Here Are All of the Ways I Make Money as a Freelancer

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Whenever I tell someone that I’m a full-time freelancer, their eyes often light up and they seem to suddenly be under the impression that I live some kind of magical life in an alternate universe. Freelancing is magical in many ways, but often when you’re first starting out the words that come to mind to describe it feel far from magic. I used to fantasize about being a freelance writer while I worked on staff at a magazine, picturing myself plopped down in a coffee shop writing up a storm and getting paid to work remotely. Don’t get me wrong, I do experience those picturesque days on occasion and when I do they’re always amazing, but I think that many people don't realize being a freelance writer isn’t how it is depicted in Sex in the City. I mean, we can’t all get paid $4 a word by Vogue—not even people who actually write for Vogue.

A few months back I wrote a post called What Even Is My Job, Exactly? where I talked about the rise of slashie work culture and multi-hyphenates, and I laid out all of the titles that I have been called or that I have referred to myself as throughout my experience as a freelancer. I realized that I haven’t written a career post in a while (blame it on my new career newsletter, which delivers career advice to your inbox every Wednesday) and I wanted to take a moment to expand on that idea. 

In July I shared my monthly income breakdown on my Instagram stories and I was really excited to hear that my audience enjoyed seeing the breakdown. This didn’t reveal my exact income, but rather showed people what percentage of my income came from several different revenue streams to add up to my total for the month. 

Here are my income breakdowns for July and August. I want to preface August by saying that I was traveling and dealing with some family things so I wasn’t outwardly seeking as many copywriting clients or focusing on linking items on rewardStyle, where I generate affiliate revenue from. July is a pretty solid example of a typical distribution of income for me. At least half of my monthly income comes from traditional writing and editing gigs. But often digital publications don’t have huge budgets and so it would be unrealistic for me to survive on writing jobs alone. If one publication only pays $100 for a story, how many stories would you need to write that month to pay rent? You have to consider your bandwidth and while it may be worth it to take assignments at that rate if the publication is one you’re excited about, you can’t sustain on that alone. 

I’m really proud that I’ve been able to land more campaigns and sponsored posts on social media and the blog in the past year. This has been Keep Calm and Chiffon’s most profitable year to date and it makes me so happy to continue to grow my little corner of the internet into something that can help me pay for my life here in New York! I am so grateful to all of the brands who have hired me to create content and I hope to continue to see this area grow. 

I also had a few copywriting assignments in August and since I’m still relatively new to that experience, I’m taking a little time to reflect on those first assignments and decide how I want to move forward with copywriting. Most of the copywriting I’ve done in the past has been for product descriptions and emails so these two assignments (about pages and bios for websites) were a little out of my wheelhouse. I think going forward I’ll pitch myself for more copywriting assignments that involve product descriptions or emails in the fashion and beauty sphere because that is what comes most naturally to me, but I’m glad to have had those experiences to learn from. 

And the smaller categories are usually affiliate links (if you click on a link in a blog post or video I might make a small commission from it) and digital products! As many of you know I launched my digital e-book Right on Pitch in May and I’m so thrilled with how it’s done so far. After I sold the first 100 copies I was like whoa. I have something here that resonates with people. I hope to continue to scale Right on Pitch and even create some more digital products in the future. If you have any requests for e-books, downloads, or courses you think I should create definitely let me know.

I hope this helps clarify more of what I do to earn a living here in New York! I really believe in diversifying your income streams so that even if one project falls through, you’ve got others to keep you afloat. Let me know what other posts about freelancing you might like to see in the future and don’t forget to sign up for my career newsletter over at austentosone.com.

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Does your business rely on one income stream?

yours,

Austen

Photographed by Sarah Ratner