Hi! Thanks for
asking! That’s definitely a struggle for a lot of people, because most people
assume you want to teach or you’re going to quit your day job and only write
(which literally no one but mega-rich people can afford to do). My intention
was to continue teaching after I finished my degree, but budget cuts dictated
otherwise. Because I’d renewed my year-long lease, I needed to bust my butt to
first freelance gig was to do some audio transcriptions for a friend who needed
last-minute help and I happened to be awake at the right time to see the
request for help. I did several of those.
I started on Elance (now Upwork) once I graduated. In June 2015, I began a
contract as an editorial assistant for an independent tea-seller. I helped him
with his website and product descriptions… blog posts, Amazon listing,
explanations of the uses of the herb in the tea, etc. I’m actually still working
November, I started working on (as in proofreading and editing and
brainstorming) a client’s books that he’d been writing, and once he got back
from a trip across the world, I began helping him post about his experiences in
a country most people won’t go to.
that doesn’t sound creative, it actually is in its own way! Because English isn’t
his first language, a lot of my job is finding creative solutions for how to
reword his sentences so they mean what he wants to express. He knows exactly
what his voice needs to sound like as a writer, but it’s hard to do that when
he isn’t a native English-speaker. I help him spruce things up and add some
stuff that really helps his work POP!
I started doing some articles for a gaming website, but it was just kind of…
tedious because of all the requirements. I got some articles posted on there,
but I’ve been pretty lazy about doing more.
the same time, the friend who had me doing audio transcriptions said that these
local companies needed some blog posts about roofing and awnings—which I knew
nothing about. So I started learning it and wrote a post for each of them each
month for a while. I actually learned a lot, and I’m glad I did it. It forced
me to get out of my comfort zone!
didn’t feel like I wasn’t getting consistent enough money for rent, so I went
on Internships.com (see my resume here if you want to get a better idea of what
I’ve been up to: http://www.internships.com/student/show/Stephanie-T-N181759,
and you can look at my terrible Facebook page for more stuff: https://www.facebook.com/Stephanie-Tillman-902927859755904/info/?tab=page_info&edited=long_desc).
Internships, I got invited to work as a writer for a blog about managing
professional websites and stuff, and then my boss poached me from my internship
to work on his actual big project, which is an all-in-one ecommerce plugin-type
thing that’s based in WordPress. The next thing I knew, I was managing the blog
from above and coaching my writer interns. So I am on my third contract with
this guy and am making money based on how many repeat visitors we get on the
blog. I’m actually about to get back into the writing stuff, so I’m a bit
excited for that. 🙂 My first article as a content editor/content strategist
will be about cyber-security.
you’re probably thinking that working on these ecommerce blogs has to be
boring, right? I’m just a big ol’ nerd and have really enjoyed learning about
these technical aspects of business. You have to find a way to present business
information in a way that’s easily read by the layperson. The posts need to be
creative in that they need to catch the reader’s attention.
this kind of stuff fits more in the “technical writing” category, but LEARNING
technical writing was not quite up my alley. I only took one class about it,
and I feel like that was plenty enough. Creative writing takes you down a path
where you are a creative problem-solver, someone who can make the unrelatable into
something that anyone can read. You develop your voice as a writer and find a
way to apply it to your target audience(s).
of the most fun things I have is working on Fiverr, where I edit blog posts.
Again, might not sound exciting at first, but I get to work with a variety of
clients who have tons of different blogs and interests. I work with them to
bring their best voice forward.
worked as a tutor and adjunct professor during grad school, and while those
were good experiences, they do not allow much for the creative end of things. I’m
really glad I did them, but they don’t have anything to do with my writing. I’m
also helping a friend’s sister with an unreasonably difficult paper! It was
more satisfying than teaching, because I prefer one-on-one work.
I don’t make like… a TON of money. I
really don’t. I just work when and where I can. My
biggest source of income is from my client that’s working on his travel blog
and books. Second place is tied between my ecommerce blog stuff and my stuff on
Fiverr. It depends on when my regular clients show up! I could go a month
without much work on there, but right now? I’m doing a gig for $95!!
crap, right? Once you have developed yourself as a writer, you can actually charge
people for your work! And it’s awesome!!
you gotta do the legwork to get there first. Working as a tutor showed me how
to really make genuine connections with people whose first language is
something other than English. And that’s where a LOT of my work comes from.
keep my hands in a little bit of everything, but I’m not quite at the point of
making an actual living wage out of it. I have super-supportive parents, and I
have more ambition in my pinky finger than some people do in their entire bodies.
I’ve built a reputation—as a person who WORKS. My original client has directed
me to a friend of hers for another project, but she just found out that she’s
kind of supposed to write the blog posts herself. I’m hoping they’ll change
their mind, because the blog topic sounds really interesting to me.
my friend told me that my writing is worth at least 25 cents per word, which
ADDS UP!! I have another prospective client on Fiverr that I really, really
hope will follow through with their request so I can write blog posts for them.
