- Communications and Media
“I would say, “Don't let outside influences direct the course of your life.” At the end of the day, it's you who has to walk through your own journey. The people I allowed to have so much influence over how I directed and shaped my life—they aren't inside this body with me, walking through my day. ”
I wear many different hats, since it’s just me right now. What I do is copy editing and also copywriting. Most people in this industry stick to one or the other but I really didn't want to leave out any of my passions when I was starting up the business so I offer both.
Copy editing is more like what people would think of as proofreading. For example, copy editing projects might be where I receive a report from a medical facility, or a law office, and they're looking for me to comb through the report for any grammatical errors, or errors with spelling, capitalization, punctuation, conciseness, and looking at the organization of the piece. That is what copy editing would be. Copywriting is more of the actual creation of writing pieces. A lot of the copywriting jobs I do includes small business blogging, where I create blogs for them to market to their customers.
The fact that I do both copy editing and copywriting was actually one of my big challenges at first. Like I said, a lot of people in the industry stick to one or the other. If they do copy editing, it's easy for them to just say, “I'm a freelance copy editor.” Or they will do just copywriting, and label themselves as a copywriter. But in combining these two writing aspects, it was hard for me to put them together and figure out a name or a way to describe the wider scope of the things I do.
The overall term I've used, when struggling to sum up what I do, is communication design. I go from the beginning stages of creating a piece, all the way to the end stages of copy editing to make sure it's presentable, polished, and ready to present to the audience.
Writing has always been a passion of mine. Throughout the years, though, I studied different subjects, and writing fell to the wayside. I thought I wanted to go a different way into different industries. But when I started this business, when I was figuring out the scope of services I was going to offer, I realized I really didn't want to leave out my passion for writing. That's why I decided I would make myself versatile and able to suit a wide variety of needs by incorporating writing into my business plan.
A lot of what I focus on when I’m pitching my business is education and value building. When I say I do copy editing, not very many people know what that is. It’s the same with copywriting. So I try to provide a lot of opportunity for education, letting people know what it is and giving them the space to ask questions. I love talking about what I do and helping people become more educated about this work. As I mentioned before, I specifically do a lot of copywriting and blogging for small businesses. In those instances I like to also educate them on why blogging, or having an online presence, is important for businesses in this day and age.
I also do a lot of ghostwriting, which essentially is capturing the author's story and effectively communicating it. An important factor in ghostwriting for me is that I don't want to write the piece in my voice. That’s why it's really important for me to get a good feel for whoever's name is going to be on that piece. What is their voice? What are they trying to say? What are they trying to communicate? In that way, I can use my skills as the writer to communicate what they're trying to say.
Even though I’m doing mainly copy editing and copywriting, I've learned that I have an interest in content marketing, as well. That will be the next step for my business when it's time to grow. I really hope to shift into more of a marketing space eventually, sometime in the near future.
Launching my own business has been a roller coaster adventure so far! I just wonder why I didn't do it sooner. There’s definitely been a learning curve, though. One of the things I had heard before getting into this industry, from people who had done a lot of freelance writing, was to expect ups and downs. For example, in one month you might have a ton of work, lots of projects, and you’re always busy. The next month, you might not have as much going on. So I had that expectation going in. There certainly has been some fluctuation in projects and the amount of work coming in. However, there has always been something happening ever since I started. If it's not work projects, it's different learning opportunities, or opportunities to speak with people from the industry or other organizations. There has always been something going on.
One of the biggest challenges in general is time management as it pertains to balancing being a mom with work.
By far, though, the biggest hurdle was actually getting the business started. I'm a perfectionist. So I do a lot of over preparation. When I had the idea to start the business, there was so much over preparation that I just kept postponing when I would actually start it. I realized the only reason I was doing that was because I subconsciously searched for perfection. I saw time passing, and I asked myself, “When will this idea ever stop being in your head and go out there? How much more can you prepare for things that might come up?” And then it dawned on me that I wasn't waiting for anything. There was nothing stopping me or standing in my way. It was just my fear of failure. You can never prepare for everything—there's always going to be an unforeseen circumstance. I've since come to learn that perfection is not actually an attainable thing. All it can do is paralyze us and keep us from moving to that next step.
