How I Earn $200,000+ Writing Online Content

Today, I have a great post from my friend Holly from She is a very successful freelance writer and has earned over $200,000 writing online! I’ll let her take it away now. Up until 2011, I made a living as the Director of Family Services at a local mortuary. The job itself was great,…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: December 28, 2023

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Holly has earned over $200,000 writing online content. In this post, she shows you exactly how, as well as her best tips for writing online.Today, I have a great post from my friend Holly from She is a very successful freelance writer and has earned over $200,000 writing online! I’ll let her take it away now.

Up until 2011, I made a living as the Director of Family Services at a local mortuary. The job itself was great, but it was extremely taxing on my time, my relationships, and my sanity.

I worked crazy hours, often leaving the house at 7:00 a.m. and arriving home at 5:30 p.m. To make matters worse, I worked every other weekend, several evenings each month, and random on-call hours I couldn’t always predict. And, did I mention I had two kids?

If you work full-time and have kids, you already know what that means. Every morning, I dragged my children to daycare where they would spend 10+ hours. And once I finally left work, I started the “second shift” of parenthood – you know, dinner, bath time, playtime, books, and bed.

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My life was exhausting, and I found little comfort in the fact there was no end in sight.

Then, in 2012, something unexpected happened: We started a blog.

Yep, right in the midst of the busiest time in my life, Club Thrifty was born. And once we got the ball rolling, I learned to leverage our online platform to pursue my real passion – writing.

Within a year, I started earning enough income writing online to replace my $38,000 salary. With that news, I put in a one-month notice…..and bounced.

Since 2012, I’ve earned more than I ever dreamed, and all from the comfort of my own home. In 2015, for example, I invoiced for more than $180,000 in freelance writing work – and that doesn’t include income from my blog. And so far in 2016, it looks like I’ll invoice for more than $200,000 in paid writing jobs.

Related: Interested in starting a blog? Check out this free blogging course!

Not only am I Contributing Editor for The Simple Dollar, but I write for Lending Tree, Frugal Travel Guy, U.S. News and World Report Travel. In addition, my writing has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, and Fox Business, to name a few.

People think it’s crazy when they find all this out. After all, my background is not in journalism. I have always been a writer, but not in the online space. Before 2012, I mostly wrote short stories, essays, and books of depressing poetry. Ha!


5 Ways to Build a Freelance Writing Career from Scratch

But I taught myself what I needed to know along the way, mostly through trial and error. And the result has been nothing short of miraculous.

As a result, hundreds of people have contacted me over the years to see how they could do the same. Here are the main pieces of advice I dole out over and over:


Tip #1: For heaven’s sake, start a blog.

Whether you want to try your hand at online content creation or make your millions affiliate marketing like Michelle does, you need a blog. You can build a writing career without one, but it’s much easier if you have an online home. Personally, I have found that blogging and freelance writing go hand-in-hand – as in, you can use one to build the other.

Related: How to Start a WordPress Blog on Bluehost


Tip #2: Always be yourself, and put yourself out there.

A lot of new writers assume you have to “tone yourself down” to be successful. My career has proved the opposite is true. When you inject your personality into your writing, you become an online personality.

And when you become an online personality, you can easily score better and higher-paying work. Don’t let fear dull your shine. In the online world, you have to put yourself out there – and own it.


Tip #3: Do the things other people don’t want to do.

A lot of people assume I only accept glamorous work, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Over time, I have learned that the more boring the job is, the higher it usually pays. I have also learned which niches to look in for the dullest, most lucrative jobs I can find.

Tip #4: Show up like you own the place.

Whether you’re starting your first blog or trying to get your first “real” writing job, it’s easy to rely too heavily on the feedback you receive from others.

You’ll wonder, “Is anyone even reading this?” “Does anyone even care?”

Then, all of a sudden, you find yourself second-guessing everything. This is a mistake. Instead of seeking out the approval of others, you need to show up like you own the place. Start your blog and your writing career as if you have been awesome all along. And over time, you will become an embodiment of your positive thoughts.


Tip #5: Treat your writing online career like a “real job.”

One of the biggest mistakes I see new freelancers making is not treating their hustle like a real job. Instead of setting aside work hours each day, they procrastinate.

