How to Overcome Abuse and Become a Full-Time Writer


How to Overcome Abuse and Become a Full-Time Writer.

Do you ever let your personal “issues” hold you back when it comes to your writing career?

I have – after going through some very toxic relationships and it nearly ruined both my career and my life. But I managed to come out on top.

I was able to become the well-paid writer I was meant to be. So, how’d I manage to overcome a legacy of toxic abuse and build a thriving writing career?

Would you be shocked if I told you that my “issues”  literally became my content niche? They did these days, I’m also a certified life coach who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery.

So why am I writing about abuse? Why do I keep talking about it? Because I’m a survivor myself.

Quite honestly, I feel the universe planted this particular niche in my front yard for a reason. These days, I make a pretty healthy living from my work and yes, I’m writing every single day now. Here’s how it happened…

How I found my niche

Truthfully, because of the insidious nature of narcissistic abuse, I didn’t realize what I was dealing with at first. But when I started to research (as we journalists tend to do), I began to realize that I had been dealing with someone who seemed to have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

So, I did what I do I learned as much as I could about it. It turned out that ending contact with the toxic person in my life was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. There was even a name for it “going no contact.”

As I learned more about the disorder, I began to write more about it. And each time I did, I found that I got more traffic on my blogs and articles than I did when I wrote about literally anything else.

My posts would go viral, and for awhile, my traffic would spike.

The freelance ball and chain

Meanwhile, I continued to plug away at my various freelance writing jobs and marketing gigs I picked up along the way, and I thought life was pretty set. I had figured out that the personal development niche felt good to me, but I hadn’t quite narrowed myself down to a single area. Honestly, I didn’t see the point – there wasn’t any real money to be made in the self-help niche for me, right?

To be perfectly honest, I wanted to find a niche that was, I don’t know, more fun and glamorous but I kept discovering that each time I’d write about narcissism, narcissistic abuse and recovery from toxic relationships, I got more hits than ever.

I tried to write about writing, and I had some moderate success. I wrote about other stuff, and again, moderate success. I continued to need to do work for other people, because I needed to pay the bills.

I wasn’t mad at least I was making money with my writing, right? But I wanted more. These days, I’m doing exactly what I want and making more money than I’ve ever made before and while I work my ass off, it doesn’t usually FEEL like work.

So, how did I go from being a moderately successful freelance writer to making nearly six figures doing exactly what I want to do every day? I did two freelance writing career experiments that literally changed my life.

#1: The great Kindle publishing experiment

Life went on and I continued along the road to personal development. I managed to write a couple of books, and that gave me the idea to try an experiment: produce about a book a month for Kindle.

It was a success, and over the course of the next few months, I managed to publish a bunch more than I expected about 20 of which are currently available on Kindle.

During that time, I published four books that were specifically focused on how to recover from narcissistic abuse. I noticed how quickly all four hit the top of my list! They were my best-sellers from day one of publication. In fact, I’m still bringing in around $500 a month on the royalties from these books.

This led me to want to take my service to my readers to the next level, so I found and enrolled in an online life coaching school that offered certification. After a few months, I finished the courses and became a certified life coach with honors.

Initially, I only did this in order to enhance my credibility in my work but as it turned out, it was a divinely inspired move.

#2: The single niche experiment

As I’d experimented with my career and seen success, I decided to take my experimenting to a whole new level – one that took me from a multi-faceted writer to a one-niche pony.

I decided that for 30 days, I’d focus on a single niche and after much consideration (and several signs from the universe), I realized that focusing on narcissistic abuse recovery would be my best option. After all, it was definitely where I was getting the most feedback, and where I connected with my readers the most.

So I did it. And along with writing, I started posting YouTube videos and offering live coaching sessions. By day 28, I’d been invited to participate in an online summit which featured 12 experts including the well-known love guru John Gray – the guy who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.

I was starstruck, and given that the summit would be held a couple weeks later, I decided to give my single-niche experiment another 30 days. My career took a sharp upturn that day, and I haven’t looked back. Today, I get about 75 percent of my leads from YouTube. And I earn about 50 percent of my income from coaching and 50 percent from writing.

