How I Made $10,016 in October Freelancing

Without selling courses or doing the blogging grind.

Jyssica Schwartz
Nov 8, 2019 · 5 min read
Photo by Eric Muhr on Unsplash

In September 2017, I wrote a post about how I made $6500 that month as a full-time freelance writer.

In that post, I shared my breakdown of how I made that money and what kinds of work and clients I had to get there.

Two years later, in October 2019, I had my first $10,000 month!

While I have made a livable and decent salary since I started freelancing in October 2016, this was my first $10k month. I have seen many articles from people about ramping up and making $10k and more right away; that is not the case for me, and I want to show a view of the more realistic way freelancers can ramp up and raise prices and client quality over time to earn more money.

Screenshot of my spreadsheet. The left column is payments from PayPal and the right column is payments received outside of PayPal; for right is the total.

I have had several $8,000 months in the last two years, and even more in the $7–8,000 range.

But October was my first ever $10k month, and I want to show you how.

It wasn’t easy, but it was not a blogging grind, either.

What’s changed?

In 2017, I was still doing quite a bit of blogging for companies on a monthly retainer basis (example: $1000/month for 4 blog posts per month for 1 client).

Not an overwhelming amount. Here is the breakdown from that original article:

Screenshot from https://medium.com/@jyssicaschwartz/freelancing-show-me-the-money-e9a275437960

My business has evolved, as businesses are wont to do, in the last two years. As my experience has grown and changed, my love for editing books has grown and I have gotten more opportunities to do that than in past years.

So, in October, I edited more books, whether it was as a developmental editor or as a copyeditor and proofreader (they are different and the pricing is different!). I’ve raised my prices since 2017 (scaling my business), and to be honest, October was a particularly busy month for me.

My monthly retainer prices and my per-word editing rates specifically have gone up.

These days, almost all of my clients are from referrals. A few are from people finding me through my writing here on Medium or through my website, and some are previous clients who came back.

October 2019 Breakdown

  • Retainer clients: 2. One is a technology company for $2200/month (general writing and editing), one is a website that creates MOOCs for $1000/month (editing the content in courses) = $3200.
  • Non-retainer clients: 2. One is a business entrepreneur who needed an editor to help with a couple of chapters for a collaborative book: $610 (it is hourly), one is an event planning company: $350 for marketing copywriting (hourly).
  • Book Editing for a Publisher: $2783 was paid for manuscript editing through a publisher I work with as a freelance/contract editor (2 manuscripts: 1 dev edit, 1 copyedit).
  • Book Editing for Individuals: $2495.56 after finishing the edit of a nonfiction legal book for a client (initial 25% paid in the previous month).
  • Outline session/book coaching: $250 for an outline session with an author for kicking off the book coaching process.
  • Medium: $277.58 paid to my account in October.
  • Amazon royalties from my first book: Published in August 2017, I do not market this book anymore, but I do still get people buying on average about 4–5 copies per week, $50.48.

Total: 10,016.62

More detail

The two retainer clients are specific and steady monthly amounts that I have a specific number of hours each month allowed to do general writing and editing. The estimate is around 13–20 hours per month for both clients together. Both of these clients were referrals and the tech company I have worked with for over 18 months, while the other I have only been working with for about 4 months.

The non-retainer clients are both longer-term but prefer to track and pay hourly. The business entrepreneur was a referral, and the event planning company was from me doing marketing and reaching out to them. Both are newer clients that I’ve been working with for the last 3–6 months.

The publisher I work with sends me projects ahead of time to see if I have time for them with the pay rate, the deadlines, the number of estimated hours, what the book is, and type of editing needed, which I can then accept or let them know I am not available (I am currently working on a book for this client in November, as well). I’ve been working with them for about 6 months and I do not remember how we initially found each other, but I know that all of the last 5 books I’ve worked on for them were internal referrals, as each of the initial emails started with “You worked with my colleague so-and-so and they said you did great, so I was wondering if you had time to edit xx book…”

I usually have at least 1 book I am editing for an individual author (in November, I am currently editing 2 individual books). These are almost always referrals.

I do individual book coaching with authors for accountability and help to break down the writing process, and I always kick it off with a 90-minute outline session to help them really create a great outline before they start writing. This was a referral.

Medium and royalties you probably already know.

Business changes and so do I

None of my current clients are weekly blogging ones, so it is really interesting to see how it has changed!

Businesses evolve, it’s normal. And as a one-person business, it’s completely normal for my interests to drive the direction of my company and the type of clients I have and the work I do.

I am loving the changes and evolution and doing more editing than I was two years or even one year ago. I have some really amazing clients right now and am feeling great about the future. Of course, freelancing and entrepreneurship are relatively unstable, so we’ll see how I feel in 6 months!

I hope this was helpful!


Check out my brand new book Concept to Conclusion: How to Write a Book and learn everything you need to know to conceive of, outline, write, publish, and market a book!

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Jyssica Schwartz

Written by

Entrepreneur, writer, editor, book coach, cat lover, weirdo, optimist. Author of “Write. Get Paid. Repeat.” & “Concept to Conclusion.” jyssicaschwartz.com

The Startup

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