From Burned Out to On Fire: My Story Of Personal Success in the Writing World

From Burned Out to On Fire: My Story Of Personal Success in the Writing World

This is not a rags to riches success story, nor is it the story of how I overcame a life threatening disease and made millions. Rather, it is the story of how I have been blessed with the ability to work full time from home as a freelance writer.

My name is Joshua Rarrick, and my story begins in September of 2011. I was a truck driver, who worked full time hauling pipe and supplies to oil field locations in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. I was away from home for time periods ranging from 5 days to 1 month at a time, and I was longing for a way to spend more time with my family, yet still be able to provide for them.

The Fall of 2011 brought many hardships for the state of Texas, as wild fires ripped through the state. Drought and high wind fueled the fires, sending them tearing through East Texas at an alarming rate. Many of these fires were consuming thousand of acres of land each day, and many homes were utterly destroyed.

Having had training in fighting fires, and worked as a volunteer firefighter in the past, I responded to a fire that had consumed thousands of acres of woodlands, and destroyed multiple homes. Due to the fact that I missed a day of work as a truck driver, I was threatened with losing my job. After 4 days of constant battle with blazes that sometimes reached more than 100 feet into the air, we finally brought the fire under containment.
During the course of fighting the fires, I received severe 3rd degree burns on my right leg, which left me almost unable to walk. After returning to work, I was fired from my job and left with no income, and completely homeless.

When the local news station in Tyler, Texas published a story about the fires, they included the description of how I lost my job. Many kindhearted people offered to help me get back on my feet, including one family in a town about 100 miles South of where I lived.

This family offered me a job and a place to stay, and it seemed to be the perfect solution to my needs. However, just three months after I moved to accept the position, the company folded and filed for bankruptcy, leaving me broke and desperate for a way to provide for my family.

During this time, I began working small odd jobs to try to earn some sort of living, and I desperately searched for a way to earn a steady paycheck. I knew I did not want to take a job that required me to be away from my family, but I didn’t know where to find one that paid well enough for me to support them.

I had heard of people making huge amounts of money online, and I began researching all of the “get rich quick” methods they claimed to be using, but all I found were sites that wanted me to spend $100 or more to get a book explaining how to make money. I was utterly disgusted and discouraged, as I did not have $100 to spend, much less the time to sit and read, when my family needed my help.

During my online search for income, I stumbled across a site called Elance. This site offered real jobs, funded by real people and companies, and it even offered a basic membership for free. Out of desperation, I signed up for the site in July of 2012, and began searching for work.

Before long, I found that because I had strong skills in English grammar and creative writing, there were people who would pay me to write simple advertisements for their products. I began booking small jobs on Elance, and working feverishly to complete them, in order to earn my first paycheck.

I received my first checks from Elance about 2 weeks after I began working on the site, and they totaled $120. I was excited to have finally found a way to earn a living through the Internet, however, I knew I was not making enough to support my family.

I began carefully researching the jobs I wanted to bid on, and began being very selective about which ones I chose. After more than a month of working for as little as $2 for a 500 word article, I finally began to build my reputation in the freelance writing community. Once I had established a reputation, I began bidding on larger jobs, and hiring other writers to help me complete them. These jobs brought me more income, and have finally allowed me to begin supporting my family, as I dreamed of in the first place.

I now make approximately $500 per week working from home as a freelance writer and editor. I have a large group of clients who utilize my services on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, and I have even managed to break into the field of journalism.

Some of my articles have been quoted by media outlets like FOX Business, Business Insider, and the Wall Street Journal, and I am enjoying my career. The best part about my work as a freelance writer is the ability to be home with my family. I am expecting twins in April of 2012, and due to the fact that I work from home, and set my own working hours, I have been able to attend each doctor’s appointment for the babies. Had I continued to drive a truck, I would most likely have missed many of these appointments.

While this may not be a story about how I made millions of dollars, it is a story about real life success. Success is not measured in dollar amounts, but rather in satisfaction and knowing you are attaining the goals you have set. This is not a get rich quick story, but rather, it is a story of hard work and dedication. It is also the story of having someone who believed in me standing behind me and pushing me to achieve my goals.

This may not be a story of riches, but it is the story of the American Dream. My name is Joshua Rarrick, and this is my story.

