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Today: a freelance writer/job seeker who makes $1,000 per month and spends some of her money this week on bananas. Below, we asked the OP some questions about her career.
How did you get into your line of work?
People always told me I was a good writer, but I never thought much of it because I didn’t think I could make a career out of it. I started getting into the idea of being a "digital nomad," though, and realized that I could travel the world while making money freelancing my marketing services. At the moment, I’m working toward learning more about content marketing, with the goal of being able to travel for part of the year while working remotely.
What are the challenges of being a freelancer?
With the part-time freelance work that I do, the biggest challenges are getting consistent work, communicating with clients, and feeling secure about getting paid.
What advice would you give to someone starting out as a freelancer?
The advice I would give someone getting started as a freelancer is to just start. Even if you’re not making a lot of money on your first job, just getting paid for what you do will give you the confidence to send more proposals and charge what you’re worth. And that’s the other thing: Find out what your services are worth, and then feel confident about your fee! Once you’ve built up a portfolio of three to five jobs, don’t be afraid to command the price that you deserve.
Occupation: Freelance Writer/Full-Time Job Seeker
Location: Miami, FL
Income: I make about $1,000 per month from freelance work.
Rent: $592.50 for my half (I live with my husband, and we split the rent of our one-bedroom down the middle.)
Student Loans: $0 (My parents paid for my college.)
Health Insurance: $69.75 (I get insurance through an independent insurance company since I quit my job.)
Dental Insurance: $16.19
Phone: $0 (I’m still on the family plan.)
Car: $0 (I use my husband’s car when I need to.)
Netflix: $0 (I use my sister-in-law’s account.)
Hulu: $0 (I use my brother’s account.)
HBO Go: $0 (I use my sister’s friend’s account.)
Internet: ~$17 for my half (My husband and I split this down the middle.)
Electric: ~$25 for my half (My husband and I split this down the middle.)
Vanguard Index Fund: $200 (I currently have around $6,100 invested.)
Savings: When I had a regular job, I saved about 50% of my paycheck, so $1,300 per month. I currently have about $28,400 saved, and another $28,500 from a trust fund.
8:30 a.m. — I wake up to my alarm. Even though I don’t have a job at the moment, I try to get up at a reasonable time so I can feel productive. My husband, N., is still asleep — he owns his own company, so he makes his own schedule. I get up and put on a yoga YouTube video. I’m on Day 11 of “Dedicate – A 30 Day Yoga Journey” by Yoga With Adriene. She’s such an awesome instructor, and I love that she puts in relatable comments throughout the workout.
9 a.m. — After yoga, I hop in the shower and make a smoothie. I have the same smoothie every day: one banana, a handful of spinach, two frozen strawberries, a small piece of ginger, yogurt, and OJ. I usually don’t like to eat heavy in the morning, so the smoothie is my breakfast. N., on the other hand, likes a real meal for breakfast, so in addition to the smoothie, I make him an “egg-sadilla”: aka a quesadilla with two fried eggs sandwiched in between. He has to run to work, so once he leaves I get on my laptop to look for jobs.
10:30 a.m. — While browsing jobs, I get a message from a freelancing client I’ve been working with. When I quit my HR job, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try to freelance full-time or get a regular job. Freelancing has been hard — sometimes I don’t have the confidence to sell my services because I don’t have a lot of experience. So at the moment, I’m looking for a regular job so I can gain more experience and build my freelance business on the side. This client gives me about ten hours of work per week at $35/hour. I write articles for his insurance website, and I like it so far.
11:45 a.m. — Take a break from job searching to heat up some leftover cauliflower soup for lunch. I’m still hungry, though, so I serve myself some chocolate-tahini mousse. I’m participating in Dry January, and I’ve been craving sweets to make up for not drinking. I’m so close to the finish line!
1:30 p.m. — I scheduled a call with my friend who lives in India. Since we’re in totally different time zones, we had to set a calendar reminder so we’d catch each other at the right time. It’s nice to catch up with her and to have someone to talk to about career stuff. After our call, I hop on my computer and keep applying to jobs.
3:30 p.m. — I check my phone and see that I have a voicemail, even though I didn’t hear it ring. Weird. When I listen to the voicemail, I see it’s from an educational company that I had a phone interview with last week. I call the woman back, and she invites me to an in-person interview for the SEO coordinator position. Hooray! This was a higher-level position that I felt under-qualified for, so I’m determined to show them that I’m capable of doing the job. The interview is for two days from now, so I make a note to prepare like crazy tomorrow.