And instead of taking steps to please existing clients and get new ones, they take a passive approach and let the chips fall where they may. If you want to succeed as an online content creator, you have to build a work ethic you can be proud of. Treat it like a real job, and it will become a real job. It’s as simple as that.


Introducing: Earn More Writing with Holly Johnson

Obviously, I have learned so much more than I can cover here. Because I get asked for tips and advice all the time, I created a brand new course that shares everything I have learned over the years –

My course includes nine video modules hosted by yours truly, several printable worksheets, and awesome add-ons, too. Here are some of the things you can expect to learn as you dive in:

  • Discover the #1 most important thing you can do to get paid writing jobs.
  • Learn how to find beginner jobs and move up over time.
  • Learn how to price yourself to get the most work.
  • Learn which types of jobs help me earn the most pay, and where you can find them.
  • Find out which online platforms work best for finding paid work, and how to use them.
  • Learn how to structure your work day to earn six figures or more.

Beyond the video modules and the printable resources, you can also hook up with me for one-on-one coaching and personalized help crafting your career. While everyone is different, I truly believe everyone can achieve some modicum of success with the right knowledge and tools. And that, my friends, is what I’m offering.

You can check out Earn More Writing by clicking here.

Final Thoughts

Before you sign up for a writing course, ask yourself who has actually “done it?” Can anyone else say they built a six-figure writing career without a background in journalism, with zero connections, and from scratch?

Very few, if any, can.

If you’re tired of your job and ready to turn your writing skills into paid work, I’m here to help. In the meantime, check out my Facebook group for freelancers: Earn More Writing with Holly Johnson.

Are you interested in writing online? Why or why not?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. I love this kind of post, thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Really nice post Holly. I actually learned a fair bit about how you grew your online presence from this post. I wish you all the luck with your course, I can tell you’re going to get a lot of interest from this!

    I like your tips, particularly tip #2. We are all people, we are bloggers. Anyone can read some money saving tips, but its our personality and lives that makes blogs unique.

    Not sure if Michelle or you (Holly) would answer this. We’re getting to that stage where we’re being approached to feature things on our blog that we wouldn’t really want to (like car finance) – what are your thoughts on that?


    1. Yes, you definitely need to figure out your level of comfort when it comes to promoting other businesses on your blog. Since we don’t do many sponsored posts anymore, I mostly delete all requests. A lot of skeevy businesses want promotion and/or a link. If you can say no to the easy money, it will help you in the long run. That’s just my opinion, of course!

  3. Thanks for having me today, Michelle!

  4. Ree Klein

    Super interesting, Holly. I am so impressed with what you’ve accomplished! These types of real-life success stories are so fascinating and prove that there are an unlimited number of paths to online success. Even within one niche, like freelance writing, each person’s journey will look different and that means there’s room for everyone who wants to give it a go.


  5. Thanks for the great tips, Holly! I’m going to join your Facebook group now.

  6. Sara

    This is just the post I have been looking for. As I only started my blog two months ago, this is just what I needed to encourage myself to keep going. There was a point where I was doubting myself and everything that I do and it was a terrible feeling to second guess myself. Thanks for posting this, you’ve given me hope that this career is possible!

    1. Yay, Sara! Don’t give up! It’s definitely more than possible – it just takes time to get the ball rolling.

  7. Holly you are totally a leader in this field! I just recommended your course to a friend of mine who has dabbled in freelance writing and now that the youngest started kindergarten is asking, “what’s next?” I love how much you guys pour into your work and into having fun. The best of both worlds!

  8. Josh

    I never knew that about your background story. My last profession had a similar 24/7 lifestyle and we decided to call it quits shortly after the birth of our first child. Now freelance writing is part of our income stream. Your suggestion to treat it as a real job is very important. It takes time to land clients and to increase typing speed and investing hobby hours will only produce hobby-level results.

  9. Tamara Mason

    Thanks, Holly, my favorite tip is #4 showing up like you own the place. As a new blogger that is often my question am I just talking to myself. I then remind myself everybody was a beginner at the beginning. Your story inspires me to keep at it.

    1. Hey Tamara!

      Yes, that’s the key. Show up like you own the place and like everyone is listening!

  10. Jen @ Saving with Spunk

    I just started my blog a few months ago and I’m just about to dip my toes into the world of freelance. It’s so encouraging to hear you didn’t come from a typical writing career, Holly. I definitely don’t. But I love writing and finance so I’m hoping to do more of it now that I have the blog up and running. Thanks for posting this Michelle!

