This week we’re welcoming Gina Horkey from Horkey Handbook to the blog. I owe my introduction to the online business world to her and see her as a huge inspiration - Everything she creates is GOLD.
Today she’s sharing tips, advice, and lessons she’s learned from becoming a freelancer as well as her own personal journey and how she got started.
So if you’re an aspiring freelancer or just want to learn more about the freelance world, read on! 🙂
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Could you tell us about your freelance journey (how you got started, the ups and downs, etc)?
Sure! I got my start in 2014 after finally owning up to the fact that I didn’t want to pursue a career in personal finance any longer (it had been almost a decade).
Once I gave myself the freedom to consider other options, I came across freelance writing for the web - I had never even entertained the idea of working online or writing for pay before (unless I self-published a fiction novel or something).
I started gaining traction as a freelance writer and then started offering virtual assistant services a few months later. It was always my goal to “leave work behind,” so I was petal to the metal the whole time, even if I had a baby and toddler at home.
As far as the ups and downs, getting new clients was always a thrill. Transitioning away from clients... not so much. And there’s a lot of rejection along the way as you put yourself out there. But it’s all been worth it!
What’s your favorite part about having an online business and freelancing online?
If I had to choose just one, it’d be the flexibility in lifestyle that this career allows.
We’re currently wrapping up a six week stay in South Padre Island, Texas before taking another two weeks to make our way home to Minnesota, visiting friends living in other states along the way. Our kids are both in preschool (we pulled them out while down here) and my husband’s a stay-at-home-dad, so cashing in on being able to work from anywhere has been awesome!
This summer we went to numerous state or national parks, my parent’s cabin, etc. And lucky me, I didn’t have to skip a beat when it came to work. 😉
What advice do you have for someone who wants to become a freelancer?
Just get started!
Don’t wait until you feel ready. You never will. Not 100% at least.
Instead, figure out how much time you have per week to dedicate to your goal and assuming you know your craft, spend 90% of that time prospecting for clients until you have some. Then allocate 90% of the time you have left (from working with clients) to prospecting until you have a full client load.
Putting yourself out there and pitching for work is hands down THE MOST EFFECTIVE strategy to growing a new freelance business. It’s not having the perfect website. Or headshot. Or whatever is currently holding you up.
Are there any tools or resources you’d recommend for new freelancers?
It may be biased, but I have two pretty sweet (and FREE) email courses for those that want to break into freelance writing or virtual assistance work. Feel free to check them out here:
*Gina's just retired her free courses with a couple of other awesome freebies to help you get started as a freelance VA and/or writer. Here are the new freebies!*
- 150+ Virtual Assistant Services You Can Get Paid For
- 200+ Freelance Writing Niches (& Sub Niches) To Choose From
What are the top 2 lessons you’ve learned through freelancing?
Hrm… that’s a tough one!
- Start before you’re ready. (I probably covered that enough above).
- Don’t give up! You have to give yourself a longer timeline than you think. Can you land a client in your first day, month or week? Sure! I hope you do.
But if you don’t, don’t think you’re a failure and give up. Sew those seeds and gather your harvest in due time.
I tell my students to commit for TWO years. Yep!
Why? Well if you really want to build a business that sustains you for the long-term, you can’t expect it to happen overnight. And having a long-term focus provides the perspective you need to run the marathon, not the 100 yard dash!
If you could go back in time, would you do anything differently in your freelance business?
You know, I’ve gotten asked this question a lot and my answer’s always been no.
Why? Because everything builds off of one another. I.e. I’m where I am today because of all of my tries, my wins, my failures, etc. It’s never just one thing that equals success or failure - it’s the entire sum, right?
Do you have a favorite success story from a student who’s taken one of your courses? 🙂
Do I have to choose just one?
You can’t make me! 😉 I’m going to choose two and I’ll share their videos with you to prove it:
- Meet Laura, a parenting blogger that escaped content mills and now earns $100 per post. She also had a gig recently that paid her almost $4,000… for a single writing project!
- And Audra, who decided to bet on herself on Mother’s Day, 2015 by investing in the course and who traveled to the White House as a result of her new writing career.
How has being a freelancer changed your life?
Another hard question to answer succinctly!
It’s changed my entire life. For example:
- I now have this business that has the sky as its limit.
- I’m constantly being challenged and learning new things.
- My income potential is untapped.
- I support our entire family.
- I meet the COOLEST people along the way.
And I’m writing this as I’m looking out at the ocean… enough said?
Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s a professional writer and online business marketing consultant with a decade of experience in the financial services industry. Gina enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time via her website, Horkey HandBook.