When I overcame that challenge I was able to start the business. And I feel like that even translated into how I navigated motherhood. You prepare so much, but when the baby comes, you never know how it's gonna be. That’s how it is with my business baby. It was like, “You did all the preparation you could, now let's see what happens. You can always correct and adjust from there.”
That’s why I would tell anybody: “Don't let your pursuit of perfection paralyze you.”
I really love being able to tell other people's stories because it inspires confidence. Everyone has a story, but not everyone has the ability or the knowledge, or even the drive or desire to put it into words, or express it to somebody else. I think my work is important because I'm able to capture what people want to say, in a visual way that can be shared on many different platforms.
Believe it or not, before writing became my passion, it was actually my least favorite subject in school, but that changed in middle school. In sixth grade we had a writing assignment called “free write” where we could write whatever we wanted. We were also encouraged, not forced, to share. A boy in my class shared the poem he wrote and it really captivated me. It was so descriptive. I think it was about the color blue. The poem explained and described in detail all these different items that were blue. One of them was a soft blanket from the dryer. I just remember feeling it, like, “I know what that smells like, I know what that feels like.”
That was the first time I realized that writing can really make you like feel things. I remember feeling so inspired, thinking, “I want to go home and try this. I want to go home and try to create something that can make somebody feel something.”
That experience sparked my interest in writing, which started out in poetry, and then took off from there. I was always an avid reader, as well. I love, love, love to read. When other kids would be outside playing in the dirt or with toys or with their friends, I was always huddled somewhere with a book. I really loved the Twilight series. Back then that was really my thing. But really, I read anything. I remember my parents had kept college textbooks from their days in school, and had all kinds of novels lying around. I would just grab anything and start reading. There was a biology textbook I started reading—I was about 10 years old, and I probably didn't understand very much of it. But I was always a very skilled reader, and it was something I loved to do, and still do to this day.
I really started to develop my passion for writing as a teenager. Things were tough for my family. We didn't grow up very well off so my teen years were a hard time for me. I also dealt with some issues with bullying in school and writing was like an outlet, an escape, for me, and I just continued to do it over the years.
In high school, it never occurred to me to write for my career. Since I grew up so poor, financial stability was very important to me. I remember thinking “What's going to make me the most money?” and decided I wanted to be a brain surgeon.
When I graduated, I enrolled in a behavioral neuroscience program at Northeastern University. I attended for a semester and a half and found it very interesting but realized I couldn't see myself doing it as a long-term career. “Okay, what's the next thing that will make me a lot of money?” I thought. I came back to Rhode Island and started taking prerequisites for a nursing program because it was still in the medical field but not as demanding education-wise or career-wise as being a surgeon. I took all the prerequisites and got into a great nursing program. But after a semester and a half and realized I didn't want to do that either.
My academic advisor knew I was doing really well and didn’t understand why I didn’t continue. But again, I couldn't see myself in that field. At that point, it was just, “I gotta take a break. I'm wasting time, I'm wasting money just getting into and out of these different programs only to realize that they're not for me,” so I took a year off from schooling.
That year was year full was of ups and downs. I married young and was going through a divorce. After the divorce, I had to start working full-time to support myself financially. I still wanted to go back to school but I didn't want to get into something just to get out of it again.
My aunt suggested I look into Southern New Hampshire, an online university, where she went. When I looked it up I saw that they had a program for creative writing and English and my passion for writing began to resurface. I was excited when I thought about going to school to hone that skill. I enrolled in the creative writing program and due to my previous coursework, I was halfway done with the program by the time I enrolled.
This time around I had a different mindset. I was very passionate about learning more about this subject and didn’t focus on how much I was going to earn. I got into the program and stuck with it, graduating with a Bachelor's degree in creative writing and English.
After I graduated, I still didn't really know what I wanted to do after college. At the time I was already employed by the automotive industry selling cars. It was far off from anything else that I've ever done but was a decent living for me, so I just said to myself, “It'll come to me. I'll figure out what it is I want to do with all this knowledge I've obtained.”
Fast forward a bit. I got married again. I have a 10-month-old daughter now and another one on the way. With all the craziness of COVID, when I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter, I decided to quit the car dealership and start a business so could be at home with my kids. I had previously done some writing and copy editing work for the church and for family and friends and had enjoyed it. My daughter was born in September last year, and I launched my business in November.
