Interview with Daisy McCarty, author of 'Make Freelancing REALLY Pay'

Daisy McCarty is a self-educated writer and co-founder of Freelance Text, a professional services firm that specializes in web content creation. Since transitioning out of a seven year career in Corporate Procurement in 2008, Daisy has been using her negotiating skills to navigate to the higher levels of the online writing industry. Today, she mentors informally at Professional Freelancers Network, and offers formal one-on-one consulting services to freelancers who are ready to increase their income.

Her latest book is Make Freelancing REALLY Pay: Communication and Negotiation Strategies That Take You to the Top.

You can read Daisy’s blog and get more great freelancing advice at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

It was March of 2013. I had been freelancing for about five years and my career was quite successful. I didn’t have to go looking for work since my repeat and referral business was thriving. I had plenty of high paying clients and was still increasing my rates. My active income was going strong. I knew the next step in building my business would be to develop some kind of informational product to generate recurring income. So, I went to hear a local author speak to a job seeker group about her experience as a freelancer. I figured I could pick her brain about tips for self-publishing.

Instead, I was treated to a tale of woe. This freelance writer told her audience that she was really struggling to make enough money to survive. She talked about how difficult it is to find clients who pay professional prices and the challenges of competing with low-cost providers. She said she was a couple of months away from losing her house. Talk about a de-motivational speaker!

As I listened to her recount these challenges, I realized that her story is actually pretty common in the freelancing business. There’s a very specific skillset that separates successful freelance professionals from those who find freelancing a constant struggle. It’s not talent, hard work, or customer satisfaction that determines success (although these factors form an important foundation). What freelancers must have to thrive in this business is the ability to communicate and negotiate effectively. Without that skill, it’s easy to get stuck working long hours for low pay until you burn out.

After the talk was over, I pulled the group’s organizer aside. I told her that I would be happy to give a talk about how to really make money freelancing. She thought that was a fantastic idea and we set a date for the next month. As I sat down to create my presentation, I realized that I couldn’t just talk about freelance writing. The audience for my presentation would be made up of creative professionals in a wide variety of fields, and they all needed helpful advice.

That ended up being the unique angle for my book. I wouldn’t write about how to be a successful freelance writer. There are plenty of books on that topic already available. Instead, I would write a book of strategies that all freelancers can use to create success in their business. It’s been a fantastic experience writing Make Freelancing Really Pay. I’m thrilled that the lessons I’ve learned in my own career can now help other freelancers overcome similar challenges.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

I’d say the book was moderately challenging to write—mostly because I had so much information I wanted to put in. It took a lot of self-discipline to cut and cut until the content was as concise and perfectly targeted as possible.

My advice is this: if there’s stuff in your (non-fiction) book that you just can’t bear to part with, use it for blog fodder instead. Most of the posts on my freelancing blog are based on sections I cut from my book because they weren’t an ideal fit for what I was trying to achieve in that context. Good ideas don’t have to go to waste!

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published my ebook. I have a niece who is a published author, so I got to hear all about what it’s like to go through the editing, publishing, and marketing process with a small publisher. It didn’t sound like the right plan for my book.

I did hire an amazing editor to ensure my readers get to enjoy a properly prepared book. But I didn’t want a publisher telling me to change some of the more controversial sections of my book. Plus, I knew I would have to handle most of the promotion myself if I wanted it done right. I have no issue with taking responsibility for my own success, so self-publishing was a perfect fit.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

The whole process took less time than I thought it would. From the initial concept to the publication date took less than seven months. Of course, it took five years of experience to know what to write about!

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

I felt a little exhausted, but very pleased. There may have been some dancing involved…

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m always in the process of observing and experimenting to discover additional freelance success strategies. I anticipate writing another book with a fresh collection of strategies or a workbook for new freelancers. There’s no timeline for publication yet.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

I like to think it serves as a happy inspiration as well as a resource that’s full of useful advice. It provides a concrete example of what a motivated person can do even if they start with nothing. I began my freelance career with no formal education, no professional experience working as a writer, no industry contacts, and no portfolio. If I can build a thriving business from the ground up, other freelancers can definitely do the same.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

My book is very practical and focuses on specific strategies the reader can implement in their business. However, it is also embedded with empowering messages about acting with authenticity, valuing yourself and your work, and gaining the freedom to live the life you truly desire. It’s designed to change the way you think about freelancing forever.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Freelancing can feel like a risky choice. But this lifestyle gets a lot easier once you figure out how to ask for the money you deserve. As I say in my book, “When you learn to do what others are afraid to do, your opportunities for career development are virtually unlimited.” 
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