How working for me works for me

Now, I only work for myself AND, I have an amazing office manager who does a lot of my admin work, including scheduling, for me. These days, I write my own ticket and it’s literally because AND in spite of the abuse I suffered in past relationships.

See, having experienced narcissistic abuse is something you can’t really understand unless you’ve been there. Even therapists aren’t educated on this topic these days, from what I hear from readers and clients.

I’m able to empathize with my readers in a way that most people cannot and I’m able to communicate in a way they understand. Because I’ve been where they are, I’m able to help them in unique ways.

Now, I research, write about, and make videos about narcissism and narcissistic abuse recovery, because it’s my intention to help other people go from being victims of narcissists to being survivors.

My best advice for healing and writing

Take the time you need to heal yourself. But don’t be afraid to start working toward your writing career goals now. You just need to start going. As Joel Saltzman says: “Progress, not perfection.”

One of the biggest mistakes I made on this journey was waiting as long as I did to finally get on YouTube. It’s been a game-changer for me. While my channel has been around for more than six years, I’ve actually only been posting regularly for around four months. And in that time, I’ve managed to choose my projects (and they’re all MY projects – I don’t need to work for others anymore).

How’d I do that? Well, YouTube has offered me an entirely different audience than years of blogging produced and this one’s incredibly interactive. I have quickly built a thriving community around my channel a community of supportive and wonderful people who see things sort of the way I do. And, of course, the occasional person who…disagrees.

But every comment, like and even dislike, counts. Even better, more views and longer average view times mean a bigger bottom line when it comes to AdSense revenue you can earn through YouTube. Subscriber counts likely figure into the cost of the ads on your site, and they certainly provide a certain amount of social proof. Plus, they get notified when you post new stuff.

Even better, your would-be clients and customers can find you this way. This gives people an easy way to get a sense of who you are and whether they want to work with you. This has been excellent for the coaching side of my business. Now, I’m as busy as I want to be with client appointments people who already know me and know my methods and I have more of my own writing projects in the works. Life is good these days, my friends.

Once I was able to let go of things that were holding me back, I tapped into YouTube to grow my audience and my business. And you can, too.

9 Ways to Grow Your Audience with YouTube

If you’re thinking of getting yourself a YouTube channel, my advice is to go for it! A few quick tips:

  1. Start with what you have. Even the most professional YouTubers started out filming on their phones and webcams. Just start!
  2. Post on a regular schedule. No less than once per week. I post daily, but you don’t have to do that.
  3. Have a defined niche. Post things that your audience will be interested in. Once you get some fans, be sure to pepper in some personal stuff here and there.
  4. Customize your thumbnails. Eye-catching thumbnails with legible words on them or interesting pictures seem to work best and bright colors. Red in the thumbnail seems to really draw clicks.
  5. Don’t try too hard. I’ve noticed that less scripting and more natural speaking seems to get more hits and help more people. That’s why you give yourself a general outline and start talking.
  6. A 2-minute video is not the only video. That isn’t true for my niche, and it’s not true for most. People are watching more YouTube than regular TV these days. Use that to your advantage.
  7. Teach people something they want to know. Solve a problem or explain something they need to understand.
  8. Brand your channel and add a custom header. It just looks more professional. Avoid the biggest mistake of all: not customizing your front page. Otherwise, when someone visits your channel, they see a blank page that reads “this channel has no content” and unless they click on your video tab, they can’t find your content.
  9. Demonstrate your knowledge and passion, if you’re using this to acquire clients.

Follow these tips to build your presence on YouTube. Be yourself, and it will help you attract the right clients, grow your audience, and your business.

My single best piece of advice and what I wish I realized sooner is just eight words: Choose a single niche and stick with it. That’s the gold.

What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Angela Atkinson is an author and certified life coach specializing in narcissistic abuse recovery.

Write BIG: A fear-busting e-course for happy writers.



  1. Martha Mayo

    Thank you Angela for sharing your journey, plus all the great tips re YouTube!

    Printing your info re YouTube!

