Hey gang! I am taking this week off from blogging because my kid got sick after 3 days at daycare, and half of last week got shot to pieces productivity-wise. But I also think it’s important to share the spotlight and introduce my faithful readers (heh) to other creative entrepreneurs who have their own stories to tell and lessons to share. This week, I am featuring my friend and fellow writer Chandi Gilbert. Chandi and I started our writing careers around the same time so it has been fun and fulfilling to have someone sharing the journey with me. (By which I mean mostly complaining and commiserating, but I swear we’re productive together.)
When I started my freelancing business, I worked my first gigs at night and worked my corporate job during the day. I spent many hours researching, imitating, and building. One evening, I sent a proposal for a gig on Upwork. There are some who aren’t fans of Upwork because freelancers are being paid peanuts to do some intense work. I get that. It took me three months of sending proposals before I got even one response. For a lot of freelance-hopefuls, that’s not long at all. I just happened to be one of the lucky ones who quickly landed a good paying writing job. I was hungry and desperate for any work just so that I could officially call myself a writer.
The work sounded maybe a bit…sketchy? I trusted my instincts though, and I began writing blogs about the nudist lifestyle. I made lists of the best places to vacation in the nude. I wrote blogs on how to protect yourself from kitchen appliances while cooking in the nude. (You would be surprised at what a feral vacuum can do.) I wrote dating how-tos for nudists dating non-nudists. If you give me a topic on
nudism, I’ve covered it. I focused all of my energy on writing these articles. They were carefully researched and constructed and all done during my evening hours while I skipped dinner with my husband to pursue my dream.
I was getting paid by the hour, using Upwork’s time tracker. I spent a few weeks diligently churning out fresh content for my client at about ten hours per week. It certainly wasn’t enough to quit my day job. There were a few weeks that I didn’t log any time at all because I was still trying to focus on growing my client base beyond Upwork.
Two weeks of not writing anything for my Upwork client proved to be ineffective in getting me more clients. I refocused my energy on writing these articles and continually asking my client when they would be published. I needed published work to show potential clients. Then he told me something that changed the course of my life and allowed me to break free from my corporate, open-office nightmare.
He didn’t know when the site would be up, but the business plans were in place, and there was no cap on the budget. After that, I knew that I could make as much money as I wanted with this client if I was willing to put in the hours.
I did the calculations. I would make just as much money spending 40 hours a week writing blogs about nudism, as I was making at my soul-sucking corporate job that was making me miserable.
I leaped and hoped for a net. I left behind major health and retirement benefits for both myself and my husband. It wasn’t a leap I made in an uninformed huff. I calculated our bills, and what we needed to do for the safety of our health and our future. It turns out that my mental and emotional well-being is more important than being able to afford fine dining and trips to Italy (because trust me, I am not taking a trip
to Italy with what I make).
I left my job and started working from home immediately.
I was doing 40 hours a week on my Upwork time tracker, but it suuuuuucked. I could churn out 1000 words in 30 minutes, and that was not helpful while I was being paid hourly. I sucked it up for a few months and worked reeee…eeeeeally slow on each article. I would type a sentence. Watch some TV. Type another sentence. Get lunch.
It was unfair to me, but more importantly, it was unfair to my client. I screwed up the courage to ask him to pay me per article, saving us both time and money. He happily agreed. Now I can truly make as much money as I want without time constraints. I try to write 5-20 blogs posts a week for my client, each 500-1500 words. I’ve also been “promoted” to creative director of my own writing. I spend all my time writing fictional, first-person nudist blogs at my discretion. I get to create whatever I want, and I am getting paid for it. I still pinch myself sometimes.
When I started my freelance writing business, I was an excellent writer. It’s my passion. It’s my art. It’s my voice. But let me tell you:
Passion and talent cannot do what practice can do.
Writing 500-3000 words per day, five days a week has done incredible things for my skillset. I was great before, but now I feel untouchable. My writing has sharpened up, and my authentic voice has taken shape. I read a lot, every day. Some of that reading comes from my research. I’ve learned a ton about the nudist (or naturist) culture by reading books and blogs. I know how to break an article into useful bits of information. The coolest unpredicted advantage I have gained is that my mind is sharper than it used to be.
Do you ever start a sentence, get halfway through, and forget what you’re saying? I did that a lot. Have you ever started a sentence with the perfect word on the tip of your tongue, but it slips your mind as soon as you’re about to make an astute and clever observation? It happened to me all the time.
Just by writing and putting my thoughts into words consistently has made me a better writer with a sharper mind. I am not a perfect writer, not even close, but I am far better than when I started eight months ago. I couldn’t sit down and pound out 1500 words about the nudist lifestyle in one day. Now I can do it in a half hour. (Okay, maybe 45 minutes if I am casually sipping my coffee.)
Currently, I don’t need to work on my nudist blogs every day. I write them all up in a few days during the week, usually Monday and Tuesday mornings. The rest of the time, I am still writing. I write every day, no matter what. If I am on my way to bed and I remember that I haven’t yet written anything, I will stop to write. My minimum is 1000 words every day. I work on my fiction, on my own blog, my poetry, or whatever else I feel like writing.
I know that for some writers, they don’t want to hear that they have to practice every day. If you want to write and be successful, you have to read and write every day. There is no shortcut and no substitution. And sometimes it sucks, for real. I have a lot of days when all inspiration has vanished, and I just start typing gibberish. Sometimes it looks like this:
I tried making yhtat stupid recipe today and I forgot that I needed heavy whipping cream because
seriously, who keeps that in their house? Im not paula deen.
I type without fixing typos and sometimes I don’t even worry about punctuation or capitalization. But inevitably, the magic comes.
If you are a runner or know someone who runs, then you’ve heard this advice:
If you don’t feel like running, at least put your running shoes on.
Once the shoes are on, it’s a lot easier to leave the house for that dreaded run.
Writing is the same way. I start writing about dinner, or a dream vacation and suddenly I have an idea for a blog, and a novella, and some guest posts, and then I have seven Word documents open, and I end up being really proud that I stuck to my goal.
Thanks to a little bit of beginner’s luck, I have been afforded the opportunity to live my dream, and I am never letting it slip through my fingers. Writing about naked people is my bread and butter. (I bet you just thought of naked people and a slice of bread with butter at the same time. See? That’s how good I am.) I can live with that. I love what I do, and I am getting paid to practice my craft every day. Not many
people can say that. But you know what they say. Never look a naked gift horse in the naked mouth.
Chandi Gilbert is a freelance writer and coach for hire. Her professional side can be glimpsed at www.chandigilbert.com. In her spare time, she likes to write about the dark and twisted things that lurk in the backs of our minds. You can see her creative side at www.ieatthewolf.com and find out what it means to “Eat the Wolf.”
You can follow her on Twitter @chandigilbert. She loves meeting new people and talking about ridiculous things other than nudity.