This week I’m talking to Maison Piedfort, a hilarious badass from Charleston, South Carolina. And, just to clear up any confusion about how sophisticated she is, that’s pronounced Mason Peedfort.
Maison took my freelance writing course back in November 2015, and her business turned one on 30 November. A proud day! Oh, and Maison herself turned 23 yesterday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MAISON. My gift to you is an interview on my blog. Um. Right.
When Maison sent me her answers, she said ‘…do I say bitch too much?’ The answer is yes, but in a good way. She also made me laugh out loud at least five times while I was reading through her responses. ENJOY! Here it is:
Why did you want to become a freelance writer?
I had no idea what I wanted to do after college but I knew I didn’t want to work in an office. I played around in app development for a while. (‘Played around’ sounds so cute, as if I didn’t throw away two grand in the process. I’m not crying. I just have dust in my eye.) When I woke up every day dreading all the boring stuff I had to do to make things work, I was like yep, it’s probably time to find something else.
What was your life like before taking the course?
A pit of despair. Just kidding! No, really though. It blew. I felt like there was this ticking clock in the back of my head 24/7 that was saying to me, ‘Hey you beautiful bitch, you better figure something out fast or you’re going to have to go get a regular job like everyone else.’ I was just out of college and living at home, so I felt a good bit of pressure to get my shit straight.
Were you unhappy with your life before taking the course?
YES. I mean it wasn’t terrible, per se. I did have a roof over my head and plenty of food to eat. But I was super lost. And I graduated early, so I was dealing with this weird transition of always being an overachiever in school to not being able to find my ass with both hands. Or to, you know, make money. Which, back then, was harder to find than my ass.
What prompted you to finally make the leap?
YOU did, ya sly thing. When I felt more excited reading the course page for your course than I had felt about anything in a long time, I knew I had to do it. So I ran to fetch my credit card so fast that the clothes literally ripped apart from my body. I haven’t worn clothes since. (That #workfromhome life, biotch!)
What were your biggest hesitations, both in signing up for the course and in trying freelance writing at all?
Well, I had no money and was afraid I’d started looking flighty to my parents. After buying courses on developing apps and a few other educational things here and there, my biggest worry was that I was just spending money on ‘my next thing’ – and that I’d be quitting that shiny, new thing too in a few months. But I didn’t. One year strong, my friends.
I had all the normal qualms about freelancing, like am I even a good writer? And how would I find clients? And does this mean I never have to leave my house again? But they all go away eventually, I promise you. Or you learn not to let them bother you any more. (The never leaving the house thing never bothered me, though. It’s a dream come true.)
How long after completing (or during) the course did you make your first money from writing?
Hmm. Let’s do some digging. So I purchased the course at the end of November 2015 and blew through the content in like two days because I was so excited. My very first invoice was paid on 14 December. The next one was the day after, a down payment for a big-ass copy job I still have no idea how I got so fast. So I earned the cost of the course back (and more) in two weeks flat, bitches!
What’s your freelance writing journey been like so far? Bringing in the big bucks yet?
OH MAN. It’s funny you bring this up because I actually had a really rough summer of health problems (minor stuff, I promise!), least of which was chronic fatigue and a bit of surgery. I could hardly work and I made very little money in the middle of 2016. But as I’ve learned from my income for December of 2015, January-March of this year, and just now in October and November, I absolutely can make the big bucks doing this full-time when I’m healthy.
That might sound like a bummer to you, but trust me, it’s not. Know why? Not only because I’m healthy and making money again, but because I really could not work during those few months in between. I really could not. I scraped by and lived off savings, but I couldn’t imagine going in to a regular office job and dragging ass all day. I couldn’t help thinking that if I had to do that in my not-so-healthy state, I would have ended up quitting out of exhaustion or getting fired for having to take so much sick leave. (I’m talking 1–4 doctors’ appointments every week, my people.)
That’s the beauty of freelancing. I never feared my job wouldn’t be there for me when I got back. And now I’m healthy and ready to grab 2017 by the balls and see what I can do with twelve solid months of work.
