You don’t have to write for someone else in order to make a living from writing.
And Sofie, our guest for today’s Freelancer Spotlight, is the perfect example.
Sofie writes for her own travel blog. Even though she does pick up freelance gigs here and there, travel blogging is her bread and butter.
Sofie shares how she made the switch from full time work to full time blogging, and her number one piece of advice: don’t get distracted by shiny objects.
What do you do and how long have you been in business?
I run WonderfulWanderings, a travel blog that focuses on cities and local cultures around the world. I sell my own Wonderful Walks, a series of self-guided walks through cities within Europe; I also do campaigns for destinations and travel brands and am a freelance writer on websites like the Dutch Expedia Inspiration blog.
Was freelancing what you expected it would be?
It’s even better.
When I left university, I quickly found a job at a Belgian press agency, but I wasn’t exactly happy there. I figured it just wasn’t the right job for me and so when my contract ended there, I moved into a copywriting and marketing position at a publishing house.
The first six months flew by as I received intensive training, but afterward that feeling of missing something crept up on me again. That’s when I decided to launch WonderfulWanderings, my own place on the web where I could write and work on my own terms.
I slowly built my brand and started getting traffic to the site.
After a few months, brands started finding me.
At the same time, I felt increasingly more confident pitching them and going after freelance writing gigs as well.
Mid-2014, when the blog wasn’t even two years old yet and I wasn’t even close to making the kind of money I needed to sustain myself, I realized that was the path I wanted to pursue.
I came up with a savings plan and decided to quit my job a year later.
The saving process went as planned, but by the end of 2014 combining both my regular job and my freelance work had become impossible. In a moment of clarity (or pure exhaustion) I decided “That’s it, I’m quitting.”
I resigned the following week.
When I say freelancing is better than I’d expected, it’s because I’d mostly feared the financial insecurity. It’s definitely there and I’m still not consistently making what I made when I was employed, but I find that the freedom I get from running my own business more than compensates for that insecurity. It also allows me to deal with it relatively easily.
If I want to lock myself in the house for two weeks and eat nothing but cheese sandwiches, I could, so to say. Not that I’d do that, I’m more of an oatmeal kind of girl.
What has been most challenging part of solopreneuriship so far?
Balancing the things I can do to make money now versus working on larger projects that should bring in money at a later point in time. That and coping with all those little day-to-day tasks that somehow eat up so much time.
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
No. I’m a very stressy person, but before I went solo I never experienced real anxiety. You know, the kind that blocks your brain entirely, gives you knots in the stomach and terrifies you.
I have experienced anxiety now, and it still hasn’t made me want to quit.
Sometimes, when I think back of how I used to go out a lot more, take dance classes more often and spend Sunday afternoons doing nothing, I wonder if it’s all worth it. And each time I answer “yes”. I’m not always sure why, but I believe it is.
I believe that going solo was the step I needed to take to build my own career path and although I know that path will swirl and curl, go uphill and seem unclear at times, I also know that going back isn’t an option.
If you could pay someone to take something off your plate, what would that be?
Mushrooms. I really don’t like mushrooms.
Sorry, I’m kidding. I already have someone helping me with maintaining the technical side of the blog and one of my social media channels, but I think it would be of great help if I could outsource the promotion of my blog posts.
I use scheduling tools, but I still find that it takes up quite a bit of my time to promote each post in the right way at the moment it comes out. The reason why I haven’t outsourced it yet, is because when I promote, it comes very much from me as a person and I don’t want it to lose that personal touch.
Another reason is that it would require me to give someone access to accounts I don’t want to give access to just yet.
What task in your own business would you like to do more of?
Writing. I love creating long informational pieces and have so many ideas for upcoming articles, series and even books, but there’s no point in writing them all if nobody can find them or if they don’t serve to pay the bills. I’d say I only spend 20 percent of my time writing at the moment and 80 percent promoting, marketing, pitching and working on paid assignments.
I’d also love to start sharing what I’ve learned over the past few years through workshops and speaking gigs, if anyone’s interested.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
February was the first month I earned more than I did as an employee. That was exactly one year after I’d left the office.
What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?
Don’t get distracted by shiny objects.
There are always new social media platforms, new strategies, new SEO tactics and new hiring platforms. There are always new case studies and there are always people who are doing something new that seems to be working for them.
That’s great, now move on.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep up with the news in your industry – you should – but don’t use “new things” as an excuse for procrastination.
If it doesn’t fit what you’re working on right now or doesn’t fit your plan for the following months, put it aside.
Bookmark it, save it in Pocket, put it in Evernote, just don’t read it… yet. It’s way too easy to get distracted by all the things you could do and forget the things you should do.
What are you most excited about for your business next?
I’m currently doing a complete site edit where I’m going through old content and deleting/improving it. I’m curious to see the results of that.
Next, I’m currently planning my trips for the rest of the year. Everything is still in the beginning stages, but I’m hoping at least a few weeks of travel will come out of that.
And lastly, I do want to start offering workshops around working with travel bloggers and social media. It scares the hell out of me, but it’s a logical next step.
Thanks for sharing, Sofie!
Is anyone else writing a travel blog? What’s working for you?
Sofie quit a stable job in marketing to forge her own career path and travel the world, exploring cities and cultures in her home country of Belgium and beyond. She’s created her own self-guided Wonderful Walks and shares travel tips and inspiration on her blog WonderfulWanderings. If you connect with her on Facebook, she’ll be one happy gall. She’s only a little addicted to the platform.