If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you’ve probably heard of Zina Kumok. She is a former 30 Days or Less student, coaching client and a great personal finance writer who managed to pay her student loan debt off in less than three years.
She’s also our guest for this month’s Freelancer Spotlight series!
What do you do and how long have you been in business?
I’m a freelance writer specializing in personal finance. I’ve been freelancing off and on since I was 19 and have been doing this full-time for a year and a half now.
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
I got into freelancing because I was a journalism major in college and it was an easy way to stay connected with former editors and earn money on the side. Once I started freelancing more heavily in January 2015, I realized that I could get enough gigs to turn it into a full-time job.
What has been most challenging part of solopreneurship so far?
I’m an extrovert and really miss coworkers. When I get a bad note from an editor, I don’t know if it’s because of me or them. Having that camaraderie is so important so I’m part of several online groups where I can discuss the challenges of freelancing with other people.
(Gina: I’ve found that creating and keeping connections has been a big part of every successful freelancer’s journey. In fact, Stefanie wrote about it recently on Horkey HandBook.)
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
Ha, not yet! Honestly I think freelancing is easier than having a regular 9-5 job. My husband works with me and we get to be home all day with our dogs. It’s a really awesome life and I can’t imagine giving it up.
(Gina: Zina is one of the early Contently success stories. You should check out this guest post that she wrote about getting high-paying clients on Contently. It’s chock full of actionable advice.)
What tasks in your business would you like to outsource?
Emails! I probably spend 1.5 hours a day responding to emails. I’m not sure a VA could handle the majority of them, so this is just wishful thinking.
How do you stay motivated and productive when working solo?
I keep a to do list that I try to stick to. I’ve recently started logging my time. I’ve also learned that sitting down to write is really hard for me, but once I push through, it’s not so bad. It requires a lot of mental willpower, but it’s made me a better person.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
At a conference recently a few people I knew said they were interested in my writing, but knew they couldn’t afford me. It was kind of cool to see I’m on another tier of freelance writing.
What are some specific strategies that helped you grow?
I’m not afraid to reach out and be persistent. A lot of people feel bad about contacting someone multiple times, but I’ve had a lot of jobs where I’ve been emailing someone for almost a year! Don’t be afraid to be annoying.
(Gina: I definitely agree with Zina here. Don’t be afraid to follow up on your pitches. Editors and content managers get so many emails, and things often slip through the cracks. Follow up until you get a no, is what a very wise freelance writer told me once.)
What are you most excited about for your business next?
I’m launching a course through my blog about how to pay off your student loans quickly. This has been a huge passion project for me and I’m excited to see it in the world.
Zina Kumok is a personal finance freelance writer. She writes a blog about paying off her student loans in three years. A former newspaper reporter, she’s covered everything from murder trials to the Final Four. You can read more about Zina on Debt Free After Three and on Twitter.