Freelancing Success Story: Studying and Focusing on Volunteer Work

02-03-2015 | Ramona |

When I first started freelancing, I never in my dreams would have imagined that it would turn out so well. I was desperate back in 2009, in debt and having lost my job, but the next years proved that, if you are focused on what you do and love your work, there’s nothing to stop you from achieving success.

This is the reason why I decided to create the Freelancing Success Stories series here on PFToday. My example inspired few people to try this lifestyle (and their stories are part of our series here), there are many others who found this activity to be both fun and lucrative. So, if you have a great story to share, please contact me and I’ll gladly feature you here.

Without any other delays, here is Adriana’s story. She’s my friend (we’ve known each other since childhood (so we’re talking here close to 25 years) and a truly amazing person, as you’ll see. Freelancing for her means paying the bills, being able to study and also doing A LOT of volunteer work at the Red Cross. She’s, as I said, an amazing person. Let’s hear from her now:

Can you please give us few details about yourself?

My real name is Adriana, but go by aadryanaa online. I’m a student, pursuing a ย distance learning Social Work bachelor’s degree at a Romanian University, but currently live in Italy. I started freelancing during my first year of college, when I realized it was close to impossible to keep a full time job AND focus on my studies and hobbies.

What made you start freelancing?

Just like in Gabriela‘s case, you’re the real reason I decided to try it “for real”. I consider myself to be really lucky to have someone to look up to for inspiration ๐Ÿ™‚

I started doing small freelancing jobs back in 2007, but never really took it seriously.

I moved to Italy in 2008, I started working and have also attended college in the meantime, to be honest I didn’t really like what I was doing. I was about to give up on my studies for good and embrace the idea that I will be nothing more than an underpaid worker with no job satisfaction but, luckily, in 2012, my boyfriend and I decided to join the Italian Red Cross.

Doing volunteer work for the Red Cross opened up a whole new world for me! I loved the idea of helping people in need right from the start and it wasn’t long before I decided this is what I want to do with my life!

So, long story short, freelancing is, for me, the only way I can pursue my studies in my home country and, at the same time, do awesome volunteer work in a foreign country.

How was the beginning?

The beginning was a bit difficult, despite the fact that I have already done small freelancing jobs before.

I had to start all over again, after years of being absent from the online world. Not to mention I have absolutely no skills when it comes to coding, web design, SEO and other freelance activities that theoretically bring in the big bucks.

So, I had to start somewhere else. The only thing I could think of was to try making some money out of small writing jobs. And this is how it all began ๐Ÿ™‚

I began working on your old website, TopAdmin, and experienced quite a bit of success over there. It was my main source of income, so to speak. I was sad when the website closed down, because I kinda had to start all over again, but there were a few people who insisted we continue to work together, even if the site wasn’t available anymore. This made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside ๐Ÿ™‚ I couldn’t believe that, to them, I was irreplaceable!

Moving on, I have created various accounts on various freelancing jobs websites.

Unfortunately, not all of them are good sources of income for newcomers, at least not at the very beginning. But I tried not to get discouraged, if others can make good money from writing, why can’t I?

Surprisingly, I’m actually quite active on Fiverr right now. I have set up 3 “shy” writing gigs and, in just a few short months, I managed to make quite an impressive (at least to me) number of sales.

In parallel with Fiverr, I constantly try to find other sources of income as well. I also run 2 websites of my own, I set up an online portfolio (which is still ‘in the works’) and, at the same time, I do what I can to be able to maintain a balance between freelancing, studying and everything else.

Would you consider you have reached freelancing success?

I think the term “freelancing success” is relative.

At the moment, I can safely say I earn enough money to pay for college, pay some bills, afford to travel for my exams. However, I definitely don’t earn enough to afford a vacation on a yacht or change cars as often as underwear ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m not complaining though. I love that I’m able to work from home, study in another country and have the opportunity to pursue my hobbies in the meantime. To me, this is more than I could have dreamed of a few years ago. And, it’s like my boyfriend keeps telling me: “stop complaining, this ‘little’ is still better than having nothing at all”.

What are the 3 top things you love about freelancing / running your small business?

  1. First of all, I love the freedom to make my own schedule!

Being able to work from home has been such a blessing! I’m not a fan of waking up late, I actually prefer waking up at 7 a.m. (I know, it’s weird), but I do love that I can schedule the activities I feel like doing according to my own preferences!

  1. Another thing I love about freelancing is the recognition I get for a job well done. It’s like a stimulant that keeps me going!

Most bosses I’ve had at my regular jobs never took the time to let their employees know they’re doing a good job. And I get it, not everyone has the time or the will to talk to every single worker and give them a review on a daily basis. But with freelancing, I finally feel that my work actually matters to someone!

