I was working as an English teacher in San Francisco, watching the tech industry bloom all around me; a flower whose nectar was company swag and big buyout checks. I had been writing as a hobby for a few years when my neighbor asked if I would like to do some copyediting for his blog. He was re-branding his business, and wanted to update everything he had. At this point, I had never made a single cent off of my writing, but instead of demurring (it may have been the beer in my hand), I said I would love to. I began doing some infrequent work with my neighbor’s business, a sales and marketing firm that works business to business.
After making my first $100, I was pleased with myself. It was interesting to see myself use the skills I’d developed merely for fun as a means to make a little extra money on the side. After all, I graded papers all day, so what I was doing wasn’t very different. After I made another $100, I wanted to see if I could keep pushing the number higher.
I reached out to several of the companies I had heard about through the blog I was editing, and I asked them if they needed someone to help write and edit their blog. It was slow at first, definitely not enough to patch together a living wage, but after three or four months of cold emailing, I had amassed a portfolio of work that was diverse, and showed I was dependable.
Then I changed my mindset.
I was writing for a few extra bucks here and there. But what I really wanted by that time was to have my own business.
I set up a freelance writer website, focusing in on the same business to business marketing niche that I had accidentally gotten started in. I had the security of my job as a teacher, but this didn’t stop me from treating my writing business as a serious side-gig.
Every morning, I woke up at 4 a.m. to write cold-emails, or commissioned pieces and, when I came home from teaching, I would respond to any emails I’d received regarding my writing.
It was a tough slog, those few months of transition, though the school year summer break was approaching, and I was making roughly the same amount of money both in writing and in teaching.
I decided to take the plunge and I put everything I had into freelance writing.
Since then, a little over two years, I’ve written for online publications that cover the tech industry, and have worked with countless companies, helping write and edit their blog posts. I run my own business and, while it isn’t easy– long hours and uncertain wages– the exhilaration of choosing my own path is well worth the effort.
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William Barton is a freelance writer and editor working in San Francisco’s Tech Industry. When he isn’t busy writing or reading, he is eating pizza.
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