To Thine Own Self Be True
“So,” the marketing director yelled over the din during the Happy Hour at the pub, “What do you like to write about?!”
I swallowed, hard. I was about to jump off into the world of freelancing, and this person had the potential to be my first big client. I was afraid of giving the wrong answer and blowing my shot. But I’d been coached by my friends who were all doing their own thing out in the business world that first and foremost, I needed to be authentic. I needed to be true to myself and my vision.
“I like to write about … people,” I said, hoping the music would drown out the lack of confidence I felt.
“Oh, that’s great,” he replied, flashing a brilliant smile. “We are looking for more people-centered content. There’s so much more I believe we can achieve with stories that focus on the amazing accomplishments of our people.”
The tension in my shoulders immediately released, and I returned his smile (while inwardly doing a victory dance around the goal post).
I’d crossed my first hurdle as a freelancer and landed my first client.
So, why did I believe saying that I prefer to write about people was so risky?
I’m an English major, psychology minor. I have a master’s in liberal arts with a concentration in English. I’ve been told all my life by people who mean well, people who want me to be successful in society and in my career, that writing, especially about people, just doesn’t pay. That anything related to the liberal arts and humanities should be relegated to a hobby, not a business.
Despite the fact that I’ve worked all my life using skills related to these fields, I still internalized the message. And for a large portion of my career — and times that I’ve made the most money — I’ve written about processes, technology, science, money. Writing about people seemed frivolous and indulgent. After all, anything so enjoyable simply couldn’t be valuable or valued, and it definitely couldn’t be the basis for working for myself.
But a year ago, I took that step and gained my first client. A year later, I’m not only still here, but the same client offered me an unsolicited increase in my rate for each story–because, as they put it “We love your work. You have this uncanny ability to find the heart in each story. We want to keep you happy and writing for us.”
A year later, I am continuing to base my burgeoning business on writing about people and teaching people to write about themselves.
And so far, even during the lean times, I have absolutely no regrets.
“To thine own self be true.” ~William Shakespeare
Writer and Life Coach
Live a life worth writing about.