Being a mother involves long hours with no pay and days filled with unpleasant tasks like changing diapers and wiping runny noses. But balancing parenting
responsibilities with the need to earn an income presents an even greater set of challenges.
If you’re like many women, you’ve probably considered what it would be like to care for your children while earning an income from the comfort of your own home. While there are many work at home options available, I consider freelance web content writing to be the most suited for mothers. Freelancing offers a flexible schedule and requires almost no initial investment. Overhead expenses are minimal, many sites process payments on a daily basis, and there are plenty of opportunities for advancement. While I have yet to earn a six-figure income from the comfort of my own home, I have been freelancing long enough to turn a decent profit. I’ve been learning the ropes as I go, but I’m happy to share my hard-earned wisdom with you. Here are my top 10 tip for aspiring work at home writers, in no particular order.
1. Don’t go out of your way to advertise that you are a stay at home mom. I know you love your kids to death, but most of your clients won’t find them particularly interesting. Plus, many writing jobs have firm project deadlines. If you advertise the fact that you have small children at home, it gives potential clients a reason to doubt your abilities.
2. Be confident. Even if you’re just starting out, act like you know what you’re doing. As women, we’re all a little afraid to brag about our abilities. But, your business won’t get off the ground if you never advertise your services. Tell prospective clients that you’re a freelance writer and explain how you can help their businesses grow. Don’t tell them that you’re an aspiring writer who needs her first assignment.
3. Learn how to write. I shouldn’t have to point this out, but work at home moms who want to write professionally should actually know the fundamentals of composition. I’m not saying that you need to be a great writer, only that you need to understand the basics of grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc.
4. Pick an area of expertise. Technically, there’s no rule that says you can’t write about anything and everything. However, it’s more efficient to pick a few general topic areas and stick to those. For example, becoming an expert in the fine arts of mortgage lending or vacation planning will cut your research time in half.
5. Be efficient. Most work at home writing jobs don’t pay by the hour. You get paid after you complete the project, which means you’re going to have to learn to make the best use of your time. If you’re going to balance childcare with the business of professional writing, you can’t waste valuable time by watching television or aimlessly surfing the web.
6. When you’re not busy writing, develop the skills you need to increase your workplace productivity. For example, speed-reading happens to be one of my odd talents. It’s a fantastic time-saver when you’re conducting research for a new assignment. I’m a lousy typist, however, so the time I save with speed-reading is spent pecking at my keyboard. When my workload is light, I devote that extra time to improving my typing technique.
7. Keep an income goal in mind. Many work at home moms get into freelancing because they enjoy writing. It’s fine to enjoy your work, but don’t forget that this is supposed to be a business. Set financial goals for yourself and track your progress. Monitor how long it takes to complete a project so you can accurately calculate your hourly rate. For example, a project consisting of $5, 300 word keyword articles isn’t too bad if you can crank out three or four per hour. If it’s taking you an hour to finish each article, you’re better off working at McDonalds.
8. Create multiple streams of revenue. Reduce the risk of self-employment by having several sources of income, even if they’re not all directly related to writing. Most of my money comes from writing web content for a large SEO firm. However, I also submit articles to places like Associated Content, use bidding sites like Guru.com to apply for small writing projects, blog to earn AdSense revenue, and provide online tutoring services to K-12 students. My goal for 2006 is to begin selling scrapbooking products through my own e-commerce website.
9. Save for the future. Freelancing is a tough business. Since it’s virtually impossible to guarantee a steady income each month, you need to put away some money for the slow times. You also need to save enough money for your taxes, since Social Security and income tax payments won’t be deducted from your check.
10. Network with other writers. The Internet is full of forums for writers and work at home mothers. Spend some time getting to know your virtual colleagues. Listen, ask questions, and learn from their wisdom.