Laying the foundations
Since mastering the art of reading, I have been an avid consumer of all types of written content. I love losing myself in a great story, the words vanishing to reveal a dramatic fantasy landscape or an intimate moment between two people. Therefore, it is perhaps no surprise that my first foray into the world of writing was to craft my own stories and fan fiction.
At about the same time, I was taught persuasive academic writing by my excellent high school History teacher, who showed us how to structure an argument and to use source material effectively to support your thesis. I have my History teacher to thank for kindling in me a true passion for writing, as rather than viewing essays as a chore, I came to see them as an opportunity to showcase my research and writing ability – so much so, that my final year high school extended essay was published in the 2007 Winter issue of The Concord Review, the only quarterly journal in the world to publish the academic research papers of secondary students.
This early grounding in academic writing gave me a great boost at university, especially considering that I decided to undertake a degree in Law, a subject which is all about wordsmithing and convincing your audience of the strength of your position. During my university years, I also became quite heavily involved with the Salsa Society, a student-run dance club, initially creating marketing and promotional material for upcoming events, eventually progressing to managing and creating content for the group’s website and Facebook pages.
After graduating, I settled into a job working for a niche business services company specialising in contract and budget negotiations for clinical trials on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. This experience was a great eye-opener into the real world of business, and taught me how to fuse professional with personable to create a writing style that conveyed the desired message effectively, while also engaging the other party into effective negotiations.
The dive into freelance work
My first foray into the world of freelance was towards the end of 2017, a few months after my son was born. After the first few hectic months of getting to grips with feeding, changing and frequent health check-ups, and having sorted (temporarily) the ever elusive sleep schedule, I found myself feeling fidgety. While many people may love the idea of binge watching Netflix and going for long walks with the dog (baby in tow, of course) when not taking naps with the baby, the novelty of this wore off rather quickly for me, and I found myself itching for some intellectual stimulation.
During a fortuitous catch-up with one of my friends, I mentioned that I was looking for something interesting to do that I could fit around my son’s schedule. He told me that he needed some help with organising source material for his PhD thesis into a workable database. In addition, he was doing some research into innovative uses of blockchain for a company that he was collaborating with, and asked if I wanted to help out. Knowing only the bare basics of blockchain (that cryptocurrency stuff, right?) and only vaguely understanding his PhD thesis, I agreed and for the next 4 months became a de facto research assistant. While on the surface, the work that I was doing was simple data entry (and a shed-ton of reading!), I found that my intellectual juices were flowing again – I was diving into topics that I previously knew nothing about and having intelligent conversations about them!
As this work was starting to wind down at the start of 2018, I began to hunt around online for other things I could do with my time, and I came across an opportunity to work as a freelance QC for Trusted Writer Consultancy. This work involved reviewing work prepared by writers to ensure that there were no spelling or other errors, checking that all source material was correctly cited, and ensuring that the submission fit the client’s brief.
While the QC work was also interesting, I found myself wanting to do something that was a bit more engaging, so I started looking for freelance writing opportunities. I came across an advert from SearchSciences LLP, a company that specialises in SEO-optimised content solutions to help businesses improve their online presence and generate sales and traffic. While low-paying, this opportunity allowed me to try my hand at freelance writing, and I found that not only did I enjoy it, but at one point I was getting more work than I could handle! I ghostwrote blogs, sponsored content, news articles and copy for websites for a range of different businesses, including online food delivery, healthcare, lifestyle, gardening, HR and legal.
Even though I really enjoyed the freelance writing work, once my maternity leave ended and I returned to my job as a negotiator, I found that I was not able to devote as much time to my side gig as previously. I still did the occasional article when I felt I had the time, but did not think that it would ever become more than that.
However, in 2019, my husband and I relocated to Canada and I became a stay-at-home mom again. After the initial whirlwind of setting up our new life in a new country (and acquiring a second dog in the process), I began to scale up the freelance writing again. This time around, since I did not have any other work obligations, I decided to make the freelance work a true career pivot and set-up properly as a business.
Before making the leap to market my services to the world, I did a bunch of research online to determine what niche to break into, how best to optimise my website and how to land clients. To this end, I can highly recommend the super in-depth and helpful resources provided by other professional writers, such as Elna Cain, Jacob McMillen and Make a Living Writing. Without their down-to-earth advice and in-depth how-to-guides, I probably would not have had the confidence to strike out on my own!
As part of my dive into freelancing, I have launched YYC Walkies, a website and blog dedicated to our doggy adventures and insights in Calgary, and I am currently working on some writing articles on topics that interest me for publication on Medium.
Are you ready to start your journey to optimised content? Get in touch – I am ready to make it happen!
© Merlin Digital Transformations Inc. 2020