How would you like to turn your love for writing into a freelance business that pays well? This case study reveals how Kristi Hines built her digital business as a savvy freelance writer.
Back in 2012, I had lots of late nights, back to back, coupled with flaming eyeballs and bad breadth.
No I wasn’t partying…I was too nerdy for that. While men slept, I sat in my chair, with my back bent and eyes bright red as my fingers moved at light speed on my PC, completing article after article for clients.
Regardless of the workload, I knew I had to gain new marketing knowledge. So in-between projects, as an excuse to rest, I’d go through a few blogs to “consume” some marketing tips.
One of those blogs was Kikolani.
Kristi Hines is a maven in the world of freelance writing. For someone who was once an office manager, her new reality is quite interesting.
Kristi runs Kikolani, her hub for Freelancers and Entrepreneurs who want to get marketing advice. It’s also her engine for client attraction.
Kristi built her digital business in a unique way, and it has a lot to do with sharing the right posts on social media. A more in depth look at how Kristi Hines turned her love for writing into a full time career as a freelance writer is today’s Talentpreneur story.
It all started from a personal journal
Most writers have a “super duper silver and black top secret” book where they put down some of the most vulnerable proses.
I have mine and it’s only for my consumption.
However, a lot of writers stick to that due to fear of public opinion. But the truth is, you really can’t develop what you love doing if someone else doesn’t give you feedback. This applies to every talent in existence.
Allow yourself to evolve and get better. According to Kristi’s interview on The Next Goal,
I’ve always enjoyed writing. It started with my personal journal during high school which turned into poetry in college and then it evolved into what I do today with blogging, SEO, social media, and the rest of my freelance writing.”
Allowing her passions find expression
Before the internet, showing the world what you could do would either cost a ton or your reach was extremely limited.
But along came blogging just before social media went mainstream. Now, even cats can take selfies and become Instagram celebs.
One important lesson I learned about building a digital business is to always have a goal. It’s the same advice I give.
But Kristi, in her interview on Bidsketch started off somewhat differently,
I started blogging about four years ago. Kikolani began as a home to creative writing and photography without a specific goal or purpose in mind. After almost a year, I became more fascinated with the blog marketing process. Kikolani thus evolved to cover topics along those lines.”
Starting your website with the intention of just allowing your passions find expression is a goal in itself.
And I’d like to believe that it’s also one of the fastest ways to get public feedback on what you do.
You don’t have to be perfect from day one. Like Kristi’s business, your digital business will evolve as you put yourself out there.
How she discovered she could earn from writing
There was some initial hustle before everything started to take shape. Everyone who gets into the digital space always sees the potential of making lots of money quickly, which almost never happens.
For Kristi, it was through advertising and affiliate marketing…
I discovered there was money to be made with advertising and affiliate marketing, so I began incorporating those into my blog. Both brought in a nice bit of side income, but certainly not enough to live on.”
For some reason, most of the Talentpreneurs I’ve written about didn’t intentionally start doing what they’re presently involved in. It somehow just happened.
Now Kristi didn’t exactly start out by putting herself out there as a freelance writer. According to her interview,
Freelancing was not something I thought about getting into –- it found me, or a client did at least. One day…, my first client emailed me and asked if I would consider writing the same types of posts I wrote for my own blog for them. They gave me the standard rate they paid their writers up front, and it was pretty impressive so I couldn’t refuse. I was fortunate that they also allowed me to include my bio with posts I submitted, so my first client also helped a lot of other clients discover me. It started as a side-income gig and turned into my full-time career.”
“The harder you work in the week, the more you will make” – Kristi Hines
This goes without saying. The internet is not a cash cow.
As a service business, your success as a freelancer entirely depends on how many hours you put in. Yes this has its challenges, but you also have to put in the work.
Like every other writer, Kristi faced some challenges. As she further stated,
The biggest downsides to freelancing are lack of stability and supervision. If you like a steady pay check and knowing you get paid on your days off, freelancing might not be the right job for you. And if you find you can’t motivate yourself to sit down and do the work, then freelancing might not be right for you either.
The flip side to both downsides is that at a regular salaried job, you could work 40 hours or 80 hours in a week and get paid the same. As a freelancer, chances are the harder you work in the week, the more you will make, assuming you are charging appropriately for your time.”
Promoting her work online
Everyone has to do this and there’s no stage for it. It starts the moment you decide to grow your digital business and doesn’t end until you throw in the towel.
Kristi used the basic content marketing strategy of contributing to other top blogs in her niche.
Regardless of what niche you’re in, or what you want to promote, there’ll always be those key influencers whose blogs you read on a daily basis. That’s where your promotion starts from.
According to her About page,
After establishing my blog Kikolani, I began to expand my reach by contributing to popular online publications including Search Engine Journal, Search Engine Watch, and Social Media Examiner. Around the same time, I entered the world of freelance writing and started working with awesome companies including KISSmetrics, Sprout Social, and Unbounce.”
But that’s only a part of it. She further provides three tactics on how you can make her strategy work wonders for your business,
I always suggest that freelance writers really build their authority in a particular niche or industry, write for blogs the clients might be reading, and make sure that every profile author bio they have states that they are a freelance writer. That can really go a long way in changing their strategy from always looking for work to always responding to new inquiries”
Just so you didn’t miss anything,
- Focus on a niche you’re interested in,
- Write for the blogs your target clients read (these are most likely the same blogs you read), and;
- Don’t be shy to say what you do in all your profiles.
Eventually, all this promotion leads to money in the bank (after you satisfy the clients you get of course).
And the good thing is you can adopt any approach.
For example, extend that promotion to social media. Sometimes sharing the right content that’s related to what you do can get clients to come to you. It doesn’t have to be cat videos and memes all the time.
You can be serious with your writing projects and still savvy with social media. This was exactly how Kristi got her clients,
I have a really hard time advising people how to find gigs because I have been extremely lucky in the fact that I really have only applied to two freelance jobs and the rest have all come to me. Some have been through my portfolio and social media profiles, and others have been simply from tweeting posts in my industry. Clients notice I’ve tweeted them, realize I’m a freelance writer, and that’s how they discover me. So if you have some sites you would like to write for, definitely put them into your regular reading list and interact with them through social sharing and comments.”
How Kristi Hines earns big as a freelance writer
I’ve never seen a writer with so many certifications.
In freelancing, while your qualification doesn’t determine how much you earn, it’s a good support system to prove your worth. But at the end of the day, it’s the results you get for clients that matter. That’s when those certificates speak for you.
Kristi offers various writing services on her portfolio website, KristiHines.com, from web copywriting to full content marketing projects. Through her portfolio website, clients can reach out and request for any service.
All promotion as a freelance writer eventually leads here. And by doing the work, she’s able to steadily grow her income month after month, on her own terms.
Key points from Kristi’s story
- Get a website up and share what you know. Eventually, your content will evolve.
- Share the right content in social media that’ll attract prospects to you.
- Make what you do very visible on your profiles. Then prove it by actually doing the work when it comes.
Take the first step in the right direction
Do you also write? And how does earning from it sound to you?
From Kristi’s story, she got started by creating a blog and publishing her own work. From there, clients found her and she started her writing career.
Like Kristi, you too can take your love for writing to the next level. All you need is to know how to use the right tools to get started.
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Also published on Medium.