4:30 p.m. — While I’m looking for jobs, the freelance client messages me that the next article is ready for me to write. I go into WordPress to look at the outline that he set up, and then I get started. After about half an hour, I take a break to heat up leftover spaghetti and meatballs. I cook most of my meals at home.
7 p.m. — N. comes home and I heat up his portion of cauliflower soup and meatballs. We chat about our days. The end of the month is the busiest for him, and so he has a busy few days ahead. After dinner, I rewatch a couple episodes of Community on Hulu. I love that show.
11 p.m. — Time for bed! I have a busy day ahead of me preparing for the interview.
Daily Total: $0
7:30 a.m. — Wake up. N. is already out of the house. I pop on Day 12 of my yoga series.
9 a.m. — Decide to go to Trader Joe’s to pick up milk. There’s only one Trader Joe’s in Miami, and I’m #blessed enough to live a five-minute walk from it. I buy milk, chicken broth, semisweet chocolate chunks, canned diced tomato, broccoli, and mushrooms. $15.52
11 a.m. — My dad sends a group text to me, my brother, and my sister. Our great-aunt who had been sick with lung cancer passed away this morning. I think to myself that I’m so glad I got to see her when I was home for the holidays. I decide to ride my bike to Target to buy a condolence card for my aunt (my great-aunt’s daughter). While I’m there, I also get sponge-head replacements, razor replacements, bread, and a Valentine’s Day card. The total comes out to $35, but I pay with a gift card I got for Christmas.
12 p.m. — When I get home, I eat the last of the cauliflower soup while watching SNL videos on YouTube. I write out the condolence letter and make a note to send it out.
1 p.m. — I decide to start prepping for my interview tomorrow, but I find that I get sidetracked easily. In the moments that I’m able to focus, I research the company and write out my answers to common interview questions. I usually interview well, but I’m more nervous about the technical questions they’ll ask about SEO. I don’t have too much experience in SEO, but I’m hoping to play up my background in education so they’ll see that I can bring that perspective to the role.
3:30 p.m. — I interviewed last week at a small marketing agency for an internship position. I’m hesitant about doing an internship, though, because I know it won’t pay as much as a permanent position. But I’ve also been applying to a lot of entry-level marketing jobs with no luck. I have a friend in Spain who recently started an internship, and I want to pick her brain about why she decided to accept the position. She’s busy, though, so we make plans to talk tomorrow.
5 p.m. — N. comes home with his friend B., who’s visiting from St. Louis and is staying with us for a couple of days. I met him for the first time with his wife last year. He’s quite nice to talk to, so I’m glad that he’s visiting. We catch up a bit while I make pad see ew. I’ve never made it before, but it turns out pretty good.
7 p.m. — B. offers to help me practice for my interview tomorrow. We do some role-playing. I’m super nervous, but I feel a little better after he gives me some positive feedback.
9 p.m. — Since the interview is at 8:15 tomorrow and is an hour away in Fort Lauderdale, I have to call it an early night.
Daily Total: $15.52
5:45 a.m. — Wake up to get ready for my interview. Drop N. off at the warehouse where he has his trucks and head out. I’m interviewing with five different people in the company. As I expected, the SEO and content manager asks me technical SEO questions, the majority of which I don’t have answers to. The next four interviewers have more general marketing roles, though, so their questions are easier. Overall, everyone seems really nice. There are a couple things I’m cautious about, though — it’s so far away, and also I’m looking for a more general marketing role so I can try out different things and see what suits me best. I make a note to keep this position on my back burner, since it could be a good learning opportunity.
11:15 a.m. — Get home from the interview. I check my email, and I got an offer for the internship! When I open the attached offer letter, though, I see that they’re only offering $12/hour. I’ve never negotiated before, but I’ve regretted not doing so in the past. I send a counteroffer email to the owner thanking him for the offer, but stating that I’m looking for $18/hour. He responds an hour later with an offer for $15 at 32 hours per week, with the opportunity to revise the rate after 30 days. (I get Fridays off to focus on freelancing.) Fifteen dollars is still much less than I’d want, but I know it’s a really good learning opportunity, so I decide to accept the offer. I’m determined to work my butt off and show them that I’m worth the investment. I’m super excited about this role because I’ll be able to learn a lot, the location is great, and the team seems cool. I call N. and tell him the news. He’s so proud that I negotiated :).
