Back in 2014, Mary Clark Rardin — originally from Memphis — was living and working in Costa Rica, teaching English. She did that for four years. Sounds awesome, right? But Mary Clark was ready for a change, and she wanted that change to include writing for a living. Enter: Untamed Writing.
Mary Clark signed up for Start SEO Writing in August 2014 (back when it was still known as The Quickstart Class) and now makes a full-time living as a copywriter and content manager. But that’s enough from me. Let’s hear Mary Clark tell her own story, eh?
Thanks for joining me, Mary Clark! So, if you could pin down your main reason for wanting to be a freelance writer, what would it be?
I feel most like myself when I write and have wanted to be a writer since third grade. Still, I never wanted to be a novelist or traditional journalist.
I actually didn’t realize people worked as professional freelance writers until college. At that point, I assumed they were all journalists of some sort. Once I moved to Costa Rica to work as an English teacher, I started following loads of travel blogs and learned about the magic of content writing.
What was your life like before taking the course?
I was living in Costa Rica, teaching English for a living. I started blogging about my adventures in Costa Rica in 2012. I also wrote some SEO blog posts for a skin care company and did some international real estate blogs. So, I had a bit of writing experience, but I was confused about how to build on the experience I had AND how to find quality clients.
What were you unhappy with in your life before taking the course? What did you most want to change?
I didn’t feel I had enough creative outlets. Most of the writing I did was accomplished in random spurts, and that wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to build a career for myself and fill my days working with words, as cheesy as that may sound.
What prompted you to finally make the leap?
I knew I needed a course that would focus on the business aspect of freelance writing, particularly how to find and keep clients. I had applied for yet another job board listing that turned out to be mediocre. So I starting searching for courses, happened upon your site — and the rest is history.
What were your biggest hesitations, both in signing up for the course and in trying freelance writing at all?
I had no hesitations about the course. Just the way it was presented gave me a pretty strong indication that it would be worth my while. However, I did have some concerns about freelance writing — namely, would I be able to learn about the business quickly enough and find good clients?
How long after completing the course did you make your first money from writing?
Snagged my first client within a complete of weeks of completing the course. I was quite pleased with how quickly things took off since I was still holding down a full-time job and tutoring on the side at the time.
How has your life changed since completing the course?
It’s actually kind of astonishing how much it’s changed, and I see this course as the catalyst for a lot of positive changes in my life. The work I did during the course (pitching, setting up my business, working on my website, etc.) awoke this entrepreneurial side of myself that I never knew existed.
I’m obsessed with all things marketing now and got certified in Inbound Marketing a few months after finishing the course, per the recommendation of another writer.
It’s also given me a chance to connect with some amazing fellow writers in the Untamed Writing Students’ Facebook group and in a Mastermind group.
But overall, I love having a job where I get paid to learn new things every day!
What does a day in your life now look like?
I’m still looking for the perfect morning routine. [KM: I hear that!] I do force myself to get up and get ready as soon as I wake up. Too much pajama time can be dangerous. Then, I head straight to the coffee pot, pour a cup and look over my to-do list.
If I’m working on a difficult project, I’ll go on a walk to help me organize my ideas. Otherwise, I start at 9.30am and work pretty consistently until about 1 or so when I have lunch.
My mornings and early afternoons are typically filled with writing and editing, and I save research, marketing and admin-related tasks for the late afternoon. I’ll typically work until around 6, when I stop to exercise. Occasionally I’ll work until around 7 if necessary. Regardless, I always build in time to exercise and read each day to maintain my sanity.
If you could go back and do things differently, what would you do? Any regrets?
I would have taken the course sooner! [KM: I swear I don’t pay my students to say this.] So much about connecting with clients and improving my online presence clicked for me in the course.
What are you working on right now?
I have a handful of projects on deck right now. My remote position as a content manager takes up the most time as I work with a team on a daily basis (nice to have some form of social interaction!).
Beyond that, I’m working on some copywriting and blogging projects, both professional and personal. I hope to launch a blog about productivity for writers in the next couple of months. [KM: Ooh, can’t wait to see that!]
Where do you see your future headed, both in terms of your personal life and your business?
There are wedding bells in my future, so that’s pretty exciting. Right now, I’m enjoying being back in my hometown and reconnecting with family and friends.
As far as my business, I plan to focus more on long-form articles, case studies and white papers. These types of assignments are challenging and a fantastic way to immerse yourself in a particular industry.
I’ve discovered that content manager and content marketing specialist roles are a great fit for my skills so I’ll be marketing myself for similar positions in the future.
What advice would you give to somebody who’s thinking about signing up to become an Untamed Writing student?
Stop thinking and sign up. Once you get your bearings, start thinking about topics you’d like to specialize in. Figuring out your niches makes it so much easier to market effectively and start earning more.
If you want to follow in Mary Clark’s footsteps, you’re in luck! Start SEO Writing is now registering. The next class will begin on Tuesday 10 May. You can get more information and sign up here.
GO, DO IT NOW, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Ahem. As you were. (Any questions, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)