Growing Your Freelance Writing Income to $20,000 Per Month – with Michelle Black

Building a business isn’t an easy task to accomplish. But in this age of constant content consumption, freelance writing can be a lucrative venture. But how do you grow a freelance writing business? There are steps you can take to shorten the learning curve required to earn money as a writer.

Successful freelance writer and owner of, Michelle Black, sits down with Andy Hill to share how she was able to go from part-time writer to earning over $20,000 in one month. If you’re looking to start or grow your freelance writing business, this episode is for you.

Transitioning To Full-Time Freelance Writing 

Michelle was writing part-time while owning a small business. She decided to pursue full-time freelance writing as a way to carve out more time for her family. With a husband and two kids, she knew writing full-time would create the flexibility and control she was looking for at home. 

Setting Goals To Create Growth  

Goal Setting is a key factor in growing a business, whether it’s writing or something else. Michelle says that she starts setting goals by looking at whatever problem she wants to solve. Then, she uses reverse engineering to find the solution and break the process down into baby steps. 

The Goal Of Becoming a Full-Time Freelance Writer

If you’re thinking about becoming a full-time freelancer, you need to determine how much income it will take to get to your goal. Michelle needed to make enough that she’d be comfortable during her transition. Some of the action steps she took included:

  • Studied successful freelance writers
  • Took online courses to increase her writing knowledge and learn how to create a business
  • Pitched 100 brands in 30 days

Through actions like these, Michelle was able to meet and surpass the income goals she had set. 

Another helpful tool for reaching goals is using a planner. Michelle uses an old school planner to plan quarterly and annual income goals. Then, she’s able to break goals down ever further to weekly and daily goals. Michelle says that having daily goals written down helped her stay consistent. Her income results show that setting goals really paid off. 

Using a Planner to Plan Your Week

Set Stretch Goals 

Most people set goals, but not everyone sets goals that push them towards something greater. Michelle says that looking back at her accomplishments, they are all things that made her uncomfortable. 

Setting easily attainable goals leads to a lack of commitment and plenty of excuses. Creating stretch goals (goals that push you out of your comfort zone) creates a sense of urgency to stay on course better. Setting stretch goals pushes your limits and takes you to places you never thought were possible.

Limit Your Goals

While setting goals, it’s good to limit the number of goals you’re pursuing at one time. Michelle says she limits herself to one personal goal and one professional goal at a time. She finds she’s torn in too many directions otherwise. As a professed workaholic, limiting the number of goals helps Michelle keep her sanity, while still leaving time to juggle family time and other commitments. 

Click here to learn five tips to be a better freelance writer with Gerri Detweiler

How To Write Less But Make More 

In January 2019, Michelle made $16,000 writing 45 articles. Fast forward to a year later, Michelle earned $20,000 through freelance writing in January 2020. The increased income is impressive but not as impressive as the fact that she made it writing only 35 articles for the month.  

How did Michelle write less, but make more? Factors that led to this change include:

  • Pitching 
  • Networking with friends and the FinCon community
  • Referrals
  • Raising her rates
  • Accepting specialty projects that require her expertise
  • Increasing her writing efficiency

Achieving a higher income while writing less is a goal that all freelance writers should pursue. 

Niche Down

Choosing a niche is often a struggle for freelance writers and other content creators. For Michelle, choosing a niche was easy. She is a credit expert with over a decade and a half experience. 

Michelle has seen many friends and new freelance writers have a difficult time narrowing down to one niche, especially if they have expertise on several topics. Michelle says it’s ok not to give up writing about other topics, but that at least 60% of your writing should be in one specific niche. 

How do you choose a niche? Michelle offers some questions to ask when choosing a niche.

  • What do you feel the most comfortable writing about? 
  • What writing requires the least amount of research? 
  • What are you comfortable studying? 
  • What topic is easiest to write about? 

Don’t choose a niche that you find boring or that requires extensive research. Michelle says this is a sure-fire way to drive yourself crazy as a writer. Michelle is a personal finance writer and writes on a myriad of financial topics, but the bulk of her work is in the credit niche. 

