There’s no beating around the bush. I’ve had a massive month, and one that tipped my total commissions for the year over $100K. Much of that has been earned through feature writing for magazines and newspapers – something I never thought was possible. Especially given this is my first year of full time freelancing and until now I have never earned over $20K in a year from my writing.
November – the month I hit $100K
I’ve had a hard time saying no this year – in fact, I didn’t really even think that it was a possibility to refuse work until a few weeks ago. So while I thought I was going to have a quiet November, I’ve had a hectic one with lots of work coming my way.
In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:
Pitched: 4 (this includes re-pitching ideas that have been rejected)
Commissions from pitches or query letters: 4
Offers: 8 (where the editor approached me with a commission)
What I got up to in November
Yep. I filed 27 articles in November. I’ve also had at least three pieces come back to me with requests for fairly substantial revisions, so I’ve submitted and re-submitted 30 articles this month.
One article a day.
If that’s not madness, I don’t know what is.
I haven’t had time for many things other than writing this month – though after receiving a few requests I have started mentoring and coaching freelance writers – I’m still getting my processes ironed out but it’s been so great to talk to other freelancers, find out what they are struggling with and come up with strategies on how to help.
After one of my sessions, the writer I was mentoring said:
“When you’re working alone without feedback you sometimes believe your mind’s most horrible thoughts about your work and writing prospects. Getting your feedback made me realise how much I’ve already done, and that I’m closer than I thought to achieving some of my other writing goals. Overall I feel much more positive and confident.
I really like that you’re open to discussing anything that helps your client – there were a bunch of things I’d been wondering about (and worrying about) for months that were cleared up in the first half of the session.
I just want to reiterate how much more positive I’m feeling. I feel more than ever that writing is something I can make a go of. I usually worry it’s just a pipe dream.”
I felt so happy when this writer emailed me this – I want to be realistic about the possibility of earning a living from freelance writing and I really understood where she was coming from because I had similar worries at the start of the year.
Could I really sustain a full time career from writing?
It’s totally possible. It’s bloody hard work. It’s totally possible.
I also met with my mentor again this month – she set me the (HUGE!) task of developing a business plan for the next 5 years and working backwards.
I’m not a huge goal setter, but I know that when I want to achieve something I need to have a target in mind or else I’ll never reach it.
This has never been truer for me than this year – I set my monthly income target and it has made a huge difference for me to see where I’m aiming.
I really credit that little excel spreadsheet as playing a huge part in keeping me motivated and on-task with hitting (and exceeding) my income goals for the year.
My income for November
At the end of October I had a feeling that it would be a slow start to November. Boy, was I wrong.
By the 7 November I had $8,000 worth of work commissioned with no sign of it slowing down.
In November I was commissioned over $14,500 worth of work.
I invoiced for just over $14,000.
And just to compare – in November 2016 I invoiced for just over $1,000.
My income for the year
I knew I was getting pretty close to hitting six figures for 2017, so I tallied up the work that has been commissioned.
By the end of November, I had $105K worth of work commissioned.
I feel a bit stunned typing that figure.
I tend to hold three figures in my head at any one time – the amount of work that has been commissioned, the amount I’ve invoiced for and the amount I’ve been paid.
At the end of next month I’ll share all those figures with you because I think it’s easy for people to claim they are a six figure freelancer, but you never really know exactly what they are counting.
So I’ve nearly made it. 11 months down into my year as a full time freelancer.
It’s been exhausting but also exhilarating. I’ve never felt more motivated in what I’m doing .
In the next few weeks I’m going to be reaching out to you – I want to hear how can this blog be the most use to you in 2018.
I’ve been totally humbled by the response I’ve had to The Freelancer’s Year. Each week writers get in touch and so I wanted to say thank you – thank you for reading and thank you for being such an awesome, engaged readership.
Freelance writers make the best community.
How was your November? What are you hopes for December and beyond?
Holy Guacamole!!!! You are crazy, yes – crazy talented!!!
I am in awe of everything you have achieved, but I am not the least bit surprised. Congratulations, Lindy. I’d love to hear more about your biz plan… xx
LOL. No just crazy I think! I’m definitely feeling the burn of pushing hard for 11 months that’s for sure. I’ll keep you posted about the business plan – who knows what might happen?!
Congratulations! That is so impressive. I tend to slow down at the end of the year because there’s so much else going on, but I balance the work and the financial goals during the rest of the year. I’m curious about your November pitches, though. You were commissioned 12 (4+8), so where did the rest come from? Were they stories you were already working on ? I love reading your posts because they give me unexpected ideas about where to pitch, so keep them coming.
Thanks so much Chryselle. I think your way is a better approach – next year I think I’ll try to spread it out a little more.
Yes, the other stories had already been commissioned from previous months. Thanks for your comment – so glad you enjoy my posts.
Congratulations! What a thrill to see all your hand work translate, not just into a fantastic income for you, but also repeat work, fantastic stories and the building of a solid reputation. I have loved your blog this year and it has kept me inspired when my own writing career has faltered.
I’ve decided to move more towards copy writing, so almost feel like I’m starting from scratch as I’ve done some copy writing but not a huge amount. So I am really interested in your business plan. Like you, I’m not hugely goal-oriented but when I have set goals, I always achieve them so think a business plan is the way to go.
Oh thank you Collette! Yes to be honest I count my success in much more than dollars and cents. I’ve worked hard to develop great relationships with editors this year, but I’ve also been incredibly lucky with fab editors and I’ve loved the writing that I’m doing.
