Bio: Miranda Marquit has been working as a freelancer online for 15 years, making money as the primary breadwinner for her family. She’s contributed to a number of online and offline media, including NPR, MSN Money, FOX Business, Yahoo! Finance, Forbes, and more. Miranda lives in Idaho with her son and enjoys the outdoors, travel, and reading.
Name: Miranda Marquit
Location: Idaho Falls, ID
How long have you been doing freelance work?
More than 5 years
Tell us about your freelance business, in 100 words or less.
I write about money on the internet. Hopefully, what I write helps others learn to improve the way they use their financial resources.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I specialize in personal finance content. Mostly, I target content providers, usually bigger websites or companies that need consumer-facing content. For example, I write for the TD Ameritrade Ticker Tape blog. It’s really about find clients that need help reaching consumers in an approachable way.
What made you become a freelancer?
I wanted to be able to work from home while my son was a toddler. I also wanted freedom and flexibility in my life, and the ability to work on my schedule.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
It’s all about the freedom and flexibility. I can go to the spa on a Wednesday afternoon or meet a friend for lunch on a Thursday. Plus, I can travel and work from anywhere. I love being able to take a vacation when I want and make good memories with my son.
What do you hate about it?
It’s rough when a bunch of deadlines come all at once. Sometimes your schedule isn’t your own in quite the way you’d like it to be.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
My first paying job was writing for a physics website. I found the job on an online board and applied. I had a science background, and the client was thrilled that I could translate science into normal person.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
I’ve never taken unpaid work for experience or exposure. I did work for content farms in the early days to avoid writing for free. If you’re going to do unpaid work, do it on your own site, showcasing your ability and building your own property. There were a couple times I did a little free guest posting, but, in general, I’m not a big fan of working for free.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
With some clients, I don’t feel like they value me. And I fire them. I actually charge different rates depending on the client and the project. Over time, I started quoting higher rates to new clients, and cycling out lower-paying clients. But it took a few years to start asking for more money and charging closer to what I’m worth.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
Right now, I’ve been doing it for so long that most of my clients come to me. Even when I scaled back for a couple of years, after I made a public announcement I was looking for more clients, I was inundated with more work than I could do. Before that, though, I used to visit the job boards regularly. I looked on Problogger, Freelance Writing Jobs, Media Bistro, and Journalism Jobs. I also found the Freelance Writers Den a huge resource and worth the monthly fee I paid to be a member for a year. Later, after I began establishing myself, I would ask for referrals from other freelancers. Mostly, though, it’s about doing good work when you do have jobs. Turn in relatively clean copy, on time, and you’ll build a reputation that leads to more work.
Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
I’ve had to fire a few. Mostly, I fire clients that expect a lot, but don’t offer much in return. For example, I once had a client that didn’t want to pay the rate for 1,000-word posts. So we agreed on 500-word posts for a lower rate. They kept asking for “revisions” that included adding more detail in an effort to pad the word count without paying the higher rate. After two posts, I told them they either needed to pay the higher rate, or stop asking for more words. In the end, I fired them because they just didn’t value me. In most cases, I simply tell them that I have some other projects coming up, I no longer have the bandwidth, and that I will finish my commitment.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
My laptop, Grammarly, and My IRL assignment board where I keep track of stories, due dates, and sources
What is your #1 productivity hack?
Getting up and writing first thing in the morning, before I do anything else. I don’t bother with meditation, eating, or anything else until I’ve done at least one assignment in the morning. Figure out when you do the best writing and block off that time to get started. I won’t even take appointments before 10 am my time any more because it slows me down if I don’t knock out the writing first thing.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
I love outsourcing. Outsourcing is my jam. I outsource podcast editing and social media posting. I also use Calendly as a way to outsource appointment-making. Not only that, but I outsource things from my daily life, like cleaning my house and I use meal prep services and Instacart. I save hours each week. I divide the hours I save between working on business stuff and spending time with my son. The money I make during business time is about 5X what I pay to have others take care of mundane tasks, so I’m more profitable with my time, PLUS I also get to spend more time with my son.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
Organization. You have to be able to keep track of your assignments, due dates, and who’s paid you. If you don’t have an organizational system that allows you to do that, nothing else really matters.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
Yes. I am now. There have been times I’ve taken on too much work, and felt overwhelmed, but over time I’ve been better about blocking out time, prioritizing what matters, and saying no. Being able to say no sometimes is key to not becoming overwhelmed. I also use Google Calendar to block off writing time, time to exercise, and connect it to Calendly and my iCal so it all works together. Other calendars from other organizations are also included so that I have everything integrated and in one place. It keeps me from having to look at multiple calendars and to-do lists.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
No. Haven’t had an actual 9-5 in 15 years.
Where do you do most of your work?
These days, I’m naughty. Because I bang out an assignment first thing, I usually do my first work in bed. I just grab the laptop and write the first assignment of the day. Later, I might move to my home office, or, in the winter, sit in the front room near the fire. I also work in the coffee shop when I need a change of scene. When traveling, I do my best to get the work out of the way from the bed before the fun starts. But if I’m on a cruise, I’ll usually do the afternoon email check from the sun deck.
Do you use a co-working space? Tell us a bit about it.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Right now, I really admire Harlan Landes and what he’s doing with Plutus Voices. I love that he started the Plutus Awards to honor independent financial content creators, and now he’s leveraging that to bring to light financial issues related to marginalized and underserved communities. Another thing that I love about Harlan is that a few years ago he wrote about the importance of relaxation, how it’s ok to watch TV sometimes, and how you don’t always have to be hustling. That stuck with me at a time when I was driving myself crazy working constantly.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
I would have started my own blog from the get-go. I had been freelancing for six years (and writing about money for five) before I started my own blog.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
Make time to write each day. Even if it’s one blog post after work, make time to write.