Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Eva Gutierrez and I run a freelance writing business. I write content for businesses committed to publishing high-quality articles and email newsletters. I’m currently making $7,532 per month on average and recently started coaching freelancers on building their own successful freelancing business.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Five years ago I was really lost and confused about what career path to pursue. I had graduated from college with a degree in Biology in hopes of becoming a doctor. I quickly found out that I didn’t want to spend my life working in an office or having to see as many patients as I could fit into my schedule to make back my medical school expenses. At the end of my senior year, I started to watch blogging really start to take off and was immediately interested—this was an entirely new career path we hadn’t see before and something about it made me want to learn more. I figured out how to use WordPress and made a free account to start something like a food blog. I published a few articles and just wrote about what I was eating and why I was so focused on eating nutritious foods over others.
After stumbling upon a writer’s Instagram profile with the bio, “Contributing Writer at EliteDaily”—I Googled, “How to be a contributing writer at EliteDaily” and sent in my application. They accepted me (to be fair, I think they were accepting everyone at this time) and I wrote a few articles for them. That was my first taste of the writing life, unpaid work that could get views if it struck the right chord with their audience. Those articles are still online today haha. But, because this was so new into the blogging world and I had absolutely no idea how to monetize or figure any of this out on my own, I didn’t take the opportunity too seriously. I assumed I’d need a “regular” job and soon stopped writing for EliteDaily.
After I graduated, I decided that I would take a break from applying to jobs I didn’t want and instead obligated myself to do something I loved every day with the hope of stumbling upon my passion and purpose. While it seems obvious now that I wanted to be a writer, at the time I was still pretty lost and confused. I didn’t know any successful internet writers and I wasn’t confident enough to ask people for help, guidance, or advice. But, a few weeks into obligating myself to do something that I loved every day, I started writing again.
I finally Googled, “How to make money online as a writer” and found Upwork. I say finally because I could have been doing this all along—reaching a roadblock in my career and finding my way around it with free answers online. This is now a skillset I cherish. I’ll figure out anything I need to as long as I have access to Google and the time to sit and sift through all the content to figure out the answer I’m looking for.
Once I found Upwork, I created a profile and started taking on my first freelancing clients. My first job was writing product descriptions for a boutique clothing store and I ended up making $4 an hour. I just kept taking on smaller jobs, without any strategy to make a steady income and started to grow my resume. My initial jobs were low-paying and really unexciting for what I like to write about.
I spent time writing landing pages for trucking websites and moving companies and honestly taking on every single writing job that accepted me. I was on Upwork for about 1.5 years before I finally outgrew the platform and had enough of a resume to start pitching clients I wanted to work with. I could have made this transition faster if I hadn’t been backpacking the world at the same time—since I didn’t have 40 hours a week to spend on my business a lot of this process took a lot longer for me than it would somebody who was focused and not traveling to a new city every week (rookie mistake).
My writing business really started to take off when I stopped traveling and put my full focus into it. I moved to Los Angeles at the end of 2018 and decided that for the next few years, my #1 focus was going to be to create a steady income for myself from freelance writing. And...it totally worked.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
I started writing full-length articles as answers on Quora so I could get feedback on my writing from the upvotes, views and comments people left on my articles. Since I was traveling at the time, I covered a lot of topics about being a digital nomad, being a new entrepreneur, freelancing, and personal development. Anything that I felt confident enough to write 600-1,000 words on I would answer.
When I first started, I was going from client to client and just hoping my bank account didn’t hit zero -thinking that this was just how freelancing was supposed to be. Once I really sat down and figured out how to run my business, I realized this was not the case.
Luckily, this was the time when being a digital nomad was becoming more well-known and a lot of people were curious about it. This meant that there were a lot of questions being asked about traveling and working and I was able to hop on Quora and give my two-cents about life as a nomad. This writing experience was instrumental in building my writing muscle because it started to increase my endurance to write a lot and to do it well (I currently write 5,000-10,000 words a day).
The most useful thing a new writer can do for themselves is to start writing daily and work on their writing muscle. You want to be able to grow your endurance and to be a good writer, and that doesn’t happen from reading or thinking about writing. It happens from doing the work, hitting publish, reading feedback, and then doing it all over again as you level your skillset up.
I also started to A/B test what Upwork proposals and cold pitches landed me writing jobs and which didn’t, figuring out the formula for cold pitching that I still use to this day and teach to the freelancers I coach in the Client Acquisition System, my 1:1 coaching program for freelancers that need help getting clients.
embed:instagram The early days working from airports and anywhere I could get Wifi and a decent seat
Describe the process of launching the business.
