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Freelance writing for beginners interview #5: Meet Lisa Tanner

Freelance writing for beginners

This is the fifth (#5) interview of the remote job interview series (2019 edition) where Lisa will talk about freelance writing for beginners and virtual assistant jobs

Relevant interview – Start a freelance writing business, interview #8 – Meet Kevin

For those of you who have read the first four interview of our remote job series, you can skip directly to the interview.

Today, we have Lisa Tanner with us. Besides talking about freelance writing for beginners, she also talks about how to become a virtual assistant and land virtual assistant jobs.

Note: If you want to learn how to find and pitch clients your freelance writing services, you should check this out.

If you are a new reader, let me tell you something about this series.

A lot of my readers are looking for remote jobs and a few of you may be struggling to grow your online business. I receive emails where a lot of you have asked me questions on how to find remote jobs, start working from home, are work from home jobs scam, what are my options for at home jobs etc

The purpose of this interview post is to tell you how others have successfully created a dream job of their own, earning a full-time living (at least $1k-2k+ a month) and staying at home to work.

This post may contain affiliate links to products I trust. This means if you make a purchase using the links I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support!

If you are NEW to work from home or remote jobs and wondering if it is for you, check out this FREE WORK AT HOME SUMMIT. Not only does this work at home training have workbooks and ebooks to get you in the right mindset and be on track, but it also has a bunch of valuable interview videos with people you may already have heard about (like Gina Horkey of the Horkey Handbook).

The questions in this interview will help you understand

  • What are the different remote jobs
  • How to use your existing experience and convert it into a work from home job
  • What resources can help you
  • What are the challenges that others have faced and how they overcame it
  • How much money can you expect to make (and, no whopping 100k claims, I promise)
  • Whether or not your inhibitions are true

If you read the entire interview series, I promise you will overcome some of your challenges and motivated into taking action (because real people are going to talk about how they did it and how you can too)

And, what better time in the year, than NOW to start working from home. It is the holiday season and you can take out a few hours each day working on setting the work from home job that you like.

Today, we have Lisa Tanner with us. Besides talking about freelance writing for beginners, she also talks about how to become a virtual assistant and land virtual assistant jobs.

You will enjoy this interview because she has so much of valuable information to share.

freelance writing for beginners

#1 Tell me something about yourself and your work

I’m a homeschooling mom to nine kids, running my business in the margins of my day. I love testing out new time management strategies and finding ways to streamline life.

When I find something that works, I love sharing it with my readers on my blog.

My tagline is Helping Moms Balance Diapers and Deadlines, and you can find plenty of proven strategies to help you grow a business while raising a family.

#2 How did you get into working from home as a VA, writer and a blogger?

I never intended to run my own business. As a child, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, like my mom. After high school, I went to college and earned my degree. I taught in the public schools for seven years.

But, as our family grew, so did our daycare expenses. It got to the point where my entire paycheck went to the daycare. And I wanted to spend more time with the kids. So my husband and I decided that I’d come home.

I love homeschooling my kids and being here with them. But, our budget was tight and I wanted to help give it some wiggle room.

I started looking for ways to earn money from home. I discovered that you could get paid to write, and since I’ve always enjoyed writing,

I decided to give it a try. I bootstrapped my freelance writing business, read everything about freelance writing for beginners and earned enough to pay for my website/blog and a course on starting a freelance writing business.

Note: If you want to learn how to find and pitch clients your freelance writing services, you should check this out.

I highly recommend you check out this free course and this blog post on freelance writing.  Both of them talk about EVERYTHING you need to know to start freelance writing for beginners.


You can also sign up for my 7 days free email course where I share all my strategies on how to earn your first $1k asap. 

Soon, I realized that while I enjoyed writing, I didn’t want to spend all my time writing. I like a bit of variety in my days! So, I added virtual assistant services to my offerings.


Since launching my website, I’ve been regularly publishing articles on working from home. At first, it was merely for writing samples.

But I discovered I truly enjoyed blogging. So, in mid-2017, I started looking for ways to grow my blog and monetize my content.

I have dozens of posts that have never really been seen, so it’s been fun repurposing and refreshing my old content along the way.

I absolutely love being able to earn money while I’m making memories with my kids.

Note: Blogging has a huge learning curve, but if you want to cut it short, it is best to learn from someone who has already made the mistakes and knows what works. If you are serious about taking up blogging as a business, I highly recommend this course. It helped me increase my traffic by 200%, rank on the first page of Google and shoot my Pinterest PVs to 500k in 2 months.