It sounds like it’s been a big decision for you to move towards copy writing? I think the nuts and bolts are the same – and you have such a way with words that I’m sure the transition won’t be too difficult for you. And you can also do features on the side.
I’ll keep you posted with the business plan – a few people have given me theirs as a template so I’m going to dedicate a bit of time to it this week.
This is AMAZING!!!! Well done!! Thank you for being such an awesome inspiration!!
Thank you Janine!!
Lindy, that’s absolutely phenomenal, very well done you. And it’s incredibly encouraging to hear such a success story. November ended up being a bit of a scramble for me because of a few things that ate up my time. I got done what I needed to though, and learned a valuable lesson about getting things done well ahead of time (I might have picked that tip up here as well, but there’s nothing like panic to really drive a message home). So I’m trying to get things done in the next two weeks before school finishes, and I’m also thinking about goals for next year. Well done again on your brilliant year to date, you should be very proud of all you have achieved.
Oh Claire, thank you. And thank you for all your comments throughout this year – I always appreciate hearing your thoughts and experiences.
"Panicking early" is definitely a good habit to get into – I think Megan Blandford talked about setting herself false deadlines before the real one so that she can cope with anything unexpected that might pop up. I haven’t done that as much as I’d like this year, so that’s another goal for me!
Good luck for the next two weeks – keep me posted on how you go.
Thanks Lindy, will do.
Holy smokes Lindy – that is impressive. One huge congrats with balloon bubbles coming your way! And as I say to you every time I comment, your openness about how you got there is truly an inspiration for plodders like me who (inexcusably) seems to have lost my writing mojo come this time of the year.
But all that will change with 2018 so close with renewed energy and desire to achieve some reasonable figures from writing. Looking forward to reading about your business plan and implementing some goals to gain some writing wins.
Thanks Jennifer. It’s not inexcusable at all – with so much happening in Nov/Dec, it’s totally reasonable to lose your mojo!
I’ll look forward to hearing your goals for 2018 – maybe we should all share them with each other?!
Thank you, Lindy, for sharing all this info with us in such an open and honest way! I love reading your blog posts and hearing about your business. Congratulations on hitting 6 figures by your 11th month into your first year freelancing full time – it’s incredible!
As much as I love hearing about your figures and how well you’re doing financially, I’d love to have a more complete outlook on your year 2017- how you’ve nourished your creativity, how you’ve balanced work and family life, etc. You say those 11 months have been exhausting as well as well as exhilarating and that you’re feeling the burn of pushing hard. Would you do it just the same next year? Can you keep up the pace without sacrificing too much?
As a divorced mother of 2 and freelance writer, I have set my – still rather young – kids as my number 1 priority and sometimes feel it’s getting in the way of my "career". But it’s my choice and I’m happy with it… most of the time! Also, I’m not so good at setting financial goals for myself. Don’t know if it’s about the money itself or not believing I can make it…
Thanks again for taking the time to write this blog, Lindy. It’s super helpful and a pleasure to read and interact with you. I’m excited for you that you’ve started coaching freelance writers. If I didn’t have a coach already, I’d be sure to ask you. I might actually consider it, although the time difference between France and Australia might be an obstacle…
Have a great month of December! Happy Holidays!
Thank you Anne-Liesse!
That’s a really good point about how I’ve balanced my personal and professional life. November was unusual because I had so much work, but usually it feels really well balanced. It has been tiring, but I think when you give yourself over to anything it’s exhausting because you also carry the mental weight of not knowing whether your goal is realistic. But I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything this year, in fact I feel as if I’ve gained an enormous amount.
It’s hard when you’ve got young children to balance life and work – I’ve only been able to do it because my partner is a full time parent this year.
I think money can be a stumbling block for lots of writers – it’s not an easy topic to talk about and many of us carry deep-seated ideas about money that we’re often not particularly aware of.
Thanks again for your comments and being part of this community – it’s been lovely to get to know you this year.
Congrats Lindy!! This is so awesome and inspiring. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much Kristin 🙂
Lindy, I just saw this come in my email and I am going to share this with everyone I can think of! What a fantastic, fantastic accomplishment in such a short time.
I do agree with your friend in the previous post, though, but as someone who also coaches, know that the scarcity vs. abundance mindset shift is something that doesn’t actually happen as fast as hitting six figures.
Now that you know you can do it, I hope you’ll level up the pay rates and say no more so this time next year, you can have the fantastic income without the long hours 🙂
Thank you Gabi! Even though it’s been a big year, I feel as if it has been five years in the making, as I was building up to this year by side-hustling and building relationships with editors while I still had a day job.
It’s funny, my pay rates in general are actually great – it’s just that I find it hard to say no! November was one out of the box, my other weeks I usually work around 34 hours so it’s not too stressful.
Thanks for your comment – it’s nice to join the six figure club with you 🙂
Well done, Lindy. So happy for you. Sounds like a massive year of achievements and learnings. I love hearing about your writing experiences.
Thanks so much Emily. Yes a huge year for me – I’ve learnt so much about freelancing and just what is possible!
Awesome Lindy! Great work. I love hearing your $$$ updates as it’s rare that we hear exactly how much can be/is being earned by full time freelancers. My husband is also taking a keen interest. Probably because I’m always shouting out something like," Hey, you know the writer Lindy I’ve been following?" She’s made it to X this month!" But 30 stories filed in a month…wow!
LOL! Thanks Laura 🙂 Yes I always love when freelancers share what they earn because it gives you a sense of what’s possible and what’s working (or not).
I know, 30 stories is madness! December has been considerably slower and I dare say my commissioned amount for the month will be my lowest yet!