The true reasons I do freelance are
one thing, I have a lot of health problems—both physical and mental—so working
at home allows me to work even when I’m not doing well. I don’t have to wake up
at 5 AM and drive across town to a tedious office job. I wake up when I need
to, I hold my video-conference meetings, I talk to my clients on the phone, I
edit documents from the comfort of a couch or my bed, and so on.
have anxiety, depression, Fibromyalgia, and asthma. Having a panic attack? I
don’t have to duck into the office bathroom and hope it passes soon. Too
depressed to work? Double up the next day. In too much pain to move? Good thing
I can work at home! Everything I do, I can do from wherever I’m at.
of the biggest benefits, though, is that I can take the time to focus on my own
writing. I’m working on multiple books right now, and I’m not sure I’d feel up
to that with a typical “drive to work” job.
Regardless, I am NOT a typical case. You
have to make your degree into what you want it to be. You’re not going to get
job offers unless you’re on a freelance site like Upwork or Fiverr or all the
other sites out there. You HAVE to bust
your butt and get yourself out there. I just turned 26, so now I have to
worry about paying for insurance. I have spent weeks at a time just about
neglecting my own boyfriend in order to make sure I get all my stuff done.
(However, because he’s awesome, he’s actually paid me to spend lengthy amounts
of time helping him with his writing-based homework since he’s dyslexic.)
If you go into a degree in Creative
Writing, then that is AWESOME. And you will learn so
much, and there’s really nothing like it. Truly. And taking graduate classes?
Oh my gosh. So much cooler than I can express. Instead of regurgitating
whatever your professor says, you get to take the time to do your own research
and write about topics you never would have touched otherwise.
I turned a passing, late-night idea into a 60-page poetry project about Snow
White and mental health. Read about it here and click the big, red link on the
page if you want to read it (special shout-out to Poetry Riot!): http://poetryriot.tumblr.com/post/123777328446/between-two-worlds-a-poetry-collection?utm_medium=email&utm_source=html&utm_campaign=submission_published&utm_term=respond_link
high school is a double-edged sword. After your first year of college, no one
cares about what you did in high school. This is good because it gives you the
chance to reinvent yourself and try what you were always afraid to try. It’s
bad because you have to supplement everything with NEW stuff. Did you spend
high school in detention? Once you’re a sophomore in college, literally nobody
cares. Nobody. So you gotta fill in your resume with new activities and events
Vitae, or C.V., is basically an academic resume that points out all the classes
and activities related to the job you want. So as a writer, you would focus on
your writing classes and presentations and even publications if you can manage
to get some.
You have to be prepared to spend your
time writing and writing and submitting and researching and writing and
This isn’t a bad thing, so please don’t
let this scare you!
just mean that it requires a lot more than just being a good writer. You have
to challenge every perception you have about yourself and your writing. You
will learn to crack yourself and your stories open to get the fleshy meaty
stuff out of your work. You get to sit down and discuss your writing and others’
writing in a way that allows you to work on building your knowledge of the
craft. You’ll begin to understand that first drafts aren’t nearly as good as
you think they are—seriously, that is the toughest lesson to learn.
will be a new person once you get your degree. Even if it feels like you did
way more reading than you did writing.
go to grad school if you can get an assistantship/school job to pay for it. I
paid for my entire 2.5 years (was only going to be 2, but I extended it to get
more teaching and writing time) myself, just by tutoring and teaching. It is SO
worth it if you do.
it’s a wonderful experience, but you have to be willing to do the work to put
what you’ve learned into practice. I have established myself as a hard worker,
and if you do the same, then you can make a career out of it.
goal is to keep writing and doing my work so I can eventually get all my books
published and roll in the money. XD If there’s anyone who can actually make it,
it’s me. If you can become that kind of person, the kind that will work hard no
matter what, then you can make it there too. Become a Russian nesting doll and
build yourself on top of yourself until you are big and beautiful. Really. You
can become so majestic and confident that you don’t cry when you get rejection
letters, that you actually start submitting to big-name publishers, that
everyone in your life completely believes in you, against all odds.
know my life doesn’t sound terribly glamorous, but I genuinely believe that I’m
putting my degrees to good use. You can do it too, but no two people’s paths
will be the same. 🙂
if it feels like I’m talking your ear off, but one of my passions in life is
helping people become better writers and expand themselves into something they
never dreamed they could be. I love to talk about my journey as a writer, so if
there’s anything I managed not to cover here, then please let me know so I can
fill in the blanks.
can’t wait to go cuddle up with my stiff-back legal pad and a mug of hot chocolate
and get some writing done! 😉