In this interview series, we ask Katies Oelker a few questions about freelancing, landing new clients and using freelance platforms.
Freelance Success Stories: Katie Oelker
Tell us about yourself.
Hi! My name is Katie Oelker and I am a Financial Coach and Freelance Writer. I majored in Business Economics and Management during college, and my first “real” job was an Auditor for a major bank.
After being there for several months I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do long term and so I quit and went on to grad school so I could teach Business Education classes to high school students. After 5 years as a teacher, I decided I wanted to try my hand at Financial Services, something I had considered right after college.
A few years into my career as a Financial Adviser, I realized I wanted to ideally help serve clients who weren’t quite ready to work with a Financial Adviser but still needed financial guidance. Thus my financial coaching practice was started! From there, I started creating more content, both in written and podcast form, which led me to freelancing.
How long have you been freelancing?
Although I have been working as a Financial Coach for a little over 3 years, I kind of fell into freelance writing. I pitched my first article to a well-known business publication last September in hopes it would help market my financial coaching business. It was picked up, and after I also pitched and wrote a follow up article, I was then asked if I wanted to come on as a regular contributing writer. My first anniversary for being a Freelance Writer will be in September 2020.
How did you land your first client?
My first client came through a connection I made on Twitter. I followed another personal finance blogger and read an article she wrote about her financial journey.
After reading the article I realized they were taking submissions for other similar stories, and pitched our family’s journey towards being debt free by 40.
Shortly after I submitted my article, we decided to buy a new home, which ended up postponing our debt free journey.
Thus, I pitched a follow up article to my original and how our journey was changing. After the follow up article was approved, I was asked to join on as a contributing writer.
What would you tell yourself starting out as a freelancer if you knew what you knew today?
I would tell my younger self to be more patient and open minded to where the journey might lead. I started my entrepreneurial journey roughly 10 years ago thinking I wanted to get paid to be a lifestyle and food blogger, quickly realizing that was not what I wanted to do.
From there I became a Financial Adviser, but decided I wanted to completely work for myself and launched a financial coaching practice.
Although I love being a Financial Coach, I started freelance writing last Fall and it has been so fun! I’ve also made more money this year writing than I did all of last year as a Financial Coach.
My point being, if you just keep going on your journey you will find your way.
What is your biggest struggle with freelancing?
My biggest struggle with freelancing is inconsistency. Some months I am crazy busy, and some months I have hardly any work. I know that this is a common struggle in the freelance world, and there are a few ways to combat it.
One is to plan for slow months and sock money away from higher income months. Another is to diversify your income streams so that when one is slower you can pick up work for the other. Another option is to just continue pitching for new clients!
What do you enjoy the most about freelance work?
My favorite thing about freelance work is the flexibility. As a stay at home mom to two young girls (age 3 and 1) freelance writing allows me to work around their nap and sleeping schedules.
When both were napping at the same time I was able to get a few hours of work done each day.
Now that my oldest doesn’t nap, I typically work after they both go to bed for the night.
I can also work on the weekends when needed while my husband is with the kids. Something else I love about freelance work is that you are in control of how much work and how much money you earn. The possibilities are endless!
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What’s the best way for other freelancers to grow their business?
My best piece of advice is to keep networking and pitching clients, even when you feel you have enough work.
You never know when a client might have less work and so it’s important to keep building your book of clients on a regular basis so on slow months you have work to fall back on. Also continuing to network with individuals who also write can be a great way to grow your business.
They will often know of opportunities or post opportunities and are also a great source of support.
In addition, by continuing to create your own content and content for others in the form of guest posts, etc. you are building up your portfolio and your brand, which helps you gain credibility and exposure.
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How do you deal with tough clients?
I luckily haven’t had any yet!
Do you use freelance platforms (i.e., Upwork, Freelancer, etc.) to land clients?
I have not used any freelance platforms, and it’s unlikely I would in the future. From what I’ve seen a lot of the jobs are pretty low paying for the amount of work.
I also get overwhelmed with the amount of jobs to sort through, so really it’s not my style of obtaining clients.
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How do you go about landing new business?
The way I’ve obtained new business is primarily by networking online, specifically through Twitter and LinkedIn. I follow blogs and sites I know may be looking for writers or are in my niche, and then look at their site to see if they may be hiring (or I pitch them if I don’t see any open opportunities!)
I’ve also done guest posting on other sites. This has allowed me to expand my credibility and exposure and I’ve had individuals reach out to me after seeing my work.