Choosing the Write Path

| August 7, 2010

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the month of August is a month of reflection and re-evaluation. If you don’t take time to look at where you’ve been, you’re bound to make a few errors in judgment going forward. So, in order to plan for the future, you must take the past into consideration.

From the Beginning

As you know, my true online freelance writing journey began in February of 2007. Back then I needed to get money coming in and fast because I had quit my part-time job. The part-time job was barely above minimum wage and I realized it just wasn’t worth the time and travel expense. I knew I could do better working online.

A Little Employment  HistoryOffice worker: Photo by Elvis Santana

Prior to the part-time job, I had worked both in the insurance and technology industries. I was a full-time employee/contractor and made a nice salary. I hated every minute of it. The hours and the commute was a killer (5 hours a day commuting). The money was nice, but was it really worth it?

As fate would have it, my last full-time job moved south by about 1,000 miles and I was unemployed. Not wanting another job for which I had to spend half of my day commuting I worked a few local part-time jobs.

I just couldn’t get my mind around the slightly above minimum wage part time jobs. I mean, my clothing and gas costs chewed up a bit of my meager salary. Oh, and I won’t mention the cost of weekly contributions for office baby showers, going away parties, retirement parties, etc. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Enough is Enough

I had been dabbling online playing around with websites prior to taking the last part-time job. In 2006 I earned $16.25 online from my dabblings. That meager $16.25 made me realize there was money to be made online. I just didn’t have the confidence or knowledge to know what to do and how to make the $16.25 grow.

After being forced to work the day after Thanksgiving and explaining that I already had plans for Christmas before I took the minimum wage job, I knew this job was short lived. Let’s face it, I was only making $8.35 an hour and after taxes, benefits, etc. I average about $125 a week, hardly I Quit!enough to be worth the aggravation.

Throwing down the Gauntlet

I threw down the gauntlet and resigned. My last day of work was Friday, February 9, 2007 and that was the first day I started to take this online freelance writing stuff seriously. My initial goal was to replace my part-time job income.

So the Journey Began

Still having the work mentality, I found as many upfront paying gigs as I could find. I earned $5 per article and wrote until my fingers dropped. I also managed to land a magazine gig which did much to boost my writing income, but magazine gigs were few and far between so I concentrated on online writing.

Burn Out

I reached the burn out stage real fast. I was bringing in money, but I was working like the dickens. I managed to earn a little over $4,600 the first year but most of it was from up front pay sources. Only $1,400 of my income was residual income.

When I evaluated the numbers I knew I had to spend a little more time building up my residual portfolio. I wanted money, but I didn’t want to work my fingers to the bone to get it. I was beginning to feel that I traded the traditional job for a work at home ‘job.’ I didn’t want a job. I wanted money, but I wanted to enjoy my life too.

Working Smarter

The second year, I tried to write a host of residual articles. I also took on assignments for up front pay because I needed quick money, but I knew in my heart residual was the way to long-term happiness. I worked hard, and my hard work started to pay off. By the end of 2008 I had earned $10,000 of which $7,000 was residual income.

Online Writing Earnings

By my third year I almost doubled my prior year’s income. I earned $19,000 of which $16,000 was from residual sources. $19,000 is a far cry from my $8.35 an hour part-time job, but it still doesn’t match the salary I used to make as a full-time insurance broker or a tech writing contractor, so the journey continues.

Time of Reflection and Re-evaluation

Now that I took you through that long and drawn out journey, here’s the reason for my post. My own history tells me that residual income is the way to go. Over the years I have diversified my sources. I write in varying degrees for content sites such as Suite 101, eHow/DS, HubPages and Orato. I also have 11 websites/blogs of varying popularity (most of them are not very popular but they still earn money).

On my own sites I use various ad programs such as AdSense, InfoLinks, Amazon and Text Link Ads. I also endorse a couple of books and a few affiliate products.

Going Forward

I’m going to continue to do more of the same. I intend to continue writing for the content sites I currently utilize but I’ll spend more time and effort in building up the content on my websites/blogs. I’ll probably start a new site sometime within the next few months and get back to writing my book. I want my own sites/blogs/books to make up the lion share of my earnings.   I’d hate to build up several thousand dollars in residual income from a site that can one day pull the rug from under me.

FreeMy regular readers know that my goal is to increase residual earnings by $167 each month for the next 4 years to reach my $10,000 per month residual earnings goal. The wonderful thing about residual income is that if you put in the time and effort early on, it takes off on its own with little additional work

The Online Writing Secret?