12:30 p.m. — I chat with B. for a bit while I eat leftover pad see ew. I’m absolutely exhausted from waking up so early, so I decide to take a nap. B. says he’s going to Starbucks, so I tell him I’ll meet him there later.
2 p.m. — Wake up from my nap. I feel like a new person! My friend in Spain calls me, and we talk about the offer. It’s so nice to talk to someone who’s in a similar boat.
2:30 p.m. — I realize that we don’t have bananas, so I run to Trader Joe’s to get them and mushrooms. $3.81
3 p.m. — Get a FaceTime call from my friend who is pretty fed up with her job and is looking for a new one. I give her the advice to look for jobs while she still has one. Even though I had savings to live off of, I dealt with a lot of anxiety this month while I was unemployed, and I don’t want her to go through that.
4:30 p.m. — Meet B. at Starbucks. He shows me his website and says that he’d love to have my help revising it, as well as with writing an e-book. I graciously accept, and we start looking over everything.
6 p.m. — I get a call from N. that he’s done working. He’s in north Miami, so B. and I take the train to a station near him where he’ll pick us up. I pay for my train fare and offer to pay for B., but he declines. $2.25
7 p.m. — We get to the station and N. picks us up. We decide to eat dinner in an artsy neighborhood called Wynwood, since B. has never been there. I pay for two hours of parking. We go to a ceviche restaurant called SuViche. N. and I get ceviche, and B. gets a chicken dish. They get sake, too, but I decline because it’s still Dry January. The sauce on the ceviche is so good, I could drink it with a straw. The bill comes out to $65, but B. pays. We decide to walk around the Wynwood Walls, which is like a park with beautiful murals. We stay for about an hour and then head home. $6.50
9:30 p.m. — Get home and work on an article for my client. Get ready for bed at around 11. Thinking about my day tomorrow, I’m so relieved that I won’t have to look for jobs.
Daily Total: $12.56
8:15 a.m. — Wake up. N. has left already. I do yoga for 30 minutes and come to terms with the fact that I probably won’t keep up my daily morning yoga routine once I start my internship, but I’ll try to make time at night. I would make my smoothie, but B. is still asleep and I don’t want to wake him up. I write in my journal for a bit and text with my mom. She was close with my great-aunt who passed away, so we talk about her.
10 a.m. — B. is awake. I make us both smoothies, and I have a chai tea with milk, too. He gets ready to go to Starbucks to work, and I prepare to bike to Target to buy another condolence card (I forgot to get one for my uncle), and also to American Eagle to return a pair of jeans.
11 a.m. — I’m riding my bike when I get a call from my sister. She’s on the pre-med track in college and has a really busy schedule, so it’s rare to get her on the phone. I decide to bike back and put off my errands for another day. Need to take advantage of my sister’s free time when I can!
11:45 a.m. — End the call with my sister and start making sausage, kale, and white bean soup. I bought an immersion blender a couple weeks ago, and it’s been my favorite purchase of 2019 so far (if not of all time). It blends the kale beautifully, so that there are no tough stems. The soup turns out ah-mazing. I know N. is going to love it.
1 p.m. — Head over to meet B. at Starbucks. He says he’s going to get lunch at a Mediterranean place nearby, and I offer him soup. He declines, though, because it turns out he only eats chicken (which I didn’t know). I work on my client’s article for about an hour. Then B. and I get together to talk about content for his websites.
4:30 p.m. — We take a break. My brother calls, so I talk to him while walking around the neighborhood. When I get home, I take a shower.
6 p.m. — Start cooking mushroom risotto. I’ve never made it before and have been wanting to for a while. It ends up being an involved process where you have to stir pretty constantly for about 30 minutes. I enjoy it, though — it feels like I’m nurturing something. It involves half a cup of white wine, and it’s so tempting to take a swig from the bottle (which I normally do), but it’s the last day of Dry January and I’m not going to break it while I’m so close. Reflecting back, I’m really glad I cut out alcohol for this month. It made me more conscious of my motivations for wanting to drink. It also helped me save money.