Photo by redeye^

Joshua Rarrick

Joshua Rarrick is a freelance writer who resides in Gladewater, Texas with his fiancee, two dogs, and a cat. Joshua runs Sites & Syllables, with his partner Sebastian Scalora. Together, they provide world class web design, content creation, and writing and editing services to their clients. You can find them on Elance, under Joshua C. Rarrick, or contact them via their website at http://www.sitesnsyllables.com/. Also do check out Jeremiah Say's Blog for tips on how to lead a happier and healthier life.

23 Comments

  1. Thanks for the post Joshua.

    Elance is great – I’ve found an excellent designer and proofreader through the site.

    Peter

    PS – all the best with the twins… you’re going to have your hands full :)

    Reply
    • Thank you Peter. I really appreciate it. However, I did notice that I actually made a typo in the article. I said I am expecting twins in April of 2012, and it should be 2013.
      Elance is a great site, and there are a lot of talented people there.

      Reply
      • April 2013 would make more sense! I’ve fixed the typo. Thanks again.

        Peter

        Reply
  2. Hi Joshua,

    First, please accept my New year greetings to you and your family. Hope this new year brings lot of prosperity, success and happiness in your life.

    I am touched by your story. The simplicity with which you have written it is what makes it so warm and touching. Your story is surely motivating for everyone.

    I must say you are a brave man who has turn adversities into opportunities! God bless you.

    Reply
  3. Joshua – Thanks for your story. What I found encourgaing was how you started small, stayed determined and how you didn’t lose signt of wanting to work in a way that would be good for your family.

    Reply
  4. Great story. Love that you were willing to share amidst the million dollar success tales. This is inspriational. Best wishes.

    Reply
  5. Thank you all for the nice comments. Since writing this article, my career has taken several new directions. I have now published my first e-book as well as opened my own financial blog. You can find the link to the e-book on this webpage, which belongs to the aforementioned blog. http://tinyapplebytes.com/

    Reply
    • Hi Joshua,

      I’m really touched by your story (think I told you before),

      You’re a courageous man who takes action. I’m really glad to know that you have already made plans for your next venture. I thank God for all He has provided you now.

      Please send my regards to your family.

      May God be with you always,
      Jeremiah

      Reply
  6. Your story is inspiring. Thanks for a very nice article. It was a pleasure to read and I wish you and your family much happiness and continued success.

    Reply
  7. Love your story of writing success and perseverance, but this seems more like a sideline than a career. From your description you are doing this full time, or at least close to full time, as a self-employed person. At the income level you describe you might not incur income taxes, but self-employment tax in the US in 2013 will run about 13%, non-negotiable and not adjustable.

    Self-employed at $500 a week minus 13% ($435) sounds great as a supplemental income, but as your only income or even your main source? Sorry, but that ain’t gonna cut it in the USA with twin babies. Hope you can land a book deal.

    Was this an advertisement for Elance?

    Reply
    • @Esteban…
      No, this was not at all an advertisement for Elance. I fully understand the tax laws for 2013, and I assure you I have definitely considered the limitations of a $500 per week paycheck. That is part of the reason I have enhanced my approach to include much more than writing.
      I have a full team of editors, writers, and web developers working with me now. We offer much more than just a simple writing service, as you can see at the website mentioned in my profile piece. I am not one to take life lying down. While $500 per week may not seem like much to most people, to someone who came to it from being homeless and broke, it seems like a large step in the right direction.
      The whole point of this story is not to advertise for Elance, but rather to show people that if you truly want to rise above your circumstances, you can. No matter what life throws at you, you have 2 choices: You can either give up and roll over, or you can make up your mind that somehow, you will succeed. I chose the latter, and while I am by no means rich, I am happy and I am successful.
      Will I ever be a millionaire? Who knows? I could be, in fact, if you were to buy my e-book it would definitely help me towards that goal LOL. However, whether I am ever rich in money or worldly goods, I am very rich in the knowledge that no matter where I may find myself, I can rise above the situation.
      I would rather you gained that information from this article, even more than having you help me on my way by purchasing my services or a book. If we could all see that we have what it takes to succeed, and stop measuring success in dollar amounts, the world would be a much better place.

