How To Become A Full-Time Freelance Writer

Whitney Stovall is a freelance content marketing writer and social media strategist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Whitney has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Culture, a Masters Degree in Administration and Management, and she is proficient in InDesign and Photoshop; with intermediate skills in digital photography (DSLR). 

Whitney has worked on a few projects for Creative Allies. As a freelancer, she started working for nonprofit organizations over 10 years ago and simultaneously she started grant writing. Soon she realized that the more work she did for the nonprofits, the more it helped her in other areas like accounting or grant writing. Whitney said: “There are times when you don’t have a business plan, or you don’t have a mission statement, or you don’t understand how to brand yourself to attract different donors and volunteers and things of those sorts. But I had been doing all of those things for the nonprofit organizations and so it came in handy”. Whitney also does a lot of writing in the space of education development.

How many years have you been in the freelancing industry?

Oh, that’s a good question. I started part time for about 2-3 years and then for the past 18 months I’ve been doing it full time.

At what point did you decide it was for you?

I honestly to be very frank with you, it wasn’t probably until after a year of doing it full time that I was like, Oh wait, I can actually do this. The whole year I was doing it full time. I was kind of waiting for something to go wrong, but nothing went wrong. One day, Facebook reminded me that I had reached an anniversary. So that was the clicking point to me, when I was a year into it full time and I realized that I wasn’t homeless, or had borrowed money from anyone or anything like that. I realized that I could do this, that I can scale it.

What’s your favorite aspect of freelancing?

Probably being able to work from home. I don’t know how basic that sounds, but it’s the truth. When I worked in the office in Atlanta, one of the things that I really disliked was traffic. Traffic is horrible and you go sit in traffic in the morning for like almost an hour. Then you drag yourself into the office battling and it’s like either too hot, or someone’s cooking something weird, or someone’s loud. It’s never like the idea of a working space and you know you could have done this at home. Also, I definitely think it’s harder to balance remote work time-wise. For instance, when you’re in the office you clock out at five o’clock and you’re done. But when I’m working from home, I can do this all this time. But definitely much more of a challenge.

Which were the biggest challenges that you had to overcome as a freelancer?

Being able to balance between work and life, as well as trying to create a schedule or a business structure. For instance, when you work for another company they already have the systems in place, from when you submit your time-sheet to when you have meetings. So, in my case I had to create different systems to make sure I’m the most efficient. Overall, balance and structure are the two main things.

What do you think the freelance industry is lacking in terms of information?

I would like to say transparency and pay. I’m still in this space where I’m trying to make sure I’m valuing myself and I’m presenting myself in a way that I’m monetizing to a high level. I spent a lot of time on Facebook asking people questions in order to create a price structure. And I’m still in that place that while I’m creating a price structure that I feel like I’m being valued. I had a friend ask me, “How do you determine how much something costs?” I guess trial and error. Because sometimes you think in your head that something might take this amount of hours, but then you start doing it and it doesn’t take that many hours. So just making sure I understand what goes into something and things like that.

Do you have any recommendations for people that want to be a freelancer, but they don’t know how to start? 

Social networking, Facebook groups are actually really helpful. Because I hadn’t really been on Facebook in a while, especially not in groups. I was in these three groups, one of them was about freelancing, and then another one was for content freelancers. You’d be really surprised by the people in those groups because they give you really authentic answers. To this day sometimes I might drop in and say, “Hey, someone’s asking me about this. I’m not really familiar. What do you think?”. And you’ll get so many answers from other freelancers from all over the world. That’s a lot of my resources and ways of online networking. Twitter is definitively another good place. The reason I recommend Twitter is because they have really good search capabilities. You just search for hashtags and it’s actually better prepared than Facebook. For example, you can put in let’s say, freelance female freelance opportunity and then you’ll see the last 20 tweets. These tweets are recent and relevant versus to a post being a few days old or so. 

How did you find your first clients?

My first client was a friend of mine and my second client came through Facebook. Once I put the word out that this is what I was doing. I got some referrals and lately LinkedIn has been a great tool. LinkedIn is the professional networking tool where I’m looking to network or to look for someone to hire. Also what I have found to be successful is posting or sharing on LinkedIn. Which I once did and I got a hundred likes or something and I was surprised. To this day I think that post still generates people coming to my page. So it’s just all different little things. 

What has been your favorite project so far?

That’s a really good question. I don’t know what has been my favorite project. I want to say when I’m done with a project, that’s when I kind of fall in love with them. But there was one project I was working on for this non-profit organization based out of Virginia, but they work in Kenya as well. I helped them start their business plan, create structure and branding for it. They help young girls get into the technology engineering field. This was an amazing project, because we were legit on the phone a year before that, developing the plan for the project. Then a year later when I saw the final project I was like Oh wow, I did that. I’m always telling myself make it right, get it done. When it’s finally done, it’s really nice.

How was your experience in working with Creative Allies?

I love working with Creative Allies. Everyone’s really casual, but professional. They have a lot of diversity and projects. Just the communications there and I like the way they handle different things. whether it’s a good thing or conflict, everything is addressed and you move straight forward. I appreciate the communication the most. I can always email Amie and she’ll provide a response within 24 hours.

Do you have anything else to share like with the freelancing community as a freelancer?

Definitely check out The Freelance Content Marketing Writer book, by Jennifer Gregory. It’s really helpful. It goes through all the things that I just talked about. Everything from setting up a business, to setting up your price structure and the author is very transparent about her journey and like how much money she’s making. That’s a really good resource I would say. Also definitely make sure that you’re networking, whether that’s online or in person. Because as a freelancer, that’s really the heart of your soul, of everything. Even if you have a lot of projects right now, they all come eventually to an end and you will need to have those relationships. So I would say those pieces are the two main things. Oh, and self care. I’m not as good as I need to be right now. But if anyone else can master that, I would definitely say do it, do it, do it, do it, dude. Do it.

What do you currently do?

I do mainly content and copy writing and my main clients are education institutions. Also I work with social media agencies, or marketing agencies. Most of the things I work on are web development projects or like blog posts. Also since I’ve been known to work in the nonprofit space for so long, people just call me about the nonprofit proposal development. But my goal is in the first quarter of this year to launch a course or a product that way I can provide to people. We don’t have the budgets to pay for all the services, at the level in which they need them. So I can spell all of that knowledge into a course and then provide it at a reasonable price. That will be something I think would be more reasonable.

Where can people find you and your work?

My website is www.whitneystovall.com.

I’m definitely on social media, like everywhere. I’m on LinkedIn as Whitney Stovall, and on Instagram as @whitneystovallwrites. My Facebook is @iamwhitneystovall. You can reach out to me on any of those platforms and you’ll probably hear back from me!

Freelancer Whitney Stovall

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