I’ve now been in Nicaragua for a week. I decided to leave the frenetic city of New York in favour of the slower pace of life on-the-go. That sounds ironic but New York really doesn’t sleep. Plus, I was lonely, it was getting fucking cold, I wasn’t making enough money to stay and realised: WAIT WHY PUT MYSELF THROUGH THIS? I can do freelance work online in place with a much lower cost of living.
For now at least, an office 9-5 just isn’t what I want to do. Nope. I want to explore, grow and work as I move about, building my own brand not someone elses’. So knowing that I (kind of) had enough contacts and freelance work from working in London and NYC, I thought I’d take that chance.
Paying rent In NYC
Before I go into how I make money now, I feel like I have to be completely honest about my finances. Although I’ve always worked, paying (most) of my rent in NYC was made possible after my Dad’s passing last year left me with a bout of depression (not fun), but also some money (more fun). I also brought a few g with me from interning at a magazine in London, but I can’t deny that had my Dad not died of cancer, there’s no way I would have been able to live a hedonist’s life in NYC for so long.
I stretched out that money by writing in NYC (more about that below) but I don’t want to pretend like I didn’t have some help and my situation is pretty unique, I guess.
I think in the most part, travelling is still a preserve of the privileged few. Do I meet many travellers with “regional” UK accents? No, almost never. Do I meet many black or asian travellers? Nope. And most people are fairly middle class. I mean, it is possible to leave the UK with £200 in your bank account, but when that inevitable emergency unfurls (I’ve been waiting to use this word in another context for so lon), it is advisable to have back-up in the form of money and people you can call. I like to think of myself as resilient but admittedly, I do have access to help from friends and family should I really need it.
How I make money writing $$$
Now for the actual money details. There are a few ways I am making this life of travel possible and it’s a combination of; networking, freelance work online, and… persistence. Obviously I make no money from this blog because it’s like, four hours old. (The only bloggers that make money are the ones who have been at it consistently, for a year+).
But at the moment my regular writing work is with the US women’s news site Bustle.com. They pay £85/$104 per shift which goes a lot further in Nicaragua than it did elsewhere – but then again it’s not big bucks.
However, writing for Bustle has given me a lot of exposure and, has helped me build my own brand. I was fortunate enough to be invited on a press trip to Vietnam recently which was a-maaaazing. Although I wasn’t paid to go on holiday (one step at a time) I was able to sell my travel writing elsewhere (which is usually the stipulation of accepting a place such a trip) and I obtained more freelance work from networking with other US journalists too.
I also do content marketing for a couple of brands; one role has recently arisen after a company approached me (yay) and the other is a place I intern with, years ago. With this I set my own rates and with one company that’s £65 per hour. It sounds good but I need to stress this work isn’t regular; I’m constantly pitching ideas and trying to get people to believe in my creative vision (lol), and commission me. Overall though, content marketing is great because business people tend to treat you like some kind of genius, wordsmith guru, instead of an over-emotional, gif-loving blogger with too much to say.
The corporate world also pays waaay more than news sites and since working more in this field, I’ve actually discovered that I’m probably better at writing shorter, snappier corporate posts than I am at proper journalism. Meh.
Despite this, most of my contacts are in mainstream media, so I still pitch and write for a few these sites the most, as part of me still wants to be considered a real writer, whatever that means. I also love writing investigative pieces and social commentary.
Some sites that publish my work, I also interned at in the past meaning it’s lot easier to get feedback on my pitches if I know the editor.
Writing for actual magazines nets me the most, (my most recent magazine piece brought in £500/$612) and it took me three hours. But sometimes for an online piece, it can be a tenth of that. To help turn pitches into published pieces I would say be persistent, be polite and don’t take it personally when you get a knock-back which is all the damn time for me.
Hustling your way to the work is bad enough but you’ve got to do it again, for your pay check afterwards. It’s an annoying part of freelance writing and getting paid is a nightmare all the time. I nearly always have to chase up companies for invoicing details after I’ve completed work for them – and sometimes this can take months. Again, get some back-up money in your account or a large overdraft before you leave!
In order to ensure you keep securing work you’ll also have to promote yourself incessantly and annoy the hell out of everyone on your timeline. It is kind of a prerequisite. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will ask you to write for them and when this happens, I play some samba music, do a little dance in my bedroom and thank the blog-gods.
I also learned in NYC (from various “rappers” and “producers”) that having a professional-looking presence online everything – even if it is all fluff. Just buy a domain and sell yourself! If there’s actual talent behind the fluff then even better.
Personally I also like writing personally. I shamelessly mine my own life for content inbetween writing news and content marketing pieces. This has taught me that; a) writing about your feelings is free therapy and b), turning a negative situation into a cash cow or, a piece that might help someone else is highly gratifying. If you’ve also had some fucked up/exciting/strange things happen to you, good news! A glittering online career surely beckons.
Finding freelance work online
If you want to get freelance work online as a writer for a big website, it can be tough at first. Editors who don’t know you probably won’t reply at first – even if you have the bestest pitch e-vahh. If you have zero experience, I would actually advise approaching corporate blogs or small companies with a content section, with some ideas before you hit the big titles and start a blog to prove you writing skills. Having SEO knowledge is also necessary but there are plenty of online resources for that if you search. For jobs, try; freelancewritingjobs.com and indeed.com. Other times I just google “freelance work online jobs” to see what comes up. If you’re persistent and creative, there’s every chance you will be commissioned. Good luck (you will need it) and any questions, just message me.
Do you write and work as you travel? What tips do you have? Let me know on Facebook
Images; Pixabay; Giphy