Five Often Overlooked Steps to Getting Started as a Freelance Content Marketer

journey one stepSeven years ago this spring, I was a freshly minted single mom building a new life for myself and my daughter amidst the wreckage of a less-than-amicable divorce. I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep things afloat financially, but I knew I didn’t want to return to my old agency life of sixty-hour weeks and around-the-clock meetings. Having spent the first three years of her life at home with my little girl, I was determined to find a way to work as an independent freelancer.

Through the serendipitous inquiries of several acquaintances, I managed to land a couple of long-term, freelance project management gigs. I snapped up the chance to generate some semi-regular income working remotely; but – although I was (very) grateful for the opportunities – I knew that, ultimately, I didn’t want to build my business around project management. I wanted to write.

This is the story of how I became a self-supporting freelance writer and content marketer.

Before I tell this story, I feel I should note, as Ann Patchett does in her wonderful book, The Getaway Car, that “This isn’t an instruction booklet. This is an account of what I did and what has worked for me.” Still, I hope that it might prove useful to you in your journey.

My Very First Freelance Writing Gigs

I had no idea how I was going to break into freelance writing. It was something I’d thought about for years, but had never actively pursued because I was afraid to fail. I had become quite adept at making excuses to keep me from putting my ego at risk. And then, suddenly there I was – nothing to lose and nowhere to go but up. It was definitely one of those now-or-never moments.

I caught a small break early on when the editors of a start-up mommy blog site called Maya’s Mom invited me to become a paid contributor. I had been “live journaling” on their community site about my divorce and had gained a respectable following amidst their audience. I was thrilled to get a paycheck, no matter how modest, for my writing.

While I was learning the ropes of mommy blogging, I kept working the project management gigs, but my small victory with Maya’s Mom gave me the confidence to let my project management clients know that I was available for copywriting work as well. Soon I was doing small writing projects for them, too.

Step #1: Always Say “YES”

It took me about eight months to pivot my business from being 90% project management and 10% writing to being 80% writing and 20% project management. Not too long after that, I gave up the project management altogether. It was pretty sweet, I can tell you, being able to say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t do project management anymore, but I’d be happy to refer you to a colleague of mine. By the way, do you have any copywriting needs?”

The trick, I found, to forcing this professional metamorphosis was learning to say one, little word: Yes.

Whenever someone asked me if I could do something writing-related, I said,  “Yes!” I suppose you could say I employed the age-old strategy – “fake it ’til you make it.” I offered my services with confidence, and then I hit the Internet to figure out how to do the thing I’d been hired to do.

The confidence I gained from my initial foray into paid writing via Maya’s Mom was something I leaned on again and again as I took my wobbly first steps into copywriting. The little start-up site was eventually bought by Johnson & Johnson and became their industry-leading mom blog on BabyCenter. Happily, the editorial team at BabyCenter chose to keep me on, and I became a regular bloggers. Though it was often only tangentially related to the copywriting jobs I was pursuing, I worked that one professional writing credit for all it was worth.

Step #2: Study

We are so fortunate to live in a time when there is an almost unlimited amount of information freely available via the Internet. You can learn just about any skill simply by hitting the web and reading everything you can get your hands on. This is exactly what I did.

I also bought several books about the freelance writing business, and read them cover to cover. I paid attention. I took notes. I got my geek on.

Sometimes, this immersion into the world of freelance copywriting was a bit overwhelming. It didn’t take me long to realize how much I didn’t know. It was easy to feel inadequate. But, I tried to remember that even when I felt like a complete novice compared to the experts I was studying, I already knew more than the people who were my potential clients.

Step #3: Make Friends

A couple of years into my freelance journey, I shelled out a few bucks to take an online course about writing white papers. The educational value of the course was fair to moderate. I never did end up writing too many traditional white papers, BUT I did meet many other professional and aspiring freelance writers. Most importantly, I met five particular B2B (business-to-business) copywriters who would help me grow both my confidence and my business.

Together, the six of us founded a collaborative blog called Savvy B2B Marketing. For several years, we blogged together about the ins and outs and constant evolution of B2B copywriting, social media, and content marketing. Since each member of the team had her own unique background and skills, the experience was like a very in-the-trenches course about every aspect of the business. We traded stories, tips, and secrets. We supported each other with referrals, advice, and encouragement. Meeting and working with these smart, kind women was – without question – one of the most important and enjoyable parts of my professional journey. Though we no longer meet regularly, we still keep in touch. In fact, I “see” one of them – Wendy – all the time here on Live to Write – Write to Live.

