Location: Houston, TX
Bio: My name is Richmond and I’m a 26 year old pastor and grad student from Houston, TX. In my spare time I run two sites: pfgeeks and a new food blog called mealprepify. I love to work out, make bbq, and I have the world’s cutest puppy.
How long have you been doing freelance work?
Less than 1 year.
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I currently own and operate two blogs, one in the personal finance space, pfgeeks, and a food blog that is more of a niche site, mealprepify.com. I got my start blogging in October of 2017 and even though I read all the articles about how to “get rich quick with blogging,” the paychecks never rolled in. 2019 was the year I started freelancing part time.
It’s been a modest start, but it has made such an impact on my wife’s and my financial situation. We’re saving more and investing some of my freelance income back into our own online businesses.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
Currently, I only freelance write in the personal finance space and I plan to keep it that way for a few reasons. I have a deep interest in all things money so most of what I get to write about is at least a bit exciting for me. I also think the niche pays well and as I improve my writing, there is good trajectory to keep growing my side income.
What made you become a freelancer?
In early 2019 I was chatting with my friend Jeff Proctor of DollarSprout.com. Jeff and I were chatting a couple times a week about blogging and creating content. And by chatting, I really mean that he was willing to answer at least 100 questions that I had. I was starting to see some growth in traffic, but the income wasn’t coming in yet.
Jeff offered me a chance to freelance write for DollarSprout to make a bit of money while I built up my own site. It has been the perfect opportunity to build up my emergency fund after buying a house and also create my own stream of residual income through my blog. I’m now using my freelance income to reinvest in my own sites.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
I love the flexibility that I have to work on my own schedule. This morning I cranked out 500 words for an article and can tangibly say that I made $xxx. Few other side hustles offer the flexibility and pay that freelancing does!
What do you hate about it?
When you’re getting paid to write articles, you have less choice in what you write about. I consider myself lucky–I’ve had the chance to write about some topics that truly do interest me, but that’s not always the case.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
Absolutely! I’m still in my first year of freelancing and am sticking to one client for now. It sounds cliche, but it all came down to having relationships and connecting with bloggers. Jeff and I had been talking a couple times a week over Facebook. He knew I was having some small success in writing with a bend towards SEO and one day he asked if I’d ever want to freelance for them. I took some time to think about it and said yes!
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
No. These days, there is no reason that you shouldn’t be paid for your work. That being said, you will need a portfolio of work of some kind. For many freelancers, that is a personal site or blog of their own. I’d recommend starting a blog and creating content on a subject you’re passionate about. You’ll also learn a ton in the process that will make you a better freelancer.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
I absolutely do. I wouldn’t have accepted the opportunity to write for DollarSprout if I wasn’t paid fairly. This was also my first freelance gig, so as I get more experienced and improve my writing craft, the amount I charge could change.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
I’ve got 2. Wunderlist and Google Docs/Sheets.
What is your #1 productivity hack?
Getting up early. I’m out of bed between 4 and 5am most days! I spend my early mornings doing the work that requires my best work–things like writing, studying, and sermon prep. Then I stack my afternoons with all of the necessary evils of life: meetings, email, and admin work.
I don’t necessarily think that I get that many more hours worked than people who get up at a regular hour and work late nights. I get up early so that I can get work done without distractions and get a jump start on the day.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
I don’t outsource any tasks for my freelance writing. For me, I’m being paid to write, so I’m going to be the one that writes it! I do outsource some tasks in real life and for my own blogs. Funny enough, I’ve hired freelancers to do most of the writing on my new site. I’m learning what it looks like to be on the other side and it is definitely helping me in my own freelancing.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
I think if every freelancer can think like a business owner or editor that will help them tremendously. I know that every article I write has to contribute more value to the company than they are paying me to write it. That doesn’t bother me at all! They aren’t paying me for charity, they’re trying to invest in content production to grow their business. I always want to make sure they are getting a positive return on their investment for as little effort as possible.
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
Humbly, I would say yes! Truly, I have two systems that help. I use Wunderlist to track every single to-do list item I have on my plate. Anything that needs to get done, gets inputted there, no exceptions. These days, my brain is too full and I’m too tired to rely on memory. I keep a running to do list for different areas of my life: home, family, work, school, and blogging/business.
As I think of to-do lists, projects, etc, I add them to those running list. I also have a list of weekly to do list items that I add to as needed. Every Sunday night I sit down and map out my week using three steps.
- Step one: I add in all of the to-do list items and scheduled meetings that I have into Wunderlist broken out by day of the week
- Step two: I go through each area of life and add any that need to be done that week.
- Step three: I look over the long-term projects that I need to make steps forward on and add some of those into my weekly calendar.
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
I do! I’m a full-time youth pastor and also in grad school getting a masters in theology. I wish I knew how to balance it all, but truly I just put my nose down and work. I have some systems and habits in place that help me stay organized and productive.
Where do you do most of your work?
Starbucks! The starbucks by my office opens at 4:30am so I usually post up 2x a week and crank out all of my blogging and freelance work.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Pete McPherson from DoYouEvenBlog. Pete is passionate and more committed to helping people online than anyone I know. He’s one of the few online influencers that I truly believe wants to provide value from a genuine desire to help and not as the latest growth strategy.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
I don’t know much about other online niches, but the personal finance blogosphere is a wonderful community to be a part of. I highly recommend getting on twitter, writing regularly, connecting with people, and putting it out there to the world that you’re interested in freelancing. Mention that you’re new and willing to work for cheap (but not free) to build up a portfolio.
MMM: Thank you Rich for sharing your thoughts on your freelance journey so far! My guest next week has been featured on publications like The Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, MarketWatch, and more. Don’t miss my interview with Kat Tretina!
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