If you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up at six years old, I would have told you straight: a writer. I'd already written plenty of short stories, including an illustrated children's book about my cat that was published in spiralbound and distributed to local children's libraries. At twelve, I established my pen-name: A. G. Stephens, who would someday author a slew of Young Adult fantasy and dystopian novels akin to Harry Potter and Scott Westerfield's Uglies series.
That all fell by the wayside when I found the theatre. I write periodically but not with the same fervor that filled notebooks and hard drives throughout my childhood. By college, it seemed as though I'd lost writing all-together, save for the college papers I'd pen for friends when they had a deadline approaching (my ethics may have been askew at that point).
This year, Ink + Volt took a chance on me. I reached out to them to initiate my first-ever brand partnership in exchange for product. I'd previously enjoyed a Volt Planner and wanted to break into brand partnerships and Instagram-influencership, so I went out a limb and sent them an email. I told them transparently, "Please bear with me as this is my first ever outreach to a brand regarding a posting partnership!" My blog didn't have what seemed like a tremendous amount of readers but I hoped my passion for planning and my love of the brand would convey to my followers (established and new) that I could help them along their planning journey.
Writing for Ink + Volt about planning, freelancing, brainstorming, and productivity impacted me in more ways that I may be aware of.
- I found my voice writing informative, informal, and enjoyable articles that exceeded what I thought I could produce in word count.
- The topic prompts Ink + Volt readers wanted pressed me to expand my own knowledge of productivity and the language with which I communicate it.
- Accountability to another person (entity) gave me the push to write on a regular schedule and edit in a reasonable amount of time for publishing.
- Validation from someone outside of my immediate network helped me to see that I wasn't just messing around: my hard work produced valuable content and I was finding success.
- Writing non-fiction articles where I'd previously only experimented with fiction helped me to see that I wasn't stuck to one genre - I could give any type of writing a go without fear.
With that confidence, I attempted to write for an SEO agency
If you've been to a website like Hubspot or Fizzle, you know that they're informative marketing blogs that include great content but are also magnets for linking and "SEO" value. They're a business, and that's okay. I submitted my writing portfolio in the form of a list with links to blog posts and Google Drive documents (which was mildly embarrassing) to a marketing agency that writes posts similar to Hubspot for clients based on their subject matter to improve their SEO. They paid per-piece and provided great training. They accepted my application and I was so proud!
When I sat down to write the first article, it was as though someone were running their nails down a chalkboard in my headphones on repeat. The subject matter was boring but that couldn't have been it... After three attempts sitting at my computer, struggling to create "back links" and write a blog post entitled: How to Write Marketing Posts Your Clients Will Actually Read, I sent a polite apology email to my contact at the marketing agency thanking them for their time. I was not a good fit for their clients and that was okay.
What's next now that I know and enjoy that I am a writer
This post is decidedly personal, though I hope I have inspired you to think about who you are deep down - a creator, a curator, a writer, a designer, a baker, whatever that may be. Just because I have discovered the words within me doesn't mean I have it all figured out or intend to make six-figured with an internet business teaching people how to write. Here are some writing-related activities I'm looking forward to with this rediscovered talent:
- Blogging no less than bi-weekly here and at slow rolling home. I run both of these lifestyle blogs, one about my own life and the other about my shared adventure with my love, our pets, and our converted school bus tiny house.
- Exploring and sharing a variety of subject matter related to: slow living, self-care, productivity, self-employment, self-sustainability, conscious consumerism, minimizing waste and environmental impact, adventure and exploration, products and services I enjoy, and literature I'm ravenously consuming.
- Writing product reviews, experience stories, and sponsored content for organizations through partnership. One of my 2018 goals is to make writing my primary "activitity". It doesn't have to be a primary income source but I want to spend time writing. The less time I spend doing other activities to make money, the more time I can spend honing my craft.
- Giving my words, clarity, storytelling, and voice to causes I care about. After months enjoying writing for Mahila Partnership and interviewing nonprofit leader Michaela Cisney this year, I am activitely seeking more opportunities to tell stories for causes and people who can benefit from my contribution.