Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff is an active Yakezie member who is currently working full-time and running a thriving blogging/freelance writing/virtual assistant business on the side.  She is looking to leave her full-time job in 5 or so months to work from home full-time. 

When I mention my freelance work, many readers ask questions about it, so I thought we could all benefit from Crystal’s knowledge of working from home.  Here, I ask her some of the most popular questions my readers have asked me about freelancing.  When you are done reading this interview, take a minute to visit her site.  I bet you will like it!

How did you get started with freelance writing and virtual assistant work?

 I hadn’t even thought about freelance work until I saw a staff writer request post from a fellow blogger in the Yakezie blogging forums in July 2010.  I responded even though I had only been blogging for 5 months at that point and Daniel at Sweating the Big Stuff hired me on.  I stumbled onto my next staff writing position with Stupid Cents by simply chatting a bit over a blog carnival he was hosting.  The other four blogs I staff write for either approached me after seeing that I was looking since I posted at Yakezie and on my own site, or they contacted me directly since they knew I was a staff writer elsewhere already.

 Do you think you need a successful blog to be a successful freelance writer?

 No, but it probably helps to have something to point towards in the beginning.  If you rather not run a blog, guest post at popular sites so that you have something to reference when applying for freelance work.

 How would you recommend someone get started with freelance writing and virtual assistant work?  Also, where does one go to find the jobs?

 Network, network, network.  I found my first job through a forum and my second job by running a blog carnival.  The more people you meet, the better the opportunity to find a job.  And remember to mention that you are looking or nobody will ever know.

 Do you ever feel burned out? 

 Of course.  I push myself pretty hard since I want to turn my online business into my full time job.  The key is to push through the burnout when you have something due and to take a day or two off once the necessities have been handled.  I can write 12-15 posts a week for a few weeks, but then I need a little time off.  That’s why I stock up on posts when I feel good and can afford to take time off when I don’t.

 How do you come up with ideas to write so many posts?

 That is the hard part for me.  Usually I sit down at our kitchen table once or twice a month with a pen and a notepad and just start brainstorming ideas for an hour.  I will literally write down every single idea that pops into my head.  Once I’m done, I usually have between 50-100 ideas written down and about half of those aren’t sucky.  I also jot down ideas that pop into my head throughout the month to fill in whatever blanks are left.

 What advice would you give someone seeking to work from home?

 I am looking for that same advice.  I am planning to work from home by 2012, but I am not quite there yet.  So far, I have set up a desk in our guest bedroom and have found that I do the best in absolute quiet, so I close the door, turn on the fan for white noise, and can crank through my blogging checklists pretty quickly on days that I take off or on weekends.  When I do start working from home, I plan to stick to a regular schedule so I don’t start slacking off.  I’m even debating keeping up with “vacation” days and limiting myself to what I would get at a really awesome job – I’m considering 5-6 weeks a year.  Even on my vacation days right now, I still tune in to blog or do some freelance work in the mornings and evenings just for fun.

 How many hours a week do you think someone would need to devote to these types of jobs to make a solid part-time income ($1,000 a month maybe?)

 If you stick with something as straight-forward as staff writing, you could divide $1000 by your post rate and know how many you would need to write a month.  I personally spend 40-50 hours a week on answering emails, writing my own posts, writing the freelance posts, browsing the Yakezie forum, and negotiating advertising deals.  In exchange, I have been making about $2000-$2500 a month for the last 4 months.

Thank you Crystal, for taking the time to share your knowledge with us!

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