Today I’m happy to introduce a friend I met on Bubblews back in 2014. On that now-defunct site, he went by the name “KingLobster,” but the rest of the world knows him as Ryan Canady. Ryan has been freelancing online for quite a while now, and I’m glad to have connected with him.
For those of you who are struggling to get your freelance writing career off the ground, I think you’re going to find Ryan’s success to be pretty inspiring. I think you’ll be surprised and excited to learn how much money Ryan has been able to make AND the kinds of places he has been able to make it.
You want at least a hint, don’t you?
Okay, well…you know how everyone says that to make any money as a freelance writer today, you’ll have to spend just as much time building your brand and marketing your services as you do writing articles? Well…that might not be true for everybody.
1. How long have you been freelancing and how did you get started?
I have been freelance writing for money online for nearly five years now. As a matter of fact, I know the exact date that I first wrote an article for which I was paid. That day was March 14, 2010. I was in the second semester of my college career at that point and was looking for a way to earn a little extra pocket money. I had first taken the steps necessary to send in some applications to a few fast food restaurants and the like. I had worked in fast food in the past and simply figured that this might be a way to get the money I wanted.
I had returned home for Christmas break when my mom suggested to me that I look into writing online for money. I was unaware that anything like this existed. I looked into it but was discouraged to not find that many options available to me. It was only when I went back to my dorm room on that fateful March day that I dove into freelance writing, and I never looked back again. I have rarely missed even a single day of writing since that time.
2. What type of content do you create?
I primarily write blogs and articles. I generally write shorter pieces, though on occasion there are some lengthier pieces that I have written as well. Some of my proudest accomplishments were some articles that I wrote for a financial website. The website had some great connections with popular financial websites such as Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, and the Wall Street Journal Online. As such, my work was spread pretty far and wide quickly and I generated a lot of views and thus a good amount of money as well.
I wrote those a few years ago and have scantly explored the website since. I really should give them a try once again. It just takes a lot of time and effort to produce one of those articles, but the payout can be quite nice. The first one that I ever wrote eventually earned $100 for me. However, the website only pays out quarterly, so the waiting period for receiving funds is quite lengthy.
3. How many articles per day/week do you typically write? Average daily word count?
The number of articles per week that I am able to do will greatly depend upon the amount of work available as well as my particular level of motivation that week.
I have seen weeks where I have done a few hundred articles in a week (300-400 words a piece). However, there have also been weeks where I have been lucky to do a dozen articles in a week. I would say on average I probably write somewhere around 40-50 articles per week. The daily word count probably hovers around 5,000 most days.
4. What industries do you write about?
My focus has always been on the business and finance industries, although I have been known to branch out into some marketing articles as well as Internet topics. I am willing to give most articles a try, and perhaps am even more willing than some writers to go out on a limb from time to time. That being said, I prefer to stick close to home with the finance and business industries as I already know a good deal about them and do not have to apply as much research.
5. What’s your writing process like? For a blog post, a Bubblews post, a freelance assignment?
For me the easiest part of writing anything is the beginning. I know that this is opposite of the process that a lot of others go through. Many have difficulty getting started and some even create elaborate outlines and the like just to get started. I am not in that camp. I usually just start out with a creative burst and then attempt to put the rest of it together as I go along.
6. Do you write mostly for freelance sites, or do you mostly connect with clients directly
I primarily write for the freelance websites. I am jealous of those who are able to net clients that they can work for directly. That has very rarely been my experience in the freelance world. I do sometimes offer my writing and editing services to family and friends free of charge. I like to try to help people out with things like college papers and formal documents that they may be using at work. I haven’t really considered these individuals to be private clients though as I do the work for free and I know them. If I could get some private clients to work with, I would snatch that up in a heartbeat.
7. What percentage of your “working time” would you say is spent writing, and how much is spent working on other work related tasks?
Wow, this one would be tough for me to nail down exactly. On the days that I am really focused and concerned with earning money, I can grind quite a lot of time into my work. On the days were I am only giving it a halfhearted focus, I am going to have more trouble getting those work hours in. At times during my college years when I was writing, I would go to the library for a period of four hours and just write. I would take a 30 minute break in the middle but then go right back to writing for another two hours. By the end of that time I would typically have made about $100. Those were good times.
