- Christine Luna, the full-time carer of her four kids, worked small part-time jobs for extra cash.
- Before COVID-19 she picked up shifts as a delivery driver and fitness instructor but had to pivot.
- Luna started writing gift guides for parenting blogs and built her confidence as a freelance writer.
When I had my first child, I quit my job as a fundraiser in Seattle’s nonprofit sector and picked up small part-time jobs alongside being a full-time mom.
In 2017, I became a fitness instructor and would teach a couple of classes a week. I would also take occasional shifts as a food-delivery driver on the weekends.
These jobs helped cover life’s little extras — new shoes for my kindergartener, or a nice steak for an after-bedtime date night.
When the pandemic hit, all my part-time work came to a halt. I had to find a new way to keep making extra income while attending to my four kids, who were now stuck at home with me.
In August 2020, I noticed advertisements asking for gift-guide writers in a few freelance-writing Facebook groups that I had joined.
I offered my novice help for $30 a guide, enough to cover a small bill
My extensive experience with children’s toys meant that writing for parenting blogs was a natural fit. I knew which Paw Patrol dog would be the biggest hit with a young niece or which activity would keep a 4-year-old quiet for hours.
Writing a gift guide starts with a theme, something like “toys for a car-obsessed toddler.” You then compile a list of items — usually between three and 10 — that fit the theme. The items are usually affiliated products, meaning the blog will make a percentage of sales from that link. Along with each link, you add a short description that explains why the item is the perfect gift.
Is it the most exciting piece of writing you’ll ever do? Probably not. And that is why so many websites will pay freelancers to write them.
In total, I spend between 8 and 10 hours writing every week
I typically write when the kids are occupied or asleep. If I put on a TV show, I can usually write a few hundred words. If they’re on the trampoline, I can sit with my laptop on the porch.
The key to scaling up my writing time was communication with my family.
Some nights I’d have to ask my husband to oversee bedtime alone so I could lock myself away in the office. Other days I’d set a boundary with my kids to let me write at the kitchen table undisturbed while they play outside.
Between August 2020 and the beginning of 2021, I wrote hundreds of gift guides for websites, making $5,195 from these simple blog posts. I was being paid more money for doing less work than in any of my previous part-time jobs. I was able to pay off bills and had more disposable income to take my family on vacation.
I wanted to learn more so I could continue supporting my family financially while caring for my kids
In spring 2021, I took a business course with some of the top virtual freelancers and dove deep into the world of blogging. The course cost $525.
I discovered from my virtual instructors how profitable my gift guides were for my clients. With this new knowledge, I increased my rates to over $100 a gift guide.
For a blogger, a gift guide can bring in a lot of money towards the end of the year because that is typically when most gifts are purchased. October has a lot of births annually, so purchases tend to increase around September and stay high until the holiday season ends.
The more gift guides I wrote, the more I learned how one article titled “7 Best Car Toys for Toddlers” can net thousands of dollars in affiliate sales for the blogger who commissioned it.
With a better understanding of when to pitch gift guides, who to reach out to, and how to negotiate prices, I more than doubled my gift-guide income in the 2021 calendar year. I also used my new network to pitch other types of articles, focusing mainly on service journalism.
Working the equivalent of one day a week, I made $24,800 from my new freelancing business, with $14,000 coming from gift guides alone
Thanks to my new business, my family’s financial stressors have decreased significantly. We received an unforeseen medical bill this fall, and it was such a relief to know that I could use the income from my writing business to pay it off.
I’ve found a sustainable income stream that I can keep growing from home without spending time away from my children or paying for childcare. I’ve also branched out into email marketing and started creating courses to help other women who are primary caregivers make additional income.
I wouldn’t have had the confidence to pursue any of this without taking the risk to start writing guides.