Writing Emails Funds My Comfortable Life in Ecuador

If you’re in the colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador on a Wednesday night, pop over to the Inca—Cuenca’s iconic riverfront hamburger joint—and you’ll see me chilling out with my laptop, making a bit of extra money while I wait for the gig to start.

Every week, as my husband, Ben, prepares to take to the stage, I run my regular quality-check on Andrea’s mojitos—almost always excellent—and do a little bit of writing. It’s been one of my favorite weekly outings going on nearly five years now.

As a freelance copywriter, I spend a few hours each day creating emails, blog posts, newsletter articles, and sales letters for companies who’d like to connect with more customers.

It’s fun writing the pieces. Plus, depending on the project, I make well over $100 an hour while I work—more than enough to live comfortably in low-cost Ecuador.

For the past few years, I’ve been able to fund a comfortable life here with just a few letters. Because the cost of living is so low here, the upfront fees for a single sales letter can cover months of basic living expenses. I generally write between six and 10 letters a year and dine out regularly in top-rated restaurants, and have a maid that comes once a week.

Here’s how it works.

A client hires you—from wherever in the world you happen to call home—to write them a letter or email. You take a few hours in a coffee shop to write an email—I’ve always preferred writing them with a fresh pastry or humita (steamed corn cake) by my side—or a few longer sessions at home to do a longer letter.

Emails—at $150 to $500 each—add up fast. But the full-sized sales letters can pay anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, or even more.

One of the major perks of copywriting is the ability to earn an income no matter where you are in the world.

I sold my first piece of copy while I was teaching English in Asia in the early 2000s. Since then, I’ve earned a full-time living from copywriting all over Europe, in more than a dozen U.S. states, and of course, here in my adopted home of Cuenca.

Once you get started you’ll quickly realize, as I did, that most clients don’t care if you’re in Traverse City, Trafalgar Square, or Timbuktu. Just stay in regular contact via email and turn in assignments on time. That’s it. If you can do that, the whole world is yours.

If the freedom of copywriting sounds good to you, I encourage you to give it a try. You can master the basics in a matter of weeks, and there’s a never-ending demand for copy.

And who knows? Depending where the road takes you, we might even be neighbors somewhere down the line.

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