7 p.m. — N. comes home just as the risotto is finished. I add truffle oil, parsley, and grated Parmesan at the end. It turned out a little too salty, but otherwise it’s quite good.
8 p.m. — We decide that we’ll go to B.’s uncle-in-law’s house, about 30 minutes away. I work on an article for my client beforehand. Once I’m done, I hang out and watch some Key & Peele videos on YouTube with B. while N. finishes up work and gets ready.
9:45 p.m. — Head out to B.’s uncle-in-law’s house, and B. takes his stuff with him so he can stay with his uncle for the rest of his stay. We get there and his uncle-in-law has a couple coconuts he bought from a vendor today, so he takes a butcher knife and starts cutting them in his backyard (just Miami things). We drink the coconut water, and it’s quite refreshing. We hang out for a bit longer, and then N. and I head home.
11:30 p.m. — I shower and call it a night.
Daily Total: $0
7:20 a.m. — Wake up to N. getting ready for work. I take my time getting up, then do yoga for 30 minutes. I make my smoothie and see that my kombucha is ready to be “harvested,” so I pour it out, bottle it in fermentation bottles with raspberries and ginger, and make a new batch to ferment for next week. I then leave the bottles at room temperature, and they should be nice and fizzy in the next couple of days.
9:45 a.m. — Sit at my desk with the intention of working, but buy some stuff on Amazon instead. I noticed that my kombucha brewing bottles look grimy, so I buy some bottle cleaners. I also buy some reusable makeup-remover pads I’ve been wanting to get, and an egg slicer (yes, I feel like a dork buying this, but I’ve been wanting it for a while!). The total comes out to $28.01. I have a $25 gift card from Christmas, so I just have to pay for the remainder. $3.01
10 a.m. — I browse some jeans on Everlane. Facebook ads are creepily effective. I really want mom jeans, but they always end up looking so frumpy on me. Seriously, I’ve tried on too many pairs to count. Should I try just one more time? I say yes. Plus, the company partners with ethical factories, so I’m excusing myself for this one. I decide to get one mom jean and one skinny jean, each for $68. If I don’t like one/both of them, I’ll just return it. After tax, the total comes to $148.53. This is a little gift to myself after a long month of job searching. $148.53
12 p.m. — Get a notification that the library book I requested is ready for pickup, so I ride my bike there. It’s about three miles away, so it takes me 20 minutes. I pick up the book I had on hold, Deep Work, along with a couple fiction books. Then I get home and take a shower.
1:45 p.m. — Start on an article for my client. After about an hour, I take a break to serve myself Trader Joe’s cookie-butter ice cream. Brain fuel.
3:40 p.m. — Finish the article and get on a call with B. to work on his e-book together. It’s on a topic that I’m not too familiar with, but after some research and having B. explain it to me, I’m getting a better grasp on it.
5:15 p.m. — After our call, I cook some dinner. N. is still working and will probably eat out. When I’m only cooking for myself, my meals look less like meals and more like a random compilation of ingredients. Dinner tonight is rice, roasted sweet potato, and a fried egg.
6:30 p.m. — Start watching Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. It’s pretty good, but I get bored and start watching Broad City.
8 p.m. — Start wanting something sweet, so I decide to make custard. I’m not a good baker because I don’t have the patience to measure things, but I still enjoy the process. The custard doesn’t turn out at all how I wanted it — it comes out like a watery egg pudding. Such a disappointment. I eat one of them and wrap the other for another time.
9 p.m. — N. still isn’t home. He had a lot to do. I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. He’s such a good author. N. gets home at around 11. We cuddle and fall asleep.
Daily Total: $151.54
7:30 a.m. — I’m dreaming that I’m at some sort of conference. There’s a giant buffet filled with amazing food, and I start filling my plate. Best dream ever. I’m woken up by N. cuddling me. I make a feeble attempt to re-enter my amazing buffet dream, but he convinces me that there are better things to do. Morning sex usually isn’t a thing with us, but today it is. I’m still sleepy afterward, so I try to go back to the buffet.
9 a.m. — I wake up. Wasn’t able to go back to my dream. Oh well. N. gets ready for work while I put on my yoga video. It’s a really good one today! N. leaves and I hop in the shower.
