nDash’s Managing Editor, Jenn Greenleaf, talks to Elizabeth Breckenridge about her experience launching and growing her career as a freelance writer.
Background: The Highlights
Originally from San Jose, as of 2021, Elizabeth now calls Seattle home. She specializes in blog content and pillar posts for tech and SaaS companies. Most notably, as outlined in her LinkedIn profile, she helps professionals who may be:
- Too close to their own work
- Uncomfortable with writing about their products or services
- Short on time
- Unsure where to find someone to help their company stand out
Here’s a snippet from her profile speaking directly to these points:
“Instead of trying to do all of the writing yourself, hand the task to someone passionate about writing – who lives and breathes writing day in and day out.
I write content for tech and SaaS companies that helps them to stand out and to be understood by their ideal customers.
I write content that helps you to get more leads while you and your team keep the innovation rolling.”
Becoming a Full-Time Freelance Writer: Elizabeth’s Journey
Jenn: I see from your LinkedIn profile that you’ve been in business as a freelance writer since 2017. Can you share how you launched your freelance business?
Elizabeth: I started out, like many writers do, on UpWork, and doing cold email outreach. After that, I began looking for freelance writing platforms where clients paid better rates and eventually created a presence on Linkedin.
Jenn: What challenges did you face when launching your freelance writing career? Do you have any practical tips you can share (like do’s and don’ts, for example) with our readers?
Elizabeth: One challenge is that you may not have consistent income every month. Learn how to budget or have a backup type of work you do in the beginning. If you do send out cold emails – research the company a bit, and make your pitch personal. Don’t just copy and paste a form letter to a bunch of companies. You’ll be wasting valuable time.
Another challenge was working with clients and discussing expectations. Make sure you talk to a client about the editing process. If you don’t, you might end up doing a lot of extra work and feeling resentful. Talk to the client about the project and their expectations ahead of time to avoid misunderstandings.
Jenn: Can you share a little bit about how nDash became part of your journey?
Elizabeth: I had heard about nDash as a platform to look for companies that needed writers. I also found assignment opportunities on the site and was able to gain some valuable experience writing for some great companies.
Jenn: How did you decide which niche industry best aligned with your business goals?
Elizabeth: I started out as a health and fitness writer but found that I wasn’t getting the type of clients or assignments that I really wanted. I have lived in tech-focused cities (San Jose and Seattle) and have worked for tech companies – so it is an industry I felt I could move into. If you are willing to learn new things and put in a little research time, tech can be a very rewarding field to write about.
Jenn: Can you share some advice with those who aren’t sure if they should focus on a specific niche? What benefits have you experienced since “niching down”?
Elizabeth: When you write about anything and everything, you are likely to attract clients with will hire whoever has the lowest rate. By specializing, you get noticed by companies who are looking for writers who have your expertise. You’re likely to have a better experience with the clients you work for and get paid better to write about things that actually interest you. It creates a win-win situation!
Jenn: I notice that you share your rates for specific services on your website. Many writers struggle with setting rates. Was that the case when you set yours? Can you share how you determined which rates to post?
Elizabeth: This will seem like a bit of tough love. If you don’t define your value, someone else will. When you set a boundary about your rates and the number of edits, you will attract clients who respect you and treat you like a professional.
It can take time to set your rates. You might do a few lower-priced projects at the beginning to build your portfolio and get some experience. That is a good start. As you gain experience, you’ll want to increase your rates steadily. It can feel challenging – but you are worth it. The work we do as content writers and copywriters is valuable.
Jenn: I’d also love to hear more about how you decided which services to provide (i.e., Net New Blog Content, Single Pillar Post, and Blog Audit) Was it challenging to focus on these specific services?
Elizabeth: I think the key to finding out which services to provide is to decide what types of writing are the most fun and fulfilling for the writer. Yes, many of us have done product descriptions or other types of writing we didn’t like in order to get experience – and that is totally valid. However, I find that if you focus on the writing work that you love the most – you are more motivated to create quality work and enjoy it. Even when you have tight deadlines or difficult topics to write about.
Jenn: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced during your career as a freelance writer so far? What lessons can you take away from this experience do you believe would be the most helpful to others in this field?
Elizabeth: There are certainly times when you might feel tempted to give up. Or, you will compare yourself to other writers. My encouragement is not to do either of those things. Comparison will take your eyes off your own progress. If you feel like giving up, I suggest taking a step back or trying another business or career for a bit. Don’t be afraid to try things. Freelancing is not this instant ticket to lots of money and ease – it is still work. However, it can be really rewarding work – especially if you stick with it and persevere.
The Rest of nDash’s Discussion with Elizabeth Breckenridge
Elizabeth Breckenridge’s background in freelance writing includes covering topics for health and wellness, tech brands, and SaaS companies.
Jenn: What are your favorite time management and organizational tools for keeping track of assignments and other tasks?
Elizabeth: To keep track of tasks and assignments, I recommend using a tool like Trello or Asana or even a spreadsheet in Excel. You can also make deadline reminders in Outlook that will pop up on your calendar.
You can gather all of your research sources and add them to one document, so they are easy to locate once you are ready to start writing.
Set a specific writing block and put your phone on silent or DND during that time. Don’t do other things while writing – really allocate that time to research, write, or edit. Just like you would need to take a break with a regular job, make sure you get up and stretch, get water, walk around and take breaks – but keep your deadline in mind.
Find the ideal writing conditions that work for you, and stick to them.
Jenn: On a more personal note, I can see from your Twitter feed that you’re a huge ice hockey fan. I’d love to hear the story behind that (and who your favorite team is)
Elizabeth: I grew up in San Jose, watching the San Jose Sharks. They were founded when I was growing up, so I got to see them as a team from the ground up. I fell in love with the sport because of how fast-paced it is and how skilled the players are.
I’m also a fan of the Monreal Canadiens for my Eastern team. I can’t fully explain it, but East Coast hockey is played in a slightly different style than West Coast hockey. Even though I haven’t visited Montreal yet, but I hope to someday!
I moved to Seattle in 2021 because the city was getting a hockey team, so I also cheer for the Kraken. Hockey is a sport that is incredibly fast and exciting. Watching a hockey game at the end of the day is a great way to unwind and let off any stress from the day. It’s so fun to cheer for the players!
Thank you for chatting with us about your journey as a freelance writer and how you’ve shaped your career into the success that it is today!
Work with Elizabeth Breckenridge on nDash Today!
Do you have a project that aligns with Elizabeth’s expertise? Check out her freelance writer profile to learn more about how her experience can take your content strategy to the next level: Elizabeth Breckenridge.