    All the best,


    • Angela Atkinson

      Thanks, Martha! Happy to help. 🙂

  2. Derrick

    Thank you very much for this insightful advice Angela, I’ve been struggling with niche issues for a while now considering I am from a third world country with a presumably deminishing readership and magazine media culture. So, sticking to a niche does not bring big bucks.
    Now I feel empowered to just push on even if it means writing for international clients.
    Thanks alot

    • Angela Atkinson

      Hey Derrick, I suggest giving it a go for 30 days – focus only on one niche for 30 days and really dig in – be sure to publish EVERY DAY during that time and also get involved in forums and groups that are niche-focused. Watch what happens – you might be surprised!

      • Ravi M.

        Commit for one niche for 30 days is a great suggestion to start and reach success. I try this for the next 30 days. And let you know what the result. [But don’t know how long this post allows to comment!]

        I also liked that you didn’t write to not using AdSense when you’re making videos for getting clients. Many folks do that but it doesn’t matter whether the videos are monetized or not. Watchers mainly care of the content in the video.

        And I found a better idea from your post is we can immediately get the idea by observing what challenges us or what hurts us. And when it was a problem, we can research to solve it and the notes can be our daily update.


  3. Dana Dobson

    Hi Angela,

    Great post, and your niche is near and dear to my heart. I wondered, what technology are you using to create your videos? Camtasia? I like the use of slides.

    • Angela Atkinson

      Hey Dana, thank you! Yes, I use Camtasia – LOVE IT!

      • Carol Tice

        I also am a big Camtasia fan — so easy! Of course, compared with editing physical tape with a razor blade, which is where I started.

        • Angela Atkinson

          Truth! I never had the razor blade experience but I definitely did layouts by hand once upon a time lol. Camtasia has solved most of my editing problems. 🙂

  4. Madeline Davis

    Great advice! (Though what else could we expect from this wonderful site?)

    Excellent example of writing from the fount of experience (no matter the type).

    • Angela Atkinson

      Exactly. For my readers, it seems to come down to the fact that they have so often been misunderstood – and then they go to my site and SEE THEMSELVES. One told me the other day that she felt that I’d been looking inside her kitchen window. The key is to provide content that has real value to your target audience every time.

  5. Tanya

    Where did you get your life coach certification?

    • Angela Atkinson

      Hey Tanya, I went through Universal Coaching Institute – universalcoachinstitute dot com. I loved the program and found the director to be incredibly caring and helpful as I went through it. In fact, I’m still really closely connected and enjoy a membership in an alumni mastermind. 🙂 This program is also accredited by the ICF, the certifying entity.

  6. Marlena Bontas

    Great article! I’m also a narcissistic abuse survivor and it’s not easy. On my blog I write about anxiety, toxic relationships and narcissism-indeed, the highest traffic I get is from the topic on narcissism.
    It’s really important to educate people about this stuff. As you said, no one can understand it truly if they didn’t experience it.
    Not sure if I would wanna focus only on narcissism on my blog-the topic is very depressing, or at least, that’s how I see it.
    Your experience is uplifting, though. It gives me hope that you CAN succeed, in spite of abuse. Thank you.

    • Angela Atkinson

      Yep it’s depressing for sure…and I did not necessarily want to go this way for a niche – but as you develop your audience, you can expand and get feedback. And personally, while I do work on educating the people about this disorder, I also focus on narcissistic abuse recovery – that’s where it gets less sad and more powerful. Feel me? I’m going to take a peek at your blog, too – maybe we can do a collab at some point. 🙂 Let me know if you’d be interested

      • Marlena Bontas

        Yes, I understand that we need to focus on recovery as well. It is indeed more powerful. I would be interested in a collab. Should I leave here my email address? Just in case, it is

        Thank you for your reply.

  7. Evan Jensen

    Hi Angela,
    Great guest post. Really interesting niche, that to be honest, I knew very little about about until now.

    I’m also in awe at your work ethic. Eighteen books published since 2015, along with client work, coaching, and marketing! It’s the work-smart-and-work-a-ton-of-hours-secret-to-success Carol often talks about to build a successful freelance business.

