Michelle of travel blog Mishvo in Motion is one of my favorite people. I’ve been in the blogger world since 2012, and I can tell you it’s very difficult to find anyone as genuine as she is. Michelle writes openly about her struggles with chronic pain and the challenges of being a freelance writer, plus she films these hilarious videos of her singing in foreign places (she has a beautiful voice!).
When I was going through some perplexing health problems (actually, still am), Michelle frequently checked on me via social media, and I so so appreciated that.
I got to know her a bit more because she signed up for my free email course on how to start freelancing. Here’s what she had to say about the course:
“I had been working at full time freelancing for about 3 months when I signed up for the free course. Amy introduced a client acquisition technique I hadn’t heard of before and I was able to go from making between $1-2k a month to $5k a month by putting her tips into action.”
If you’re interested in starting a freelance writing career, you’ll definitely learn a lot from Michelle’s answers below!
Readers, meet Michelle Vogel of Mishvo in Motion!
How long have you been freelancing?
I’ve been freelancing full-time for a year – since November 2016. I had dabbled in $50 projects here and there in the months before going full-time but nothing big.
Please describe your freelance business.
I’m a copywriter and content marketer so I write words on digital platforms that help businesses get more leads. In terms of topic, I love working with B2B businesses that make a social impact. Whether in health, education, or environment, I do my best work when I’m helping mission-driven organizations thrive. I think this probably comes from my background in psychology and public health.
My specialty is in blog content management, strategy, and writing. I help businesses use their blog to capture leads at the top of the funnel. I also write persuasive website and sales copy, which is a bit of a different skill.
How did you find your freelance clients?
I’ve gotten clients in a lot of different ways; no one strategy has proven more consistent or better than any other. My first big client came from posting about my services on my personal Facebook page and asking if any of my friends or family knew someone who could use a hand. I’ve also gotten a few clients through Facebook groups like the Cult of Copy Job Board group and a networking Facebook group I used to frequent that sadly isn’t active anymore. Then otherwise I’ve gotten clients through referrals, Cloudpeeps, and Upwork (but I don’t use Upwork anymore).
I don’t have any employees, but I have outsourced work on a few occasions when I have a component of a project that isn’t my specialty. I’m currently on the lookout for a freelance writer to partner with to have each others’ backs with overflow work or sick day work. I’m realizing just how hard it is to find quality freelancers!
What inspired you to start your business?
I started freelancing for a few reasons, but the short of it was I wanted “freedom” and “fulfillment.”
– I had been blogging about travel for 6 years and wanted to be able to be location independent so I could continue to travel and blog.
– I was disillusioned by my recent experiences in grad school where I studied public health and was questioning whether I really wanted to pursue that field. I think my uncertainty came through in many of my interviews for full-time positions at the time, and I wasn’t able to secure a full-time public health position.
– I wanted to try working for myself and being my own boss.
Visiting temples in Bangkok, Thailand
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
I think the biggest obstacle has been dealing with chronic pain while working for myself and trying to enjoy my location independence. I’ve had TMJ problems for a few years, but the pain in my jaw recently started affecting my everyday life and I had to put a pause on my plans to travel to try to treat it. I also have chronic pain in my tailbone (a condition called coccydynia) which isn’t as distressing as my jaw pain but still affects me every single day. Both conditions are in complicated joints/regions without clearcut biological (or otherwise) causes. I do believe my emotional state and stress both play a huge role, in addition to perhaps being predisposed to these conditions due to genetics, posture, anatomy, my bite, or whatever else.
So I’ve had to stay in Atlanta for much longer than I originally planned to seek treatment and go to appointments. It has felt like I’ve been putting my life on pause for the past six months—and annoyingly this feeling of not living my life fully has probably made my pain worse. It’s cyclical and exhausting.
What lessons did you learn from overcoming this obstacle?
I can’t say I’ve overcome it yet. But here’s what I’ve learned in the process of trying to:
– If you’re self-employed, you have to find balance. You can’t work alone all day, not have a social life, be in a constant state of financial stress and not expect it to affect your health.
– I have a lot more anxiety than I ever thought I did. I’ve been operating in intense hustle mode for months. I always thought meditation was sort of “meh” when I had tried it in the past, but now I’m finally feeling the benefits of just 5-10 minutes of mindfulness a day.
– Vacations (like when you don’t work AT ALL) are as important to your work as time spent working. You have to consciously plan them though—you aren’t just going to accidentally happen upon a vacation (because there’s always more work to be done when you’re self-employed).
Do you take advantage of the fact that you work remotely to be able to travel more? If so, please describe where you’ve been while working!
Not yet, but I have some flights booked! I didn’t feel comfortable taking off and doing the travel+work thing without having a 6-month emergency savings as a backup so I worked to save money first. Then in the midst of all this, my TMJ (jaw) disorder got worse and worse, and I decided to really focus my energy on treating it. So I still couldn’t leave the country even after I had reached my savings goals. I’m *finally* in a place where I’ve plateaued in terms of symptoms and feel comfortable taking off so I’ll be heading out at the start of December for a new adventure!
Meeting a kangaroo in Brisbane, Australia
Can you give us an idea of how much revenue freelancing brings in for you?
I make somewhere between $4-5K a month on average. I would estimate my business expenses are somewhere around $200 a month.
Do you make enough to support your lifestyle?
No, but almost. The money goes fast—especially when a third of it is going to taxes
. I would like to be making $5K, $6K, or more a month.
What’s a typical “day in the life” for you?
It’s not very exciting, ha. I’m not a morning person at all. I wake up around 8:30 a.m. on a good day, eat breakfast, change my clothes (this is key when you work from home! Hard to be productive in pajamas, even if it’s comfortable), and start working. I have client calls probably twice or more a week. I take musical breaks during the workday that include either me playing the ukulele (badly) and singing (not as badly) or doing YouTube karaoke. Or of course checking social media. I work a normal workday then either go for a walk in the forest, go to yoga, or go to the gym. A lot of my friends live in different timezones so I FaceTime them sometimes to catch up. Sometimes I work from the library instead of from the home office for a change of pace. P.S. Guys, go check out your local library! It’s free and it’s quiet!!
Hiking the Salkantay trail in Peru
What’s one thing you wish someone had told you before you started freelancing?
I think the main piece of the freelancing puzzle that’s missing from the internet is HOW HARD IT IS. You see all these bloggers with their insane income reports and awesome travel plans… people who really seem on top of their shit all the time. And they don’t have a care in the world. They make this lifestyle look idyllic, but it’s not perfect
. Every lifestyle has its pros and cons. And actually, I think more people don’t
make it as freelancers than do
. People drop out of the freelancing game all the time because it’s a massive battle—to win clients, become financially stable, manage your time, not be super lonely and isolate yourself, pay your damn taxes…
So I guess I just wish I had a more realistic picture of what freelancing would feel like and what it would take to get to a point where the hard parts of the lifestyle feel worth it.
Michelle working from her laptop
What have been some of your best business expenses?
A magical day in Fussen, Germany
How can we follow your business and/or support your endeavors?
You can follow my blog Mishvo in Motion
or check me out on Twitter
, or Facebook
. Twitter is probably my favorite. Follow me on my first trip abroad since becoming a freelancer! I leave December 1st
About Michelle Vogel
Michelle Vogel is a freelance copywriter and content marketing strategist. She also writes for her own blog, Mishvo in Motion, about her adventures in travel and freelancing. When not writing, she can be found singing, spending time in nature, or eating olives in bulk.
If you liked this, be sure to read the rest of my remote work case studies! Are you a freelancer who’d like to be featured here? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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