Name: Kevin Payne
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Bio: Kevin Payne is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, credit card, and travel. He is the family travel and budget expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com. Kevin lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife and four kids. His work has appeared on several websites, including Forbes, Credit Karma, FinanceBuzz, Millennial Money, Club Thrifty, and Student Loan Planner.
How long have you been doing freelance work?
1 – 2 years
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I write mostly about personal finance, including topics like credit cards, banks, and student loans. I also love to write travel content.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I try to stay inside the personal finance world as much as possible, but that’s still a really wide market. Credit cards would probably be my specialty because I’ve written a lot of reviews, but also because I love to earn free travel through points and miles.
What made you become a freelancer?
I was stuck in a job I didn’t care about at all. It was a good job and helped me provide for my family, but it wasn’t me. I’d always been drawn to starting something on my own. So I started my own website to help families with their finances and planning travel. I came across Club Thrifty when I was researching travel ideas for our family. Holly from Club Thrifty has a freelance writing course. I have loved writing since I was a kid so it just made sense to me to take the course and try my hand at it.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
I love the freedom of making my own schedule and working on my own terms.
What do you hate about it?
Like any job, freelance writing has its cons. There are times I get assigned writing jobs that aren’t very interesting.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
My first paid job was writing about games to play on family game nights. It was for a fairly popular personal finance site. The job lead was shared in a Facebook group for freelance writers. I believe I made $50.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
Yes, but not for very long. You need a portfolio of work to land more substantial and higher paying work. Writing a couple free guest posts is a great way to do this. Write 2-3 free guest posts in your writing niche and then move on. As son as you can move on to paid work, do it.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
I have some clients that I started with that pay less than I make with most of my newer clients. I imagine at some point moving on or asking for higher pay, but at the moment I’m good where I’m at. I’ve learned to ask for more than I need and to let the client be the first to throw out a number.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
Much of my work comes from other writers actually. Either they don’t have the time to add a new client or their client is looking for a team of writers so they share leads with me. Some writers avoid becoming friends with other writers because they view them as competitors. In some ways that is true, but there’s more than enough work to go around in the personal finance space. Plus, I consider many writers as friends now and I can always pick their brains about almost anything related to writing. Networking has been a huge tool for landing new clients.
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Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
I have ended relationships with a couple of clients. Most of my clients are great, but the pay for a couple of them wasn’t enough for what was being asked of me as a writer. I was cordial, but it was basically an email thanking them for the opportunity and that I wasn’t able to write at that rate anymore.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
My laptop, Google Docs, and Google Sheets are probably what I use the most.
What is your #1 productivity hack?
I wish I had a good hack to share, but that’s an area where I struggle. I have ADD and have difficulty concentrating at times. Using the Focus Keeper App has helped me in this area.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
I haven’t outsourced any tasks at this point, but eventually that will be a goal of mine to do.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
Patience. Becoming a good writer doesn’t happen over night. Neither does landing clients, paid work, or work that pays really well. For me (and many other writers I know), it was about being persistent and finally getting one key job that opened the door to other clients.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
I’m not, but I’m getting there. I keep all of my writing work in a spreadsheet, but also in a daily planner that I keep next to me. I also like to take a notebook every morning and write out my writing schedule along with non-work related tasks. Out of sight is out of mind to me, so having something next to me that shows me what my day looks like helps.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
I was able to leave my day job this past November and I’ve been a full-time freelance writer ever since.
Where do you do most of your work?
Most of my work is done at home, but there are a couple of coffee shops within a mile of our house that also work. We have four kids so I’m not sure what I’m going to do when summer break hits. They are all teens so they aren’t quite as demanding as having little kids, but they still make a ton of noise at times.
Do you use a co-working space? Tell us a bit about it.
I’ve never used a co-working space, but like the idea. I think the closest one to me is about 25 minutes away. I used to hate my commute to work so I’m not willing to add that back to my life any time soon.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Liz Wilcox. She’s an email marketer and has such a great personality and attitude towards her work. She’s making things happen for herself and has an unbelievable work ethic. I’ve gotten to know her recently and I’ve learned a ton from her that I can apply both my website and my freelance career. Liz is a big believer in valuing yourself and your skills and not to sell yourself short.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
I would probably believe in myself a little more. I put in the work and have been successful because of it, but I leaned on the confidence of other people a ton. I should have had confidence in myself too.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Don’t wait. Stop reading this and get started. You won’t be good at it at first. That’s OK. A year or two from now you’ll be at a completely different level as a writer and you’ll look back and realize you wouldn’t be where you are now if you didn’t start then. You’ll probably wish you had started earlier!
Check out more Freelancer Success Stories: Ashley Barnett, Freelance Editor