Since I created Untamed Writing back in early 2013, I’ve been gradually shifting it in the direction that feels right to me at the time. (Which is how I make most of my decisions.) And this year is going to be no exception.
After I started my blogging hiatus back in December, I came to think of what I was working on behind the scenes as Phase 4 of Untamed Writing. These were the previous phases:
Phase 1: The Creation of Untamed Writing
This is when I ran the site exclusively as a portfolio for my freelance writing services. I’d already been freelancing for four months using a different site when I got the idea for Untamed Writing, and after a couple of months of working on it behind the scenes, I officially launched the new site on 1 April 2013. It looked like this:
Isn’t it cute? Just shows you how much can change in three years. This period only lasted until August 2013, when I struck upon the idea to create a course teaching other people to get started with freelance writing in the same way I did: by writing SEO articles.
Phase 2: Starting to Teach
The idea to create the course just popped into my head one day. I was a member of Location Rebel, and in the forums I’d seen lots of people requesting feedback on their SEO writing websites and articles. I realised that not only did people want to know what SEO writing was and how to do it – they also wanted to be told exactly what to do, what order to do it in, and that they were doing it right. I decided I was the gal for the job. I created a sales page for the course, and I pimped it out wherever I could. I told people I met in person about it, I posted in relevant forums and Facebook groups about it, and I tweeted and Facebooked about it.
I hadn’t actually created any of the course content at this point, because I wanted to make sure it was something people would actually buy first. And they did! I listed the price as £99, and ten whole people signed up. Ten! That’s nearly £1000! I was ecstatic.
I never intended to become a freelance writing tutor. It was never part of the master plan. (Haha, as if I have a master plan.) It just seemed like a good idea, so I rolled with it.
At the start of 2014, my teaching seemed to be going well. I’d put the price of my course up to £199 and run it again, and I’d got another ten people signed up. That’s £2000! I figured I could be on to something here. Eventually I put the price up to £299 and regularly got around 20 students at a time. Whether I liked it or not (I did), teaching was now my main source of income. Later in the year, I also rather magically found myself on the first page of Google for search terms such as ‘how to become a freelance writer’. So that was nice (and helpful; not sure my business would be where it is today if not for that).
Phase 3: Rebranding & Shifting Focus
Up until the start of 2015, I battled with the notion that Untamed Writing should be my copywriting portfolio, despite the fact that I knew most of my readers were other freelance writers. I’d mulled this over in Phase 2, but I didn’t want to be one of those people who taught others how to do something without actually doing it themselves.
But at the start of 2015, I couldn’t deny it any longer: it just made business-sense to direct my focus towards helping people who wanted to become freelance writers. Plus, I really enjoyed doing it, and I prefer writing about that stuff. So I made the commitment to gear the entire site towards other freelance writers instead of copywriting clients.
I also wanted to make the site look more professional. I was making more money now, so I could afford to hire people to help me with stuff. I got a new logo designed and settled on a new colour scheme, both of which suited me and my brand much better. I’d also planned to have my site professionally redesigned, but that didn’t pan out and I ended up having to scrap that plan, accept that I’d wasted a few hundred quid, and fiddle about with the site’s design myself. It was better, but still not great. It looked like this (up until very recently):
The final part of Phase 3 was creating Start Content Writing, my new freelance writing course. It’s bigger and better and more advanced than Start SEO Writing, and I love it so much more. Confession time: I didn’t like the fact that my main source of income was coming from teaching people to start SEO writing businesses, even though I was helping people to quit their jobs and realise their dreams of becoming freelance writers.
SEO writing is not something I think highly of. However, many people are too scared to dive full-on into ‘proper’ freelance writing, and they want an easier, less daunting way in. SEO writing is it – for now. I’m under no illusion that SEO writing will not remain a viable route into freelance writing forever. When that days comes (or perhaps even earlier), I will stop selling Start SEO Writing.
But I’m okay with that, because Start Content Writing is really what I wanted to create all along. Start Content Writing is designed to help people build freelance writing businesses they love. I show people how to write things that are worth reading, as opposed to drivel that ends up clogging up the internet’s cesspit. The guidance I give is way more personalised, too, which makes it more useful to my students – and also a lot more interesting for me. I believe Start Content Writing is the thing that’s finally allowing me to push through to Phase 4. Because it’s made Untamed Writing what it’s meant to be.