How has your life changed since completing the course?
It’s been a wild ride, but it’s been great. I’ve changed the direction of my business a few times, finally ending up in a place I never thought I’d be: labelling myself ‘The Comedy Copywriter’. The Untamed Writing community has given me the confidence to say, ‘You know what, bitch? You can be funny, and you can use that as your edge.’ So that’s what I’m marketing myself as these days. A year ago I never thought I’d have the lady-nads to pull a move like that.
What does a day in your life now look like?
Freaking sweet, if I do say so myself. And I do.
I get up early. Or sometimes I don’t because sleep is my #1. Gotta love that flexibility.
Meditate. Then I eat breakfast while watching a short show like Futurama or Rick and Morty. (I know that sounds super lax and ‘fun’, but I actually really think it’s an integral part of my routine as someone who wants to write comedy for TV one day. Gotta learn my shiz.) Then I read for 30 minutes (HUGE part of being a writer, if you’re not already doing this then WHAT are you doing) and get to work. I work for 2–3 hours then I go for a run and have lunch, during which I watch another short show. Sometimes after that I’ll nap, ideally not for four hours but hey, shit happens. Then I’ll work till around 6 or 7. Sounds late, but I like my day spread out so I can run and take a nap in between. Damn, I love my job.
Then I’ll read more, watch more TV, have a drink, and be all like, ‘Yes, look at you bitch, you got it all figured out.’
If you could go back and do things differently, what would you do?
First of all, I’d go back and use Trello from the beginning, because planning out EVERYTHING in messy Evernote notes is a straight dumbass move. Way to go, 21-year-old me. You have so much to learn.
That’s about it though. Every other mistake I’ve made has taught me some very real shit. Stuff you can only learn on the job. Wouldn’t trade any of it for anything. I guess I would trade it for, like, a million dollars, but that’s neither here nor there.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I’m making a name for myself as a comedy brand. I’m doing this by pitching my own humorous pieces to comedy/lifestyle pubs, writing ridiculously ridiculous Twitter jokes, and learning all I can about how to be a better comedy writer. After nearly a year of ghostwriting, I’m focusing on getting more bylines. I’m also using my blog to educate marketers on how humour and no-bullshit writing (which often go hand-in-hand) are great marketing techniques. [KM: A GIRL AFTER MY OWN HEART.]
Where do you see your future headed, both in terms of your personal life and your business?
As I said above, I really do want to write for TV one day. Ten years from now, I probably see myself as like a less hot version of Mindy Kaling. That’s kind of the direction I’d like to head, but I still want to do my own writing and copywriting throughout. Getting to write for a show like 30 Rock or Futurama some day? That’s the dream. I picked my professional writing niche specifically to point me in the direction that’ll get me there, which is why I’m trying to get attention on Twitter and around the web for comedy/satire pieces.
In my personal life, I want to travel, of course. Who doesn’t?! Thank god I have a job that gives me the freedom for that kind of thing.
What advice would you give to somebody who’s thinking about signing up to become an Untamed Writing student?
Oh god, please listen to me. If you are an over-achiever or a little bit OCD and are very strict with yourself in the way of goals and budgets and numbers, LISTEN TO ME.
One work-hour as a freelancer ≠ one work-hour at an office job.
And if you try to fit eight hours a day into a regular freelance work day at home you might accidentally kill yourself. It took me forever to figure out that office people like my parents probably get a good six hours of work in at the office each day, if that. Holding yourself to 5–6 hours of straight work a day (not including lunch and breaks and all that, of course) is much more realistic. And you’ll get to keep your sanity, which is always fun.
Other than that, my only advice for you is just sign up already. It’ll teach you EVERYTHING you need to know to get started. Just trust me on this one, pal-io. It might be the single best decision I’ve made in my short life so far.
Where can people find more about you?
My site is MaisonwithaPen.com (not Maison with a Penis .com, which is my personal web address for recreational purposes). And my Twitter is here. (KM: Well worth following this chick on Twitter. She funny.)
If you want to follow in Maison’s footsteps, check out my freelance copywriting course.