Mary Davis is a freelance writer and blogger from western Pennsylvania. As a former college adviser, she’s thrilled that she is able to continue to advise students at the blog And You Will Graduate (http://www.graduate.andyouwill.com) She also writes about health, beauty, and personal development at her personal blog, Everyday Baby Steps (http://www.everydaybabysteps.com), and you can follow her writing journey at Adventures in Freelancing (http://www.adventuresinfreelancing.com), her blog for newbie freelancers.
You can follow Mary on Twitter!
What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Positive, Intuitive, Impatient
Take the adjective that best describes you and explain why.
Positive probably describes me best. I make a concerted effort to look at things in a positive light, to try to see all perspectives before making judgments. Life’s tough enough without dwelling on the negative. I’ve learned that the way you think truly does affect the way you feel.
I am a fan of your blog, Adventures in Freelancing [link]. On your blog, you state, "Join me in my journey to a freelance career. Let's learn something together!" What sparked you to start your journey into freelancing?
Thank you so much! I worked as an academic adviser at the local community college, and I really loved my job, but I was living a crazy-paced life and felt that I wasn’t giving my family sufficient time and attention. So when I found out that I was pregnant with my third child, I made the decision to leave my job and try to earn an income from writing. I’d done lots of reading on the subject and knew that it was possible.
Are there particular fields/subjects you're developing your freelance career around? If so, what are they, and why do they interest you?
Yes, I made the decision to write about topics with which I’m familiar. As a mom of three young children, my quality writing time is limited, so I’ve found it more convenient to begin my career focusing on areas I know. I write primarily about issues affecting college students, health, beauty, and personal development. As my children become more independent, I hope to become more of a generalist because I love learning about new things and enjoy the researching and interviewing involved in freelance writing.
What opportunities have you taken part in since starting your career?
I jumped right into the blogging world because it was a way to practice my writing and to force myself to write on a regular basis. Putting your writing out there can be very intimidating to someone just starting out, and blogging is a great outlet to get your feet wet. I began practicing my interviewing skills by talking to people I met through social media, and through those contacts, I’ve obtained some paid blogging positions. I’ve also begun querying online and print publications for college students. These are writing avenues that fit well into my lifestyle.
Since you began your journey, what have been three important things you've learned about freelancing?
I’ve learned so much! One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the importance of marketing yourself. As a freelancer, you’re constantly searching for opportunities; employers don’t initially come to you. I’ve also learned that my time-management skills need some serious tweaking! Starting out as a freelancer is pretty much like starting any other business. A freelancer’s start-up requires a tremendous amount of time and dedication, and I’ve really had to work hard to find a writing schedule that fits around my family. On that note, I’ve learned that you really need to set firm boundaries with your friends and loved ones, as well as with yourself. It’s so easy to blur the lines between work and personal life when you’re an independent contractor. There’s no boss keeping an eye on you and no time card to punch.
What are three tools (books, sites, etc.) you believe every person interested in freelancing should have in her arsenal?
I have a ton of books on writing and on freelancing as a career. One book that I would definitely recommend for anyone wanting to write articles for print or online publication is The Renegade Writer by Diana Burrell and Linda Formichelli. These women teach you the ins and outs of freelancing and give you the straight story on which rules can be broken. If you’re interested in copywriting or writing for corporations, you really need to read The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman. While this book focuses on writing for commercial purposes, there’s so much that any freelancer can learn about marketing and about the business aspect of freelancing. A terrific website that I visit regularly is Freelance Writing Jobs (http://www.freelancewritinggigs.com). You’ll find so much more here than just job leads here. There’s information on blogging, article writing, networking, and so much more you need to know related to the world of freelancing.
For someone who is interested in going into freelance, what questions should she asks herself FIRST to see if she has the gumption to jump into the fray?
This is such a good question. I read so many books that addressed this issue, and I assured myself that I had all the necessary qualities. Then I actually started my freelancing career and almost gave up so many times! I’d say the most important quality to have as a freelance writer is persistence. Actually, it’s in your best interest to be downright stubborn. I’m too stubborn to give up. I know I can succeed, but I also know that I have to always keep my goals in sight. A successful freelancer has to be goal-oriented and also must be able to push insecurities aside and not take things personally. Fear and rejection are part of the game, but you can’t give into them!