Client Spotlight: LindaWritten by Kristin
Have you ever dreamed about leaving your J-O-B and starting a writing career? This is a dream of so many people! I asked my former client, Linda Formichelli, to share some honest tips and advice about how to leave the rat race and work as a writer.. She also has a book promotion right now - and you can get her pearls of wisdom for a mere $1.50! I highly suggest.it Why so low? She wants to quickly get the book in reader's hands and build a buzz.. Check it out and don't miss the super low price. It expires on Monday, October 14th at 5 PM eastern time. (By the way, I don't get any compensation for mentioning her book. I simply think it's a must-read for anyone considering this career path.)
Here's my interview with Linda Formichelli - author of Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love
1. Tell us about the work you do.
Since 1997, I’ve written for 150 magazines, including Redbook, USA Weekend, Health, WebMD, Writer’s Digest, and Family Circle. I’ve also done copywriting, content marketing, and blogging for more than two dozen clients, like Sprint, OnStar, and Pizzeria Uno.
My books include The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelancing Success, The Renegade Writers Query Letters That Rock, and my newest, Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love.
Finally, I mentor writers and teach e-courses on how to break in to freelance writing, am the Other Den Mother at the Freelance Writers Den, and have spoken at writers’ conferences all over the U.S.
2. Many people dream of a writing career. what's some sage advice you'd like to offer someone considering this career path?
You need to have a combination of hope, joy -- and practicality. Freelance writing IS great -- usually. But sometimes you’ll deal with pain-in-the-butt clients or have to take on as assignment in a topic you’re not passionate about. And you need to get rid of any delusions that you’ll be typing away all day in a café somewhere and getting paid for it (more on that below). Freelance writing is a BUSINESS, and it takes a lot more than writing skill to succeed. So keep the reality in mind when you consider freelancing as a career path.
Also, most experts recommend you have 6-12 months worth of income socked away before you quit your job to start your own freelancing business. Freelancing is full of ups and downs, and never moreso than when you’re first starting out. You want to be sure you have enough money saved that you don’t start writing out of a place of desperation.
You also need to think about time. If you already have a job, and possibly a family, how will you make the time to build your writing career? (And notice I say MAKE, not FIND!)
3. Why did you write this book? What do you hope people will glean from it?
I’ve spoken with thousands of aspiring writers in my position as a blogger, mentor, and instructor, and the majority of them are hoping to leave jobs they aren’t passionate about to pursue a writing career. I was in the same position 17 years ago and am SO glad I left to go freelance...you couldn’t pay me enough to go back to a 9-5 job. So this book is for the people who want to do what I did.
I was originally going to do Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race as a premium e-course, but I thought I could reach more aspiring writers by writing it up as a low-priced book.
My hope is that I start a leaving-the-rat-race revolution. We’re already moving in a direction where more and more people are working from home, so hopefully this book will add to that critical mass.
4. What's a typical salary range for a writing career?
This is SO variable! It’s so much about what you put into it. But I can tell you that writers make anywhere from a few thousand to $100,000 per year and up. (I know a couple freelance writers who earn $200,000 per year!)
My income has varied over the years according to my schedule. Currently, I homeschool my son so I prefer to work 20 hours or less. Working part-time, I earn about $80,000/year. If I want to make more, I can work more. But, I love my balanced life. We travel a lot and I make time for self-care and other hobbies, too.
Of course, it really depends on the skills you have going into this, and your persistence in marketing yourself. If you resist pitching articles, selling yourself to copywriting clients, networking, and so on, you probably won’t make as much.
5. What are some challenges you've dealt with, through your writing career, and how did you solve those?
I’m prone to burnout. I get so sick of writing in the same format that sometimes I’d rather put spikes through my forehead than write another article, or blog post, or whatever. The good news is that, as a freelancer, I’m free to diversify my writing and jump to different topics and forms of writing when I get burned out.
For example, I’ve ping-ponged from copywriting to magazine writing, from book authoring to blogging, from content marketing to e-books. And throughout most of this, I’ve been teaching my online courses and doing mentoring as well. So freelancing is a good option for people who like variety -- in fact, diversifying can ensure that you keep up a good income level!
Another challenge: I think many old-school writers like me have had trouble with the changing landscape of freelancing.
When I started out, writing wasn’t nearly as competitive as it is today. Thanks to the internet, editors and clients are inundated with pitches from writers -- because, also thanks to the internet, EVERYONE thinks they can be a writer! I’ve adapted by marketing harder and smarter, for example by reworking the Letter of Introduction I send editors to really make me really stand out from the crowd.
Also, many websites have popped up -- content mills and bidding sites, to name a couple -- that offer super low rates but sell writers on the idea that this is normal. I’m lucky that when this happened I was already earning a good income, so I never fell into the trap of wasting a lot of time on these sites. So my challenge is teaching new writers to go after gigs that pay what they’re worth!
6. What type of person is a good fit for a writing career....and what type of person is NOT?
To be a successful writer, you of course need to know how to write well, which means in an engaging, readable, conversational style. But what most aspiring writers don’t know is that at least as important as writing skill are a thick skin to rejection, persistence, self-motivation, great marketing skills, and excellent organizational skills.
I’ve estimated that 85% of my time in my writing career is spent on things that are NOT writing, like marketing, pitching, doing accounting, etc. Only 15% of what I do is sitting at my computer and typing prose.
The type of person who is NOT a good fit for a writing career is the one who focuses solely on that 15% and thinks that’s enough. Someone who doesn’t care about or understand what it takes to run a business is not likely to make it. (Of course, you can LEARN these skills if you don’t have them -- or, if you have money, you can farm them out!)
Another indicator that you’re not ready to freelance is that you’re dead broke and hoping freelancing will be your salvation. Freelancing can take a while to ramp up and start bringing in an income. For example, even if you land an assignment right away, it can take a few weeks to do the assignment to the client’s liking and another 30-60 days to get paid. So if you’re worried about your electricity being shut off, you may want to find some kind of temporary job to get you out of that desperate spot before you turn to freelancing.
7. When is the 'right time' to leave the rat race and follow the writing career path?
The right time is different for everyone, but you can solidify what that is for you by creating triggers to leave your job and go freelance.
For example, one trigger may be that you’ve managed to save up X amount of dollars. Another might be that you have X number of regular clients, or that you’ve earned a certain amount from your freelancing.
A more emotional trigger might be that you simply can’t take your job anymore. The pressure to quit and go freelance builds and builds until you can no longer ignore it. It’s a risk, to be sure, but even more of a risk is continuing to work at a job you don’t enjoy.
Another sure sign it’s time to leave the rat race is that you’re fired! J Seriously, lots of writers teeter on the brink forever, and only when they’re let go from their day jobs do they make the leap. So if you do get laid off, consider it an opportunity, not a setback.
8. Other words of wisdom?
Consider whether you want to let your employer know you’re freelancing on the side. Coming clean gives you a way to control the situation, as opposed to when your boss finds you out and confronts you. Of course, whether you do this will depend on your job, your position, and your work environment. But at least consider whether it would be a good step.
Remember, you can tell your boss you’re freelancing on the side without also letting her know you’re planning to quit your job!
If your employer and coworkers know you’re freelancing, they can be a surprising source of support. Some of the writers I interviewed for my book said they were allowed to do writing during slow periods or while on break. And in some cases, your boss will ask you to do writing for the company, which is a great way to gain experience and writing samples.
Make sure you check out Linda's new book - Write Your Way Out of the Rat Race...And Step Into a Career You Love - and get the initial launch price of $1.50 - which expires on Monday, October 14th at 5 PM eastern!