#3 Did you have any inhibitions about working from home? If yes, how did you overcome it? Did something help (any online resource)?

Self-doubt has been my biggest inhibition. I’ve struggled with anxiety throughout my life, and never feel confident in my abilities.

When I first launched my business, I had a severe case of imposter syndrome. I wondered why anyone would hire me to write a post when there were so many other writers out there.

I still struggle with self-doubt at times, and I imagine I always will. But, I have found a few ways to combat it.

Connecting with other mompreneurs online helped me to learn I wasn’t alone in my struggles. In fact, this is a common problem. Knowing that others struggle helped me immensely.

So did talking through my fears with real-life friends and family. They read my posts for me before I sent them and reassured me that my work was, in fact, worth reading. Having a support network to build me up when I felt so low was extremely valuable.

I’ve read dozens of blog posts on the topic (also on general freelance writing for beginners and the problems associated) and gleaned wisdom from others who were further along the path to recovery than I was. This post on Horkey Handbook (an interview of Brea Horton where she talks about how she overcame imposter syndrome) was so helpful.

I learned that if you don’t value yourself, no one else will. You can find scores of companies online willing to take advantage of freelancers without boundaries or self-respect. The only way past those bottom suckers is to believe that you are worth more.

Freelance writing for beginners can be difficult at first but if you trust yourself and know your worth, you will quickly scale up.

#4 How long have you been doing this as your main source of living? When did you start seeing money coming in?

I started my business in July of 2015, and have been running it ever since.

I’ve made money every month but one since then. There are no overnight success stories, but hard work really does pay off. You can make a decent income working from home.

#5 Can you share the approximate (monthly or yearly) income from this online business? You don’t need to be exact – whatever you are comfortable with.

This year, I purposefully cut back my income goals a tad to better align with the time I had available.

In 2018, I’ve earned an average of $1010 a month by working on a part-time basis. I anticipate that number increasing in 2019 as I step up my hours.

#6 What were the top 3 challenges that you faced while getting started?

  • Overcoming imposter syndrome
  • Transitioning from the academic writing style I used in the classroom to a more informal, blog post style
  • Getting freelance clients

#7 If you could go back in time, what would you change that would help you get where you are (now) faster?

I would start marketing my blog a whole lot sooner. Time has always been a limited commodity for me, and I mistakenly believed it was better to keep pumping out new content than it was to market what I already wrote.

So my blog traffic took a long time to build. I could be so much further by now if I’d started focusing on this sooner.

Note: Blogging has a huge learning curve, but if you want to cut it short, it is best to learn from someone who has already made the mistakes and knows what works. If you are serious about taking up blogging as a business, I highly recommend this course. It helped me increase my traffic by 200%, rank on the first page of Google and shoot my Pinterest PVs to 500k in 2 months.

#8 What does a typical day of your look like? How much time in a day do you spend on this?

I typically wake up early in the morning to nurse the baby and get some work time in before my kids wake up. I spend some time marketing my blog while I’m in that half-awake stage and allow Pinterest and Facebook feed to help wake me up all the way. 😀

Then I take the time to do some devotions and prepare my heart and mind for the events of the day.

The kids are typically waking up by this point, so I start making breakfast. My husband leaves for work at 730, and after he leaves the kids and I eat. At breakfast, we make a plan of the day.

By keeping the kids in the loop about what the day holds, we’ve been much more productive. They know what to expect, and are more cooperative about working as a team to accomplish our day’s goals.

We use flexible routine blocks to organize our day. It typically looks like this:

  • Breakfast Table Chores
  • Morning Chores
  • Bible Time
  • School
  •  Free-time
  • Lunch
  •  Lunch table chores
  •  Family play time
  • Family writing time
  • Quiet Time (I sometimes work during this time)
  • Family reading time
  • Afternoon snack
  • Sibling play time
  • 15-minute clean up & afternoon chores
  • Dinner prep/free time
  • Dinner & Table chores
  •  Family time
  • Kids to bed
  • Mom work time
  • Time to relax & go to bed

I typically work an hour a day on client work, and another 2-3 hours a week on my blogs.

#9 What types of skills and/or tools are needed to run this online business successfully?

For a parent trying to run an online business with kids in the house, flexibility is the key skill needed. You won’t always be able to wake up before the kids. Or work during quiet time because the toddler just won’t stop talking and go to sleep. You’ve got to be able to roll with the punches and keep your deadlines straight. You can’t miss deadlines, or you won’t last long as a freelancer.