    • Carol Tice

      I know! We should ALL be putting out MORE ebooks. The more you have, the easier they are to sell. They help sell each other. 😉

      • Julie

        Carol, what is the page length range you recommend for e-books?

        And P.S. I loved your recent post about your fears. Thanks so much for sharing. It’s nice to know fears are there for everyone and great things can be achieved in spite of them!

        • Julie

          I meant word count, not page length! 🙂

          • Carol Tice

            There is no ‘recommended length’ for ebooks. Some are long, some are short. To me, ebooks, like blog posts or articles, should be the length they need to be to concisely convey all the needed information.

            And glad you enjoyed my ‘secret terrors’ post! Probably something I should have written a long time ago. 😉

          • Katherine Swarts

            “How long should a man’s legs be? Just long enough to reach the ground.”

            -Abraham Lincoln

    • Angela Atkinson

      Thanks so much, Evan – and absolutely, I work my butt off. Carol is right – it takes dedication and focus. BUT, for me anyway, it’s all been worth it. 🙂

      • Carol Tice

        I was interested hearing that you posted every DAY and were participating in groups.

        When you focus that intently for a whole month and are super-active in one niche, I think a lot can happen!

        • Angela Atkinson

          And that is the moral of the story. Active cultivation and intentional, genuine connection to the community you’re building. I like the term “small army” – they become sort of your family. You know exactly what I mean, Carol – you’ve built a beautiful group here!

  8. not gonna say for the sake of shmoogle

    My mom is my toxic person.
    I’m still not fully over her. And my sibs are not going to accept anything I say, because I’ve been painted as villain.

    I would LOVE to help other people dealing with toxic parents. But I don’t feel like I have what to say, at all.
    (Okay, mom’s not toxic right now. But that’s because I’ve knocked her out of my life and she’s begging for pictures of my kids.)

    • Angela Atkinson

      Hey friend, I feel you. I have been right there – and so have so many others. Maybe you’d do well to join our SPAN group – if you visit QueenBeeing and go to the SPAN page, you can join free – the group is free, online and confidential, and there are more than a thousand members who are actively helping one another – and good for you for going no contact with your tormentor. Stay strong – and if you’d be interested in guest posting on QueenBeeing about your experience or even joining me for a YouTube interview, I’d love to have you!

    • Linda H

      I relate, Friend, because my brother is a narcissist and my mom was also toxic. I moved 1,800 miles West to separate myself, which helped, but had to eventually disconnect from my brother totally. After my dad died and he took over the estate with my mom, it was a bloody nightmare.

      Also understand the backlash. My brother found me on LinkedIn and regularly checks my profile. But I disconnected and life is so much better. Am careful on Facebook to prevent backlash, but the distance between us helps.

      You may find that the SPAN group Angela recommends helps a great deal. Your post helped me relate, so you’ve definitely got something to give others.

      • Angela Atkinson

        Hey Linda, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I feel you on the move. Probably in your best interest! Hugs my friend ♡

        • Linda H

          Many times I’ve reflected that the move probably saved my life. It saved my sanity at least. I don’t want to speculate what might have happened if I hadn’t.

          I will say when my mom got sick and my brother demanded I come back to care for her I chose not to. My nephew called and said my brother asked him to care for her, but would be in total control of everything: time, doctors, finances, you would basically be working for a tyrant. I already knew that so I said NO. As a result, my brother took everything, wrote me out of everything,m and only after my mom died did he learn that dad took my advice about something. Even then, he manipulated it and I basically got nothing. No matter, the freedom is worth the loss.

          I share this publicly because so many are in this situation. I’ve one client whose life was destroyed because of it. He’s never emotionally or mentally recoveered. Sad.

          • Linda H

            Just noticed another typo, I’m too used to writing, reviewing quickly and hitting Edit afterward. Oops. 🙂

          • Angela Atkinson

            You sound just like me – I used to notice typos as I was doing videos and would even say so lol!

  9. arg

    Dang, it still posted my pic. Not that I care, but still…don’t need the backlash.
    Oh, well.

    • Angela Atkinson

      It’s your Gravatar I believe – try posting with a different email, maybe. Hugs!

