Profile of a Successful Freelance Writer
Today our guest blogger, Chaunie Brusie, is profiling successful freelance writer and mother of three, Mary Sauer. Mary has been published with sites like Headspace, Romper, and She Knows. She’s also an experienced ghostwriter and content creator and has built a freelance career from the ground up, all in the midst of having children. Here’s an inside peek in how Sauer runs her business and combines work and family life.
What does your current income look like?
Although her income varies, Sauer explains that she invoices between $2,000 and $5,000 a month. (For statistics on how much freelance writers typically make, you can check sites such as ClearVoice or Contently, which both do yearly surveys of freelance writers.)
Sauer is a work-from-home mom, so her income largely depends on what’s going on with the kids, if she can arrange for childcare, and how much support she has at home as well.
How many hours do you currently work per week?
Sauer explains that she typically works about 30 hours per week, although that varies based on what’s going on with her kids and family situations. When she’s available, she relies on a combination of a mother’s helper and her actual mother to help care for her children about half of that time. The rest of the time, Sauer fits in work in the early morning or during naptime. Recently, her family situation has changed and her mother has been able to watch her kids less, so once again, Sauer has found herself readjusting to life as a writer who works from home with kids. It’s not always easy and it’s a constant juggling act.
“In my opinion, 30 hours is a sweet spot for making a healthy income freelancing,” Sauer notes. “I know a lot of women who make pretty great money working these hours. These days, I’m doing more because I am working on a huge project, so I also have a few evenings a week where I pull a second shift, working from seven to 10 and I often work on Saturday mornings while my husband takes our kids to the park or to his parents to play.”
What has been the key to juggling being an at-home parent and working from home?
Setting office hours has proven to be key for this busy mama of three to get everything done. But that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s pulling down a 9-5 gig, either. “The beauty of freelancing is that my office hours can be whenever I want,” she explains. That means although she may be working set blocks of time, she can vary those whenever she needs, but having a clear distinction between work and personal life allows her to not divide her time and give more clear focus to her work when she’s writing and her family and other tasks when she’s not.
What are your best tips for getting started as a writer?
For Sauer, starting a pitching schedule and connecting with other writers who were further in their careers were two of the keys to her freelance career really taking off. She explains that she created a specific pitching schedule with days to pitch certain outlets and she didn’t make the pitching optional–it was a schedule that she had to keep, period. And as a freelance writer, networking with other writers proved to be invaluable for Sauer, not only for tips on how to get more work, but in learning the ins and outs of the business end of writing for money. She also recommends combing through any existing blog posts if you have them, cleaning them up to use them as your own samples, and offering to guest post on other blogs to build up clips for your portfolio.
And although the practical steps are always important, Sauer also believes that one of the most important things any beginning writer can do is to take their career as a writer seriously. “Take your writing dreams seriously,” she recommends. “Plan to make money and track that income from day one. Treat your writing like the career you want it to become and keep an updated and professional portfolio and resume. Value your work enough to say no to low paying jobs and to ask clients for more money. Take your writing seriously enough and believe in your skills enough to put yourself out there, to ask for the work you want.”
Chaunie Brusie is a labor and delivery nurse turned writer. She lives in Michigan with her husband, four young kids, and a flock of chickens. Find her at chauniebrusie.com.