How Freelance Writing and the Internet Changed My Life

Holly in Athens

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Although it seems like I’ve been writing for a living my entire adult life, I worked in an entirely different field throughout my entire 20s. Actually, my writing career is one that started with fairly humble beginnings, and quite by accident.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I was stuck in a dead-end gig and earning less than $40,000 per year. As the Director of Family Services at a mortuary, I worked excruciatingly long hours, plus nights, weekends, and holidays. I dealt with angry and frustrated customers, comforted people who were experiencing the worst day of their lives, and shuffled through piles of mind-numbing paperwork. And I did it all with a smile on my face – even when I felt like crying.

Eventually, I tired of the mortuary industry in general. I knew that I wanted something better for my life, including a career that allowed for more freedom and autonomy, so I started searching for some real work-from-home jobs. Once my husband and I reached this realization, we started brainstorming ways to break out of the industry without walking away from our sizable paychecks. Shortly after that, Club Thrifty was born.

How I Started Working as a Freelance Writer

I’ve always been a writer, but I haven’t always put my skills to use in a professional capacity – unless you count writing thousands of obituaries as “writing,” which I don’t. Even though I have written countless short stories, papers, and poems, I didn’t start writing for money until 2012.

Sometime after we started Club Thrifty, I was asked to start writing for several personal finance websites, including Get Rich Slowly. And after that, I scored several jobs writing jobs in my niche – higher education.

I’m not gonna lie – balancing a full-time job with a side business was really tough. Since I had a full-time job, I was forced to work on all of my projects at night when I got home from work or on weekends. And if I was really in a scheduling bind, I would set the alarm for 5:00 a.m. and write before work. Now, that really sucked.

But my hard work paid off. After a year of writing on the side, I was able to walk away from my full-time job without taking a pay cut. Because I had an established client base, I was easily earning my old salary, plus a little more.

Now, I’ve actually written a course to teach you how to get started as well. It’s called Earn More Writing. More on that in a minute.

5 Ways Freelance Writing – and the Internet – Changed My Life

Since my final days at my old job, I’ve more than quadrupled that income. But that isn’t the only way my life has changed. In addition to more money in my pocket, freelance writing has changed my life in a myriad of ways:

I am finally in charge of my own life.

Where I once planned my life around work, I now do the exact opposite. Now that I’m self-employed, I plan my work schedule in a way that suits me, not someone else. Furthermore, I am in control of how much money I earn. Where I was once lucky to get a $2,000 Christmas bonus and a 3% raise every year, I am now able to reach greater heights by taking on better and higher paying projects.

I am location independent.

Where my husband and I once had to live within a 20-minute radius of the funeral home, we can now live anywhere we want. I like our community and have no plans to move, but it’s nice to have options. With a web-based business, I can live and work anywhere as long as I have an internet connection. That’s part of the reason why we travel so much; I can work on the beach if I want to, and I often do.

I can take off as much time as I want.

After spending seven years with either 15 or 20 PTO days, it feels amazing to be able to take off as much time as I want. I still need to work a lot to make a living, but I can do it all on my terms now. And the best part is this: I never have to put in a vacation request ever again.

I know how strong I am.

When I quit my job, a lot of people thought I was full-blown nuts. It was a really good job, despite the relatively low pay it offered, and I did have a lot of perks. Still, I proved that I could persevere and build something even better than what I had before. Now that I’ve absolutely conquered my goals, I feel as if I could do anything. I know how strong I am now, and I am no longer afraid of taking chances.

I am more present as a parent.

The biggest benefit that comes from self-employment is the fact that I can be home with my kids a lot more often. Since I no longer work crazy hours, holidays, or weekends, I’m always there for the important events in their little lives.

Since I work at home, I get my daughter off and on the bus myself each day. I can take time out to eat lunch with her at school, and I never miss a school program or meeting. At my old job, none of this would have been impossible. In fact, I’m afraid I would have missed most of the major milestones in their lives.

Over the years, we added a few new websites to our portfolio. Because of the added responsibility, my husband was also able to leave his job in early 2015. Now that we’re both living this lifestyle, the sky is truly the limit. We can do anything we want – go anywhere we want – and as long as we keep our eyes on the prize, nothing can stand in our way. The crazy thing is, it all started with a little blog called Club Thrifty and a handful of blogging jobs.

Do You Want to Be a Freelance Writer?

If you’re interested in learning more about a career as a freelance writer, you’re in luck. I recently created the best course for freelance writing on the web – Earn More Writing. The course includes 8 video modules, tips from professional editors, tons of bonus materials, a free Facebook group, and more!