  10. Rai Cornell

    Hi Angela,

    Your post really struck a chord with me. I earned my Bachelor’s in Psychology and my first Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy and also Professional Clinical Counseling. I also trained to be a counselor for two years before deciding to switch career paths and focus on writing. First of all I want to say that you are absolutely right when you said “Even therapists aren’t educated on this topic these days.” In the field, NPD is considered to be so rare (which it’s really not) that studying and training in NPD abuse is essentially not worth the time. While I strongly disagree and applaud those who have gone on to specialize in treating NPD, you’re right on the money.

    Second, I really appreciate you sharing your story and how you turned it into a lucrative career. I have suffered from PTSD for years. While I consider myself (mostly) recovered, I’ve tried to launch a career based on my passion to help others overcome PTSD. However, every successful freelance writer I’ve talked to has advised me against this path, saying that self-help and psychology in particular are not “where the money’s at.” It’s encouraging to hear that you’ve experienced otherwise.

    Though I’ve since abandoned my passion project (PTSD Champion was my blog that focused on providing evidence-based information and self-help tips to PTSD sufferers), I hope to return to it someday. Your story makes me think this is possible.

    Thank you 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Rai, while in terms of freelance writing it isn’t as hot a niche as tech or healthcare or finance, Angie’s story shows one way you can ride your passion project to success, especially if you do also want to counsel, teach, or coach in your niche. It’s more of a moonshot than regular freelancing is, but it can certainly pay off.

      • Angela Atkinson

        But Carol’s right – you won’t get many freelance clients with this as your platform. Even so with your educational background, you can go really far without taking on freelance writing clients – email me and let’s talk if you like. Angyatkinson at gmail dot com

    • Angela Atkinson

      It absolutely is possible and I’d be happy to have a guest post from you as well as a YouTube interview if you’re up for it. Would love to see your blog!

  11. Katherine Swarts

    My “issues” have become my niche as well: virtually everything I write these days is related in some way to stress management, depression, or discouragement.

    • Angela Atkinson

      It’s not such a bad thing – especially if you practice what you preach. Hugs!

  12. Cynthia

    This resonates with me on such a deep level. I have a LONG history of childhood abuse and related issues, and to be able to come out of it alive has been such a victory for me. Writing saved me, as did working with other abuse survivors. I still struggle sometimes, but I believe whatever it is, I’ll survive. Wonderful post! Love xo

    • Angela Atkinson

      Thank you! I truly believe writing saved me too. I even blogged myself 100 lbs thinner. No joke. Hugs friend. ♡

  13. Linda H

    Angela, your post nailed my niche market for me.

    I’m diabetic, Type 2, and decided to blog on that because I know my audience. Having read so much about it, I have an idea of what they want to know and read. Plus I have multiple topics I can cover that have positives vs the usual negatives posted everywhere else. Since you are focusing on the single niche, I may just focus on one niche and post the blogs I’ve thought about for so long.

    I’ll also check out your website as I have a brother who’s a narcissist, as I mentioned earlier, and some of the damage still haunts me. My mom was toxic but I separated from my parents through distance, while I’ve detached from my brother completely. Folks are gone now, so that’s no longer an issue.

    I discovered my narcissistic issues when I had two clients from narcissistic families. Eye openers. So glad I read this post tonight. I’ve saved your points about YouTube, and may begin posting videos shorts about overcoming my chosen niche soon. And I definitely could write a few ebooks for Kindle.

    Thanks for this great post, hitting so many positive buttons to move toward, and encouraging me and so many others through your sharing. Fabulous post!

    • Angela Atkinson

      So happy you found the post so helpful, Linda, and you’re spot on with that niche – the more specific, the better. I definitely suggest you jump in and get yourself on YouTube soon! My only regret is not doing it sooner.

      • Linda H

        I will. My office faces my kitchen, but I figured out how to create a curtain that will look professional on videos and video conferences. You inspired me to start looking at possible ebooks, more blog posts, and focused video trainings or conversations. I’ll get it rolling within a week or so. Somehow I have a feeling now that there’s greater focus the timelines will all organize themselves! Thanks for your encouragement.