8. How do you market your services?
Luckily for me, I do not have to spend too much time doing this. Since I primarily work for the freelance writing sites and do not spend a lot of time doing my own outreach to private clients, I have spent little to no time marketing my services.
9. What would you say was your best client experience ever? Worst ever?
Any client that puts me through the ringer over nit picky things is always frustrating. I have two distinct experiences that I can remember. One was with a client that waited until the last minute of the three day waiting period that they had to decide on what they wanted to do with the work that I had written for them. They could decide to accept it or ask for revisions, but if they waited past that 72 hour period, the work would simply be accepted. The time had passed the 72 hour mark and I was waiting for my money, but it had yet to arrive. Suddenly there were all of these rejections coming in from the client. They didn’t even want revisions, they were just going to reject the work. It was something like $75 in work that I had done for them and it was all rejected at the 11th hour. I needed the money badly at the time too so it made for a stressful day.
The best client experience that I enjoyed was with one client that I did do some private work for. This client was very loyal to me and would provide me with 25-30 assignments on a regular basis (about twice a week on average). They paid double the rate that I was typically earning at the time and the articles were easy to write. They also were good about paying for them in a very timely manner. I never knew the client by name as they were one of the clients through the freelance site. However, they provided me with one of the most pleasurable and profitable writing experiences that I have ever had. I wish I had that client back honestly.
10. What about earnings milestones? How long did it take before you were able to earn $100 in a month? $200? How high have you gone in monthly earnings? Average daily earnings?
I have hit a number of earnings milestones. I know my personal best daily earnings, my best two week period of earnings, and my best month. It took me no time at all to get to the point where I was earning into the hundreds of dollars per month. In fact, from the very first month that I started writing those were the kind of earnings that I was seeing.
I was very dedicated to the work that I did, and I really wanted that extra pocket change, so I got right to work cranking out the articles and counting up the money.
By the third month of my freelance writing career (May 2010) I challenged myself to make $1,000 in a month. I told my best college buddy about my challenge and he said there was no way that I was going to reach that goal. The previous month I had only pulled in about $500. Well, to my pleasure I not only made it to the $1,000 goal, but actually surpassed it by hitting $1,200. I of course eagerly shared this news with him to his dismay.
My best single day earnings ever was made during a period of time while I was still in college as well. I was living on my own in my own apartment at the time and was desperate to make the rent payment on time. I went to the library and just wrote and wrote and wrote some more. I finished the day with earnings of $200.20. It was a big day for me. Monthly my high water mark was in November 2010 when I hit $2,300 and change on the month.
11. What would be your best tips for someone just starting out as a freelance writer, year one?
The biggest thing is to find your niche and find your motivation. I had tons of it when I first started, and that is what propelled me to earn as well as I did. Some of that motivation has waned for me as I near my fifth year of doing this. I would say that you should work on things such as your typing speed, proofreading abilities, and the like. Make sure that you are able to write about the same or similar topics on a regular basis. In my experience this is the way to earn some money.
Part 2 — A typical day in the life of freelance writer Ryan Canady
From the minute I wake up I start to think about how my day is going to play out. I start worrying about work almost instantly. There are always things that I want and need to get done. I try to make sure that I don’t immediately jump on the computer to start writing even though the urge to do so is there. I find that if the first thing I do is write, then the first thing I quit doing is write as well. I am just not as productive if I do not ease into the day a little bit.
After some period of time (usually an hour or so), I just can’t stand to sit around and not be getting work done anymore. This is the point in time when I will jump on the computer and start working. Like so many other people, I am known to go through the routine of checking social media, news websites, and the like as early distractions in my work day. After I start to feel guilty about how little I have done while being on the computer, I finally clamp down and get to work.
I generally work for at least an hour or two and can usually get a good amount done when you consider it as an hourly wage. I sometimes hit in the $15/hour or so range during those hours. At that point I will often break to eat some lunch and just do things in my life not related to writing. I have a little brother who is just 2 and a half years old, so I spend a lot of time with him. We will go outside to play or just visit with each other. I will generally wrap up the loose ends of writing in the early afternoon, and then don’t do much else with it after that. Honestly, once the sun sets I generally lose all motivation for work.
Hey Ryan, thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share a little of your life and process with our readers. I hope we can do more fun stuff like this again down the road. Thanks, buddy 🙂
This article was originally published on my old blog, iWorkOffTheClock.com.
(Microphone CC image used with permission)