- From New York, USA
Founder of Wild Lotus Content
- Business Model: FreelanceAgency
- $3,500monthly revenue
- $3,300monthly profit
- All info self-reported by interviewee
- Published January 15, 2020
- Reviewed and edited by Rita Epps
Who are you and how do you make money online?
I’m Zoë and I am the founder of Wild Lotus Content.
I write and edit for many different businesses and publications around the world, mostly in the niches of emerging technology, the cannabis industry, and higher education. I have a small team of writers that help me create content for my clients.
I make a rough average of $3,500 in revenue a month, with around $250 or so in expenses on average, making my monthly total profit around $3,250. My expenses are when I outsource my writing to other freelance writers who I pay directly.
That said, this number does fluctuate quite a bit from month to month. For instance, I made about $4,600 in August 2019, while in September I only made $2,750 in profit.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I wake up whenever I feel like waking up.
The only time I set an early alarm for myself is if I have a big deadline that day and need to get a lot of work done.
I usually work from home, but I try to go out once or twice a week to work at a cafe just to get myself out of the house.
I will work 2 to 3 hours in the morning and then take a lunch break. I usually like to take a little nap for working so hard. 😜
Then I will continue working 2 or 3 more hours in the afternoon, possibly more if I have a lot to get done, or less if there isn’t much work to do that day.
On average, I’d say I work a total of 20 to 30 hours a week.
Working for myself from my laptop means I have incredible freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.
I have a lot of free time to work on hobbies like painting, working out, socializing with friends, and traveling the world.
I honestly have too much time on my hands these days, so I am looking into new business ventures to spend more time on and make more money.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea for your business?
I graduated from college at age 20 in 2014 (I graduated early from high school), with a degree in anthropology and sociology.
All I knew what that I loved writing research papers and I loved traveling and experiencing new cultures.
Unfortunately, the job market for anthropologists isn’t exactly thriving…so I wound up getting a job making cheese at a goat farm.
All of my “real” jobs have been hard labor, and I hated it. I lasted only 3 months before quitting and deciding to go traveling.
I knew I had to find a way to make money online so I could have the freedom to travel.
I researched options every day and eventually found a course called Proofread Anywhere, that teaches you how to proofread court transcripts from an iPad.
I called my new little business Spotted Owl Proofing, and slowly found some clients. I only made around $9,000 my first year.
I decided I needed to offer more services, so I started calling myself an editor.
I started editing for a psychedelic magazine called Psymposia for free, to get some experience under my belt. I started finding some paying clients as well.
After about another year, I knew I had to up my game even more if I wanted to make more money.
So I started looking for writing gigs. I decided to focus on the cryptocurrency/blockchain niche, as it was red hot at the time. I lied to my first client that I knew all about crypto…
…and just learned on the go!
Choosing to enter this niche was the best decision I made, and clients were contacting me constantly asking me to write for them.
I got bored only writing about cryptocurrency and started taking clients in the cannabis industry, which has also been exploding with growth.
I had so many businesses asking for my writing services, I was having to turn lots of people down, which I didn’t like doing.
That’s why I decided to scale my business and start hiring writers to help me out, and Wild Lotus Content was born in March 2019.
I did all this while traveling extensively, and ultimately moving permanently to Tel Aviv, Israel. Tel Aviv is now my home base, and I usually travel to other countries every 3 or 4 months, all while still running my business from my laptop.
How did you prepare to launch the business?
I went through a couple of courses on Udemy that were about starting a digital marketing agency, just to see what is involved and what steps I should be taking.
I also talked to a bunch of people that already had successful agencies to get their input and advice.
It took me a few months of going back and forth on whether or not I should even try, because several people had warned me against starting a content agency.
But ultimately I decided to go for it because I really had nothing to lose!
How much money did you have to spend to get started?
- Udemy course on starting an agency: $10
- Logo design from Fiverr: $63
- Web domain: $9
- Hosting: $47
- Divi theme: $200
Total expenses: $329
Talk us through your first few months (or first year) in business.
I found 2 writers with affordable rates after posting a few ads on various digital nomad Facebook groups, one for my technology niche and one for my cannabis niche.
I started giving them the writing work I had no time for.
This allowed me to take on more clients and accept more work.
The first month of launching Wild Lotus Content allowed me to have a more profitable month than I ever achieved in my previous 3 years of freelancing.
As more work came in, I have hired more writers. I started a Slack channel for us to easily communicate in.
I now have 5 freelance writers on the Wild Lotus Content team.
How did you make your first $100 online?
When I was just starting out, I was focusing on proofreading court transcripts.
I cold emailed court reporters as if it were my full-time job.
I would spend each day finding emails and sending out offers for my services to literally hundreds and hundreds of court reporters.
After a month or two of doing this, I wound up with a few clients. I still work with some of them today.
How does the business make money today?
LinkedIn has been my main source of finding clients.
All I did was change my heading to include what niches I specialize in and connected with tons of people within those niches.
I now get messages from people all the time that want to work with me.
Editor’s note: you might also enjoy our interview with Alison Rakoto, who is a professional LinkedIn expert and shared some tips for finding clients on this platform.
Other than that, I have been pretty lazy with putting my business out there.
My website isn’t even finished.
I just focus on making great content for my clients so that they keep coming back for more.
What are some of the challenges particular to this kind of online business?
If you’re running an agency, then if anyone on your team screws up, it’s all on you.
You have to make sure to stay on top of deadlines and make sure your freelancers are getting their work done.
There have been several instances where my writers missed a deadline and I had to turn in work late to clients, which is always stressful and embarrassing.
It’s important to leave enough buffer time between your writer’s deadline and your client’s deadline to leave room for late work, needed revisions, etc.
If you were starting the same business today, from scratch, how would you do it?
I think I would have just started even sooner instead of turning down work I couldn’t add to my plate.
I spent too much time overthinking and worrying that it would be a bad idea to scale my business into an agency.
What books, podcasts, courses or other resources would you recommend to someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
For writers, Earn More Writing by Holly Johnson is a great course.
Editor’s note: read our in-depth review of Earn More Writing here.
I haven’t found any really great courses specifically about going from a freelancer to scaling into an agency.
The best I’ve seen is a video course that Esther Inman did just for members of the Digital Nomad Girls Inner Circle community — which is a great little community if you are a female digital nomad looking for a tight-knit circle of women that co-work online together and help each other out!
Editor’s note: you might also enjoy our interview with Esther Inman who initially started as a VA, later scaled her business into a six-figure VA agency and is now selling courses on how to do so.
I think finding a relevant community that you can ask questions and get guidance from is really important to help keep you going.
Niall’s Facebook group Freedom Business Builder has been really helpful for me along my entire freelance journey in general.
What are your top 5 business tools?
- Wave for free financial software and invoicing system
- Slack for keeping in touch with team members all over the world
- LinkedIn for connecting with clients
- Notion for project management
- Google Calendar for keeping track of all my deadlines
Where can we go to learn more?
You can view my Wild Lotus Content website here. It is probably still under construction 😛
You can check out my writing portfolio here.
And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn as well!