Enroll in our freelance writing course to earn more money writing!

Earn More Writing – Learn More Here!


As for me, I can’t imagine how my different my life would be if I had chosen a different path. What if I had been too scared to try? I shudder at the thought of not being able to live this amazing life I have built with my own blood, sweat, and tears.

Now that I’m self-employed and location independent, I never have to worry again. I can do things my way. And with the right skills, you can too.

Have you ever thought of becoming a freelance writer? What is holding you back?

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  1. ‘Freedom’ and ‘autonomy’ – Two words that don’t show up in too many job advertisements!

    You’ve created an amazing business and lifestyle. One I hope to emulate. One day.

    Well done!

  2. Way to go! It’s always nice to march to the beat of your own drummer. It’s even nice to make a great living at it like you guys are! Well done, and continued success!!! 🙂

  3. Great to hear your story! So many people talk about how freeing working for yourself is. I always wonder if perhaps that freedom is balanced out by feelings of insecurity about future employment/income. Have you ever struggled with that?

    1. Not anymore. I did at first when I wasn’t quite as established.
      Now I feel *more secure* than I did when I had a 9-5 job. I have 6 or 7 income streams every month vs. having only one in the past.

  4. So awesome Holly! You guys have built an incredible life. It must feel so amazing to be in a position where vacation requests are no longer a part of your life! That’s freedom right there :-). Huge congrats on your success!!

  5. In the past 3 years we have lived in 3 different cities because of exciting education and career opportunities. Being able to work from anywhere gives me the freedom to jump at the next big event in life without the worry of losing an income.

    When the blogging gets tough, I will use your post as a good reminder that things aren’t that bad after all. 😉

  6. Amazing story! So many people get stuck, like you were, and don’t know what to do – so they keep doing the same thing. I commend your courage to take a leap of faith. It’s obviously worked out!

    I would love to become freelance writer; to be able to share something that gives you and your reader more opportunities to build a life on your/their terms. Confidence is (and will always be) my biggest deterrent. Something I’m sure everyone sruggles with!

    1. I think confidence is one of the biggest components of a successful online career. That’s why you see people who aren’t the best writers in the world getting jobs over people with serious talent. Having talent isn’t enough; you need confidence and a personality to go along with it.

  7. I have some serious respect for people that get their small business off the ground while working 40+ hour weeks. My friend did it, I’m interested in attempting it for web development but right now I put in a lot of time on housework and house repairs not sure how people do it.

    During college I did freelance computer work and had a decent amount of work at two funeral homes, one did cremations. Always a little creeped out by the dead bodies near by. They were really nice people though.

    I’m not sure my writing skills could pay the bills. What I lack in skills though I make up for with OCD. I’ll read and reread everything I write 10+ times over to try and make it as easy to read as possible.

  8. I just started freelancing early this year, and I’m so glad I did. I would love to work up to being as successful at it as you and Cat.

  9. Planning work around your life sounds amazing. Even with a rewarding job, planning my life around work is less than ideal. Some weeks work seems like it is my life.

    1. Yep, I can relate. I used to have to plan our vacations almost a year in advance to get the time off and not conflict with other people’s time off! I actually felt like we were owned – like our jobs were the priority over our lives and our kid’s lives. It wasn’t my employer’s fault. It’s just that business because my husband was a mortician and had to be on call all the time.

  10. Great story and clearly, a career change is exactly what you needed. Nice!

  11. I saw a video by Gary Vaynerchuk and something he said has really stuck with me. “Realize how blessed you are to live in this day and age.” It’s hard to believe the internet has really only been around for what? 20 years? If you were born just 50 or 100 years earlier life would be so different. Sure our cars don’t automatically drive us places and disease like ALS and cancer haven’t been cured, but dang it we live in a day and age where opportunity is truly unlimited.

    1. I agree 100%. I’m so glad to be here right now. Even 100 years from now, life probably won’t be so grand. Even though technology will surely improve even more between now and then, our planet will have gone to hell. Right now we get the benefit of modern technology, plus the ability to enjoy what’s left of our beautiful Earth. It really is an amazing time to be alive.

  12. Having the freedom of flexibility when working for yourself is incredible. I love when I wake up and the day is perfect – I can sneak out and play a quick round of golf. Yeah, the work is still there, but I love what I do so it doesn’t really feel like work to me.

    1. Golf! =)

      That’s funny. I don’t usually skip out of work during the day, but I do like doing things my own way – like taking a long, leisurely lunch or showering mid-day if I want. It’s the little things =)

  13. Love your story Holly – you guys are rocking it! Freedom and autonomy are two big reasons why we took the plunge and much why I’m too spoiled to go back to a 9-5 job. That fear you mention not having anymore, I feel the same way. In the past, I would hold back but no more. There is far too much opportunity out there to hold back.

