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How Stephanie Mayberry, FT RVer, Make a Living while on the Road

Road Work: How I Make a Living on the Road

One of the biggest concerns of full timers who hit the road is how they will pay their expenses. Most of us are not independently wealthy so if we want to eat, we have to find a way to earn money. Fortunately for me, I have a job I can do anywhere: I’m a freelance writer.

I meet a lot of people who tell me that they would love to make their living writing – and it is a pretty awesome career. However, it does take a lot of self-discipline and hard work. You have to seek out job opportunities, apply for them, then actually complete them. I am sad to say that very rarely will jobs find you.

Get a website.

Not only is a website a good way for prospective clients to find you, it is also a great place to park your portfolio and resume as well as showcase yourself. I use GoDaddy, but there are plenty of hosting companies you can go with. I just like GoDaddy because they have such awesome customer service and a super easy site building platform.

I have a live feed for one of my blogs on my site, a bio, my port (portfolio), and information on the books I have written. It also links to my social media so visitors can connect with me there. Simple is best and if you are just starting out you probably want to go with a home page, bio, contact, and port. You don’t have to put everything you’ve ever written on there, just the best stuff.

Put together some samples.

Most of the pieces that you do for clients, save those that give you a byline, cannot be used as samples. It violates your client’s confidentiality – especially if it is a ghostwritten piece. If you have a good rapport with a client you might ask if you can use the stuff you wrote for them, but it is usually best to just sit down and write a few 300 to 400 word articles on your own. Make sure they are very polished and error free before showing them. A writer who submits error laden samples is not likely to get much work. They just look sloppy and like they don’t care.

Gather your resources.

There are some great resources out there – FREE resources. The sites below have tons of resources and several lists of jobs, submission guides, publications accepting work, and writing contests:

I rarely use Monster, Indeed, or any of the other mainstream job sites. I do just fine and get plenty of work through these three sites and by writing for WriterAccess.

I don’t use sites like freelancer.com, Elance, Odesk, or other similar platforms. Most of the jobs pay way below my scale. If you are just starting out, you might venture on one of two of these sites – I started out on freelancer.com, but don’t stay there! These sites are notorious for paying painfully low and you can do better. There are plenty of companies that hire writers: Zerys, TextBroker, The Content Authority, and Need an Article. They pay at least $.01 per word (which is still pretty low) but they are good places to get your feet wet. Some may start you rather low but promote you to higher levels – and higher pay.

On this subject, I have two pieces of advice: Don’t stay with a low paying site forever, and never, EVER work for LESS than $.01 per word.

Start pitching.

Tailor your pitches to the job itself. Whatever you do, do NOT send out generic cover letters. Always, always customize your letter or pitch to the job you are trying to get. Highlight your experience (and it doesn’t have to be just writing experience) that is relevant to the job and briefly explain how you would handle the article. If it is a blog you might want to pitch a topic and two or three points you would cover.

Remember, your pitch is your audition piece. If it is great, you’ll get a callback. If it stinks or has terrible errors, it’s going in the trash. Your pitch is your first impression, make it a good one.

Once you have the job…

The beauty of freelance writing is that you can do it anywhere. I love my mobile office and the freedom it gives me. That freedom is not cheap though. I understand that as a freelancer I am now my own small business. Customer service is number one. I communicate with my clients frequently and do what I can to make them happy. My three tips for successful freelancing:
  • Never miss a deadline
  • Never turn in sloppy, error laden work
  • Never neglect your client
If freelancing isn’t your thing, stay tuned. I’ll be writing another piece in the Road Work series on how my husband makes his living as well as others. So keep MobileRVing bookmarked, check back often, and keep your eyes on the road.

Photo: My writing assitant, Gizmo. He lets me know when it's time to take breaks.

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