I have been writing pretty much non-stop for three years now. I love what I'm doing and am thrilled that I have finally reached a point in my life where I can do this. The kids are raised, I've given up the business world that used to drive me and I am peacefully (well,most of the time) frittering away the time writing and learning. Some of the things I've learned along the way can be found in the article I recently posted on eHow in the link above.
Starting a career as a freelance writer is sometimes overwhelming, other times cause for despair or discouragement at best. Most writers take years developing their craft and find the right market for it. Few just jump right in with a best seller. The most important thing to becoming a writer with an income is consistency. The more you write, the better you get. The better you get and the more you put your work out for others to read, the more likely you are to be read. With persistence and patience, your love of writing will be rewarded monetarily.
However, this must not be your goal. You must write because you love to write. Writing with income as your focus too often leads to a silencing of your true voice - at least in the beginning when you're feeling desperate.
When you reach the point where you feel your skills have reached the "really good" level - step up your game. Start looking for higher paying gigs. It's scary, but it's worth the risk. If nothing else, it builds character!