You can hear the full “Savvy Story,” as told by all the “Savvy Sisters,” in a podcast hosted by Monica Magnetti.

During the Savvy Era, I also had the pleasure of meeting another writer who (although she’d never accept the praise) would become a pivotal force in my career. We met at an impromptu brunch meet-up hosted by the freelance writer Peter Bowerman. Kate, one of the Savvy Sisters, had heard about the event via Bowerman’s newsletter, I think, and she and I decided to attend.

While it was something of a thrill to meet Bowerman (I’d read all his books on how to become a freelance writer … more about those in part two of this series), the best part of the day was definitely meeting another copywriter named Heidi LaFleche  (aka: The Worry Free Writer). We sat next to each other, and I couldn’t help noticing her Hello Kitty watch and cool manicure (one pinky nail was painted a different color than the rest of her nails). We struck up a conversation, and the rest – as they say – is history. Over the years, Heidi generously made introductions to several people in her network who then became my clients. Through referrals and repeat work, those introductions became the bedrock of my business. Even today, I can still trace many of my clients back to that lovely Sunday morning, sipping mimosas on a deck in Newburyport.

Step #4: Do a GREAT Job

I have many people to thank for helping me meet and land first-time clients, but once those connections were made, I knew it was up to me to prove I deserved them.

As a freelance writer of any kind, your reputation is your currency. You have to deliver the goods. Every time. On time. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, this means giving up some other things (nights out, weekends, sleep) in order to make the magic happen. But, believe me, the payoff is worth the effort.

In my experience, though delivering great copy is a given, it’s at least as important to deliver a great experience. The people who hire content marketers need well-written content, but they want the process to be easy, stress-free, and even fun. Bad customer service is a pet peeve of mine. I am easily annoyed (and sometimes incensed) by sloppy service, negligent customer relations, and lackadaisical delivery. Because of this, I am extra sensitive about making sure my clients are happy, and I believe it’s one of the main reasons they come back for more.

It is much easier and less expensive (in terms of marketing dollars and effort) to make a sale to an existing customer, than it is to land a new customer. Treating your customers like gold is the best investment you can make in your business. Happy customers come back for more, and – if you’re lucky – will share your name with other people in need of the services you offer. I do very little to market my business. I’ve never cold-called anyone or bought paid advertising. My business is built almost entirely on referrals and repeat business. It’s a model I recommend highly.

Step #5: Deliver More than “Just” Copy

As a content marketer, you will be expected to deliver more than just the words on the page. Your clients will look to you for advice about which kinds of content make sense for their brand, how to promote that content, and how to engage their audience. They will lean on you for guidance about how to create a better customer experience through content, and how to stretch their content marketing dollars as efficiently and effectively as possible.

To provide this kind of strategic support, you need to go back to Step #2: Study. Content marketing is a vibrant and ever-evolving area of expertise. Though the term and practice have become mainstream, the field is always growing and evolving. This can be daunting at first, but it also provides valuable opportunities for you to shape your business around specific kinds of expertise and projects.

I am always learning, and always refining the types of services I provide to my clients. In addition to content development, I also offer in-depth brand messaging services, content audits, content planning, and also content editing and mentoring. I love that the breadth of the content marketing landscape gives me almost countless options when it comes to the kinds of work I do.

So, that’s my story … at least, it’s my story so far.

In Part Two of this series, I’ll share some more hands-on advice about the seven tactical things to consider as you get started in content marketing: getting the lay of the land, finding critical resources, getting into a good writer’s mindset, positioning your business in the market, finding customers, identifying best business practices, and dealing with finances.

Until then, here are a few posts that are appropriate companion reading:

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Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content marketer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian and aerial arts (not at the same time), and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. Join me each Saturday for the Weekend Edition (a fun post and great community of commenters on the writing life, random musings, writing tips, and good reads), or introduce yourself on Facebooktwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.
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Marketing is all about building relationships

You have a business and you want it to grow, so you know you have to make contacts and turn them into connections that lead to business growth. But thinking about the effort as ‘sales’ and ‘selling’ intimidates many, so try to think about it as relationship building.

Nurturing prospects and clients is important to retaining business – and retaining and building your business is your goal, right?

Here are some tactics you can try. Give any or all of them a shot to find what feels best for you and works best for your business.

