Jacob McMillen: Freelance Copywriter: From $15 Per Article to $40,000+ Per Month as a Freelance Writer
Jacob McMillen is a successful freelance copywriter who actually got a college degree – but not for writing. He flipped from accounting and sales to copywriting, where he maxed his earnings at $20K/month with a flair for words and business. He then pivoted to try his hand at content marketing, SEO, and even ran a small agency. Today, his entrepreneurial spirit burns on — he earns over $40K/month through freelancing and his new education business.
Jacob’s Original Story: From $15 Per Article to $40,000+ Per Month as a Freelance Writer
I’m probably not what most people would picture when they imagine a professional writer. I never really enjoyed writing in school, and I hated 90% of the books they made us read in Literature class.
Rather than pursuing a creative degree in college, I beelined straight for Accounting, figuring it was the degree I was least likely to regret down the road (truly a romantic, I know). I paid my way through school by doing direct sales, and while I didn’t realize it at the time, that sales experience would prepare me far more for a successful career than anything I learned in my classes.
During my final year of college, I began to discover the world of websites and ecommerce, and I found it incredibly fascinating, so rather than pursue a full-time position in Accounting or Finance upon graduation, I took a contract position for nearly minimum wage at a two-person SEO agency.
Over the next year, I’d discover the world of online marketing, freelancing, and copywriting, and I’ve never looked back.
My first freelance writing gig was 80 articles per month on mind-numbingly boring topics like carpet cleaning, pest control, and scrap metal recycling, paid at $15 per article. I cringe now thinking about it, but at the time, I was absolutely elated to be earning around $20 per hour just to write stuff… and from home no less.
I quickly discovered that in the wild west of ecommerce, my sales ability could open virtually any door for me, and then I just had to hustle like crazy to deliver a great writing product, and perhaps more importantly, a great marketing asset.
I’ve realized over the years that success as a freelance writer really comes down to those two things:
- The ability to be your own sales department
- The ability to deliver a great piece of writing that serves as a marketing asset
Thanks to my laser focus on these two things, I was earning six figures in freelance income within about a year and a half of going full-time. I averaged $15k/month for several years and finally capped out at around $20k/month.
To this day, it blows my mind that I can make 5x the US median wage by simply writing stuff… and from home no less.
It hasn’t been an easy journey per se, but it also hasn’t been particularly complex. I’ve never felt like the smart one in the room, and I’m never short of examples of people doing it better than me, but I have been willing to consistently put the work in and take a few calculated risks along the way, and ultimately, I think that’s what successful freelancing and solopreneurship are all about.
What I love most about freelance copywriting is that it’s exposed me to so many new business models and given me the tools to try many myself. I built a content agency to $40k/month before realizing that I didn’t enjoy managing a team, and over the last year, I’ve built an education business to around $25k/month. Over 20,000 freelance writers have gone through my free training and around 1,000 have gone through my paid course – The Internet’s Best Copywriting Course – many of whom are now earning fulltime and even six-figure incomes of their own.
I never really aspired to earn more than $150k per year, but thanks to the doors that copywriting has opened up for me, today I’m earning around $40k per month between my freelancing and side businesses, and I’m lucky if I get a solid 30 hours of work in per week while surviving two boys under 3 years old.
In hindsight, freelancing was the perfect choice for me. Offering a professional service as a freelancer is an incredibly low risk, high reward pursuit, and I can’t recommend it enough for anyone who has even a single entrepreneurial bone in their body. If I can do it, you absolutely can too.