From what I can see, the secret to earning money online is to keep writing and re-evaluating,  Time will handle the rest.

Tags: ,

Category: AdSense, Advertising, Affiliates, Earning Money, Monetize, Motivation, Niche Sites, Residual Income

About the Author ()

Felicia A. Williams is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends the majority of her time with her family and writing. If she's not writing or commenting on NJFM, she's either outside smelling the roses or writing articles for one of her other sites.

Comments (16)

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  1. Diana says:

    Your article is very inspiring. At the beginning of year (when I started), I was making almost nothing. Now, my earnings are increasing. As I continue building my website, I have high hopes for the future 🙂

  2. Emory says:

    I’m inspired by your attention to the numbers. I want to begin my own spreadsheet. Do you use Excel or some other program?

    Thanks!

    • Felicia says:

      Emory, here’s an old post where I share the Excel spreadsheet format that I used back then. I’ve since made some modifications to suit my needs, but you can make changes as necessary.

      Hopefully it will be useful to you.

  3. Grandma says:

    I have heard Linked In is more of a networking and job seeking website, as opposed to social ones like Facebook.

  4. Angela says:

    @Grandma I’m listed as a freelance writer on LinkedIn. With it I’ve built a few networking relationships. I haven’t actively used it as a tool to get writing assignments though. I’ve only just recently, in the last couple of days, discovered that there were job listings on LinkedIn.

    I hope that I’m actually answering your question.

  5. Grandma says:

    Maybe this is the right place to post this, maybe not. Has anyone had experience with listing their name as a freelance writer on Linked In? Any results?

  6. Shannon says:

    This is the post I’d been waiting for, Felicia. I’ve been following your blog for some time, but somehow I missed discovering your “backstory”. Fascinating read and very inspirational, as always!

  7. Moki of Moki's Fanfiction Blog says:

    Seeing it put down in real facts and figures helps me so much. I too don’t want to have to work my fingers to the bone and am sometimes unsure how to make that happen. Seeing the steps you took is great.

    Thanks!
    -Moki

  8. Judith P says:

    Another excellent post Felicia. My goal for retirement from the rat race is 3-1/2 years. Your posts have given me the encouragement to keep going. When I see the actual numbers I know I’m on the right path. Thanx again.

  9. Aimee Larsen Stoddard says:

    I’m curious how you made the huge jump in earnings from November 2009 to December 2009. You mentioned that $16,000 of your $19,000 in income in 2009 was from residual sources. Did you write most of the upfront payment articles in December?
    Aimee Larsen Stoddard recently posted…Who is Sister Dottie Dixon- Funny Activist Mormon Mom of Gay SonMy Profile

    • Felicia says:

      Aimee, you’re right.

      The stars were properly aligned and Demand Studios had a ton of topics that I could write with my eyes shut. I put on my dictation headset and chatted up a whole bunch of articles. The $1,500 plus that I earned that month came just at the right time for the holidays.

      The following month I went back to residual writing again.

  10. Aimee Larsen Stoddard says:

    This is so helpful to see your hard numbers. This gives me so much hope. I have almost reached my one-year anniversary of writing online, and I am beginning to see that it can be lucrative. The first year can be quite demoralizing, but it seems like the lesson here is to stick with it, periodically reevaluate, and work smarter. Thanks for the great post.
    Aimee Larsen Stoddard recently posted…Who is Sister Dottie Dixon- Funny Activist Mormon Mom of Gay SonMy Profile

  11. Will says:

    Your transparency motivates and inspires me. Thanks, Felicia.
    Will recently posted…2010 Titans 53-Man Roster PredictionMy Profile

  12. Deanna says:

    I enjoyed this post. It is inspiring for everyone, whether they are just starting out or somewhere on the middle rung of the earnings ladder. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
    Deanna recently posted…Demand Media Files to Go PublicMy Profile

  13. What an inspiring post, Felicia! It’s so wonderful to see it all laid out here like this. I like your story because it’s do-able. The numbers are inspiring, but they’re also realistic. Thanks so much for sharing!
    Julie @ Residual Writer recently posted…eHow Earnings for June and July 2010 and a New Residual Income GoalMy Profile

  14. Angela says:

    Thanks for sharing this latest set of figures, Felicia. Broken down on a yearly basis the numbers are even more sobering.

    You know what occurred to me as I was looking over your charts? The principle of building residual income seems to be akin to that of compounding interest. Hmmm … food for thought.
    Angela recently posted…Love YourselfMy Profile