From Zero to $4,000 per Month: Taking A Writing Side Hustle Full-time

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Horkey HandbookThis post is from a great freelance writer, Gina Horkey.  She blogs over at Horkey Handbook about freelancing and killing it!

Have you ever wished you could be something different when you grow up?

I did – for way too long! But, I was scared. Scared of trying, scared of failing and scared of change. Sound familiar?

Changing My Mindset

See to me, moving on from my career in personal finance meant I was failing at what I spent a decade of my life trying to do. It meant I would be disappointing my current clients, my family and myself – or so I thought!

My alternative didn’t look so pretty. If I didn’t try, didn’t change, then I would continue to feel unchallenged and unfulfilled. I liked certain aspects of my previous career, but the negatives began to outweigh the positives and my passion for the business just wasn’t there any more.

I tried to make it work, tried to figure out ways to grow and challenge myself, but in the end I decided to start being honest with myself. It wasn’t what I wanted to do anymore. Sure it was a great opportunity, a decent wage and I had a bright future, but it wasn’t for me anymore. And guess what? That’s okay!

It took me a long time to get to that point and change my mindset. And once I did, once I gave myself the chance to think outside of the box I put myself into, I felt free! I’m still scared and nervous at times and there’s no guarantees that my new career is going to work out, but I’m still going for it anyway.

What’s the worst that can happen?

I’ve actually asked myself that question. I’ve asked my spouse that question. And our answer is the worst thing that can happen is not trying at all!

I don’t want to look back 10 or 20 years from now and ask myself what if? What if I would have followed my heart and my dreams? Where would I be now?

You know what? There are no guarantees in life anyway. No guarantee I’ll make it 20 years or even until next year. That doesn’t mean I’m going to spend all of our retirement savings on an exotic trip or start racking up debt or anything. It just means that I’m going to take smart risks and use the current opportunity I have to take a chance on myself.

And if it doesn’t work out? I’ll get another job. Or my husband who’s currently a SAHD will get a job. Or we’ll use some of our savings. Or put our various skills to use doing something else like waiting tables, building tables, etc. Basically, we’ll figure it out – as a team!

Where I’m At

I’m about to be “retired.” Not permanently, I’m only 30! Retired from my career in personal finance. Retired as a financial advisor. I have less than 10 working days left and then I’m free – free to bust my butt and make a living, which our family depends on that is!

I’ve been hustling hard all year. At first it was trying to make my current career better. I enrolled in the CFP program and took a couple of classes. Then I found out about this whole world of freelance writing for the web and things just clicked. We were a match made in internet heaven!

I got my first job (writing WordPress theme descriptions of all things), got an unpaid gig writing for The Huffington Post and continued to bust my butt from there! Last month (which was my sixth full month writing as a side hustle) I clocked $4,000 in earnings!

Not too shabby in addition to my day job income! It’s just too bad we’ve found plenty of places to spend it (grrr Christmas;-). We just stocked up at Target this past weekend (thanks 20% off coupon) and spent $300+. This will not be happening in 2015, for example! I should probably break up with Target…

Where I’m Going

So I’ve put in my notice and have just a couple of weeks left of work. I’m excited for the first time in my adult life to not have to set an alarm if I don’t want to. Our kids get up way too early anyway, so it’s unlikely I’ll be sleeping past six, but there’s always hope!

My rough plan at the moment is to set a schedule of working 5-6 hours per day, five days per week. Currently I work 8-4, Monday-Thursday. So my overall hours won’t be much different. Well, that’s not true! I won’t be getting up at 4:45am to work on my side hustle, so my work schedule should actually go down by 10+ hours per week. Score!

As I mentioned, I made $4,000 last month (gross, before any expenses, taxes, tithing, etc). I anticipate that December might be the first time that I don’t grow. I’m preparing myself to be okay with it though – it’s going to be impossible to grow every.single.month and this month in particular I’ve got a lot going on (wrapping up work, the holidays, etc). Hopefully I’ll have put the right motions in place to be able to start 2015 off on the right foot (full-time) and be able to blow last month’s numbers out of the water!

How Did I Build a Successful Freelance Business Anyway?

A lot of hard work, a little luck and by meeting the right people. That’s it in a nutshell, but of course it goes way further than that.

I started taking notes on my activities from the very beginning to document my progress. I wanted to be able to assess what I was doing right (or wrong) in order to change my behaviors and get different results if I got stuck. By chronicling my experience, I learned a lot about what I did that worked and some of the things that didn’t.

So then I wrote a course! Seriously, I don’t know what possessed me, but it sounded like a good idea. I wanted to share what I learned with others and help them to succeed. Plus, it didn’t hurt that it was a way to make a passive income.

I coerced Grayson (from this very site) to set it up for me as a 30 day email course that people could take at their own pace. I ran a beta group and then launched just last week. It’s super exciting and I’ve gotten some great feedback.

Come Check It out

The email course is 30 days worth of actionable lessons to help a wannabe freelance writer get their business up and running in a month or less. It can be taken over a few weeks, a few months or a few days. The best part? It’s only $30! Here’s what a former student has said about it:

Gina’s course has been extremely helpful! It’s a practical and easy-to-follow program that has propelled my freelance writing career forward. Her insights, tips and action steps are easy to comprehend and I was able to immediately put them into practice. I am confident this course gave me the tools I need to successfully start my own freelance business and that it will help you too! ~Holly Hrywnak, The Common Queen

I’ve enjoyed breaking into the freelance writing game and building a business that’s going to support my family full-time after the first of the year. I’m here to say that it can be done – I’m living proof.

Freelance writing might not be your bag and that’s okay. You might not need or want to quit your job and that’s okay too! You don’t have to! You can make money writing on the side (or via another side hustle). It can be enough to pay down some debt, take a vacation, fund your retirement or children’s education or it could support your family. In some ways, it’s up to you!

If you do want to give freelance writing a shot and don’t know where to start, I’d be honored for you to give my course a try. Either way I’m here to cheer you on. We’ve got this!


Do you currently have a side hustle? If so, what is it?


Gina HorkeyAuthor Bio: Gina Horkey is a writer, with a background in personal finance. She’s passionate about designing a flexible lifestyle suited to meet the needs of her young family and hopes to inspire others to do the same. In June of 2015, she hopes to be writing and traveling around the US in an RV. Gina recently launched a 30 day email course for aspiring freelance writers. Please stop by her website and check it out!

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  1. My side hustles are I work as a freelance copyeditor and do some video editing jobs. The money I make depends on the number of pages I edit, while the video editing is per 10 minutes. I mostly do copyediting because the work is really bulky now, there are many articles from researchers. I am just glad that I am adept in grammar and interested in the topics I edit!
    Jayson @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted…Measuring Expenses as a Percentage of Your IncomeMy Profile

  2. I’m at the start of transitioning from my ‘day job’ to freelance writing and editing. I’ve wanted to do this for years and years and years. Now… I am. It feels good to know I’m finally moving toward the sort of work I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve had the lifestyle (working from home) but not the ideal work, for the last two years. Now is the time to take that fearful step and freelance. Scary. Exciting. And, long overdue!

    I’ll be checking out your blog and course. Thanks Gina!
    diane @smartmoneysimplelife recently posted…Which are you, Frugal or Cheapskate?My Profile


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