Name: Eric Rosenberg
Location: Ventura, California
Bio: Eric Rosenberg is a finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California. He is a former bank manager and corporate finance and accounting professional who left his day job in 2016 to take his online side hustle full-time. He has in depth experience writing about banking, credit cards, investing, business, and other financial topics. When away from the keyboard, Eric he enjoys exploring the world and spending time with his family. You can connect with him at Personal Profitability or EricRosenberg.com.
How long have you been doing freelance work?
More than 5 years.
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I’m primarily a freelance writer in the finance industry, with some additional clients and projects in the technology and travel spaces. I mostly write articles around credit cards, banking, investing, and managing your money. I take on projects ranging from short, educational pieces to accounting white papers and everything in between.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I mostly work with large publications and online publishing companies, banks, investment companies, and fintech startups. With two finance degrees under my belt, I’m definitely a specialist in finance and financial products.
What made you become a freelancer?
I started a little blog back in October 2008 to help people better manage their money. This led me to the Yakezie Network and ultimately to FinCon, where I met my first writing clients. Networking at conferences is still one of my biggest sources of new clients.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
Freelancing is great because you pick your schedule and have a great earnings potential if you stay focused and are good at what you do. I can take a break for a doctor appointment or something at my kids’ school without asking a boss for time off and I can work from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
What do you hate about it?
Working on your own can be isolating. And it takes serious dedication and motivation to stay on-task and ahead of deadlines.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
My first paid article came through my blog. A company reached out and paid me $10 for a sponsored placement. It was enough to buy a beer from what I made online! From there, I moved on to freelance clients where I write for someone else’s site.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
It may make sense to do a few projects early on for free to build a portfolio, but that should be a very short period. Once you start getting paid, never go back.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
Generally yes, but there’s always upside! I charge as much today as 20x what I did for my first article. Never undervalue yourself or what you bring to a client. Don’t compete on price. Compete on value and skill.
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Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
These days, many clients find me, which is great! I meet most new clients in-person at conferences like FinCon and CardCon, or they contact me online after finding work I’ve done elsewhere.
Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
Some clients try to push you to do more for the same rate. Eventually, you have to raise your rate or just stop taking projects from them. Don’t succumb to scope creep. Make solid, written agreements explaining what you will do and for what fee. That takes out ambiguity and conflict.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
Gmail, Google Docs, and Asana.
What is your #1 productivity hack?
I keep a written to-do list that tracks my income and projects next to my desk. No app has helped me more than paper and a pen.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
Outsourcing is the only way to get more done without spending more time. I have a few different VAs that help with different tasks related to my business.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
Great communication skills. If you can’t work well with clients, you’re going to be in for a tough time as a freelancer.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
I try to be, and people tell me I’m good at staying productive. I use a combination of Gmail, Asana, and my written to-do list to make sure I don’t miss anything important. By staying focused on what I’m good at, I can be the most productive.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
Not any more! I’ve been full-time since April 2016.
Where do you do most of your work?
I have a home office that’s my main work place. I have my Macbook Pro setup to connect to a docking station with two external monitors, speakers, and a desktop keyboard and mouse. Sometimes I go to a nearby library, coffee shop, or even McDonald’s for a change of scenery.
Do you use a co-working space? Tell us a bit about it.
I have used co-working in the past, but found that I gravitated to the home office. I can’t work in pajamas when I go to co-working. Well, I can work in pajamas in public, but it may be frowned upon.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
I’m a big fan of Pat Flynn. His story of going from layoff to an empire of multiple successful businesses is very inspiring.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
I would invest more in my business faster. When I started, I was hesitant to pay $7 for a domain name and $50 per year for website hosting. If you are serious about an online business, you should be willing to invest at least $100 per year to make it a success.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Just get started, and don’t undercharge. You are an expert in something. Put that to good use and grow your income!
More from Freelancer Success Stories: Kathleen Celmins, Digital Marketer
Colin: Eric, thank you for sharing your freelance wisdom! 🙂 I think my favorite takeaway is making sure that you’re charging what you’re worth. “Don’t competing on price, rather, compete on value and skill.” Great advice!