The Journey of Becoming a Freelance Writer

On a cold January day in Edmonton in 2016, I looked out my office window that was in a dreary industrial park. I saw a lonesome tree with beautiful fractals of frost in the middle of a cement parking lot, surrounded by buildings with plain brown facades and other parking lots. There was nothing more that I wanted in that moment than to go outside and experience the world, even if it was just that tree, and even if it was life-threateningly low temperatures. Here’s a picture of that tree, taken on an overly zoomed in iphone 4:

I had recently gotten married in late 2015 at the age of 30, and of course the question of when we would have children immediately began. The last thing my husband and both wanted was children – not because we didn’t want children, but because we were miserable in our jobs, our apartment, and in the city we were living in. We wondered how on earth you can be a good enough parent when you got home emotionally drained from the day. I always felt there was more to life than the “safe” route. And working in a job I could barely muster the energy to care about wasn’t going to do the trick.

I essentially wanted a job that was completely opposite of the job I held at the time. I craved something creative, meaningful, and autonomous. An ability to express myself, work on my own terms, and in my own time. I wanted to be a freelance writer.

The first gig I got was on Upwork writing promotional emails for a music festival in Croatia. It had abysmally low pay, but it was my first paid gig. I figured if I could make $60 online, I could replicate it and make my first $500 online.

The first few months were slow moving. I picked up the odd job here and there, and in the meantime, consumed any content that related to becoming a well-paid freelance writer. I searched job boards, researched ways to make money online, and eventually hired a private coach when I felt like I was missing something.

Turns out, there was absolutely nothing missing and that ‘coach’ was little more than an over confident 20 something year old man who sold a dream. What I did find out, though, in his idea of magic beans was a kernel of truth. Freelance writing can be well paying, but it isn’t instantaneous. It’s anything else – consistency, networking, pitching, trying and failing, publishing works, and of course, writing and writing some more.

My first consistent paid gig was I continued to pitch articles, for free, in hopes that I would have proof of my writing skills enough to get paid more. Within three months, my articles were published on, Brand24, Purpose Fairy, and more. Within six months of setting my mind to freelance writing, I did my first month of $3,000.

Eventually I found my niche in the home remodeling realm and was hired marketing agencies who could afford to pay me what I was worth.

I eventually got the outcome I wanted – consistent work that paid over $100 an hour so I didn’t have to work full time for a full time income. I got to work when I was most efficient most of the time – there were days where I would work very little, and days where I worked 12 or more hours. I was able to spend time outside during the day, and work at night. It was the autonomous work that I craved, and I was able to drop clients that didn’t align with with how I worked or who’s expectations were out of line (moving goal posts, anyone?). It wasn’t quite the creative outlet of self expression I was looking for – there are only so many articles you can write about colour trends and building materials – but all in all, I’m grateful for my time as a freelance writer.