Offer a perk to a returning client to make her feel special. Perhaps a discount on new work; a discount once a year to see if that encourages clients to hire you for new work. Perks don’t have to be discounts, you could offer a free marketing report for their area of expertise.

Keep in touch with your past clients on a regular basis – whether it’s an e-mail to touch base quarterly, or sending an article, or a link to a resource on a topic you think they might find interesting, having your name in front of them a couple times a year can keep you on their mind when they have a new project. Sending a short, personal note to a contact that shows you’re staying aware of their business in some way can go a long way in building that long-term relationship.

Meet for coffee. This could be with past, current, and potential clients that are local – meet to learn about each other’s businesses or to catch up. Don’t make it a sales-y type meeting, just a relationship building get together. With contacts further away, you could plan to meet up at a conference, when you’re in their town for some other business, or you find out they are coming near to you for some event.

Keep your clients smiling by meeting deadlines, staying within their budget, delivering what was agreed upon, and being available as they need you (within reason, of course!).

Treating new contacts as though they are friends you want to get to know better will keep your name at the front of their minds when they have a project come along. If you treat your current clients well, they will be inclined to come back. And all efforts can potentially lead to new work.

These are only a few ideas to help you build or maintain relationships.

How do you keep your name on your clients’ minds?

 

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Is Multitasking a Way to Be More Productive?

Multitasking – it’s a method of working that easily divides an audience: folks seem to embrace it or run from it.

Do you find multitasking productive? Or a time suck?

I think of multitasking as leap frogging. For instance, you start replying to emails, end up clicking on a link within an email, and then get lost in the endless world known as the Internet. One page leads to another leads to another leads to another and before you know it, an hour has passed and there are still several emails to reply to.

Do you accomplish more when multitasking? Is it the way you find the success that you want? Or do you think multitasking sets you up for failure because you don’t get much accomplished?

Like anything, I don’t think it’s absolutely-multitask-all-the-time or avoid-multitasking-all-together. There can be a balance; it’s a matter of finding what works best.

Confession: As I wrote this post, I kept checking e-mails and managed to get sucked into the Internet through one of those ‘read more’ links like I mentioned above. <grin> So instead of just cranking through this blog post in 30 or so minutes, it took me a couple of hours. Multitasking did not benefit me in this instance!

Multitasking does work at times, though. For instance, when I’m in a waiting room or in a line – I can reply to and clean out old emails, sort and save emails, and schedule activities and events. Similarly, if I’m waiting for something to update online, I can reply to inquiries on Twitter and Facebook.

How about you? Do you find multitasking beneficial in saving time or a way to extend the time taken on tasks?

 

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

It’s a challenge to be your own boss

Being your own boss is thrilling, isn’t it? It’s nice to not have someone to report to every day. You don’t have to deal with someone hassling you if you don’t show up or if you spend all your time chasing dust bunnies, shiny objects, or killing time on Snapchat or Facebook.

Of course you want to impress your clients, but they come and go and care about what you can do for them, not necessarily about your personal success.

There’s a lot of freedom (insert Mel Gibson’s scream from “Braveheart”) in working for yourself. Maybe too much at times.

To be successful and keep your business on track, you need to think like a boss. What do I mean? Here are a few tips.

  • Determine and write down your goals
    • Yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals will help you achieve the success you want. Written goals keep you focused.
  • Set check-ins and review milestones
    • Schedule time in your calendar, at least quarterly to review your progress on your goals.
  • Set and stick to a schedule
    • When working for someone else, you had to show up at a certain time, it’s just as important t o set a schedule for yourself and show up daily. It doesn’t have to be 8-5 5 days a week, but you should have a regular schedule – consistency and predictability are great for productivity.
  • Track your time
    • Use a timer and track how long  you spend doing different tasks – including those ‘shiny object’ time wasters. Tracking billable hours is imperative to running a successful business.

If you had a boss, you’d be responsible for all of the above – you’d be accountable for achieving certain tasks each day, week, month, quarter, and year. You’d even have once- (or perhaps twice) -a-year reviews. Which brings up another critical requirement for being your own boss: the self-evaluation.

It can be tricky evaluating yourself, so a tip here is to act as though you’re reviewing someone else — it’s important to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses to achieve the success you want. No one else will see the report, but spend time on an honest evaluation, as it can only help you achieve the success you’re after.

So if you start acting like the boss, you can the success that you want in your own business.

