HOW WE MAKE MONEY ONLINE
The 3 businesses are:
1. Freelance Writing
2. Link Building & Outreach
3. Lead Generation & Local SEO
We’re talking all things freelance writing in this post.
If you’re feeling lazy and not in the mood for reading, this video is for YOU! It has all of the same info that’s in the post below with a few extra nuggets of info thrown in too!
If you’re not lazy and you do want to read, continue below the video.
According to writersbureau.com, “A freelance writer is a writer who works on a self-employed basis. They can work for just one magazine or, more often, they write for several different publications at a time. The more diverse a writer can be, the more likely they are to be published and paid for their work.”
Back in late 2012 when I first started out in my quest to make money online I stumbled across this whole industry of freelance writing.
I’d no idea what it entailed or what was involved or whether I could even be a freelance writer!
All I knew was that literally anyone could do it and make money from the content they produced.
There wasn’t really a catch so to speak. The problem was how do I go about becoming a freelancer and how to I find clients?
Enter Location Rebel
While doing loads of research I came across a membership course called Location Rebel which provided various mini courses on getting started in making money online.
One of those courses was on “SEO writing” which, without going into technical details, is a form of writing online that targets Google’s algorithm to help rank content in the search results.
At the time it cost USD $299 to join Location Rebel and, as it has turned out, it was the best money I ever spent.
This mini course in Location Rebel taught me the nuts and bolts on writing simple articles online.
How We Got Started
Fast forward a few weeks to the start of January 2013 and after countless emails to hundreds of SEO companies in Ireland and the UK, I got a reply from a potential client who wanted to trial me out as a writer for their agency.
I was ecstatic because I’d found someone that was willing to pay me USD €5 per article (at that time) and more importantly, I saw the potential of this freelance writing venture.
Over the next few weeks, I continued to look up the email contact details of more and more SEO companies, sent out hundreds more personalised emails and got a 99% rejection rate.
But that was fine!
Because the 1% success rate turned out to be 2 more clients that I got on board.
The little empire was slowly growing.
Over the next 4 months I continued the process above of emailing companies and writing all the content myself.
It was mentally draining at some points.
I had 3 clients who were paying on average €6 per 500 word article.
The money was fine – I was happy to be consistently making €1000 a month from my new found writing talent!
Except there was a small problem….
I hated writing.
I never considered myself a writer, even when I was researching freelance writing, but it had the lowest barrier of entry in being able to make money online.
I knew that I wouldn’t be actually doing the writing for much longer myself, otherwise I’d just go crazy.
Again, as I said – I’m just not cut out for being a writer. (You may even notice that from reading this post)
Something had to change and that’s where I decided to test things a little.
The Start of the Great Outsource Experiment
One of the biggest drawbacks to writing everything myself was that I wasn’t able to scale things.
That meant I’d eventually be unable to take on more clients because I wouldn’t be able to meet deadlines on time.
Florence was still working her full-time job in a crèche so she hadn’t even written anything so far.
She didn’t even own a laptop back then (April 2013)!!
So I needed to find a way of outsourcing some of the writing to other freelancers like me and taking a cut of the profits to pay them.
I used sites like Odesk.com and freelancer.com (now called upwork.com) to post job offers for writing work that I had available and quickly discovered that if I found two or three solid freelancers then I’d be able to scale the empire a little higher.
After a lot of searching, Skype calls etc. I’d found myself a few writers who were happy to come on board and accept writing jobs from me.
It was also at this point in time that Florence started to see the light as well. Up until then she was very sceptical about the whole thing.
Getting To Grips With Our New “Jobs” in Phuket Thailand in July 2013
Travelling And Continuing To Grow The Business
We decided that in July of that year, we’d book a one-way ticket to Thailand for ourselves with the goal of finding ourselves an apartment in Phuket and work on growing the writing business.
The goal was simple; to find more writers to add to our team, increase our client base and ultimately start growing our bank account.
The whole reason for me researching how to make money online in late 2012 was so that we would be in a position to travel and work at the same time.
When we moved to Thailand that year, we were making close to €2,000 a month profit from the writing business.
Towards the end of 2013, we stopped writing ourselves and focused on finding new clients and managing our team, which at that time was 10 writers.
As the years went by we continued to recruit more and more writers along with tons of new clients from referrals from our existing clients!
This was the key ingredient for allowing us to quickly expand our mini content agency to over 30 clients and 40 freelance writers over the course of the following 4 years.
Our income each month also expanded and we finally hit our first €10,000+ revenue month in August of 2015 and our biggest came in December of the following year when we took in just north of €45,000.
We were blown away to say the least.
Advice For Getting Started As A Freelance Writer
That’s enough of the back story about how we got started online making money.
Here are some tips about how you can get started if you’d like to go down the same path.
Just remember, that being a freelance writer is nothing like actually managing a freelance writing agency.
They have two very different skill sets, each with their own advantages/disadvantages.
Whether you choose to start out as a writer like I did, or jump straight into the outsource model is a matter of personal preference.
I learned a lot by actually writing content for months myself, so that when it came to hiring writers to help me, it was easy enough to train them up.
How We Manage Our Content Business
The whole process of managing a growing team of writers proved a bit of a headache in the early days.
We controlled everything through Gmail. That meant receiving the orders from our clients, allocating the work to our writers, receiving the work back from our writers and then emailing it back to our clients.
While it did the job, it just never felt productive.
It wasn’t until 2015 that we finally make the move over to Trello.
Trello was a game changer for us in that it allowed a much smoother workflow for us. We allocate each of our writers their own private Trello board where we both can allocate them writing jobs etc.
Everything is contained in Trello from our writing team so we only deal with email when receiving and returning orders back to our clients.
We use colour coded labels in-side Trello along with lists making the whole system very easy to understand and above all – efficient!
A Screenshot of How We Use Trello To Assign Orders to Our Writers
The other tool we use to keep things super organised when knowing what orders we’ve in and who they’re allocated to is Google Sheets.
Initially, we used Excel but sheets just make more sense so that everything was quickly stored in the cloud for us.
A Screenshot of How We Use Google Sheets To Track Orders
Nothing special or indeed complicated about our project management system.
But the key is to actually have a system in place.
Otherwise it becomes literally impossible to both scale things up and track everything.
Even though we’re not writing ourselves now, we’re still in the freelance writing niche and loving it!
Photo Location; Portugal, July 2018