One of the most frequently asked questions I get at conferences and by email is to do with how an expat can make a living overseas.
The most common way folks want to try is by doing what we do here at Live and Invest Overseas every day—writing.
Freelance writing—whether it’s on travel, living overseas, food and wine, flora and fauna, or wherever your expertise lies—can be one of the easiest ways to make money remotely. It’s also one of the most liberating careers to foster, because you can pick it up and drop it as you like, you can do it from anywhere in the world, and you can tailor it to your own interests.
But how do you get started?
One freelance writer I know makes money from content writing—one of the easiest ways to break in. He put together such an exceptional guide on how to make a living from this (which will appear in full in the July issue of Overseas Living Letter) that I wanted to share some highlights from it with you…
How To Make A Living Overseas As A Content Writer
By Misael Lizarraga
1. Find Your Niche
The most important step to launching your content-creation business is deciding what to write about. The good news is your specialization options are unlimited. There’s nothing stopping you from creating a blog about the socioeconomic effects of sea monkeys if that’s your cup of tea.
However, if you want to sustain yourself from your writing niche, I suggest you choose your topic by answering these three questions:
- What are you interested in?
- Which of those topics have demand?
- Which of those topics will people pay you to write about?
2. Know What To Expect
Freelance content writers typically charge a per-word fee or a per-project fee. Regardless of the billing method, how much a writer can charge depends on a multitude of factors, such as experience, writing niche, negotiation skills, geographic location, and, most important, reputation.
In my time as a writer, I’ve seen writing fees ranging from 1 cent per word to US$2 dollars per word. For an idea of how much money you could be making, top-tier freelance writers make over six figures a year, with some writers earning the equivalent of US$250 an hour.
For first-time writers living abroad, I suggest charging 5 cents per word, which is the equivalent of earning US$50 for a 1,000-word article. If you’re willing to hustle and take the time to polish your writing skills, it won’t be long before you have the track record and experience needed to justify a higher writing fee.
3. Identify Your Clients
An excellent tool to help you identify your customers is a client persona.
If you’ve ever seen a cop show, a client persona is like an artist’s rendering of a suspect. In your case, it’s what your perfect client looks like. Just like a detective creates a sketch of the suspect by asking witnesses, checking camera footage, and running forensic tests, you should build a client persona by making a list of your client’s identifying features.
Details to add to your client persona include the client’s age, gender, location, goals, values, job roles, challenges, pain points, and their role in making hiring and purchasing decisions. HubSpot offers several client-persona templates you can use, and you can google “client persona templates” to find more examples.
4. Build Your Social Proof
The key to your long-term success as a content writer is building up your reputation. You must establish yourself as a credible, knowledgeable expert, with the social proof to back your work.
The ultimate social proof for a writer is being published by an industry leader of your niche. For example, if your niche is finance, you’d get a gigantic boost in credibility if you were to be published by Yahoo Finance, CNNMoney, or The Motley Fool.
Of course, getting published by industry leaders isn’t easy. You have to work your way up.
5. Create A Website And Blog
The first step toward building your credibility as a professional writer is to create a website and a blog. You’ll have to get yourself some hosting space, but it’s affordable, and the return on your investment of building a website is important.
6. Create A Social Media Presence
Whether you love or hate social media, you can’t deny that it’s ubiquitous and powerful. In its most basic implementation, social media makes it easy to engage your audience and to stay up to date with the newest developments in your writing niche.
7. Start Building Your Client List
Obtain 30 to 50 high-quality email addresses—that is, addresses of people who fall under your client persona descriptions. A great place to start gathering those emails is blogs that cater to your niche.
8. Start Prospecting
Once you have some decision-makers’ email addresses, it’s time to contact them. Before you draft an email, though, establish your goals, which could be:
- To become a regular or one-time credited contributor
- To become a regular or one-time ghostwriter
- To become a credited guest writer
The needs of your client will determine which you can aim for.
9. Repeat Steps 2 To 8
And there you have it… how to become a content writer in nine simple steps.
Of course, content writing… or any kind of freelance writing… is just one of many ways to make money to fund your new life or retirement overseas.
If you’d like to explore them all—that is, the best ways to fund your new life overseas—you should make plans to join us for this year’s Retire Overseas Conference, Sept. 7–10, in Houston, Texas, where creating a plan for funding your new life overseas will be among the critical agendas addressed.
Our “Funding Your Life Overseas” session—happening on Day 2—will cover the easiest ways to make money overseas—as tried and tested by many, many expats who have gone before you.
Whether you need to support yourself full time… would like to make a side income by working just a few hours a day or week… or are interested in passive income opportunities (so you can skip work altogether)… this session will provide you with inspiring options.
Content writing, as covered by Misael above, is a flexible laptop business you can take with you anytime, anywhere. But, easy as it is, online work doesn’t appeal to everyone. So we’ll also talk about brick-and-mortar business opportunities (like running your own bar or tour company).