Note: Skillshare is my go-to place to learn a new skill without having to splurge hundreds of dollar. It is an online learning community where you can explore thousands of classes in design, photography, business, and more. You can get started with a free trial using my link and get access to hundreds of courses. 

As a freelance writer, writing skills are key. I’ve got to know the audience I’m writing for and write accordingly. For instance, when I write in the prepping niche, my tone, and word choice isn’t the same as I use on my time management blog. As a freelance writing beginner, you will have to work on your skills and understand the market terms like niche, audience, persona etc.

For a virtual assistant, you need to decide what skills you’re going to offer, become an expert at them and target the right virtual assistant jobs. You can never know everything, and if you try you’ll get burned out.

As far as tools go, a computer is key. My husband just bought me a Microsoft Surface Laptop, and I LOVE it. The boot time is amazing, and it’s the perfect size for moving around the house with or taking out on the go.

I also have a subscription to Microsoft Office, since some of my clients prefer Word docs over Google docs.

A self-hosted WordPress blog is essential. I really recommend FastComet hosting. All of my sites are hosted with them and their customer service department is phenomenal.

I use Canva, PicMonkey, and Photoshop to create images.

Note – You can start a website with as little as $3.95 a month or Rs. 276 a month (if you are in India, you can also opt for Hostgator for Rs. 350 a month) or go with the free options. However, I do not recommend using free options. You can read about other options here and here.
You can use this step by step tutorial to get your WordPress blog up and running. If you have difficulty in understanding the basics (like domain name, or .com, hosting etc), you can read this article on website basics.
If you do not want to invest in a website designer (which I did not, and created this website on my own) or don’t know to code, buy a theme builder like Elementor. It is super easy, is almost drag and drop and did I mention – it has a FREE version too!

#10 Do you recommend any course, blog etc which can help in this journey?

I’ve taken Gina Horkey’s 30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success and 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success. They were very helpful for me in learning the ropes and figuring out how to land clients.

I always read Crystal Paine’s Your Blogging Mentor posts. She has some amazing Facebook Lives as well, so I recommend following her.

Jump into Facebook groups with other small business owners and start making connections. That is the absolute best way to land clients. You never know where you will find a client, so always try to be helpful and friendly. These people are not your competition, they are your coworkers.

#11 Last but not least, what should be the learning process (or steps) for freelance writing beginners and someone aspiring to be a Virtual Assistant and a blogger?

First, take a deep breath. You can’t do everything all at once, so you must pace yourself or you’ll quickly become overwhelmed and might even be tempted to quit.

Pick one thing to do at a time. Here are the steps I took, and this path worked for me:

Look on free job boards (like ProBlogger) for writing gigs you could do. Search for gigs with a byline, even if the pay is low. Right now you need samples with your name attached and some income. You can also write for Quill if you’re interested in writing about office/workplace-related topics. They have a list of hot topics, and the editor is responsive.

Note: If you are a freelancer, you should sign up with Flexjobs. It will help you go through great flexible job listings from legitimate employers quickly, easily, and safely. Every single job on FlexJobs is hand-screened for legitimacy, with no ads or scams mixed in, and every single job offers work flexibility such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time or other flexible options.

Keep writing and pitching for new gigs as money comes in. Don’t stop marketing once you land a paid piece. The work will dry up and you will fall into a freelance famine. You have to be careful about this as a freelance writing beginner.

Once you’ve gotten in a good groove as a writer, launch your blog and start writing for yourself as well. Treat yourself as a client, with deadlines and everything.

By now you’ll figure out what skills you want to put to use for others as a virtual assistant. Maybe you really like formatting blog posts, or creating images in Canva.

Put a “Hire Me” page on your website, and market your services.

Keep growing and building your business one step at a time. Baby steps really do pay off, so don’t despair if your journey is taking longer than someone else’s.

Don’t forget to sign up for the 7-day free email course, specially designed for freelance writing for beginners.

Freelance writing for beginners is now EASY. Lisa shares with us her best freelance writing tips and tricks, virtual assistant tips and tricks, how to become a freelance writer and a virtual assistant. CLICK HERE TO READ

Actionable tips

Check out “Start a blog with ease” series and get started with your blog

Join my Facebook community and post your questions, wins and get the support

Resources to help you get started working from home –

50+ work from home options that are high paying

How to be a freelance proofreader and earn $40000 a year