      Reply
      • I took the lesson from your article on rising above, I congratulate you on your achievements, and thank you for sharing your experience. I did not intend to measure your success or anyone else’s in dollar amounts; I learned not to do that long ago. But absent significant stores of capital, one must give his time to something in order to make money, and the amount of money he earns must be enough to meet his needs and desires without causing undue anxiety about whether it is enough. That is not measuring success in dollars. Rather it is facing reality, and that is just as valuable to know as almost any other adult life lesson.

        If you are happy, then I am sincerely thrilled for you.

        P.S. If you lived where I live in South America you wouldn’t *need* to earn another dime over what you relate in your article. As my daddy always said, “It ain’t what ya earn, it’s what ya spend.”

        Reply
    • Hi Esteban,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I just want to confirm that this was not an advertisement for Elance. I have never published a “Sponsored Post” on this blog and never will.

      Also, $500 per week may not be much, but Joshua only started his freelance work in July 2012 and given his progress I wouldn’t be surprised if he doubles this figure by the time the twins arrive in April.

      Peter

      Reply
  8. Joshua,

    Simple stories like yours are refreshing to read in a world filled with Get Rich Quick hype, the best to you and your family from another Texas Boy.

    Reply
  9. … and a beautiful story it is Joshua Rarrick !

    Reply
  10. Great story. Having a great skill that is valuable and can be used and delivered over the internet is essential in making money online, may it be writing, web design, programming or any other skills. Many people fail to make any money online is simply because they don’t have the right skills and have no patience in acquiring them.

    Reply
  11. This is great. I’ll be looking into Elance.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for the encouragement each of you have shown in your comments. @Peter…I would never submit a sponsored post to a blog such as yours. There are forums dedicated to posts like that. Blogs like yours that simply wish to relate truth to the readers are hard to come by.
    @Esteban…I agree 100% with your father. To be honest, we live very frugally. With her pregnancy there have been several complications which prevent her from working full time, so we have learned to live on a single income, and in the good old USA that means we buy offbrands and drive an older vehicle. However, I assure you, that while the money is tight, the ability to work at home and be there around the clock relieves the stress of having to worry about her while I am at work. This relief is worth more than any dollar amount could ever be worth.
    @Dan…Don’t stop with Elance. There are many different sites available for people who have simple skills. Writing is not the only job available for those who wish to work at home. There are jobs such as Virtual Assistants (stay at home secretary), web developers, computer techs, and much more! The world is full of opportunities, if you truly wish to expand your horizons.
    Contact me through my website, and I will be glad to give you some information pertinent to working from home that you may find valuable.
    http://www.sitesnsyllables.com

    Reply
  13. Hi Joshua, your story is very inspiring. I am turning 55 years old this month and completely lost about what to do with the rest of my life and raising my beautiful daughter who will be 13 years old tomorrow. I would love to pursue writing from home, it would be my dream job. Until tonight, all I have found are the money schemes you wrote about. I am renewed after your article and will check out Elance.

    Sincerely,

    Debbie
    ps
    put on your running shoes!!! Twins are two handfuls!!!

    Reply
  14. Great to hear you are working at what you love. It took time, patience and the refusal to give up when things seemed hopeless, the key ingredients for a touch of inspiration.

    Reply
  15. Hi, Joshua. I can’t even think what’s really appropriate or useful to say here. I thoroughly enjoyed your story and was encouraged to hear that there just may be freelance opportunities out there that aren’t some lousy false get-rich-quick plug. I am touched by your positivity in moving forward from such difficult circumstances. Humbled, really. My own current challenges seem small in comparison at the moment. I wish you and your family the best health and happiness in this new year!

    Reply
  16. Great story because it really shows that success has many definitions and each one of us really needs to figure out what this for ourselves. More often than naught this will be something that does not include millions of dollars but more time. Very encouraging – hope it keeps going well for you.

    Reply
  17. Great story, Joshua! It’s so refreshing to see those in need move up by their “bootstraps.”
    You are a dying breed, sadly. It’s doubly heartwarming to hear of others coming to the aid of a person in need. Too many people desperately seek the government for their permanent solution when things and times are bad. Again, great story. Thank you!!

    Reply

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