    1. Exactly! And it’s okay to fail sometimes too. That’s one thing I am still learning.

  14. Reading your story gives me hope and every time you post about the benefits of working from home I’m more and more convinced that I can make it work for me too. Can’t wait to watch your video interview with Cat 🙂

  15. Very cool, would totally love to get into freelance writing one of these days.

  16. I have been reading your blog for a very long time and I remember you quitting your 9-5 job. It has been really cool to follow your progress.

  17. Thanks for writing this! When I read these types of posts I get inspired – and hopefully one day very soon I will start my own blog and go this route.

  18. Great post Holly. There really is a lot of opportunity out there online. While I will most likely never leave my day job, it’s nice to know that I can make money on the side when I feel like it. All it really takes is good, consistent work, which is tough for most people.

  19. I’m so glad that your (and Greg’s) hard work paid off and you two are creating the life you want for your family on your terms. It’s such a powerful feeling. I love being my own boss too, although my work life is more 9-5 than yours but it’s nice to feel in control of your life professionally.

    1. Yes, that’s the part I like. I feel like, for once in my life, I have a say in things.

  20. The internet has definitely changed my life. In fact, we just picked up our RV today 🙂

    1. Uhhh, yeah….I’d like to know about this TOO!

  21. I definitely feel that since I started my own business I am more present as a parent. I certainly work more than I did when I worked for another company, but now that I can set my own hours and schedule, I can be more involved in the important events of my son’s life and when I am there, I am fully committed to being in the moment with him.

  22. Love this! I’m glad you were able to take control of your career for the better. Although, the super morbid side of me thinks working at a mortuary could be fun, maybe? (albeit very hard work)

  23. INSPIRATIONAL. You’re actually one of the pf writers that inspired me to start my own blog. Keep on writing Holly…and inspiring people. I hope I can do the same to my readers :).

  24. Loved this! I am a freelance writer as well, although I mostly just dabble in it a bit. My freelance work revolves more around marketing services I offer, but I really enjoy being able to do writing as well when the opportunities present themselves. It’s a wonderful work-from-home gig!

  25. Sounds like you\’ve done quite well with the transition, that is great. I haven\’t considered leaving my full time job because I like it too much but I can see how it can be appealing for people looking for more freedom/independence

  26. I have been wanting to be a full-time freelance writer, but my schedule doesn’t permit it because I have office work. Right now, I am still learning how I can be an effective writer and get more skills so that the time I start writing, I would have few problems encountered.

  27. It’s funny because I had never really written before blogging. I couldn’t even keep a journal to myself. I don’t know how I stumbled into this, but glad I did 🙂

  28. Thanks so much for the mention Holly, and I really love your story. Hard work really does trump all. I know the days when you were doing both jobs practically full time were super tough but it was all so worth it in the end.

  29. I really love your story and it’s so inspiring. Taking that leap of faith and really putting yourself out there can be the hardest part but if you stick with it and remained determined you’ll start to see results. When you said you had to get up at 5am sometimes, that reminded me of myself and where I’m at currently but I know it’s ‘grind time’ this year and all my hard work will pay off soon.

  30. Thanks for sharing your story!

    I think what’s holding me back is that I spend (or waste) a lot of time in the planning stages of any project I want to take on. I feel like I do hours researching *how* to be a good freelance writer, and then run out of time to actually *be* a good freelance writer. Did you experience that, and if so, how did you counter it?

  31. Congratulations on your journey and success! We fell like we are experience those milestones with you and Greg, since we have been following your blog for years.

    It is these kind of posts that I really enjoy reading- about how people have escaped the 9 to 5 rat race to pursue their own work. Keep them coming!

  32. Love how you decided you needed a change and did something about it- Not many people have the courage to do that.

    I still enjoy my day job but the hours are starting to burn me out. It doesn’t help that my blog has really inspired me, I need to figure out my end game and work towards it.

  33. Getting up early to work before work is the worst. There was a period when I got up at 5am to study for the cpa exam. I have almost totally blocked those memories out. The. Worst.

  34. This is really inspiring to me. For years I’ve dreamed of having all of what you’ve described, and I think it’s a lack of confidence that has really stalled me. Reading posts like this certainly motivates me to turn lofty dreams into something achievable and sustainable.

  35. I am working on it and so excited that I found someone to write for early this year. I am hoping to find a couple more people in the next couple of months as well. I love the idea of being able to live on your own terms.

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