in an effort to succeed.

To put it out there, a lot of what I’ll share in this blog post is also available in my upcoming eBook. But today, I’ll give you the short and sweet version.

How I Built a Career as a Freelance Writer

First of all, becoming a freelance writer didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took an awful lot of work, dedication, and perseverance to get where I am today.

For me, the struggle was real. However, a lot of the problems I had, in the beginning, were more related to real-life circumstances.

At any rate, I built a successful career as a writer by:

Deciding it’s What I Wanted to Become

On January 1st, 2012, I made the decision to become a freelance writer. I didn’t know what I was doing and had no clue how to create content people and businesses would want to buy.

Nevertheless, I basically talked myself into becoming the best freelance writer I could possibly become. There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to be a writer.

That’s probably where a lot of people fail, to be honest. Writing sounds like fun…for a while. But it takes a lot of time sitting at your desk, cranking out word after word every day. Not everyone can handle that much content.

Starting with Content Mills and Kept Growing

What started my career as a writer was using the content mill, Textbroker. It was an easy way to get my foot in the door, especially since I had no clue what I was doing in the first place.

After working with Textbroker for a while, I started branching out into other content mills. This let me diversify my workload so I wasn’t waiting too long for an order to become available.

Afterward, I started looking for more meaningful and high-paying work, which eventually lead me to become the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks.

Not Quitting My Job Until I Met Certain Income Goals

I’ve seen a lot of people quit their full-time jobs to follow their dreams. I’ve also seen a lot of people fail and not able to sustain themselves because they didn’t understand everything involved.

I didn’t quit my job at the school district until I was able to sustain a certain amount of income over the span of three months. This way, I knew putting more time into freelance writing was sustainable and able to keep the bills paid.

Never sacrifice a sure-thing paycheck until you’re able to pull in money from something you might view as a side gig.

Spending Hours Researching AP Style Writing

In the beginning, I had no idea how to write in AP Style English. In fact, I didn’t even know what AP Style was. I spent hours upon hours every day learning everything I could so as to tighten my writing skills.

Nowadays, there are classes galore people can take online that aren’t even that expensive.

Even to this day, I’ll research all I can to make myself a better writer. Because no one is perfect, rules change, and I’m always working on self-improvement.

Using Constructive Criticism as a Career Writer

One of the things I love most about Textbroker, Constant Content, and WriterAccess is how the editors critiqued an article I would write. Then, I would take those mistakes, research how to fix them, and then put that information into practice.

I would write everything I needed to work on in a notebook and take to Google. In fact, I still have notebooks at my desk to this day for that same purpose.

Today, I’ll even write down issues and errors Grammarly finds while I write on my blog and read up on ways to fix the problems.

Constantly Writing, Whether for Pay or Not

Writing for clients on content mills wasn’t the only form of practice. I often wrote in all of my blogs, samples of different types of articles for myself, or use other blogging platforms.

The point is to use what you learn as often as possible so that it becomes second nature when you write.

I can tell you that I have a lot of articles saved in random places that have never earned a single dime. I was more concerned with making sure I understood what I needed to change.

Exploring Various Ways to Make Money as a Writer

Content mills and private clients aren’t the only ways a writer can make money on the Internet. Sites like Vocal, Hubpages, and Medium can help you bring in a bit of money without having to buy or build your own website.

In fact, I am just about done putting the final touches on my eBook. Though, it’s more of a marketing device than a money-making project.

Essentially, I’m using the experience of writing the eBook to fuel future blog posts and videos. The idea is to make a bit of money from ad revenue on those projects.

At any rate, there are a number of things you can do to make money online or build a career as a writer.

Using the Blogs to Keep Working on Skills

Speaking of constantly writing, keeping my skills in check is one of the biggest reasons why I have blogs. Sure, some of them also pull in a bit of cash, which is nice.

But, initially, I wanted an online platform where I could keep the momentum of growth going for my writing career.

Not to mention that some of the blogs get a bit of attention from prospective clients and sponsors today. This is on top of the ad revenue, which brings in enough from Google to pay for web hosting and more.

Taking Things Further

Don’t get me wrong, I love being a freelance writer. But, my end game is to be a published author. As such, I’ve been working on a few creative pieces to get the ball rolling.

For example, I work on the audiobook of Despair on YouTube, I have a few things going on in Wattpad, and then I have the eBook coming out soon.

This goes to show that a career in writing can have a myriad of paths to take. The hardest part is deciding where you want to go, exactly.

A Career as a Writer is Rough, Sometimes

A lot of experts out there make it sound like being your own boss and being a freelance writer is glamorous and easy. In reality, though, it can become the most grueling and tiresome job you’ve ever had.

I’m not saying you should avoid writing. On the contrary, if you have a passion for putting words together, I suggest you at least explore the possibility.

It can be a very rewarding career path, as long as you go into it with your eyes open.

A few things that make the experience rough include:

  • Having to motivate yourself every day to get those clients and write that content.
  • Being responsible for your finances, such as taxes and retirement plans.
  • Having days when you just can seem to pull in enough money.
  • Being on call when you’re clients are available, which sometimes means all day long.
  • Taking working vacations because you still need the cash flow when out of town.

These are just some of the things you’ll experience as a writer. And although they may sound demanding and tough to some, they’re not that bad once you figure out a good flow for yourself.

Throughout the years, I’ve learned a variety of methods to take care of all these points and then some. You’ll find your own path as you continue the journey.

Just don’t expect everything to work out beautifully in the very beginning.

A Freelancers Tale Textbroker

Can You Become Successful as a Career Writer?

I’ve had comments on videos and blogs about how being a freelance writer isn’t a real career. Well, I’ve been doing it for nearly a decade and bought a house.

So, yes, it is possible to bring in enough money. But you need to be very committed to the practice and keep moving forward. Even on the days when you don’t want to.

There is a ton of potential as a writer in any regard. Do what you can to explore everything possible.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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