Why not start now? You’re the boss – even if you’re the only employee. 

 

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with Lisa on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Keeping the Good Times Rolling

Having a plan, goals, and keeping track of accomplishments are all great activities to practice regularly.

As is keeping a gratitude journal.

We’ve talked about all of these things here over the past few years.

It’s something similar to a gratitude journal that I recently discovered and I find it quite powerful.

I do it along with the gratitude journal, but it can be done separately, as part of a weekly calendar, or however you like.

Mantids can turn their heads a full 180 degrees - always keeping their goal in sight.

Mantids can turn their heads a full 180 degrees – always keeping their goal in sight.

It’s a list of items placed under the heading Signs the Universe is Supporting Me Right Now.

A sampling of a recent list of mine:

  1. I have the time I need to work on my business this week.
  2. I have exciting new writing opportunities arriving on my desk weekly.
  3. I have the technology and other resources needed to take my business forward.
  4. I am energized and ready to get my to do tasks done.
  5. My work environment is distraction free so I can focus on my business.
  6. I’m able to connect with the right people who can help me build my business.

That’s easy enough, right? It’s a bit picture way to keep goals in sight.

It’s part “act as if” and part list of gratitude items thought about in a different way.

I challenge you to give it a try — make a list, however short or long, of your proof that the Universe is supporting you with your goals right now.

It’ll be a great way to start your week.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She believes that keeping the universe ‘in the loop’ is a natural and positive part of life. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and LinkedIn.

Deadlines: Tight or Loose for Best Results?

It’s critical to meet writing deadlines when running a writing business, right? No surprise there.

Also no surprise to know we each have a different way of working.

Some of us work best under the pressure of a deadline. When there isn’t time for any distractions, we can focus on the project at hand and get it done — without sacrificing quality.

Others prefer to take a leisurely approach and need time to plan, outline, draft, edit, rest, revisit, polish, and finally finish a piece — of high quality.

All through school, I could have months or weeks to work on a project, but it never mattered. I’d (almost) always wait until the night before to start, do, and finish the project. I was most motivated by that freight train’s light rushing toward me and could always produce something — never did I feel it was my best work, but I got passing grades.

deadlines

As a business owner, I do work well under pressure and am not afraid to take on rush projects. There’s something highly motivating about knowing there are x number of hours to produce a 2-page report — and so no distractions are allowed.

But my preferred method of working is with a deadline, so that I can be leisurely and take on more projects. By working on something a bit at a time and giving it time to sit and having time to review before submitting, I feel I produce my best work.

And by planning and scheduling my time, I can take on more projects without stressing about how to finish any of them.

How do you work best?

Do you need a tight deadline?

Or do you need plenty of time to produce your best results?

We’re each different and no one method is perfect for everyone.

It’s good to know what works for you. Then you’re able to use that awareness to produce and deliver your best work to your clients and keep them coming back with more projects.

Do you find one way works best for you all the time? Or does it depend on the type of project?

I’d like to hear from you in the comments.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She works well with the clock ticking, but prefers to have a plan and time to implement a project. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook,  Google+, and LinkedIn.

Measuring Success

ITW with IPPY           I initially launched my website as a marketing tool, when Into the Wilderness, my first novel, was published in 2010. The site was incredibly useful during the first year the book was out and I was traveling to bookstores and libraries, giving readings. I posted my schedule of upcoming events on my landing page, uploaded reviews, and directed event coordinators to my media kit, where they could download my author photo and templates for posters and a press release. There was even a bio they could use to introduce me. Slick.

I also tried to see beyond the publication of a single novel; I wanted the site to be a marketing tool for a career. So I included information about some of the other work I do: Visiting Scholar for the Vermont Humanities Council, Commentator for Vermont Public Radio, and free-lance teacher and talking head willing to take on any interesting challenge. The “Contact Me” page has been the most surprising and wonderful element of the site.

At first, I heard from event planners, contacting me to read from the book; then readers emailed “just to say hello.” Strangers poured out praise; some asked for advice; many told me their own stories of migration or of finding unbidden love. More recently, people have been emailing me to speak, to write, and to teach.

These emails always arrive via cyberspace as a surprise. I’m so focused on the novel I’m writing that it’s easy for me to lose sight of the bigger picture – the whole me. Because it takes me a long time to write a novel, and because I measure my writing success almost entirely as a novelist, my sense of success often takes a hit, something I realized when an email “to teach” crossed my screen.

