Deciding to take a risk on your dream is frightening. Horrifying, actually. What if everything goes wrong? Or you find out you HATE that dream? How are you supposed to bounce back? And what about the hefty learning curve that comes with forging a new path? Will you be able to cope? Or will you hit so many brick walls that you’ll decide it isn’t worth it? This is only a tiny sampling of what went through my mind three years ago. So I’m constantly amazed that I actually DID take that step forward into forging my writing career under the heading Antihero Kreative. And look at me now! I’m surprised a little more each day.
Remembering Year One
Like so many people chasing their dreams, I had no earthly idea what I was doing in the beginning. I had my research, which offered the best direction. But no practical experience. So it wasn’t much of a surprise as to why I ended up in the bowels of the freelance marketplaces. And patted myself on the back when those first jobs began rolling in.
How did I know those salaries were mere pittances to what I could have made for my work? Or that I didn’t need to run myself ragged, turning in dozens of assignments daily? I was WRITING, and I even managed to snag a few bylines. So I considered myself accomplished. And securing a full-time position from one of my clients? I figured that meant I was succeeding. (So easy to look back on things from a position of three years of knowledge, isn’t it?)
I proudly checked that first year off the books – full of ignorance.
(But everyone starts somewhere. And if this is where you’re at, don’t get down on yourself)
Gaining Knowledge in Year Two
As the full weight of my underpaid, overworked decisions came to rest on my shoulders, I stumbled onto the people who helped me shed the scales from my eyes:
Carol Tice and Mandy Ellis had a straightforward question for me: “Why was I killing myself for pennies?”
I spent WEEKS working through their courses and realizing I was giving my writing away. (I learned more than that, but I’m sticking to one narrative here) They took the little bit of research I’d been limping along with in the beginning and blew it up into a usable platform.
And I made some difficult decisions.
I no longer wanted to work as a mindless drudge for people who weren’t willing to pay me for what my writing was actually worth. I was ready to actually WORK as a freelance writer. And that meant setting my year three goals a bit higher.
Even if it meant (shudder) learning how to ACTUALLY market myself.
Enter Year Three
Last year was a complete shift from my previous writing years. I took time off every week to send out LOIs (letters of introduction) to companies, selling my writing services. And I landed clients who took my writing seriously, not batting an eye at the prices I related. More than that, I negotiated reasonable deadlines that allowed me to work at a REASONABLE pace, rather than the breakneck insanity I had started at in 2020.
That left me the opportunity to explore pitching and essay writing. And I saw my first articles land in physical and electronic publications. Having a schedule I controlled (instead of one that controlled me) gave me the freedom to write what I wanted between work assignments.
I rediscovered what this dream meant. (Sure, there were growing pains to reach that point. But what dream progresses smoothly?)
I settled into my third year of writing, finally feeling like I’d earned the title “writer.”
Stats From Three Years
Frankly, I think the past three years haven’t been half-bad. The ride wasn’t smooth by any stretch of the imagination, but it got me from point A to point B. And I racked up some impressive numbers:
- Content/Blog Posts Written: 517
- Case Studies Written: 1
- eBooks Written: 1
- Edits Completed: 281
- Essays Published: 8
I’ll also throw in some non-writing milestones that I’m proud of. Things I wouldn’t have managed without my work:
- Credit card paid off
- New roof and gutters paid for (partially thanks to me)
- Two vacations
- Three tattoos
I cannot tell you what it means to know your work – your actual words, sentences, and sneaky pop culture references – accomplished something.
And now I’m looking into year four. Which looks different yet again. Because (prepare to be shocked) I’m no longer working with freelance clients. As of this month, I’m stepping away from that side of things.
I will only be working on my essays and speculative writing.
(Hold your applause, please)
A scary choice? Absolutely. And not what I originally planned three years ago. But, due to changing circumstances on the HQ front, one I feel is necessary.
I’ve yet to regret anything I’ve done since I started AK. So here’s hoping for more of the same as I move forward this year.