The 7 steps I used to build a $300k writing business with zero experience

TL;DR — In June 2021 I quit my job. In July 2021 I made my first $13k online. These are the 7 steps I followed to build a writing business that’s now put $300k in my pocket.

I talk to people everyday who are scared…

Scared to launch their own business. Scared to move out of the U.S. Scared to start writing online. Scared to quit their job.

Those feelings are totally normal. Everyone feels them. I did too.

But your response to that fear is the important part. You’ve got two choices:

  • Are you not going to pursue your dreams because you don’t know what will happen?
  • Or are you going to make the leap because of the potential upside?

I did the latter. And I’ve never been happier.

Here are the 7 steps I followed to build my business to $300k in revenue in less than 2 years.

office view as a nomad

1. Build your writing muscle

If you don’t enjoy writing, don’t start a writing business. It’s that simple.

But if you do, writing for fun and writing for business are two different animals.

Writing for fun is just that. It’s fun. You’re not required to

Copywriting and ghostwriting needs to drive an audience to a certain action. It needs to resonate. To evoke a response.

These are very different.

To start a business around your writing habit, you need to hone your writing muscles.


  • Read. Study different writing styles. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t.
  • Practice. Set aside time each day to write, even if it’s just 20 minutes. You’ll slowly feel this habit get easier and easier.
  • Get feedback. Do not write in a vacuum. Again, your writing will need to get a response from your readers. So ask your peers, your family, your coworkers. Constructive criticism will help you get better.
  • Follow others. Never in history have you had such great access to the world’s best writers. Sure, read a lot. But get on social media. Subscribe to a few newsletters. Watch YouTube videos. You’re surrounded by gold.

Everything on the internet starts as writing. Social media posts, movies, emails, short-form video, Twitter threads.

You’ll learn quickly what separates the good from the bad.

2. Find your niche (maybe)

NOTE: Nicheing isn’t totally necessary. In fact, I didn’t niche down right away. And I had success without narrowing down my target market. ¯\(ツ)

Nicheing down makes your sales and marketing much easier.

For example, want to target plumbers? Perfect. Then all your sales and marketing materials, all your social proof, all your website copy can target them.

Specializing in an industry or persona will make you more attractive to that crowd and in turn, turn you off to others. Which is okay!

The sweet spot – Make sure you can check these three boxes about your niche:

  • [ ] My target market needs writing services to drive demand
  • [ ] My target market’s industry is interesting to me
  • [ ] My target market can afford my services

3. Build a portfolio

Social proof is the most important part of your business’s growth.

As you talk with more sales prospects, you’ll learn all they want to know is whether …

  1. you’ve worked with people they know and/or respect
  2. and you’ve done what you said you can do.

That’s it.

So on your website and in your sales conversations, you need to prove …

  1. you’ve worked with people they know and/or respect
  2. and you’ve done what you said you can do.

So how do you do this?

Start a blog and publish your writing there. Share it on social media where your target market can see it. Start a newsletter too and regularly share what you’re working on.

Only if you’re struggling to find clients, offer free services in exchange for testimonials. This will help build trust with your target market.

Then organize all your best work and present it to new prospects. They’ll have a tough time turning you down if …

  1. you’ve worked with people they know and/or respect
  2. and you’ve done what you said you can do.
working life as a nomad

4. Work on your personal brand

Business is personal. I don’t care what anyone says.

If your sales prospects don’t trust you or enjoy your company, you’re not going to last.

Work on your interpersonal skills. Be a good communicator. Ethics are your north star.

As I said in the previous section about social proof, share your work. Your personal brand will help you stand out in a crowded writing market.

  • Create a professional website and social media presence — This is where potential clients will find you.
  • Use a unique voice and style — Be yourself! Clients want to hire someone with a cool perspective and personality. Yeah, you’ve got to deliver on your promise. But it’s a bonus if you’re fun to work with.
  • Network with other writers & industry peeps — There’s zero downside of getting out there and meeting other people. You’ll learn from them and create some lifelong relationships. Take my word for it, I didn’t do this enough in my first year of business.

All in all, your personal brand should document your progress. Build in public.

5. Set fair rates & create smart products

Here comes the business side of things. It’s time to talk money.

Stagnation is the enemy. Learning the business side of writing is critical if you want to truly be free.

Freelancers ask me a lot what a fair rate is. Three lessons here:

  • Stop thinking in terms of time.
  • Never charge hourly rates.
  • Don’t undervalue your work.

Don’t think about it this way: One article takes me two hours to write and edit. I’ll charge my clients an arbitrary rate of $50/hour. So $100 in total.

Think about it this way: I wrote an article that will generate 1 customer for my client this month. Each customer is worth $5000 of lifetime value to my client. I’ll charge $500 (10% of that LTV).

The goal is to be free, right?

You can’t be free by continuing to trade your time for money like in a traditional 9-5 job. You have to scale your business to give you more time, your most precious resource.

I see so many young entrepreneurs selling themselves short when they could be making a lot more than they are.

Next, build retainer deals to work with your clients on a recurring basis instead of individual projects. This is where the real money begins.

If you constantly have to search for new customers, you’re on a never-ending circuit of despair. Lock your clients into a monthly retainer and forget the hamster wheel.

And offer different service tiers to cater to different needs. Some of your clients will want even more from you after you prove you’re good at what you do.

Allow them the opportunity to upgrade.

For example, this is what I offer my clients:

Nu age marketing tiers

6. Cold approach

The best marketing strategy is no strategy at all. If you perform well enough for your clients, they will refer you to others in the industry who need your services.

Boom! You didn’t even have to lift a finger.

To make referrals easy on your clients, do these 3 things:

  • Have a functioning website (a simple landing page works)
  • Offer a referral bonus to your clients
  • Be able to prove your results

But it usually takes a while to get to this stage in your business.

If you need more clients, you will not receive if you don’t ask.

So that means you’ve got to do some cold approaching. Reach out on social media. Email your target clients. Network with them in-person.

The world is truly abundant. There are so many people that need your help. You just need to find them.

7. Be the best at customer service

To make yourself referrable (is that a word?), you have to provide world-class customer service. I’m convinced this skill will make or break your business.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the first two years of running my writing business:

  • Meet deadlines — High quality work is one thing. But if you can’t provide it in the period you promised, you can forget this business altogether.
  • Overcommunicate everything — Update regularly. Don’t assume your clients understand everything that’s in your head. When in doubt, blurt it out.
  • Ask for feedback — You’re not going to get a gold star on your first try. You need to be open to feedback and criticism. You’re here to serve them.

Yes, writers can make a living in 2023.

Discipline, my friend. That’s what it takes. Follow these 7 steps, and you’ll make $300k in your first 2 years of business just like me – or faster.

Reach out over email or on Twitter and let me know how it’s going. I respond to every single message.

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