  1. Another aspect that I think deserves mentioning is: you can always try something new.

I write. And I love doing it! But I know that, if I ever get bored of it, I can always start doing something else: I could start offering SEO services, I could start doing affiliate marketing, I could do a bunch of new things, as opposed to having a regular job where you do what your boss tells you to do. Sure, working for a client does mean their are your boss, but you can always retrain yourself to try out something new.

What are the top 3 things you donโ€™t like about freelancing?

  1. Well, I’ll start with the most disliked aspect, in my opinion: no getting a fixed income.

With a job, you at least know that each month, you get your salary and you’re able to plan everything around it. With freelancing, it’s rather difficult to plan anything long term, you never know when you’re gonna have a few “dead months” and earn close to nothing.

  1. I kind of dislike being alone all day long.

I live in a foreign country and I do have friends here, but they have their own jobs and their own schedules and I do find myself alone from morning ’till late in the afternoon. It’s not the end of the world, I can always Skype with friends, call someone just to talk or go out and talk to my neighbours. But that means taking time off work… and that means not getting paid.

  1. Speaking of not getting paid, one more thing that’s quite “annoying” about freelancing is that, if you’re not working, you’re not earning an income.

It’s OK to take some time off, but you can’t “ditch” everything for too long. For a freelancer, there is no paid time off.

Do you have any plans to develop your business further?

Sure, why not?

I enjoy freelancing, so not trying to develop my activities would be such a shame.

What would you say is your best advice for someone to reach freelancing success?

  • Don’t be afraid to try new things. It’s a good idea (especially for beginners) to read and learn about freelancing first, but don’t be afraid to literally try doing it yourself!
  • Don’t get discouraged. Freelancing comes with ups and downs, and at the beginning there will be mostly downs ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t get discouraged, learn from your mistakes and try again!
  • Never work for anyone for free. I see a lot of people wanting to offer free services in order to attract clients, it’s wrong! You won’t be able to work at 100% capacity if you feel you’re wasting your time.

You can find Adriana at If you’re looking for affordable content writing, she’s the one to have in mind.

If you like what you are reading, please share. Thank you :)

Recent Comments

  • Untemplater

    March 4, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I’ve just started venturing into the full time world of freelancing. It’s a little bit scary and a lot exciting. I’m really enjoying my flexible hours and not having to commute anymore! I personally don’t mind being alone, it actually helps me focus so much better, so I’ve got that as a benefit. It will be an interesting year for me for sure. I’m still applying to full time jobs here and there, but I actually hope to stick with freelancing if I can make it work! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • dojo

      March 4, 2015 at 6:21 pm

      Oh, a new ‘convert’ ๐Ÿ™‚

      Happy to hear about your plans and keeping fingers crossed for them to come to fruition. This is exciting news. Freelancer’s life can be both exciting and boring, depending on what you choose to do. I am a bit amused to hear people moan about how lonely they are and how nasty freelancing is for them, when they are THE ONLY ones to decide on their working hours, schedule, fun times etc. I mean, come on, you are in charge, life’s what you make of it ๐Ÿ˜€

  • timba

    September 17, 2015 at 8:36 am

    I started testing the waters a couple of years ago, but I can’t say I’m successful just yet. I’m making ‘some’ side income, apart from my regular job, so far so good, but I’m still not ready to make freelancing my full time job.

    • Ramona

      September 19, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Even if you are freelancing part time, it’s already a great thing. You gain experience, find out more about your specialty and see if it’s something you;d like to pursue more seriously in the future.

  • Jasmine2015

    October 4, 2015 at 1:33 am

    I love this story. When I was in high school it was a requirement to have 40 hours of community service in order to graduate. The best experience was when I went to the food depository to help package foods soon to be delivered to food pantries. I never stop learning so I’m not “new” to trying new things.

    • Ramona

      October 4, 2015 at 10:49 am

      That’s a great thing to be asked to do. I wished we were involved with such things in high-school, it does teach you a lot of things. We’re trying to get our daughter involved in helping less fortunate people, this should show her how lucky she is to have a good life and spread some of her fortune with others.

    • rz3300

      September 27, 2016 at 1:52 am

      We had to do community service hours too, and it was actually kind of funny because everyone would save it until the last minute and they are all scrambling to get their hours done. This was one of the few times I had my things in order and got them done early, so I could just sit back and watch. Very good idea to implement the community service in order to graduate though, I think it sends a good message.

  • jANE

    October 13, 2015 at 9:42 am

    I love this story too! It’s kind of amazing what this girl managed to do with her time, study + work + volunteering is kind of amazing!
    It’s true that doing volunteer work doesn’t make anyone rich, financially, but the experience gathered should definitely help Adriana ‘score’ a great job when she graduates.

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