I’m delighted to bring you this exclusive interview with Francesca from From Pennies to Pounds – one of my favourite money blogs. She has some great tips about managing your money, especially as a single parent!
Hi Fran, thanks for taking time to be interviewed. First of all, what made you set up your blog?
To help others. A few years ago, I was in a really bad place. Financially, and pretty much every aspect of my life really!
I had a young daughter, and was in a relationship where I had no financial support. I couldn’t leave the house to work due to that and lack of childcare.
I did my best to work around that and found an evening job that I could do from home, that I did every night when my daughter had gone to bed. It paid terribly, but it was enough to cover my bills – but nothing left over.
I had cut back so much, I realised that I needed to get some extra money coming in to help me out. I was desperate to save up a house deposit!
I searched around on the internet for ways that I could make extra money, but I couldn’t find anything that didn’t look dodgy, or needed an upfront fee paid.
I hesitated over trying anything out for ages, but then decided that I’d need to bite the bullet and just go for it!
Once I had tried out some and saw that they worked, I knew that I would have to share this info. I didn’t want anyone who was in the same position as me, to feel as helpless as I had.
When I had been trawling through Google, I wanted to find a resource for someone like me.
A mum with a young child that needed to find ways of making extra money with no spare time. Who had no money for upfront costs to start a business. Who didn’t have great mental health at the time and needed someone to gently take them by the hand and guide them.
So I decided that I would become that resource! I have always loved writing, and wanted to help – it seemed like a perfect fit. “From Pennies to Pounds” was born!
On your website you share your story and how you now do freelance writing as well. How do you find your freelance writing clients, and how did you get started with this?
I don’t have that many clients at the moment as up until quite recently, I also had a part-time office job. I’ve now left that job in order to do blogging and writing as my main sources of income (around my daughter), so I am looking to increase my clients soon.
As mentioned, I’ve always loved writing – ever since I was a little girl. My dream has always been to be an author, and that’s still a goal of mine – but being paid to write is amazing for me.
I had thought about freelance writing for a while – it was an obvious side hustle for me, but I was scared!
In the end, I did as I’ve trained myself to do, which is to just go for it and do it anyway!
I wanted to write about personal finance as that’s what I’m used to with my blog, and I thought that a good place to start would be with other bloggers – but in the US.
My thinking was to go for bloggers who were doing well but were on a steady upward path – so they had the money to spend, and were willing to invest in writers.
I reached out to a site that I knew of, and asked if they were looking for writers. They said yes, and there was my first client!
My second client (who is my main source of income) came from a Facebook group. They were talking in there about thinking about hiring a freelance writer – so I immediately emailed them and said I saw their post and would be interested in them considering me when they were ready.
They said yes! I couldn’t believe it. I realise that this was very lucky, but it worked for me. I’ve had other clients find me through social media.
What other side hustles have you done or do?
The very first side hustle that I tried was mystery shopping. I think it was the lure of the free food that got me!
Some other side hustles that I’ve done are: surveys, matched betting, dog boarding, blogging, selling my stuff…whatever I could really!
The ones that I mainly focus on now are blogging, freelance writing, and I still do surveys when I get a spare few minutes. I’m working on building up my business now, so all of my attention is going there!
You’ve recently given up working for others to go it alone, how long did it take you to get to that point?
There was no specific milestone that I wanted to reach in order to work for myself. I was happy with having my part-time job as additional income, as it feels less stressful for me.
However, I started to not enjoy my office job, but I absolutely loved my blog and writing work. I discussed it with my boyfriend, and he fully supported my decision to quit my office job and concentrate on these instead.
I’ve only been doing my freelance writing for about 9 months, and will hopefully increase the income from that soon.
What is your biggest success along the way?
Oh gosh, I’m not sure! There are so many things that I’m hugely proud of, because I never expected to do well at all. I have horrible self-confidence, so I second guess myself all the time.
Some things that have stood out for me are my first ever TV appearance through the blog – on a BBC One programme. I was so nervous and tempted to back out, but it went SO well and got me a ton of new readers, so it was worth it.
I’ve also been in the national newspapers and in magazines, as well as on the radio. Everytime something like that happens I pinch myself!
I’ve created my own product – a budget planner, which I’m hugely proud of. I have also put together a money making email course which had a lot more signups than I was expecting!
I also find it so amazing when readers reach out to me to tell me that I’ve made a difference in their lives. The messages that they send me are beautiful and I will treasure them forever.
I don’t take any of this journey for granted. I still can’t believe that this is all happening!
What’s your biggest regret or mistake along the way?
Now I’ve got a lot of those! I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I started blogging, and I wish that I had taken the time to create a proper strategy.
I also wish that I had invested in some things that would have helped me – there are a lot of blogging resources out there, but I was being stubborn and wanting to learn it all for free.
I’ve only just started to make a proper plan for my blog, so I hope that it will all improve soon!
What would you say to someone who is unhappy in their job but doesn’t feel they have the knowledge or skills for a career change?
My advice for everyone – in any aspect of their lives – is to make happiness the goal.
This is literally our only life, so why would you want to spend any of it being unhappy? There are so many things out there which can bring you joy once you have cut out the negative.
There are millions of people who have changed jobs and careers before you – so you know that it’s possible.
I advise to decide what is truly important to you, and make a plan around that. A specific, detailed plan that will get you where you want to go.
Have a plan, and know that there is an amazing job out there for you which will change your life for the better.
Blog link: https://frompenniestopounds.com
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/frompenniestopounds/