My name is Nikola Roza. I’m a freelance writer and affiliate marketer.
If you wish to know how to become a freelance writer or how to make money while you sleep (and what mistakes to avoid) then you better keep reading…
Hi Nikola, How Was Your University Time?
Great, but also very short-lived.
It was great because I was totally immersed, living in the midst of the world I loved. Literature! Studying, reading, exploring literary topics and characters in great depths.
I was in a sort of a personal heaven.
I really enjoyed myself for those 2 short years.
It was short-lived because I had to cut it all short and come back home. Namely, when I was in my third year of university, my poor mother got terminally ill with a very aggressive cancer, so I had to immediately go back home to take care of her.
It was in vain as there was no helping her, but I never returned to the uni after that.
You’re a Freelance Writer, Why Did You Choose That Career Path?
Well, I knew money can be made online. And I always had a knack and passion for writing. But I was also forced to do it.
You see, I didn’t mention it, but my family was always pretty poor and after my mother died we got 10x poorer.
My father is a hopeless person who’s never sober and can’t earn a living by himself. And we are in Serbia, a country so poor that most people here barely live above the poverty line.
There are no jobs here, there’s no work, and people who somehow managed to find their way to any job whatsoever are considered very lucky.
So, to cut it short, with little funds to sustain me and working on a 10 year old laptop (I also had a desktop computer that was 12 years old) I started to write.
I had never written in English before and now I was supposed to write for pay. I knew I couldn’t do it right away so I started to practice by keeping a daily journal where I wrote and I wrote and I wrote.
I also read and read and read.
I think that on average I was engrossed in English practice for 16h per day.
Slowly, day by day, I advanced my writing skill and it wasn’t long before I could write decent articles based on thorough topic research I did.
What Was Your First Job?
As part of my writing practice I left dozens of comments every day on various blogs and sites.
The owner of one of those blogs was impressed with my comment and came to check out my portfolio site.
He examined my writing thoroughly, found my “rates” page, saw he could afford my services and finally offered me a job.
It was in part sheer luck, but I also feel like I earned it because I did leave more than 500 comments on other people’s blogs, expecting nothing in return except to better my writing.
For reference, here’s the comment that got me my first job, and here’s the message the blog owner sent me.
I guess the lesson here is that good things can also come unexpected, and not just calamities that befall us when we’re proverbially caught off guard…
Can you provide some book recommendations?
I recommend reading the classics. You’ll improve your English so much. You’ll learn a lot. You’ll enjoy yourself as classics are nothing but very old books that have withstood the test of time.
My 3 recommendations are
- “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexander Dumas Pere;
- “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte;
- “Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” by Mark Twain
Things are changing very fast in the industry; how do you keep yourself updated?
First, I know that the more things appear to be chaining the more they stay the same.
It’s a realization that keeps me calm and not overwhelmed..
Take SEO for example. The “new thing” everyone’s talking about is Google’s use of A.I. and machine learning to rank websites.
And experts hypothesize (because they don’t really know) on ways to use A.I. to rank in Google.
But these same people forget that heading tags are also an incredibly important part of on-page SEO and that they have been an SEO staple for more than 23 years.
The basics are not going anywhere and as long as you really have the basics down you have 95% of knowledge required to succeed.
As for the remaining 5%…
You will need to educate yourself and you will need to find the time during the day where your learning doesn’t interfere with your doing
For example, I run 2 times per day. Running helps me unwind and lowers my stress levels. But my running sessions are also my learning sessions. I listen to podcasts while I run..
Bottom line- find something that works for you and incorporate learning in your day-to-day life.
Any advice about CVs?
If you want to become a freelance writer the best CV you can have is your portfolio. Your prospective employers couldn’t care less about what writing certificates you have or even your previous experience.
All they want to see is how well you write and the sooner you show them samples of your best work, the better.
This applies to any field. Raw experience beats fancy diplomas any day of the week.
Advice for someone looking for a job?
Understand that your knowledge and skills are worth much more than any diploma.
But also understand that the world is huge and that whatereve job you’re after, there’s going to be huge competition left right and center.
You need to stand out from the crowd.
By focusing on showcasing your knowledge and skill. In my case it was creating sample articles on my site and then promoting that site + doing some cold outreach.
In your case it could be volunteering to help for free in some business or organization. Do the work for no pay, get connected, show yourself as a team player and someone who knows their stuff and job opportunities will quickly follow.
Remember, the world is full of people with a lot of money and ideas, but lack of time to pursue those ideas and lack of human resources to invest in.
They could invest in you, but you need to find a way to get in front of them.
Why do you think you were selected among other candidates?
When getting a new job from an old client, I got it because my previous article blew them away. I never delivered an inferior article and every article that I sent off helped me get a new gig.
One thing to remember, your client will rather work with one freelancer then switch hired help for every project.
It’s exhausting to alway be looking for new people to hire.
When getting a first gig from a new employer, it was always either because they stumbled upon my site, saw my work and got impressed, or one of my previous employers recommended me.
Another reason to over deliver every single time.
What are some of the lessons from jobs that you couldn’t get?
One time a writer friend of mine told me that the blogger he’s currently working for wants to employ another writer to work for him.
He told me to contact that person right away.
But I was lazy and also busy with other stuff and so 3 days passed and I haven’t called him.
On the fourth day I sent my pitch and mentioned that my writer friend has recommended me to him.
This was supposed to subtly influence the person to give me work, but I got rejected.
The blogger had hired someone else just the day before, someone who wasn’t lazy but had outworked me and got the job as a reward.
The moral of the story is that you need to seize your chances when they come as fast as you can..
also read: How I Turned My Passion in Storytelling to Being a Marketer and a YouTuber