Determination & Diversity Keep Writer off the RIF List By Ruth Paarmann

From the moment I moved back to Iowa from Minnesota, freelancing my advertising copywriting skills was on my mind. Instead of waiting for advertising agencies to start hiring, I settled for a corporate communications job and soon confirmed that the cube farm wasn’t for me. Writing newsletters, emails and web copy was fun, but WorldCom was spiraling downward. In 2002, I was finally included in a large RIF (Reduction in Force, for the few who don’t know), and a few days later, the company’s scandal came to light. I wiped my brow in relief and focused on taking this opportunity to do what I love: write ad copy.

Although I confidently told friends, “I’m going to freelance full time,” and had experience writing articles on the side, I didn’t know how to set up a business. While reading the paper, I discovered an inexpensive class called, How to Really Start Your Own Business. The course was all I needed to build my confidence in running a business. By September, Paarlance Creative Writing was a reality.

Then I needed something to do! By networking with other writers in the Advertising Federation of Cedar Rapids and the Noble Pen Writers Group, I found local article-writing opportunities and many new friends. Articles weren’t as lucrative as copywriting, but the connections to the community, other writers and the ad industry helped me remain focused.

Writing articles sustained me until I established some copywriting relationships with advertising agencies. One day, I received a call from the publisher of a women