  14. Larmes

    Hello, Angie. Thank you for sharing your story. I wanted to write my own story and began the topic of emotional abuse on the blog page of my website but took down the posts on advice. I still have a legal wrangle going on regarding a shared property abroad and didn’t want to go public with anything that might be used against me.
    I write novels in a pseudonym and short stories for women’s magazines. Success is limited but I have some fabulous reviews.
    I’m aching to get my abuse story out but afraid my abuser will find a way to use it to hurt me. I’m 18 months no contact and making a new, happy life but still waiting for the outcome of the legal stuff.His delaying tactics are part of the control he enjoys.In the meantime I’m writing and submitting shorts to the magazines but can’t seem to settle on any of my three unfinished novels.It’s as if my brain is waiting for the final closure.
    I’d be happy to guest post under an assumed name. Knowing you are not alone is a huge help to others who struggle after a toxic relationship.
    Cheers, and thank you again.

    • Carol Tice

      Angie, I’d love it if you could address this whole issue — I do meet so many writers who want to hide behind a pseudonym, which really hinders you as a freelance writer. Could you talk about how you made the decision to come out with this, and what helps you feel safe sharing this side of your life with people?

    • Angela Atkinson

      Yes, please – I’d love to have a guest post and am happy to put it under a pen name of your choice. Please email me at angyatkinson at gmail dot com.

  15. Angela Atkinson

    Carol, yes. I slowly did it – by starting with researched, factual articles as I was learning about NPD and the related issues. And over time, the more my audience connected with me, the braver I became. It’s a personal choice. BUT if you’re sharing the story for the sake of it and not as part of your career plan, a pseudonym is fine. I agree though, if you are planning to grow a career, any sort of pen name can be a detriment. To be fair, I ran an experiment a few months ago in a niche way outside my own and I did use a pen name because I didn’t want confunion around my topic area. A lot of multi-niche Kindle authors do this for obvious reasons too

  16. audrey

    Question. I have read every single thing that all of you have posted. I wanted thank you for all the wonderful new insight that you have given me. I now have created free accounts and posted my work on these online resources Clearvoice, Skyword, Contently, Ebyline and Upwork. With that being said. Would anyone being willing to share who you currently work with? Maybe someone that isn’t posted? Where I could follow their rules and submit some of my work? I appreciate you!!!

    • Carol Tice

      Audrey, these platforms aren’t about ‘submitting your work’ — they have assignments from businesses and look for writers to do them. I’m thinking this comment is germane to this post, rather than the one we’re on here?

      And please read our comments again about UpWork — it’s not in the same class at all with the other 4 you named.
      I’m also interested to learn of more move-up mills. Why don’t you re-post this on the right thread, so people interested in this topic might answer?

      • audrey

        I completely understand about Upwork and that its not in the same class as the other 4. I only mentioned all 5 just to show who I have created my platforms with. I completely understand that if I am what they are looking for in my niche, they will contact me. I apologize, If my comment was misconstrued. Wow, you think my comment was “germane” to the post? Won’t happen again! Thanks for everything!

        • Carol Tice

          I just thought you were commenting really about the one about writing for ‘move-up’ content mills, since you rattled off a list of how you signed up for all the ones we mentioned in that piece, which was just 1 back…thought you might have been reading through several and not realized you were commenting on a different post. No offense taken!

  17. Mel Pearce

    I feel like this article is A Sign itself.

    See, I’m currently in an emotional abuse situation and I can’t go into many details, but I was wondering if maybe it might be a good idea to set up a blog under an alias to talk about my experiences with coming to terms with the fact that yes, Virginia, I’m experiencing abuse.

    Can’t talk about it as myself in case it’s found by the people involved, who I currently rely on because I can’t fully support myself, right?

    Your Youtube advice is awesome. Natural, unscripted content is often easier to personally connect to and really brings out somebody’s passion, too, which helps with wanting to go back and watch more (or even follow that person’s channel). So yeah. Woo!

    Thank you for this post – and for all that you do for survivors.

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