Interview with Elna Cain: Full-Time Income from Freelancing Part-Time

elna-cain-headshotElna Cain of Elnacain.com and FreelancerFAQ’s is a freelance writer and mom, earning a healthy full-time income from freelancing part-time.

Both of Elna’s sites serve as an excellent starting point for freelancers. Contena is even mentioned in a few of her guides πŸ™‚ So I’m really glad that she agreed to do this interview. What a great way to kick off 2016!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where are you from, what did you do in your previous life?

Hi! My name is Elna Cain. I’m from Canada, a freelance writer and a mom to twin toddlers.

They just turned three and life as we know it is never quiet, but full of laughter, gripes, yells and hiccups (they’ve been getting a lot of those lately….).

I’ve been freelance writing for a little over a year now and have been able to earn a healthy full-time income doing this part-time.

Before I had my twins I taught children with autism in the school setting. My background is in education and psychology, but I primarily write about digital marketing for my clients. Go figure!

Besides writing about digital marketing, I also do copywriting and I’m a ghostwriter for some key influencers online.

I also run a freelancing blog called FreelancerFAQs alongside Alicia Rades. It’s a place to get your freelancing questions answered.

2. How did you first get into freelancing?

After having my twins, I decided that I wanted to stay home and raise my children.

Maybe I was over protective or it was my “calling,” but I had a strong desire to stay home. Plus, the cost to put my twins into a quality daycare would’ve surely eaten up most of any paycheck. So, working outside the home just didn’t seem like a viable option.

I knew I had to find a way to contribute to our finances and it was my husband who actually introduced me to making money online.

Since he works from home, he suggested I do something like virtual assisting or freelance writing.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and the creative side of it so freelance writing seemed like a great fit for me.

3. I really love your blog on ElnaCain.com where you share advice for writers who want to break into the business. Why did you decide to write about writing?

When I first started my blog – over on my professional website, Innovative Ink – I was so interested in freelance writing, I wanted to write about it.

I used my blog to write about writing and being a work-from-home mom. Since I didn’t have a clear direction of what niche I was ultimately going to specialize in, I felt freelance writing was something I was learning about and I was interested in – so I wanted to share my excitement.

Now, over a year later, I moved my blog over to ElnaCain.com – since it didn’t fit well with my professional writing site – and found a whole audience of new writers wanting to learn how to break into freelance writing and to be told how it really is.

4. What does an average day look like? Are there any tricks you use to increase your writing productivity?

My days are busy and different each time. Luckily – crossing my fingers – my twins are still taking their daily nap. They just turned three so I know my days are numbered.

The only time I can truly do my client work is when they are sleeping. I can average around 4 hours of solid work a day. This means I start my writing at 2 pm and can write until 3:30 or 4 pm.

Then I can write again from 8pm until around 10 pm. It’s not ideal, but it’s working.
When my twins are awake, I sometimes manage to sneak in some other business-related tasks such as invoicing, email, graphic design for clients, or updating and research for client pieces.

These tasks don’t always require my total focus and they can get done when my children are running around playing.

As for productivity hacks? I try not to check my email or social media profiles – or approve comments on my blog – when I’m writing for my clients. I also listen to music – loving Ludovico Einaudi’s album Divenire – and that seems to help me to keep focus when I have to write.

5. Are you writing full time? If so, how and when did you make the decision and transition?

No, I’m not writing full-time, yet. My twins are still young and I want to keep them home and take care of them.

So, when they go to school I’ll probably do this full-time.

6. Is there anything you regret or would have done differently early on?

The one thing I regret is not knowing about job boards sooner. I started my freelance writing with a content mill. I barley made $2 for my first writing piece and I started to doubt my ability to have a successful freelance writing business.

Then I moved on to Guru, which is similar to Upwork. I didn’t land any projects there so I finally made the (right) decision to do this on my own. I created Innovative Ink, guest posted and searched job boards for quality gigs and it paid off!

7. How do you think freelancing has changed your life the most?

It’s given me many opportunities that I couldn’t have possibly dreamed of. I’m a writer for Blogging Wizard, I ghostwrite for some big influencers, I was approach by Kevin Duncan to write for OptinMonster and I’m in the works to collaborate with other successful writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs.

It’s amazing how much my business has grown in only a year. I can only imagine what my business will look like a year from now.

8. Are you working on any side projects?

I just launched a new freelance writing course for aspiring writers and bloggers called Write Your Way to Your First $1k. It’s a 7-week, self-paced online course.

I wanted to create a course that shows a proven framework and provides step-by-step lessons from the initial stages of deciding if freelance writing is for you, all the way up to marketing yourself, submitting your pieces to your clients properly, and growing your business.

Since it’s self-paced, students can go through the course material as fast or as slow as they want, and they can go back and review important lessons. And, I’m always adding new videos and material to keep things up-to-date and current. Oh, and there’s a private Facebook group where we all hang out and help each other out – it would be hard for someone not to succeed.

9.You also offer coaching for aspiring writers. Can you share more about how that’s structured? What does a typical coaching session look like?

Yes, I offer coaching to new writers and it’s going great. Currently I’m offering 30-minute phone calls.

During our phone call I get to know the writer and what their problems are. From there we hatch out a plan to tackle each problem. After our initial phone call I send out a summary report going over what we had discussed.

They can choose whether to do bi-weekly coaching calls, monthly coaching calls, or talk on a as needed basis.

I’ve had great success with this setup and many of my coaching students also join my freelance writing course, which tells me they all want to succeed at the highest level.

10. Lastly – what is one small thing that an aspiring writer can do today to improve their freelancing business.

The one thing an aspiring writer can do to day to improve their freelance business is to stop doubting yourself.

I know this can seem impossible to do, but just know that everyone doubts his or her ability at one time or another. Even the most successful freelance writers still let doubt creep in once in a while. The thing to remember is how you deal with it. Face it and take action! And once you get over that, anything is possible.

About Kevin Fleming

Kevin is the founder of Contena. Contena allows you to search freelance jobs posted across the internet, in one place - instantly.

  • Elna Cain

    Thanks for interviewing me Kevin! Loved sharing my story with other writers.

    • Of course! Glad that I had the opportunity to interview you!

  • Great to see you here, Elna! Great interview, Kevin!

    • Elna Cain

      Hey Brenda! I had a blast with the questions and getting to know more about Contena!

    • Thanks Brenda!

  • Great interview Elna – Can’t wait to have you regularly publish on the OptinMonster blog.

    -Syed Balkhi
    Co-Founder of OptinMonster

    • Elna Cain

      Hey Syed,

      Super excited to write for OptinMonster! Thanks for thinking of me

  • Elna, I’m sorry I missed this earlier this year, but I’m glad I found it now!

    It’s great to see how far you’ve come. πŸ™‚

    I’ve enjoyed seeing your progress over the last two years, by the way, and truly enjoy our coffee get-togethers at Starbucks!

    Talk to you soon, girl!

    • Elna Cain

      Hey Lorraine!

      Love getting together with you over at Starbucks for some blogging talk πŸ™‚