3 Ways I Jumpstarted My Freelance Writing Career and Moved Out of My Parents’ House

Two years into my freelance writing career I’d made a whopping $10,000—barely enough to qualify as a hobby, let alone a career.

I still lived with mom and dad. And even though I put consistent effort into writing, I wasn’t fully committed to making it big. It took moving out to get where I am today, writing articles for national ad campaigns, working for multinational corporations, and coaching the people who are inspired by my work.

Because back at Mom’s, I had an organic, gluten-free and gourmet dinner waiting for me at 6:00 every day, no matter how much or little I worked. I had everything I needed without needing to lift a finger.

That comfort kept me complacent, and I knew it.

So a decided to rent a little place in Albuquerque. With two month’s living expenses, I had to go ham every day and grow my client list, otherwise I’d starve. Momma wasn’t there to feed me.

In the years that I’ve been independent as a freelance writer, I’ve learned three truths that every freelancer needs to thrive.

1-You gotta face the fear and move out of your parents’ house

Necessity is the mother of invention. If you’re in the lap of luxury, like I was, you won’t have any reason to hustle, to perform at your peak, and to succeed. The comfort of mom’s and dad’s was my biggest vice.

Back at home I spent one day every two weeks looking for new clients. And even then, sometimes I’d just think…”Huh, it’d sure be nice to write for them.”—I wouldn’t even send a query!

But that kind of laziness can’t coexist with independence. In my first month solo, I’d sent out more queries than in my first two years combined. It’s because I had to eat.

Pitching at that volume helped me become a professional. I learned to think like an editor thinks, scan like a business owner scans, and schedule my time like a manager. Within three months my success rate went from one of twenty pitches to 20%.

If you think you’re not ready to move out…no one is! I had barely two month’s living expenses when I launched. But that was enough to work like a dog and get my cash flow…flowing.

2-You gotta hit the books

Building a thriving freelance writing career is an exercise in confidence. Independence will give you a baseline to start out; but to really thrive, you’ll need daily doses of vitamin K: knowledge. It’s the ultimate confidence booster.

There were many times I felt helpless in the beginning of my career. But I never felt that way after learning more about my craft. And when I cemented the habit of reading daily on how to write better, I finally grew the skills and confidence I needed to land the big magazines and global companies.

I shoot for thirty minutes to an hour a day of lessons from successful writers. I get to learn from their mistakes; I partake in their biggest breakthroughs. And I come out of each session with better techniques to sell more articles.

My personal writing bible is ‘Writing Tools’, by Roy Peter Clark—America’s writing teacher. I went from a wannabe to a bona fide pro after taking notes on that baby for a month.

3-You gotta have energy

Freelance writing takes energy, I found. Before I found success as a freelancer, my energy dictated my day; I wouldn’t produce much if I felt tired. But now that success isn’t an option, I dictate my energy.

There are a few things I need to be on top of to have energy for peak performance.

First, I need exercise.

If I don’t get my blood pumping first thing in the morning, I tend to feel bad for myself and do nothing; so I’ve become disciplined in working out no matter how I feel upon waking. It boosts my confidence and gives me the energy to smash some keys.

But one session isn’t enough. I make sure to break away from the desk every 30-45 minutes to do some squats, pushups, or just go for a quick little walk. These spurts of exercise keep my body fresh and my mind sharp.

Second, I need good food.

When I was a rookie, I’d wake up and write first thing in the morning. But my brain was starved of glucose; and more often than not, I’d feel like fainting at the end of the article. That’s not sustainable. And the results weren’t sellable.

So now, after exercise, and before my first piece, I fill up the tank with a bunch of healthy fats and proteins: yogurt, almond butter, eggs, cheese, protein shakes, coconut oil, macadamia nuts—the list goes on. This gives me a slow burn of energy to stay focused and on task all throughout the day.

Third, I meditate.

Pre-meditation, I’d stress myself out, lose focus and burn out worrying over stupid things. By 3:00 pm, I could always count on an energy crash because my thoughts were running wild.

So now I take thirty minutes in the afternoon to do nothing. I lie down. I focus on my breathing; slow, and from the belly. I center my thoughts on gratitude and opportunity. And I visualize kicking so much ass that my right foot begins to throb a little. (power of a vivid imagination.)

This one habit maintains my energy, sure. But meditation is also responsible for the creative and abstract thinking that has advanced my career.


Freelance writing definitely isn’t for everybody. It takes serious self-motivation, discipline, and confidence. I built my confidence (along with a full time income) by moving out of my parents’; by adopting a daily studying habit; and by making sure I had the energy to work consistently. You can too!

Written by Daniel Dowling
I went from being a highschool and college dropout to writing for the world's best publications in two short years. I owe ALL my success to habits like mindfulness and journaling. - So I built Millennial Success to share those incredible habits with you!