Looking back, my parents always knew I enjoyed writing but never pushed me to pursue it as a career. When I saw how happy they were when I told them I wanted to go into the medical field I thought “Okay, I’m going to do it.” It fueled me for a while but when I learned that medicine wasn’t for me, I decided I need to make decisions that were right for me, not for others. I’m not the type of person who could force myself to be miserable in a field just to make others happy.
I spend my day balancing being a mom with being a business owner. I operate my business out of my home and take care of my daughter during the day. We do get some help during the week on certain days but a lot of times it's a balancing act. Time management and organization are definitely key components and are a part of every day. My calendar is pretty much my lifeline.
A good time management or project management system is important since there are always a number of projects going on. I use Asana, and that keeps me on track so that I can see upcoming due dates and deadlines for when I need to submit certain drafts. It helps me stay on top of everything.
Yesterday, I had a doctor's appointment later in the day, and worked on an article I'm writing for a small business that's due tomorrow. In between those two things I took care of my daughter: feeding, changing diapers, and bathing.
I’ve been working on a lot of ghostwriting projects lately, which poses a challenge because I can’t take credit for it as my own work. Being able to include pieces in my portfolio to show what I’m working on is really important for the growth of my business. Lately, I’ve been researching how other professionals in the field navigate issues related to ghostwriting. I now realize ghostwriting is a commonly requested service so I need to figure out a way to overcome it.
I advertise my business through my website and through social media outlets so that's how a lot of people find me. As I navigate the needs of my potential customers, I conduct an assessment where I ask things like, “What kind of work are you looking for? How can I be helpful to you?” During this process, I often learn they're looking for ghostwriting services.
Communication with clients is also an important aspect of my work. When I first started, I was responsible for copy editing a 30-page report for a client. When I copy edit, I like to leave a lot of comments to educate the client. I always like to provide teachable moments so they have a better understanding of the revisions. I completed the assignment for this client and sent it over and they sent an email that said they wanted to talk to me about the assignment. As I said, they were one of my first clients. I was so nervous and thought, “I worked really hard on this. I hold myself to a standard of excellence. What could they possibly want to talk to me about?”
We scheduled a phone call. When we got on the call, the client had a bunch of questions about some of the revisions I had suggested, some of which I hadn’t necessarily left a comment on. They wanted to know why I recommended certain edits. It may have been that they didn't understand the rules I was explaining regarding, for example, grammar or punctuation. I just remember feeling hot and nervous on the phone. I kept thinking, “Oh, my gosh, am I going to slip up and say the wrong thing? Did I make a mistake in the report?”
I also remember feeling very confident in the job I had done and in knowing how hard I had worked. As they continued to go through the document, I kept answering their questions and educating them. By the end of the conversation, they actually thanked me for providing the explanations and clearing up any misunderstandings they had. I felt so much better.
That was a defining moment for me. I know the standard of excellence I put into my work. I should be confident in that, knowing that if there are any questions coming towards me, I'm well equipped to handle them.
I'm expecting my second child soon and I'm thankful that I have that control over my schedule and can scale it back if necessary. As we get closer to my daughter’s due date, there are certain preparations I'll have to make for that. It’s awesome that I have the freedom and flexibility to create my own schedule.
One myth is that we are perfect in our work. There are errors in so many bestselling books—in fact, I'm reading one right now, and I found a mistake in it the other day.
One of the writing pages I follow on Instagram shared a similar message that resonated with so many people. We certainly have to be held to a standard of excellence, because our job is to pay attention to details but it’s a myth that we can always catch every little thing 100% of the time.
My biggest piece of advice is to be organized and prepared and most importantly, to just get started.
Another thing I would say is to seek out advice. I've relied a lot on people in my industry who have been at this for a while or who have done this work in the past. I reach out to them and ask questions. Always try to find somebody you can learn from. That’s how you get better.
I would say, “Don't let outside influences direct the course of your life.” At the end of the day, it's you who has to walk through your own journey. The people I allowed to have so much influence over how I directed and shaped my life—they aren't inside this body with me, walking through my day.
I would say, “Take outside influences for what they are: outside influences. But you ultimately have to shape your life and make decisions to pave your own journey.”
- Communications and Media
“Each other’s lives are our best textbooks.”– Gloria Steinem