I started full time freelance writing in late 2014 after resigning from my first full time toxic job of 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. And like a lot of person would do on starting something he has no idea with, I depended on Google. I came across a bunch of sites to subscribe to. All of which I never came back to even when I receive the content on my email, except for one – Untamed Writing by Karen Marston.
I remember telling my mom how amused I was when I found it. Something about her personality makes me NOT stop reading her articles, it’s full of content, but her personality took reading all of it up a notch. I even had a phase when I marathon-ed her whole archive section.
And then I started worshiping her when she replied to more than a couple of my questions through email. I told her I wanted to take one of her courses upfront but couldn’t afford it. But she replied anyway even knowing I’m not really a ‘potential client.’
She has a no-BS attitude, and her writing speaks for her and what she does – and how good she is at it – really well. That probably sums her up.
Read on her site alone and applied what I picked up made me score my first client of a P13,000 ($260) project I did in 3 hours a day for 3 days while working on it in my own time (aka. on my bed, with a cup of Milo watching movies simultaneously, something you can’t do in an 8-5). Al you know it’s pretty big considering where we live.
So, I decided to take my chances and reach out to her to inspire myself and fellow writers. Karen proves that we all start at the same place, it just depends if we’ll stop doing a closer step to a goal.
1. What do you do and for how long have you been doing it?
I run UntamedWriting.com, a site where I help people become freelance writers so they can have more autonomy over their own lives while still doing work they love. I also do freelance writing myself, of course – mostly long-form sales pages now, though I used to do a lot of blog post and article writing. I started freelance writing back in 2012, though I didn’t create Untamed Writing until 2013.
3. Since you planned to make freelance writing a living, how long did it take for you to get a decent readership to your site and started getting the clients rolling in without much effort?
Hmm. It definitely wasn’t until after I’d created Untamed Writing. My original freelance writing site didn’t have a blog on it, and I think that makes a huge difference. I’d say I started seeing results from Untamed Writing in late 2014. Although I started blogging on Untamed Writing in April 2013, I didn’t start taking it seriously until the beginning of 2014, when I committed to publishing something once a week.
In 2015 I stepped it up again by committing to publishing twice a week, which again helped increase my readership, although by this point I’d also shifted the focus of the blog towards other freelance writers rather than potential clients, because I’d started running freelance writing courses, which are a great little earner (and something I LOVE doing).
4. How did you get yourself motivated especially when you just started out freelance writing as a career? (besides because you need to pay the bills)
I hated my job and wanted to quit, so that made it a lot easier. But honestly I never found it that hard to be ‘motivated’. I was committed to doing this (hmm, seems ‘commitment’ is cropping up a lot and I think that’s important – if you go into anything with a half-arsed attitude, you’re unlikely to make it work). So I essentially set myself daily goals, like pitch 20 companies a day, and went from there. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t ever lazy though. In the beginning when I was less disciplined (never having worked for myself before) I’d often find myself writing articles for clients at midnight, which is just silly. But I always got it done, BECAUSE I WAS COMMITTED.
5. What main struggle did you have to go through which wouldn’t have taken you where you are now if you have given up then?
I’m seriously struggling to think of anything here. I can’t recall ever thinking I couldn’t do this or that I wanted to quit. I think that’s a big part of the reason I’ve been successful, actually. I don’t overthink shit. I just keep my head down, keep going, keep doing what needs to be done. I always knew I’d come out okay and I still believe that. One of my mottos is ‘the best predictor of the future is the past’, so any time I’m like OH GOD WHAT IS THIS FREELANCING THING IT’S HARD, I remember that. I’ve been okay so far and I will continue to be okay.
6. If you are not a writer, what would your professional work be?
I have no idea. Even though I’ve never used my degree for anything, it’s in journalism so I still could’ve ended up as a writer even if I’d followed the ‘traditional’ route of pursuing a career in my field of study. Though I actually specialised in radio, so perhaps I would’ve ended up in sound production or something. I was a pretty good newsreader, but I never really wanted to be a radio journalist. I was more interested in creating documentaries, so yeah – sound production was more appealing to me. I love the thought that I could’ve ended up doing the sound for wildlife documentaries or something.
7. What inspiring slap of truth can you advise someone who wants to do the same line of business as you?
Don’t overthink it. Just start fucking doing it. Find some steps to follow, follow them, and take action every day. You’ve just got to try it, you know? I’ve actually just created a new course for people who have been thinking about becoming a freelance writer for a while but aren’t really sure whether if it’s for them or if they can even do it. I lay out the exact steps you need to take to get this freelance writing thing off the ground. It’s called How to Become a Freelance Writer in 5 Days Flat.