The email was from a Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of Vermont, Division for the Blind and Visually Impaired. He wondered if I’d be willing to talk with a high school junior who was possibly interested in writing career. If we clicked, would I tutor the student over the summer? You bet I would! This is just the sort of work I adore, and I’m looking forward to meeting the young man later this week.coal-miner-mallet-1

But what really boosted me out of the word-mine where I’ve been toiling so long and so lonely, was something the rehabilitation counselor said over the phone. “You’re a successful writer who can give our client some insight.”

I’m a successful writer? Really?

Because I’ve only been measuring my success as a novelist, I’d lost sight of other ways to measure my writing career. Lately, my self-appraisal has been plummeting toward failure. So this was a wake-up call to readjust how I think of success. Clearly, I’ve discounted all the other ways that I’m a writer in the world. This cold call reminds me that I’ve been writing a long time, I’ve put a lot of words out in print, and I’ve touched many lives with my words. If that isn’t writing success, I don’t know what is.

How do you measure success as a writer?

dll2013_124x186In addition to writing, Deborah Lee Luskin raises bees, vegetables, chickens and daughters in southern Vermont.

 

Count on the Unpredictability of a Writer’s Life

My year so far has been a mix of swarms and dry spells in regard to work-related writing.

How have the first six months of 2014 been for you?

Ebbs and flows aren’t any surprise for a freelance writer, or probably any self-employed person. There’s only so much we can predict with certainty, and even that can change, right?

You’re probably familiar with the quote “The best laid plans…”. And it’s so applicable to freelance writing (or life in general) because no matter how well we plan and get our tasks mapped out, there are an infinite amount of things that can detour us.

This can sound like a stressful way to live or run a business, but I think it’s easiest to accept that change is a constant and know that challenges will pop up in new and creative ways — all the time. If you accept change as a constant in itself, your mindset shifts accordingly.

detour-signWhat can you do to alleviate the stress of not knowing _____? (fill in with what’s appropriate to you)

  • Plan – without a plan to your goal you won’t get anywhere, so a plan is required
  • Stay focused – keep your major goal front-and-center at all times
  • Expect the best – from your clients and yourself
  • Think positive – everything works out one way or another
  • Bob and weave (don’t duck and run) – when change comes, go with your Plan B or backup plan (see first point) to get back on the path

Other things that I do include:

  • Talking with other small business owners (similar experiences alleviate the ‘all alone’ feeling)
  • Keeping task lists in front of me – when slow times come or a client doesn’t get to back to me on time, I always have something to do
  • Save extra money during fruitful times – to alleviate stress during slow times
  • Savor the minutes where there is a slow period and remember them when I’m so busy I barely have time to eat
  • Exercise – it’s so easy to sit and when stressed or worried and that slows not only the metabolism down, but brain function – exercise keeps the blood flowing, the metabolism moving, and ideas ready to pop up when needed

When a week comes along (and it does) that goes exactly as planned, it’s as sweet as a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie. And, yum, I do savor those times (as much as the cookie), for when a super-busy week or a super-slow week comes along.

Having a plan to reach a goal is what keeps everything ultimately moving in the right direction – because without a plan you won’t know how to get back on the right track when life tosses you the unexpected.

How do you cope with the unpredictability of being a freelance writer (or being self-employed)? I’d love to know.

 

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. Even though she knows her schedule can change any minute, she enjoys the writing life and the mystery of it all.  You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.

Telling Stories Through Case Studies

If you enjoy helping people tell their stories, case studies might be a good fit for your writing business.

Companies seek professional writers (and pay well) for these effective marketing tools known as case studies.

Basically, case studies tell the story of how a customer decided on, purchased, and is using a particular product (or service) to improve their business.

Case studies can be as short as a few paragraphs (but the shortest I’ve done is 1,200 words), to four or more pages. 