What Phase 4 Means for Untamed Writing
This is still a place for writers. But it’s no longer going to be a place just to learn about the business side of things, which is mostly what it’s been for the past couple of years.
I’ve mentioned before that I want to write more about the personal and lifestyle side of running an online writing business, but I’ve never gathered the nerve to do it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I wasn’t sure it was what you wanted to read.
However, one of my guiding princples is to do things the way I would like to see them done. And this is what I’d want if I were you. So I’m finally going to bloody do it.
The thing is, I created Untamed Writing – began freelance writing at all – because I wanted to live a life of total freedom. A life I enjoyed, essentially. For me, that means not having to take shit from a boss, or slog into an office (or, in my case, a pub) every day, or do work I hate. It means getting to make my own decisions about what I do each day. It means working on things I love and am interested in. It means creating something that matters.
But more than that, it also means having the freedom to explore the world. To learn new things. To become the best person I can be. To give myself the best possible chance of happiness. Because this is my life – it’s my responsibility and I shouldn’t waste the chance I have to do it my way. Nor should you.
Mostly what this means for Untamed Writing is that I’ll be writing on a broader range of topics, with a slant towards the lifestyle a freelance writing career can offer. I’ll talk more about my own personal experiences, both in business and in life, because that is exactly the sort of shit I love reading on my favourite blogs. It’s all about the stories, folks. Stories inspire you to strive towards your own dreams. They make you have those dreams in the first place! They make you want to do better – to be better. To live the best damn life you can. (And they show you how to do it, too, which is just spiffing.)
The final piece of the Phase 4 puzzle is the publishing schedule. I’m dropping it completely. I’m not going to post every Tuesday and Thursday like I did last year, nor every Wednesday like I did the year before. I believe having a publishing schedule was one of the things holding me back from writing the sort of things I’ve been meaning to write. That sounds weird, I know, but hear me out:
I’m a leave-it-to-the-last-minute-er. As I mentioned in my previous post, having a strict publishing schedule to adhere to often meant I wrote blog posts at the last minute. And it’s really hard to write things you’ve been yearning to write, things you really want to take care over, when you’ve got a deadline looming. And you can’t just hit publish minutes after finishing those things, either. They need time to percolate and settle. They need thought and care and attention and pondering over. Plus, they’re often just plain longer, which in itself means they need more time and attention.
What all this really means is that I am finally bringing my dream vision of Untamed Writing to life.
What’s Changed Since My Hiatus
As you can see, I’ve redesigned the site. This was one of the goals I set myself for 2015, and after the failed redesign of earlier in the year, I was surprised to see it come to fruition. I ended up stumbling upon a new theme I liked, so I didn’t have to hire a designer. I copied the entire site onto a new database and played around with the theme until I got it how I wanted it, then I transferred it over to the live site. I LOVE IT, and am truly amazed that I’ve been able to get such a gorgeous website just through buying a premium theme for $59. The old site was too childish and plain, and it still didn’t reflect the brand I wanted Untamed Writing to be. Now, it’s strong and sophisticated – still with an undertone of the wild and badass – without being childish or girly. It’s just, ah, it’s perfect.
Along with the new design, I’ve also shuffled things around a bit. The blog now has its own dedicated page and has been spruced up. It’s now more enjoyable to navigate the blog’s archives, as well as easier to peruse and share articles. I’ve implemented a system of categories and tags that actually makes sense (as opposed to the haphazard mess of crap I previously used). I’ve created a proper home page. All other pages on the site have had a bit of a polish, too, and a couple of new ones have sprung up, so do have a browse to see what’s new.
And, finally, from now on I’ll be sending out better newsletters. I want these emails to be special. Worth reading. The plan is to share deeper personal musings about business and life than I have done previously, as well as the usual links to my latest published pieces and other awesome shit from around the web. I will no longer be archiving these emails publicly, which means that unless you’re actually on my email list, or someone forwards one of my messages to you, you won’t be able to read them. Because if just anyone can read them, they’re not really that special, are they?
Whew, how’s that for 2000 words? I’m on a bit of a catch-up mission now, since I returned to blogging a little later than I expected, so I’ll be back soon with a review of 2015 and some plans for 2016!