She says to schedule in some fun writing topics, so you don’t get bored writing about the same topic all of the time. While she’s never struggled with niche burnout so much, she does struggle to try to come up with new ways to write about the same topic over and over. One of her goals is to present topics in a unique way for each client, which is difficult when you’re writing on the same topics all the time. 

Freelance Writing Income

Learn how to get started freelancing from Miranda Marquit here

Balancing Freelance Writing And Family Time 

Creating a writing schedule helps balance work with other areas of your personal life. For Michelle, family comes first. Her goal is to write daily while her kids are off to school. Setting up her schedule this way gives her the freedom to be there when her kids need help with homework, or she needs to put on her chauffeur hat and drop kids off at after school activities. 

Michelle balances her schedule by mapping out her work every week. She looks at her workload, due dates, and other factors to create a schedule for the week. It’s typical for Michelle to write between eight and ten articles a week. Michelle estimates she writes 3,000 words daily. 

It’s great to create a working schedule, but what happens when life has other plans? The reality is that things come up that are out of your control. Whether it’s editing articles you’ve previously written for a client or non-writing tasks related to your business, it’s easy to get sidetracked. 

Michelle says she gets through it by having a good support system in place. Her husband can step in when her schedule gets thrown off. Sometimes she takes a break from writing and then goes back to work after the kids’ bedtime. 

Michelle’s goal is to have fewer days like this, and more days sticking to the schedule she creates. 

Scaling Your Writing Business

Michelle’s income has grown dramatically since she became a full-time personal finance freelance writer. Here are some tips from Michelle on how to grow a writing business quicker. 

  1. Learn from successful people: Michelle gained tons of knowledge by enrolling in Holly Johnson’s “Earn More Writing” course. Michelle says she can’t overemphasize the importance of learning from the success of others. 
  2. Join freelance writer Facebook groups: Holly’s course comes with access to a private Facebook group where writers can ask questions as well as get feedback and encouragement. There’s also a FinCon Freelancers Facebook Group that writers can join. 

How Increased Income Has Helped Her Family 

With the increase in income, Michelle and her husband have been able to pay down some lingering debt. Their goal is to be debt-free (besides their mortgage) by the end of 2020. They’ve also been able to make contributions to their savings and investment accounts. 

Reinvesting In Your Business  

Freelance writers typically don’t have many business-related expenses, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t reinvest some of your income into your writing business. Michelle’s a big believer in self-growth and continued education. How is Michelle investing back in her business? 


Attending conferences like FinCon is a great way to invest in yourself. There are endless opportunities for networking, gathering new ideas, and surrounding yourself with “goal setters.” You’ll walk away inspired to grow your writing business even more. 

networking at FinCon

Bonus Tip: The Freelancers Marketplace at FinCon is the perfect place for personal finance freelance writers to network with potential clients.  Learn more about FinCon here.

Other Business Opportunities 

Michelle faced a serious health scare in 2019 that affected her income. She still earned more than she had in the past but realized that they needed to supplement her writing income with some passive income streams just in case. 

To accomplish this, Michelle and her husband are working towards relaunching two blogs they own. Doing this will help them add the new income streams they need. 

She envisions growing them to the point where they’ll need to hire other freelance writers for content. 

Final Thoughts On Becoming A Personal Finance Writer

You don’t need an extensive writing background or an English degree to become a freelance writer. You just need to get started. Build a portfolio of writing work to share with potential clients. Pitch article ideas within your niche to build your business.  Network with other writers to soak up as much knowledge as possible and then apply what you’ve learned. Do your best work and provide value to clients, and you’ll be on your way to a successful freelance writing career. 

Are you just starting to build a freelance writing business? If so, check out Creator Camp, new this year at #FinCon2020.

Are you a freelance writer? What has been the best way you’ve grown your income?

Please let us know in the comments below. 


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Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance and travel. He is a regular contributor to Forbes, The Ascent, Student Loan Planner, and FinanceBuzz. His work has also been seen on sites such Credit Karma and Millennial Money. Kevin is the budget and family travel expert behind