Today we talk to content writer Anne McAuley Lopez. Anne discusses how she broke into the freelance writing industry, her advice for beginners, and more:
1) Hi Anne! please tell us a little about yourself and your career as a writer
In 2010 I was laid off from my job in corporate America. When I looked at the job description, I realized that what I loved about the job wasn’t even part of the description!
I loved introducing people from my department to other departments and writing for the company newsletter. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was networking on a very small scale and my writing experience was preparing me to transition from being a business analyst to a full-time writer.
2) Did you grow up wanting to be a writer? And how did you break into the industry?
YES! When I was growing up, my teachers would give a choice on projects that included writing a five paragraph essay, creating a glittery poster board presentation or a 3-D option.
I ALWAYS chose to write. Turns out, knowing how to write five paragraph essays is a good start to being a blogger!
3) What advice do you have for beginner freelance writers?
I love this question and I get it a lot. My answer is always the same – Identify your target market and network your ass off.
Find in-person networking groups that make sense for your business. For me, I want website designers and developers, graphic designers, and professionals in my vertical markets to be in the groups where I spend time.
The website pros are looking for content writers and my vertical markets (financial advisors, court reporters, estate planning attorneys, medical professionals) need content and social media management.
In addition, choose social media platforms where your target is spending time. Even if you don’t like LinkedIn, for example, if your audience is there, you need a consistent presence there too.
4) Do you have any advice for writers juggling freelance writing with a full-time job?
My advice is to do as I say not as I did! I started my business while I was on severance from corporate America (= no savings) and without a clear plan. If you have the luxury, and from where I sit it is a luxury, to develop a clear business and marketing plan and build your savings before telling your boss that you quit, do it.
Find and manage clients before leaving your job so you can test the waters of the uncertainty of freelance life. Not everyone can sustain a business or manage the anxiety of not having a steady income and it’s better to know that while you still have a job.
5) What’s your opinion on the subject of choosing a writing niche?
I have always stayed away from choosing a writing niche for the reason that I know I would get bored writing one topic for multiple clients. Do I really want to write all real estate all the time? For me, the answer is a definitive no.
The beauty and the curse of my approach is that when a prospective clients asks for a specific industry, I may not be a good fit for them. On the other hand, I have a variety of experience so that when my client recently asked if I wanted to write personal injury law, I could say with certainty that I am interested and have experience.
I think the happy medium is to choose verticals and focus on clients in those areas. That way you’re not bored and gain industry-specific experience.
6) Finding new clients is always a hot topic on the WriteWorldwide blog. What’s the most effective prospecting method you’ve used to generate work?
The most effective prospecting method for me has three parts, that I developed over many years. The first was to identify verticals so I could gain experience and testimonials. It’s easier to write across a few industries than many simply because I am limiting how much time I spend researching.
The second was to clearly identify services. When I started my business I was a social media manager and blogger. As digital marketing changed, I identified blogging as the highest margin so I focused on that. Now I am rebranding to offer consulting and management for blogging and social media because I have experience in both areas.
Third, market where your target clients are spending time. For me, that’s LinkedIn.
7) What do you wish you’d known at the start of your freelance writing career?
I wish I had made the transition from corporate to freelance over time. I’ve really had to learn as I go which can be overwhelming but also challenging and rewarding for me.
8) Was there a specific shift in your mindset or approach that helped move your business forward?
The biggest shift in my business came when I focused my social media marketing efforts. I am spending less time and experiencing better results.
Check out this blog post about My Experiment on the Best Times to Post on Social Media.
9) Who are your biggest influences and people you admire in the freelance writing industry?
My accountability partner and fellow blogger Robbi Hess is one of the people I admire. She has been freelancing for years longer than me, having started as a journalist and transitioning to online content as the industry changed.
She and I have had countless conversations about trends in digital marketing and we always come back to the basics of staying true to who you are as a person and a writer. Trends change. Businesses change. If you know who you are, you can weather the storms whether that’s personal or business challenges and keep moving forward.
10) What does the future hold for you – are you involved in any new projects related to writing?
I am in the process of rebranding from McAuley Freelance Writing to Blogging Badass. I got married so I have a new name and the old business name was born of necessity seven years ago. It was time to embrace something different.
The Badass tagline is, “Every business has a story. Yours just needs to be told.” Whether that’s through social media, e-newsletter, or blogging, my team and I provide the content and resources to tell your brand’s story. Find us at bloggingbadass.com and look for a new badass website coming soon (Jan 2018).