- Joe Cassandra, 33, makes six figures a year as a freelance copywriter through his company, JC Copy.
- He talked about how he quit his accounting job and found his niche in finance copywriting.
- He advised getting really good at negotiating your fees as a freelancer.
Building wealth starts with getting really good at your job, according to the 33-year-old Joe Cassandra. Then, he told Insider, these skills can be transferred to running a successful side hustle.
Cassandra used this strategy when he quit his accounting job to become a copywriter. He now makes about six figures a year.
“And most of that was passive income from the royalties I make for what I write,” he said. “So there’s stuff I wrote in 2017 that I still make thousands of dollars every month for.”
In 2015, Cassandra was working as an accountant and struggling to support his family of three at the time with a $48,000 salary. He wrote copy on the side for a few clients for extra income through his consulting company, JC Copy, using cold emails to acquire clientele.
In 2016, he came across a YouTube video of Steve Harvey emphasizing the importance of taking a chance on yourself. This inspired him to quit his job two weeks later and pursue copywriting full time.
“I had six clients when I quit my job, but three of them fired me within three months, and the others fired me eventually, too.” Cassandra said. “I failed a ton on my way to finding my niche.”
He replaced those clients by actively seeking out and contacting people hiring for the work he wanted to do online and was making more than $60,000 after his first year and six figures by 2017.
—Joe Cassandra (@JoeCassandra) September 12, 2021
Through his accounting job, Cassandra said he honed his expertise in finance and realized he enjoyed studying it. He married his quantitative skills with his passion for writing and found a way to cater to his creative side.
After writing for Investors Alley from 2016 to 2019, the company hired him to come aboard as a contractor to do the lion’s share of its in-house copywriting. Cassandra said that he was now free to schedule his own hours depending on projects, though his contract lists him as a full-time staffer.
Cassandra advised getting good at negotiating to up your income as a freelancer.
“If you bring a client into your firm, negotiate to be paid for every invoice they pay. If you bring in subscribers to a media company, negotiate for a cut of the sales,” he said.
In April, Cassandra said he negotiated an additional 20% for himself in ad-sales commissions.
While copywriting is a niche in itself, Cassandra leveraged his accounting background to narrow his market and establish greater credibility. By exclusively writing finance copy, he found his niche within a niche.
“There’s far less competition, and most of your competition may not be that good,” Cassandra said. “You can pick a niche industry and then dig deeper to establish your own expertise within that sector.”
Cassandra added: “For example, I won’t write about travel and health or other topics, no matter the pay, because I don’t want to be a generalist.
“Plus, I can write finance much faster than I can write about something I’m not an expert on.”