In 2017, I quit my full-time consulting job at a Fortune 500 company, where I had an annual salary of around $40,000. At 23 and fresh out of college, I had no back-up plan – but I knew I was unhappy working 9 to 5 in the corporate world and needed help. ‘a change.
Luckily, I had saved up enough money to save time and figure out how to turn my passion for health, fitness, and writing into a lucrative career. I went back to school for a masters in nutrition and got certified as a personal trainer.
A year later, I noticed that the world of “Instafamous” fitness influencers was booming. I found this exciting, so I created an Instagram account and posted some fitness-related photos, along with my diet and exercise tips, in the captions.
Six months later, my follower count has grown to 10,000.
One day a popular boxing gym contacted me. They came across my Instagram captions and asked if I could write some 500 word blog posts for their website about how boxers can perform better. The salary was $25 per position.
I ended up enjoying the process, so I decided to advertise my services as a health and fitness writer on freelance platforms like Fiverr. After all, I was living at home and could use the money.
Within weeks, fitness influencers, gyms, athletes, and health care brands started contacting me to hire me. I have expanded my services to writing Instagram captions, writing and selling fitness plans. At the end of 2019, I went from making less than $100 per month to over $10,000 per month.
Quitting my job to become a full-time freelance writer was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It allowed me to redefine what success meant to me and to live an authentic life doing what I love the most.
Here are my top tips for building your wealth as a freelancer:
1. Stand out
Unlike many freelancers, I had more than just a portfolio of my sample work.
What sets me apart from my competitors is having a consistent presence on Instagram and a growing number of followers. I have shown the effectiveness of my work by sharing reach and engagement metrics on my social media platforms.
And even though I received more and more clients each month, I devoted time, thought and attention to each project. I made sure my writing matched the voice, style and tone of each client.
2. Introduce yourself on video
According to Fiverr, freelancers who include explainer videos in their profiles get 220% more gigs than those who don’t.
In an explainer video, you can talk about your products and services or topics and issues related to your industry. It also gives you the opportunity to break down confusing topics that might be difficult to understand.
You don’t need to hire a video editor, but it’s important to make sure that:
- Your video is short, informative and direct
- The sound quality is clear
- Lighting is crisp (daylight is best)
- The background is relevant and/or not distracting
- You talk about your services, your background and your qualifications
Finally, don’t be afraid to show personality and humor! It’s a great way to help potential clients connect and feel comfortable working with you.
3. Low price — in the beginning
If you’re new and charge a high price but don’t have customer reviews, don’t expect to do much business.
When I started on Fiverr, I charged $10 for 250-word captions, $25 for 500-word blog posts, and $55 for 1,000 words. These prices were much lower than what other people with the same experience were asking.
But my goal back then wasn’t to make a ton of money fast. Instead, I wanted to attract new customers through better prices. More customers quickly lead to more customer reviews, which is crucial to maintaining a strong reputation.
Once I got a good amount of 5-star reviews and repeat customers, I raised my rates by nearly 50%, based on customer demand and the scope of work.
4. Keep Growing Your Credentials
There are tons of successful freelancers who have a lot of experience in their field. But the stronger your credentials, the more business you will get.
I am a licensed nutritionist and personal trainer with two master’s degrees. I worked at a Fortune 500 company and have a large social media presence. When you have a lot of credentials, it tells people that you are an expert at what you do.
If you have the skills but don’t have a college degree or relevant work experience, you can earn certificates for free on platforms such as Coursera, Khan Academy, and edX, some of which offer university-related courses prestigious institutions, including Harvard, Yale, MIT and UC Berkeley.
5. Always be professional and respectful
Your reputation doesn’t just depend on the number of good reviews you have or your success rate metrics. How you interact with customers also matters.
I’ve met CEOs of publicly traded companies, professional athletes, celebrities, and global marketing executives. These people do not tolerate rudeness or unreliability.
Here are my rules for being professional and attracting loyal customers:
- No spelling mistakes or bad grammar in emails
- Respond to messages in a timely manner
- Under-promises and over-deliveries (e.g. quote 3 days delivery time and deliver in 2 days)
- If things get messy or confusing, suggest a phone call
- Never close a project until the customer is 100% satisfied
But above all, respect yourself. If someone is disrespectful or offensive right off the bat, that’s probably a sign that you shouldn’t work with them.
Emilie Lomas is a freelance health and fitness writer. Previously, she was a consultant at a Fortune 500 company. Emilina holds a master’s degree in nutrition and is a certified fitness trainer.