Written by Amy Suto
Five years ago, my “bad days” consisted of being burned out by my 80-per-week Hollywood assistant job that paid $15/hour. I would stumble home at 10pm and eat a cold dinner in my tiny Los Angeles studio apartment, only to wake up at 5am the next day to get in some writing before I started what would sometimes end up being a 10 hour day.
This morning, I woke up in a beautiful Airbnb loft in Milan, Italy. My partner Kyle and I did some yoga and had breakfast at a cute juice place on our block. Then, we strolled past all of the boutiques to a WeWork to start our work day. Bad days as a digital nomad still exist, but when you get to spend your days exploring new cities like Prague, Budapest, and Rome, all on your own work schedule — it hits different.
Becoming A Freelancer
I went from a $15/hr employee to a $250/hr freelancer over the course of five years. I started out freelancing on the platform Upwork, and recently released my new online course on how I made over $80,0000 freelancing on Upwork. As I began freelancing, I was shocked to find that people were willing to pay quite a bit for my skills as a writer, and I became determined to grow my business and do great work for my clients while also still working in Hollywood.
And then, the tides started to turn: I was offered another Hollywood assistant job, but instead I turned it down and booked a flight to Paris for the next week. I was going to go hang out in Europe and ghostwrite a memoir for a new client instead of sending emails in an office — and that feeling of freedom? It’s what I had been chasing for my entire career.
I’ve been working remotely for the past year, and went full-time freelance after I left my last TV writers’ room at the beginning of the pandemic. I went on a roadtrip around the entire United States with my fellow Hollywood expats, and learned what it meant to become a digital nomad and see the world while writing for myself and my clients.
Freelancing and Traveling Is Within Your Reach
I’m not special: anyone can learn how to write and become a freelancer. I say this because sometimes people look at my career or what I post on TikTok and say — wow, you’re living my dream. And I do my best to create content and help teach others to do what I do, because I want everyone to be able to live their dreams and devote time to what brings their soul alive.
There’s also a lot of cities abroad that are way cheaper to live in than most U.S. cities! Popular ones include places like Bali, Prague, or Budapest, and if you stay in hostels you can get even more budget-friendly with your lifestyle.
If freelancing isn’t your bag, you can even get a full-time remote job that allows you to travel without having to build out a full freelance client roster. You can also do admin jobs and become a virtual assistant if you’re wanting to save your creative time just for your own projects.
In short? There’s a ton of things you can do from your laptop to make money so that you can travel the world and do what you love.
Kingdom of Ink and the Future of Freelancing
I’m passionate about building the future of freelancing, and our company connects the top 1% of freelance writers to the startups, nonprofits, B-Corps, and other cool orgs who need high-end writing help. We’re unique in our mutual aid model: a percentage of each contract gets reinvested back into the collective to help support all of our freelance writers weather the ups and downs of a freelance career.
Whether you’re freelancing on Upwork or joining a company like ours, the future is freelance. By starting now, you can hone your skills and your personal brand so that you can achieve the kind of freedom you’ve been wanting.
How Can I Get Started as a Freelancer?
I recommend all freelancers start on a platform like Upwork. This is a great way to hone your skills and start working with clients, and it can also help you gain social proof for your skills through gathering reviews.
Pick a niche you’re passionate about! I love the niche of memoir ghostwriting because my brain loves thinking in long-form storytelling, and memoirs are one of my favorite formats. I also do creative copywriting, but memoirs are my bread and butter.
From there, start building up your personal website and portfolio, and focus on building traffic through search engine optimization (SEO) strategies so that you can get free, incoming leads — forever! It’s never to early to begin targeting the keywords your ideal client is searching on Google. I rank on the first page of Google for my keywords “memoir ghostwriter” which gets me a lot of leads that my ideal client is searching.
Marketing your skills might feel like a full-time job at first, but it won’t be forever! As you continue in your career, you’ll start getting more word-of-mouth-referrals from happy clients. Growing your Internet presence will also help bring in more clients without having to do a lot of heavy lifting.
Staying Connected to Your Creativity
Be kind to yourself as you start your freelance journey: balancing your creative aspirations while also building a freelancing career can be a challenge!
When I was starting out, I sometimes felt too burned out to write. But over time, I began raising my rates and finding more free time to focus on my creative projects, such as my scripted podcast The Last Station which follows the last radio station left on Earth after the apocalypse.
Protect yourself from burnout by setting aside time to rest, reset, and hang out with family and friends. It can be easy to overwork yourself as a freelancer, so sometimes you need to be more intentional with finding time to clock out.
At the end of the day, I try and follow my joy. If a client or project isn’t serving me, I wrap up what I’ve promised to do and move on to something new.
You’re the author of your reality: what do you want your story to be?
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Company: Kingdom of Ink