Landing my first few clients was all about quantity — I pitched every client who needed writing work on Upwork and eventually landed low-paying jobs for product descriptions or writing landing pages for trucking websites (haha!). I worked through these jobs using them as a learning experience to teach me what kind of clients I wanted to work with and what I wanted to spend my time writing.
I picked up a few jobs writing marketing-related articles and was hooked—from then on, I focused on pitching clients who wanted articles written about marketing and started to niche myself as a writer.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
The best way to get clients is to cold pitch them and to showcase your expertise on social media. I cold pitch clients with products and missions that I love and want to be a part of. Recently I cold pitched two dream clients who weren’t hiring or even had a position for a writer on their team and landed both of them on the same day.
I use a cold pitching framework that focuses entirely on the value-add of bringing me on to their team vs. my experience or why I think they should work with me. I also post regularly to Instagram and Medium, creating content that shows potential clients that I know my stuff. This has brought in $1,800+ 6-month retainer contracts with clients who have added more content to our contract just so we could work together—all because they watched my Instagram content and read my Medium articles.
To retain my clients, I treat them like I want to be treated. I always (always, always) deliver articles on-time, I’m available and communicative Monday-Friday, I say yes to 99% of their work requests, and I give them content ideas and work through problems they have with them. My clients are more to me than just an income, they’re businesses who need support to grow and I’m 100% here for them.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Despite this year being “unprecedented”, I’m having the best year of my business yet. I’m closing in on the 6-figure mark, which is a little less than double what I made last year. I have plans to scale my business next year and potentially double it again.
I only take on clients who I see a long-term relationship with and who have products I truly believe in.
I’ve also extended a new arm to my business so I can coach freelancers who are struggling to get clients and show them exactly how to land retainer contracts. I hit a lot of speed bumps along my way to get to where I am, and they just weren’t a necessary part of the journey. I’m coaching freelancers so they can avoid those speed bumps and find success much faster than I did.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
When I first started landing clients, I didn’t understand the importance of really supporting them. I would finish projects, end the contract, and start looking for a new client instead of figuring out how I could be an integral part of their team. Now, things are much different. In an ideal world, I am integrated on their team just like their full-time employees and I can communicate with the Head of Content, Graphic Designers, and anyone else who can help make the content we create as high-quality as possible.
You want to be able to grow your endurance and to be a good writer, and that only happens from doing the work, hitting publish, reading feedback, and then doing it all over again as you level your skillset up.
Along with figuring out how to cold pitch in a way that got my prospect’s attention and mastering showcasing my expertise as a content writer on social media, helping my clients in every way I can have helped me extend contracts and even work consistently with a client for over 2 years. It’s not a scalable way to run a business, but as a freelancer, you don’t need scalability—you need a few great clients who want to work with you for the long-run and you’re set for success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Google Calendar to schedule my meetings and deliverable due dates
- Google Docs to write, edit, and send content
- Slack to talk with my client’s teams
- Quickbooks to manage the admin/backend of my business
- Klaviyo to send weekly newsletters to my audience of freelancers
- Notes app to organize meeting notes, content ideas, etc. (doesn’t sound important but it’s a huge part of my business)
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
First things first—you have to get your mindset right if you’re going to become a freelancer. A great place to start is reading The Inside Out Revolution, then reading The Courage To Be Disliked. Understanding how your mind works and what drives you is key to finding success as a business owner.
For business, Nicolas Cole is a great resource for learning how to write better, The Copywriter’s Club is a great podcast for understanding how freelancers (writers specifically) are packaging their services and DigitalMarketer for learning the foundations of content (I write for their blog and we publish damn useful content haha).
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Do it—if you’ve been thinking about becoming a freelancer but you feel like you’re going to mess it up somehow, do it anyway. Messy action is better than no action and you’ll be shocked at how fast it takes you to get the hang of things (especially if you invest your time into a freelancing coach). When I first started, I dabbled with small projects for so long thinking that this was just how freelancing was supposed to be—going from client to client and just hoping my bank account didn’t hit zero.
Once I really sat down and figured out how to run my business, I realized this was not the case. I started talking to freelancers making $300,000+ a year and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of retainer contracts and being strategic about the clients you choose to work with.
The best part of it all is that I proved to myself that I could do it. I committed to creating a life of freedom, passion, and purpose for myself, and every single day I wake up excited to get to work. I genuinely love who I write for, what I write, and the freelancers I coach, and this reality is only here because I committed to making my own dreams come true.
And I guarantee you can do it too.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
I’m not looking to hire for any positions right now, but if I do hire for something in the future I’ll post about it on my Instagram first.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Eva’s Website
- Eva on Instagram
- Eva's newsletter for freelancers
- Eva on Medium
- Eva on LinkedIn
- Content Writers Mastermind
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Eva Gutierrez has provided an update on their business!
8 months ago, we followed up with Eva Gutierrez to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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