    1. Yay, you can do it! =)

  11. Lindsey

    As far back as I can remember I’ve been a write. I’m pretty sure my first “published” work was the jazzy donkey and other out of this world poems (still have a copy). I fell in love with writing and originally set out to pursue a career in journalism.

    I started my own blog after realizing my hatred for the corporate environment and also freelancing on the side. Freelancing brings me joy and fills the little part of my soul that secretly wants to be a full-time freelancer (but can’t make the salary).

    I don’t currently have a website devoted to just freelancing, I usually just direct people to my blog. Do you recommend setting up another website or just keep doing what I’m doing?

    1. You’re probably fine. You can use your own blog as your calling card and online portfolio.

  12. Congratulations on your success & very well done! I’ve always enjoyed reading about how young women are making it in a male-dominated world. Go for it!

    p.s I’ve shared this post on my social media profiles.

  13. Very informative post Holly!
    I learned a lot from it. I think the main takeaway for me is being more aggressive in approaching work. I’ve been fairly passive so far, but I’ve also been using the time to learn. Congratulations on all your success as a freelancer! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  14. I love tip number 3. There are some writing jobs that I could have turned down, but they have helped me in a couple of ways. The first way is that they helped put some extra money in my pocket. The second way is that they helped me get more experience.

  15. Tyler DeBroux

    Wonderful post. It’s amazing to see how much success and how far your blog and writing career has taken you!

  16. Natasha @ Inspiring Single Mothers

    Thanks for sharing your story! And congratulations to you and your family. I can tell by reading that writing lifted a huge burden off of your shoulders.

  17. Hi Holly,

    This is great. Thanks for these amazing tips you shared here. Freelance writing is such a noble career to me. I’m building a solid platform with it.

  18. Hi Holly,

    This is great. Thanks for these amazing tips you shared here. Freelance writing is such a noble career to me. I’m building a solid platform with it. What began like a hobby has now grown into a busy.

  19. T.J. Manning

    Hi, Holly, I just stumbled across your blog. I’m only about a week or so into this journey. I’ve always loved to write. In my chosen career field I use the skill primarily for writing corporate communications and technical documents. Point #5 hit home. That was one of the first things I realized. This is a skill that needs to be honed and practiced every day and taken as seriously as my primary day job. I love my primary career, and it’s nice to have a second career (not just a job) that I enjoy just as much.

  20. This is one thing I learned because people would rather share content from a person who truly write content for people with all types of grammatical mistakes in the body of the content versus someone who writes content just to rank well in search engines. In my personal opinion if you ask me, I think content that has all types of typos and it will be seeing two ways. The first way is the content marketer will be seen as allegedly being stuck on stupid and could care less. However, the content marketer could be intentionally making mistakes for the purpose of people leaving comments to let the writer know how many mistakes they made in their writing and how the writer needs to make those Corrections right away. The writer could intentionally make mistakes so that people who read the content would feel they’re poking fun at the writer by sharing the content on multiple social networks. In turn, this reverse psychology gives the content marketer free exposure off of the strength of making tons of grammatical errors. Do you see now how this can be seen both ways?

    Asking questions in the body of the content in my personal opinion is one of many legitimate tactics content marketers can use to ultimately leverage their target audience to not only respond to the question posed in the body of the article or blog post, but also subliminally inspired targeted readers to share the content on Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and discuss in YouTube videos which will give the writer free advertising.

    The work a person is doing in content marketing is never work of waste. That’s absolutely right I feel and agree with you on. Here’s why. The work one invests today in creating quality content and marketing that content to the Right audience will pay off not in the moment, but for years to come when that contents tased indexed in bing, Google and YaHoO!, thus enabling the blogger or dedicated content marketer to receive reciprocal traffic for years to come, resulting in the increased probability of getting repeat sales from ads on their blogs or websites. This is why I value not just content Marketing in general, but “Evergreen content” and engaging on a deeper level with people because of the fact that quality content is a body of work that are benefit you financially for the next decade or probably too. Agree? 🙂

  21. This is absolutely why I love the power of content marketing because you can use it 2 unlimited online income potential and building relationships globally to the point of learning traffic and passive residual income years to come.