How I Built a Full-Time Career as a Freelance Writer

From pennies per story to managing a viral publication.

Adrian Drew
9 min readMar 19


Photo by Thomas Franke on Unsplash

As a teenager, I’d always had dreams of ‘making it’ as a writer, whatever that meant. And at eighteen, brimming with ambition and fresh out of high school, the time had come to give it my best shot.

That’s when I realized a harsh truth about the often-romanticized world of writing. It’s not easy to make a career as an author.

My childhood naivety had left me with the false belief that becoming an author would be as simple as waiting for inspiration to strike, writing a bestselling novel, and reaping the rewards for the remainder of my happy, carefree life.

While such a journey would have been great, my first steps into the world of freelance literature crushed those unrealistic hopes pretty quickly. Of course, I could become a writer.

But it would never be as easy as I’d once thought.

I was yet to learn about how to market my work, how to establish my personal brand, how to build connections with other creatives, and how to deal with clients. And after trial, error, more error, crippling failure, and many years of being soul-crushingly poor, I found my footholds and learned to climb higher in a new industry as a complete beginner.

Now, I own and direct a viral publication, earn six figures per year as a writer, and am no longer searching for work, but turning opportunities down simply because I don’t have the time to complete them.

How did I get from point A to B?

Let me tell you.

Finding My Feet

Usually, finding your first client is the toughest step. At least, it was for me.

I was a complete novice. Watching all of these other writers achieving such big things left me feeling deflated and disheartened. They were all earning so much money, generating tonnes of views on their content — and here was me unable to land a single paid gig.

After applying for high-budget jobs over several months and being repeatedly rejected, I reasoned that I’d just have to suck it up and settle for some low-paid, uninteresting jobs until I gained more…



Adrian Drew

Owner of Mind Cafe | Let’s chat on Instagram: @adriandrew__