Review: ‘From Zero to Sixty’ by Kat Tretina

Start From Scratch and Build a Full-Time Writing Career

James Garside
Apr 23, 2019 · 4 min read
Kat Tretina

From Zero to Sixty: Start From Scratch and Build a Full-Time Writing Career

Money talks, bullshit walks. Kat Tretina is the real fucking deal.

A professional freelance writer, based in the US, Kat has been writing for a living since 2009.

Her impressive portfolio includes USA Today, Business Insider, Forbes, The Huffington Post, The Penny Hoarder and Money.

In other words: she knows whereof she speaks.

If you want to know how to build a career as a freelance writer then who better to learn from than someone who has done just that?

Much better than, say, someone who just makes money off the back of peddling iffy information products on the subject.

Kat’s book is a short primer on how to build a freelance writing career from scratch.

It’s only about 30 pages long but covers more ground than your average how-to guide and takes you through the whole process.

You can see this just from the table of contents:

Introduction

  1. So you want to be a writer
  2. Finding your niche
  3. Building a portfolio from scratch
  4. Building an online presence
  5. Pitching new clients
  6. What about job boards?
  7. Setting rates
  8. Contracts
  9. Balancing full-time jobs and side-gigs
  10. 50 sites that pay for guest posts
  11. Useful tools and resources

Get to work!

Definitely a how-to more than a why-to — but, seriously, who needs more reasons to want to go freelance than being able to work sat at home in your underwear.

It covers all the basics and practicalities like how to set up shop, set your rates, pitch your first client, cover your ass with a good contract, and make sure you get paid.

Dollar bills ya’ll.

It also makes you work through a number of exercises designed to make you do the thinking required to develop a sensible game plan.

This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. It’s all about taking baby steps. Read the book, do the exercises, and you’ll be up and running in short order.

I found the exercises around finding your niche (that’s neesh, not nitch, I’m British!) the most helpful.

They basically made me realise that I don’t have one, yet, but that there were several obvious contenders that could be profitable as well as fun to write.

Kat’s writing style is friendly, professional and positive but she doesn’t suffer fools gladly. This is perfect as the book puts you in the frame of mind you need to succeed as a freelance writer.

There is some of the bog standard advice about the importance of having your own website etc, and promoting your work via social media, but the main focus is on getting on with the work.

The book also includes templates for client pitches and contracts, links to further resources and (last but not least) a list of 60 sites that pay $50 or more for contributions.

The list wasn’t as much use to me (being in the US etc) but it was still worth a look just to see the sort of opportunities that are out there.

Disclaimer: In the interests of full disclosure I should probably say that I’ve known Kat on Twitter for many years now.

I consider her a Twitter friend (insofar as you can call anyone a friend that you haven’t met in real life) and gleefully endorse her work.

She’s smart, funny, and writes like a boss.

(I get into trouble for calling people my imaginary friends. They frown upon that. Apparently.)

Kat was kind enough to give me a copy of her book but only after I pestered the life out of her about it.

I’m not blowing smoke up anyone’s ass when I say that it’s good, and I’m not being mealy-mouthed when I say that it’s short, this is just my honest, unguarded and unasked for opinion of the book.

It gave me a short, sharp kick up the arse when I needed one — which is often — and made me want to go freelance again.

If you love writing, and are tempted to go freelance, then this is a great place to start.

Highly recommended.


James Garside is an independent journalist and writer. You can follow him on Medium, join him on Patreon, and chat with him on Twitter.


Cleopatras Worldwide

Getting the most effective advice and big thinking into the…

James Garside

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NCTJ-qualified journalist (The Argus, Esquire, Big Issue), writer (Hacker Noon, Publishous, Writing Cooperative, 100+ more) and world traveler. jamesgarside.net

Cleopatras Worldwide

Getting the most effective advice and big thinking into the hands and hearts of ambitious women all over the world.

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