Today on WriteWorldwide we interview Heidi Medina, a freelance writer specialising in food travel and healthy living. Heidi talks with us about her freelance writing career, the challenges she’s faced, how she lands clients, what she does to improve her writing skills and much, much more.
Hi Heidi, please introduce yourself to the WriteWorldwide readers.
Currently, I’m in the middle of creating a new website and travel product under the name of www.FlyAwayU.com. I’ve been published on the HuffPost, DailyWorth, The PennyHoarder and Thrive Global, to name a few.
I’ve also created and published two books, The House Sitters Cookbook and FlyAwayU’s Complete Guide to Travel Insurance, and have the third book in the works.
Why did you choose to become a writer?
Writing is just something I’ve always enjoyed. It was a hobby for most of my life that turned into a career in 2008 when I got laid off from my “real” job as a landscape manager.
Because of the recession, I was unable to find work in my industry, so I turned to SEO writing to help pay the bills. I created my first blog, Simply Sophisticated Cooking in 2012 as something to do while I was recovering from a broken ankle.
How did you break into freelance writing and have you experienced much success yet?
I broke into freelance writing with low paying SEO writing. I absolutely hated it. Having to keyword stuff crap articles to make a few bucks was not my view of a successful writer. But it did help pay the bills.
It wasn’t until I started focusing on my blogs that I realised I could make money writing about topics I enjoyed. Informative, fun articles that people wanted to read. I feel that I’ve been pretty lucky and successful.
While I’m not making enough money to make a full-time income yet, I am building my products, which I’ve focused on more than writing for other people. For me, that is plenty of success.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced and how did you overcome them?
My biggest challenge was learning to pitch. For some reason, I couldn’t get the concept to click in my head while trying it Bamidele’s way. It’s just proof that what works for some doesn’t work for others. He has a great program, and it does work well, but his formula for pitching didn’t work for me. So I had to find what worked for me.
The light bulb on pitching came for me after having a conversation with Martina Donkers. All of a sudden the idea of pitching clicked for me. I understood what I needed to do and how I needed to change my approach so that it worked for me. After that, pitching has been relatively easy, and I’m a much more successful writer.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?
The one piece of advice I wish I had at the beginning of my career is trying not to learn everything. There is so much information online that it’s hard to focus sometimes. Often, you quit way too early because you feel what you are trying isn’t working. And so you move on to something else. But the truth of the matter is, you probably quit too soon.
So if you pick one or two methods and follow them through, your chances of success will be much higher. For most newbie freelance writers today, start with Bamidele’s writing course and follow it through. It will take you somewhere. You might need to adjust it slightly, but you will get there following it.
What techniques do you use to grow your writing business?
I’m always working to improve my writing skills and to make lasting connections so that I’m not always looking for work. It also helps to make deep working connections with editors, other writers, and social media experts to help further your career and build your business.
What’s the most effective method you’ve used to find new clients?
The most efficient method I’ve used to find clients is networking. I like to research companies or people who I want to work with and then make connections within the enterprise. Those connections have paid off for me much more often than cold pitching.
What does your daily writing routine look like?
Haha. Right now, it’s crazy because I’m building the new travel site and product. Between creating web pages and writing blog posts, I usually start writing around 7:30 am in the morning and work about 8 hours a day (and sneak a couple more hours in the evening doing odds and ends).
I get in several thousand words or more per day. I’m not doing any freelance work right this moment, but that is changing since I am pitching for work again.
Who are your biggest influences and people you admire in the freelance writing industry?
Wow, I have a list. Bamidele Onibalusi, Mariana Abeid-McDougall, Emma Tryon, Natalie Smith, Jodie Burnham, Jenny Beres, Marina Donkers, Carol Tice and Jorden Roper. I’m sure I missed a few. These people have had an immense influence on my freelance writing career, and I admire what they do and share with the rest of us.
Name one book, one tool, and one article that have helped you in your writing career.
Hmmm, Tim Ferriss’s 4-Hour Workweek book helped me realise how to maximise my time so I could write more. Bami’s Earn Your First $1,000 is my favourite tool for actually getting me started in freelance writing. I’m not sure what the one article is because there have been so many.
What would you say to writers who are struggling to pick a niche?
Don’t. It’s a myth that you have to have a niche. If you can write well on several topics and enjoy it, then do. For those just starting out, it may be beneficial to focus more on one over another, but there are no rules that say you can only write on one topic. Just write what you feel and love and it will come through.
How do you keep your writing skills sharp?
I keep my writing skills sharp by writing. The only way to become excellent at something is to do it. The more I write, the better I become.
What advice would you give other aspiring freelance writers who want to make money, freelance writing?
Know that it is not going to happen overnight. It takes a lot of skill, hard work and dedication to build a freelance writing career. There will be days when you want to quit and give up, don’t. Keep at it, and you will make it but only if you believe in yourself and you don’t give up.
What limiting beliefs must ESL writers get rid of to achieve success?
ESL writers have to get rid of the feeling that they aren’t good enough when compared to native English speakers. I know plenty of native writers who aren’t great at articulating the language and ESL writers who are better than native writers. So just get rid of the idea you aren’t good enough because you are.
What are your future plans?
Right now, to successfully launch this new travel site and product. I finally feel like I’ve finally found my perfect idea, my passion. The one I’ve been striving for all this time through all my other writing and blogs. I’m working to build not just a product but a community which supports growth and travel for anyone, not just a few.
If you have any questions for Heidi or the WriteWorldwide team, please leave them in the comments below. And if you’d like to read more interviews like this, visit our Writer’s Interview page.