Every new freelancer I meet wants to reach a comfortable income level as quickly as possible.
Most of them will set one-, two- or three-year time horizons for getting there.
But what if you HAD to ramp up quickly? What if a life event forced you to replace your full-time income within two months?
And what if failure was not an option?
That's what happened to Christine Parizo four years ago. In this interview, she shares her story of why she made the decision to leave her day job. And how she drummed up enough business in two months to replace her income.
It's an inspirational story of belief and inner drive.
The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.
Tell us about your freelance business
Christine writes case studies, white papers and contributed articles for new B2B software technology companies. She also writes bylined features for technology publications and some public relations material.
Walk us through the past 15 years of your career
In 1990, Christine graduated with a degree in print journalism. She started as a copy editor and then worked as an assistant new editor for SearchCRM.com (via TechTarget). In 2001, she decided to pursue a career in law. She got a job as a paralegal and obtained a paralegal certificate.
She was laid off as a paralegal in 2009. Eventually, she took a job as a legal secretary and started freelance writing during her lunch hours and after work.
When her daughter was born, she gave herself 10 weeks to find enough freelance work to quit her job.
Ten weeks later, she handed in her notice and started freelancing full time.
How were you able to land those clients after being out of the business for so long?
Christine had maintained relationships with the people she’d worked with at TechTarget, mostly through social media. Her TechTarget clips were generic enough that she could still use them in her portfolio.
Did you get all your clients through relationships? What else worked?
Christine tried to land clients through local networking events but that didn’t work well for her.
She had more success with warm email prospecting. She would send short emails to marketing people describing how she could help them.
She would go to technology trade shows to get the names of marketing directors.
When you reached out to your network, what did you say?
Christine simply said that she’s available for freelance work and looking for new clients.
How have your grown your business since then?
Today, Christine positions herself as a tech copywriter. She calls herself a geek with a personality. She’s kept her focus narrow. She’s remained authentic while distinguishing herself from others.
About 75% of her work comes from existing clients or through word of mouth. The remaining 25% comes from clients that have found her on the Internet or met at trade shows.
Are you happy with where you are today?
Christine is super happy. Last year, she doubled what she was making as a legal secretary. She finishes work in time to pick up her children from school and can be home with them when they’re sick. She can take vacations without having to go through an approval process. She’s also exercising more and eating better. She loves what she does.
If you knew then what you know now, what would you have done differently?
Christine would have started freelancing earlier. She wouldn’t have wasted her time trying to find clients at local networking events.
How large of a role did belief and inner drive play in your success?
Christine attributes 90% of her success to belief and inner drive. She’s accustomed to going after things until she gets them. She’s not discouraged by rejection.
She was motivated to keep going by thinking about what she could leave behind. She also wants to be a good roll model for her daughter.
What would you tell listeners who’re having a tough time making a go of their business?
It gets better. You have to figure out what works through trial and error. If you haven’t already, read:
The Wealthy Freelancer by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia
Secrets of a Freelance Writer by Robert W. Bly
The Well Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman.
How can listeners learn more about you?
Christine’s recommendation for headshots and logos: