Name: Amy Beardsley
Location: Fremont, Michigan
Bio: Amy Beardsley is a content marketing writer and the personal finance expert behind Early Morning Money, where she shares her passion for helping women create and build side hustles. Find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
How long have you been doing freelance work?
3 – 5 years
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I’m a freelance content marketing writer who creates keyword-optimized content with on-page SEO strategies that meets readers where they’re at on their journey.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I specialize in personal finance, insurance and FinTech companies and have years of experience in creating SEO content around those topics. I also have degrees in business administration and legal studies and worked for 6 years as a court administrator.
What made you become a freelancer?
My 9-5 paid the bills and provided health insurance but lacked the creative outlet I needed. I started freelance writing on the side and fell in love with it. The flexibility of being my own boss and love of helping others through writing led me to become a freelancer. The final straw for me was when a coworker’s spouse died and she was given 1 week off from work. I asked to donate my vacation time to her and was told no. A week isn’t enough time to grieve the loss of a spouse. I left that job and became a full-time freelancer two months later.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
Freelance writing allows me to follow my passion of empowering others to achieve great things. Personal finance is tricky. Sharing my knowledge and experience and helping others untangle the “fine print” of how to manage money is fulfilling work. But the freedom and flexibility in my daily schedule is what I love the most about freelancing. When COVID shut down schools and businesses, I was able to quickly adapt to helping my daughter with virtual at-home school.
What do you hate about it?
The first year I was a full-time freelancer, I really missed the regular, predictable paychecks of being an employee. Now that I’m going on my third year, my biggest complaint is marketing myself. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but I hate pitching my services to get new gigs.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
My first paying job came from a content mill. I earned a whopping $15 for writing 1,000 words. I found my first two clients on Craigslist. The first was an educational company looking for website content, and the second was a real estate client that I ended up working with for over a year.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
Yes, unpaid work is a great way to start your portfolio. When I first started, I partnered with several other newbie bloggers and we all guest-posed on each other’s websites. It showed potential clients that my articles were published somewhere other than my own blog.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
I charge what I’m worth now, but it wasn’t always that way. I struggled in the beginning because I thought no one would pay more. I even raised my rates twice in the last year, despite the pandemic, and most of my clients agreed to the new, higher rate.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
Pitching and networking are the two best ways to get new clients. Pitching gets your name in front of the right kind of businesses and can lead to great clients. Networking is powerful, too. I’ve gotten a referrals in Facebook groups and from other writers who passed a client onto me because it wasn’t a good fit for them.
Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
The first time I fired a client, I was really anxious. But I felt so much better after! When a client isn’t a good fit, it’s stressful and life is too short for that. I usually say I’m taking my business in a new direction or that a “dream project” has come up that I just have to take.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
Asana – for task management. I run my business and track client work in Asana. Toggl – for tracking time. I track how much time each article takes me and calculate my average hourly rate per client. It helps me to see which clients are profitable and which ones aren’t. Google Docs – for writing. Most of my clients prefer Google docs. It’s perfect for collaboration and client feedback.
What is your #1 productivity hack?
Time-blocking helps with my productivity. I set aside a specific amount of time to work on different articles or parts of my business. Having a deadline, even if self-imposed, helps to keep me on task. Part of that is using Toggl to track my time because I can view reports to keep myself accountable.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
Yes – outsourcing is a tremendous help. I outsource article research and editing – both help me deliver better quality content to clients.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
Every freelancer should have communication skills. You need communication to pitch new clients, keep current clients up-to-date on projects, to network and to work with teams.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
I think I’m terrible at time management. I set timers and use time-blocking to keep myself on task. I rely on Asana to tell me what to do and use Brain.fm to help my brain stay focused.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
Not anymore! I worked a 9-5 for two years while freelancing on the side. It was exhausting. My husband helped a lot with dishes, laundry, cooking, etc. I’m going on my third year as a full-time freelancer and my work/life balance is much better.
Where do you do most of your work?
I have a home office where most of my work gets done. Using a full-size keyboard and dual-monitors helps me work more efficiently.
Do you use a co-working space? Tell us a bit about it.
No. I might if there was one near me, but the closest co-working space is over an hour away.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Can I name two? Early on, Carrie Smith Nicholson inspired my freelancing journey. She transitioned from freelance writing to project management even though she said writing was easier because project management was more fulfilling to her. She inspired me to follow my passion even if it meant working harder. Holly Johnson was the second one. Her course Earn More Writing helped me grow my writing into a full-time income.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
If I were starting over today, I’d raise my rates sooner and spend more time pitching.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from being a freelancer. No one knows you’re a beginner unless you tell them. Have a few articles in your portfolio and be confident when approaching new clients and you’ll do great!