By Christy Corp-Minamiji
The leap from large animal veterinarian to freelance writer isnâ€™t exactly intuitive.
So I’ve heard the question, “â€œHow did you go from there to writing?â€ quite a lot in the past four months.
Granted, I donâ€™t use the shoulder-length gloves these days (if you have to ask, you donâ€™t want to know), and my laptop hasnâ€™t tried to kick me recently, but the skill-set overlap is greater than you might think.
In both cases, I have to present myself as an authority even when I donâ€™t feel like one, communication means everything, and the primary requirement is the ability to synthesize a coherent narrative from disparate pieces of information.
Still, Iâ€™ve often let negative messages paralyze me. You know the onesâ€¦
- Writersâ€™ guidelines â€“ I know theyâ€™re there to weed out the faint of heart and the totally incompetent.Â But Iâ€™ve often had the feeling theyâ€™re saying â€œYeah, you, Christy.Â Weâ€™re talking about you.Â Donâ€™t even bother.â€
- Other â€œfailedâ€ writers â€“ It amazed me how many people came out of the woodwork with stories about how they used to freelance and no one they knew could make a go of it.
- Blogging intimidation â€“ The medium is changing, no question. But the mixed messages regarding digital media, the state of print, social media, pro-blogging, anti-blogging, SEO, and almost everything else pertaining to the printed or pixilated word are terrifying to a newbie.
Various factors in my personal life have colluded to make my writing business a sink-or-swim effort.Â Nothing like desperation to give you a swift kick in the pants.
I was at that point when I signed up for the Freelance Writerâ€™s Blast-Off! class taught by Carol Tice of this blog and Linda Formichelli of The Renegade Writer.
At the time, I had one magazine client offering me fairly steady assignments, but the $450 feature every couple of months doesnâ€™t pay a lot of bills.Â And the occasional $50 gig for the local newspaper doesnâ€™t even cover a tank of gas.
My website was like my singing voice.Â I could tell it wasnâ€™t working, but I had no idea how to fix it.
Fortunately, the Blast-off course turned out to be exactly what I needed to turn the corner.Â Carol and Linda helped us see the potential in our own backgrounds and experiences, and how to have confidence in our ability to use that knowledge in our writing.
I learned about markets to target that I didnâ€™t even know existed.
Our websites were reviewed and we were given actual, real advice on how to improve them.
Most importantly, they made it clear:
There isnâ€™t a secret password.
The real writers arenâ€™t sitting around in a private clubhouse somewhere, laughing at the rest of us.
The formula is simple.
Those who work every day — who take concrete steps toward learning, writing, and marketing — those are the successful freelance writers.
Since taking Carol and Lindaâ€™s course:
- Iâ€™ve had several requests for clips on letters of introduction I sent to markets I would never have thought of on my own.
- Iâ€™ve gained a new magazine client (two assignments underway) by following up on a referral from a colleague
- A couple days after an occasional blogging client emailed to compliment me on my new website, he called with an offer of three feature articles for his site at $1000/article.
- At this point, Iâ€™d estimate that my investment in the course has grossed a 16-fold return.
And Iâ€™ve learned thereâ€™s no secret handshake. Just a lot of footwork.
At least now, I know the steps.
Christy Corp-Minamiji is a freelance writer and former large animal veterinarian.