Tasks involved in writing case studies include:

  1. Choosing a niche (medical, manufacturing, and so on), doing some research, and finding a company to work with. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding companies and contacts within those companies. Start with a keyword and then fine-tune the results until you have some companies you are interested in working with and reach out with a letter of introduction.
  2. Getting the details of the assignment. Once you land the job, know the length of the case study, ask for details on the product so you can become familiar with it, and ask for samples of past case studies so you can understand the tone the company strives for.
  3. Taking time to prepare. Whether the company gives you some questions to ask, or you have to create them yourself, be ready. You don’t want the customer to feel interrogated, you want to be professional, yet conversational and intelligent. This is usually a one-shot interview by phone, so it’s important to know what you need before the call begins. (Tip: Sometimes questions are submitted to the customer before the interview, but that doesn’t mean the customer will prepare ahead of time. And many times, great sound bites come from a simple “tell me more” during the conversation.)
  4. Conducting the interview. The most critical part of creating a case study is interviewing the key people involved in making the purchase decision as well as those who are actively using the product (or service). Even though time is precious during this interview, relax and build rapport. Let the interviewee(s) know you’re there to help them tell their story. Start off with confirming the spelling of their name(s), title(s), and roles(s) in the project. Move into the interview questions and end with an open-ended query, such as: “Is there anything we haven’t touched on that you feel is important to your story?” (Tip: Record the call so you can review answers later on — it’s a great time saver for all parties involved.)
  5. Writing. I find it best to write the case study immediately after the interview while the conversation and notes are fresh. Then revisiting the paper the next day for flow, first edits, and identifying holes; listening to the recording and filling in more information; and polishing until the case study is in the best shape possible.
  6. Submitting. The company will submit the case study to the customer for approval (but sometimes the writer is asked to work with the customer for fine tuning) and may come back to you for final edits, if any.

Case studies do include technical jargon, but it’s your job as the writer to make the story flow, no matter what the subject is.

What do you think? Do case studies sound interesting to you?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She’s wearing green today, not because she’s Irish or particularly celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, but because she needs color while the ‘long white winter’ continues in New Hampshire. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.

Build a writing career while staying unique

Writer's Digest cover, October 2013

Writer’s Digest cover, October 2013

In a recent (Oct 2013) Writer’s Digest Magazine interview with writer David Sedaris, WD editor Jessica Strawser advises that “You can build a career as an author by playing to your strengths, following your true passion, going at your own pace and never shying away from your unique voice.”

I believe it’s true for any writing career and it’s what I strive for each day. It also ties back to my recent post on how your writer’s platform should be unique, like you. Here’s how I relate to the quote.

Playing to strengths:

  • New Hampshire — I have  strong family history in this state, and enjoy learning more about NH every day. This strength is great for my travel and history essays.
  • Varied background — My early working years were spent as a contractor for numerous NH companies ranging in size from small (under 20 employees) to large (multiple thousands of employees) in several industries such as manufacturing, beauty, engineering, retail, legal, e-learning, publishing, and more. I’ve worked as a customer service rep, administrative assistant, technical manual writer, financial analyst, learning designer, coordinator (of many different groups, people, and activities), and more. I loved the variety of moving from company to company and position to position. Always learning something new!
  • High tech experience — I spent a few years with Digital Equipment Corporation and learned a lot about computer hardware functionality and how all the parts work together — which constantly comes in handy as technology grows and changes into even smaller pieces and parts. I also worked with many engineers and know how to translate ‘geek’ to ‘English.’
  • Writing — I’ve been getting feedback on my writing since fifth grade, through college, graduate school, corporate jobs, critique groups, publishers, and more.

Following a true passion:

  • Writing — I didn’t start my writing career as early as I wanted, but it was always in my soul and my path brought me to where I am today. I believe it started in 1st grade when I learned how to write my name, then with a diary where I could capture my thoughts.
  • Sharing my experience and knowledge with others — through writing.

Going at my own pace:

  • My first handful of years as a freelancer/independent writer were lean years, but I had saved for that so I didn’t want to worry about paying the mortgage or rent, or eating.
  • Low stress and free time are important; as is making my own schedule.
  • The freedom to pursue what interests me instead of what pays the most is always important.
  • After 6 years, I’m earning more than any corporate job.

Staying with my unique voice:

  • I’m more black and white than shades of grey; I’m literal. And I like that.
  • I enjoy writing from a newbie point of view; I feel I offer the most when experiencing something and then sharing that experience — whether it’s learning a particular topic, way of doing things, or some functionality — I want to come at it with unbiased eyes and write what I’ve learned and now know, in a straightforward manner (which is probably why I enjoy tech and process guide writing so much!)
  • In travel or destination writing, my uniqueness is shared from my perspective of a solo traveler, female traveler, and as someone who finds ways to enjoy adventures while dealing with motion sickness issues. I also prefer off-the-beaten-path details more than what-everyone-else-is-doing details.

How do you relate to the quote?

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with businesses of all sizes. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn.