Below is more than you EVER wanted to know about my professional history and the process of moving from a traditional job to owning an online business. Don’t blame me, you clicked on that link (you can always go back to the home page, — but hurry, while there is still time!). You have been warned.
Before The Internet Changed My World
My first full-time professional writing job was back in…. uh… 1989. I was a cub reporter for a local weekly newspaper in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. I landed the job just before my eldest son had his first birthday.
I got the job following the strangest interview I’ve ever had. The editor glanced at my carefully crafted resume for approximately two seconds, then flipped through my stack of writing samples and picked up my hefty undergraduate thesis (on the impact of the bowdlerization of classic fairy tales on children in modern times) and flipped through the 100+ page, professionally bound document.
“Well, you can write!” she announced — and offered me the position on the spot.
Being paid to write put me in heaven. It made me legitimate! I was a writer. (I called my parents immediately.)
I spent a few months as a reporter at the paper before transferring to a sister paper the company owned where I covered courts, the crime beat and community issues. I learned everything I could and came back to the original newspaper as managing editor in just over a year.
Going Independent – The First Time
When I had my second son, I left the paper to go out on my own as an independent contractor. I had a contract with a local cable TV station to write scripts for commercials and I sold advertising spots. I wrote and directed promotional and training videos for a local government office. That work caught the eye of a local politician who asked me to serve as the media consultant for his bid for re-election. I also served as an independent contractor to secure corporate sponsorships for the local Navy base’s annual air show.
In between these larger projects, I helped local servicemen prepare effective resumes by converting military experience into civilian language. I helped them to research and target civilian industries in their home towns that would benefit from their service experience. I even offered “mock interview” sessions to get them comfortable with the process, since many had never been formally interviewed for a job.
I moved back home to Kentucky in 1993, finished my English degree at Centre College in Danville and worked for the fundraising arm of a regional medical center while coordinating their cancer program. That job kept me involved in the community. It was a wonderful way to learn how to interact with community groups, serve on boards of directors, build interest in causes, and manage both intimate and huge, elaborate fundraising events. It also taught me the business and financial aspects of promotions, events and ongoing ventures.
In 1999, before my daughter turned two, I started writing for online clients. The century hadn’t quite rolled over and I was still sweating the possibility of Y2K. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a conspiracy theorist… so, sue me.)
A few months later, I launched my first business website. It was a virtual assistant services site and it embarrasses me when I see screenshots of it now. Based on that alone, I should have starved. My second and third and subsequent websites were much improved. The more I learned, the better they looked.
I did some writing, newsletters and brochures in the early days. I also helped clients organize their business plans and gain a more effective online “storefront.” I made enough to pay the bills and considered myself successful. After all, I built a business out of air using only my brain, my sweat and sheer determination.
Since I launched, my business name has changed twice, including the change to WickedWordCraft.com in October 2002. Name changes may sound indecisive, but I prefer to call it “evolution.” (Maybe I should call it something a little less passive and a little more painful… like “birthing.”)
My Meandering Path
My background in advertising, journalism, events, marketing, fundraising, and corporate sponsorship management supported my online business venture. It seemed a shame to let all my PR experience go to waste, so I decided to use it. I wanted to be a writer, but I had all this marketing-related experience in my favor. I thought, “How different could Internet marketing really be?”
At that time, I wasn’t confident enough to believe that I could make a living by my pen (or my keyboard). So I called myself an independent web-based entrepreneur. Being a “freelance writer” sounded too scary for someone supporting three kids. It sounded too much like starving to death. I did hope working in the marketing field online would afford me the opportunity write for clients on a regular basis. I like helping people communicate in all formats and I am tech-savvy. It seemed like a good fit.
Despite my advice to clients to niche their services and their offerings and to simplify their business model, mine expanded. I never was any good at listening to my own advice. I’ve always been much better at giving it to others.
I have been a geek as long as I can remember. In middle school, I was helping my father solder in silver connector pins into hand-drilled computer boards before such things came “pre-stamped.” Our house had the second home computer in the state (back in the late 1970’s) and I still remember “listening” for the data I wanted to use on cassette tapes before those huge floppy drives were a reality. (Gosh, I’m old!)
While my peers were learning to count in Spanish, I was counting in binary. My father tried to teach me to program in Fortran/machine language, but it didn’t stick. (I rebelled and waited for BASIC before I started programming.)
So you see… when I launched my business it only seemed natural to give my clients advice on hardware, software and computer network security. I quickly became the “go-to” girl for all things tech for my clients and their circle of contacts.
I liked having tech in my services listing, even when it spread me too thin as I tried to keep up with all the new developments, especially the mobile ones. It was an impossible task and I knew it. I just didn’t care. I launched and maintained a couple of websites on the topics of mobile technology to further complicate my daily routine.
Ignorance Is NOT Bliss
I have a confession… I love to learn. Information is my drug of choice — that and caffeine. I’m a junkie on both counts. Mixing those weaknesses with an Internet lifestyle probably wasn’t the wisest choice.
I learned everything I could about Internet marketing — day and night — for several years. Working online, marketing online, being online was completely different from traditional work models and marketing techniques. By the time I figured out how different, my business had swallowed my life. I was in too deep to let go. Besides, I’m not a quitter.
Soon, I grew into my title as an “Internet Marketing Specialist” and ranked #1 in Google for that term and for “Marketing Specialist” — both without the quotes — for an extended period of time. (It was quite a feather in my geeky little cap!)
Note to anyone considering this career: People who make this work/lifestyle choice should have a cook, a maid, a nanny and a great network of delivery services — like grocery delivery, pizza, laundry and a UPS guy. (I’m not sure if having a spouse would help or hinder.)
Let’s just say that for a long time, I didn’t get out much.
Success Wasn’t So Sweet
When it was all said and done, I was making an impressive amount of money per year. It allowed me to openly gloat at those people who said I couldn’t move to the country, launch an online business, and raise three kids by myself. I proved them wrong, and I liked that… delighted in it, actually. But the joy from a good gloat is short-lived.
I was still writing, although not very often, and I woke up one day (around April 14th, I believe) to discover that making all the extra money and working all the extra hours wasn’t really helping me — especially once Uncle Sam took his share. I looked at the bottom line for the year and wondered where it all went. I lived simply, I didn’t have a diamond-encrusted anything. I didn’t even drive a new car — I’ve always preferred junkers. What I did have was a whopping bill payable to the IRS and the State Treasury.
This gave me pause. SERIOUS pause. I’d finally achieved my financial goals — at least my income goals. But, my two eldest children were young adults and the “baby” was no longer a baby. Her age was approaching double digits.
I had this earth-shaking personal revelation and made some decisions. I wanted my life back. I wanted to write. I didn’t want to work 24/7. I didn’t want to blink and miss anything else.
Business In Focus
I started to make some of the changes in my own life and business that I’d successfully taught others to make in theirs. I finally decided to follow my passion, rename my business, and settle myself down to do what I enjoy most: Writing.
It took over a year to come to terms with that decision, to cull my existing clients and keep only those individuals and companies I truly enjoyed helping and those who relied most heavily on my writing services. I had to make some big changes, including overcoming an innate resistance to changing my business name and the willingness to lose the marketing “currency” I’d built online using that name. I needed a fresh start and a new name… one with the word “writer” in it.
It represented my dedication to the new direction. It was necessary.
The geeky-tech mobility guru/marketing specialist (formerly known as WickedWordCraft.com) who primarily served the Real Estate Industry and still managed to do some writing on the side was retiring.
WickedWriter.com was born in August 2008.
All the real estate articles from my old WickedWordCraft site joined the tombs of articles, posts and miscellany on my blog. I give myself quite a bit of latitude over there. The site is huge, but it’s the place I can chase multiple interests with abandon and without guilt that I’m not fully investigating one topic or another. I just have random fun.
Wicked Writer Now
I only offer small business marketing assistance through website content and writing services. Pure and simple. I no longer attempt to be all things to all people. I help my clients communicate more effectively. I help them become visible on the web with search engine optimized content for a natural, lasting, and organic boosts in the search engines. I use my writing skills to appeal to your website visitors and Google because there is no reason your website shouldn’t attract both.
In 2010, I started contracting with Steve Knight of DanvilleComputerDoc.com to do custom programming and to build SEO-friendly websites. His ability to write clean, effective code compliments my own writing skills and benefits my clients.
In June 2013, I officially joined forces with this custom programmer and computer guru and opened a second office in Danville, Kentucky to serve my clients, his clients, and our mutual clients.
In January of 2015, we became a partnership (Cool Jazz, LLC) and launched CoolJazzWebDesign.com to serve our growing clientele of small business website clients. We specialize in helping entrepreneurs, small business owners and nonprofit organizations succeed.
If you have a website and you want more business, you need a web content writer on your team. It’s a fact. Having one with my background may prove even more valuable.
If you need a new or revamped website to more effectively draw customers and improve your bottom line, the combined writing services of WickedWriter.com and custom programming skills of DanvilleComputerDoc.com — the partnership now known as CoolJazz, LLC, — will prove to be your winning combination!