10 a.m. — I take out half of my smoothie from yesterday, make some Trader Joe’s Moroccan mint green tea, and also take out a custard. I’m not excited about it, but I hate wasting food.
11:15 a.m. — I have a call with the client about the next article. I don’t know whether to bill for hours during a call. I know I need to revise my hourly rate with the next client I get. B. helped me recognize that I’m undercharging at $35/hour, and that the market rate for freelance writing is closer to $50-$100/hour. No wonder this client seems so happy with me. Our call lasts about 30 minutes. I heat up some leftover sausage-kale soup and eat it while watching SNL videos on YouTube.
12 p.m. — Start revising yesterday’s article. I’m about to start on the new one, but I realize I’m missing information from my client, so I ask him to send it to me. While I’m waiting for that, I go to Trader Joe’s to get some heavy cream. While I’m there, I also get a bottle of wine, since I’m planning to make steak later in the week. $10.24
1:30 p.m. — Get home and procrastinate on my client’s article. I make another batch of chocolate-tahini mousse. I use a different recipe this time, and it turns out richer than the last one.
2 p.m. — Start working on my client’s article. About 30 minutes in, I get a call from N., so I take a break to chat with him. I start snacking on homemade hummus and pretzels.
5 p.m. — N. picked up B. from his uncle’s house and brought him to our apartment. We’re planning to go out in Wynwood. Dry January is over, and so I have a few beers (N. pays). Absence makes the taste buds grow fonder. We hang out and chat for a while. After three beers I have a good buzz, and B. calls an Uber to Wynwood. We first hit the Wynwood Yard, which always has a live band. This one is a jazzy Latin band, and we groove to the music. After about 30 minutes we head to another bar, but it isn’t popping, so we move on. We then head over to the Wynwood Marketplace, which is a big space with a dance floor and food and art vendors. The DJ is killing it, and we dance our butts off.
11 p.m. — Super sweaty from dancing, I call a Lyft. B. decides he’ll crash at our place and then head to his uncle-in-law’s in the morning. We fall asleep around midnight. $24.10
Daily Total: $34.34
8 a.m. — Wake up, a little foggy from the three beers. Start my yoga session with the volume low, since N. and B. are still asleep.
9 a.m. — Head to Aldi. I always go early on weekends, because it gets super crowded later on. Avocados are on sale for 39 cents each! I take a picture and send it to my friend, who’s also an Aldi fan. I pick up onions, spinach, oranges, a plantain, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, baby carrots, ribeye steak, bacon, sausage, canned tomatoes, heavy cream, canola oil, sugar, and oats. The total comes out to $76.93, but N. and I split groceries down the middle. $38.47
10 a.m. — Get home, and N. and B. are awake. We get ready to go biking in Miami Beach. We get there around 12. N. has a weekly call with his partners, and while he’s on the call, B. and I work on our own stuff in Starbucks.
1:30 p.m. — Leave Starbucks and bike to Pollo Tropical for lunch. This is one of the best fast-casual places in Miami. We get chicken, rice and beans, fried plantain, fried yuca, and cheesecake. N. pays.
2:30 p.m. — With full bellies, we plop onto our bikes and ride on the boardwalk to South Pointe Pier. We moved to Miami about a year and a half ago, and I’m still sort of adjusting. I’m from the north, and the culture here is really different from what I’m used to. But one thing I absolutely love about Miami is the beautiful weather and the accessibility of the beach. When we reach South Pointe, we take in the view from the pier and then go for a swim. The water is refreshingly cool and feels amazing.
4:30 p.m. — Once we dry off a bit, we bike back to the parking garage. We’re pooped at this point, so we decide to drive home. We drop B. off at his uncle-in-law’s house and say goodbye since he’s leaving tomorrow. N. and I don’t have a lot of friends here, so it was nice to have a buddy to hang out with.
7 p.m. — We head home. I make a quick meal of avocado and grapefruit salad for myself, and since N. doesn’t like salad, he heats up the last of the sausage-kale soup. I finish writing a big article for my client, and I don’t wrap it up until 11:30. I shower right after and call it a night. I have my first day of work tomorrow! I’m nervous and excited. I’m really grateful to have been able to take this time off, but I’m really glad to be getting back into the swing of a regular job. Hopefully I can gain new skills from this internship that I can take to a freelancing role.
Daily Total: $38.47
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