Background: The Highlights
On her LinkedIn profile, Sophie describes herself as a “Broadly creative, multi-disciplinary writer and designer with digital and print design experience as well as commercial and creative writing experience.”
For over ten years, she used her marketing, graphic design, and writing experience to complete projects across many verticals, including:
- archery and hunting
- fitness, wellness
- property management
- real estate
- spa and recovery therapies
- and more!
As someone who loves learning, she’s never met a project that didn’t excite her. Here’s a snippet from her website speaking directly about her background as a freelance writer and how she serves her clients:
“I’ve been putting pencil to paper for as long as I could hold a pencil, which is why I know I can help you uncover the words you need to help your business grow. Everything I write, from the technical to the emotional to the professional to the downright poetic, will engage your audience and add a little heart to your marketing.”
nDash’s Discussion with Freelance Writer: Sophie Bebeau
Jenn Greenleaf: Can you tell me about how you started freelance writing? What led you to the decision to do this full-time?
Sophie Bebeau: Like many freelance writers, I started in the marketing sphere. I worked as a graphic designer and then as the Marketing Director for a local fitness and tennis center for about twelve years. I was fortunate to grow in that role because it allowed me to finetune my writing aptitude and develop a skillset in many ancillary areas like graphic design, SEO, and web development.
While I really enjoyed being a jane-of-all-trades in the marketing world, writing has been my passion for as long as I remember, and I have always dreamed of being able to strike out on my own and write for a living.
It was just pure serendipity when my son made a new friend at school whose mother turned out to be a freelance writer and designer. (Shout out to Kari Perlewitz, who you can find at Kari Perlewitz Copywriting.) I told her about wanting to get into freelancing, and she was so generous, sharing her time and expertise with me and connecting me with opportunities that were my jumping-off point.
After about four months of making connections with new clients and building a portfolio, I decided to resign from my role as Marketing Director and pursue freelancing full-time. It definitely felt a little risky leaving the relative security of a job I had enjoyed for over a decade. Still, as someone who really thrives on variety, the opportunity to work on lots of new and interesting projects was too hard to pass up.
Jenn: How did signing up for nDash become part of your journey?
Sophie: I’m sure most freelancers will tell you that the search for new work never ends! Though I have a few steady clients I love, I’m always seeking new opportunities that pique my interest. I learned about nDash through one of the freelancer newsletters I subscribed to and was really impressed by the platform right away.
Jenn: What advice would you give to someone who wants to start freelancing full-time?
Sophie: I have a couple of pieces of advice:
1. Connect with other writers!
Freelance writing is a competitive field. So it’s easy to get into the mindset of seeing all other writers as your competition. But connecting with other writers really is the best way to find new opportunities. In my experience so far, the freelancing community is very welcoming. Many writers are sharing tips and opportunities and offering advice to new writers.
Find writing groups local to your area on social media to connect with other writers on a local level, and participate in the writing community on platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.
One of my favorite writers in the community is Kaitlyn Arford (@kaitarford on Twitter). She sends out a regular Friday email with tons of opportunities for freelancers and shares a lot of great freelancing resources here: Kaitlyn Arford is sharing freelance opportunities, rate transparency, and knowledge.
2. There are a lot of services geared towards freelance writers out there, but they are not all created equal.
Do your research and look for reviews from real writers regarding signing up for platforms that promise freelance work. One thing that drew me to nDash was how thorough the vetting process was and how quickly and seamlessly they communicated with their writers.
Jenn: Your “creative” background is so interesting! Graphic design – AND – teaching cross-stitch to 3rd to 5th graders!? I’d love to hear more about this!
Sophie: Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember, but I really consider myself a multi-disciplinary artist in the truest sense!
I’ve been doing graphic design work for over a decade, which translated into enamel pin design and cross-stitch pattern design. I’ve been cross-stitching since I was a kid. So, it was a no-brainer when I got the opportunity to teach other kids in the community. I’ve taught workshops to middle-grade students at my son’s school and at a local arts center that runs workshops and art exhibitions all year round.
I’m also a poet and am working on completing my first chapbook this year. The phrase “variety is the spice of life” feels like it was created specifically for me. I love diving into new creative projects whenever I get the chance!
Jenn: I see you have 12 years of experience as a marketing director for Western Racquet & Fitness Club – can you talk to me about what that role entailed?
Sophie: Coming to freelance writing from the role of Marketing Director really gave me a leg up, so I’ll forever be grateful for my time at Western Racquet & Fitness Club and what I learned there.
Because it’s a smaller local business, I got to wear quite a few hats when overseeing the marketing department. During my time there, I:
- developed and executed their social media strategy
- managed and designed all internal and external advertising and marketing campaigns
- managed their website
- did backend web development
I also did all their graphic design – from digital ads and displays to print work like booklets, brochures, posters, and environmental displays, to web design, and everything in between.
Basically, if it had words or visual elements, I was in charge of bringing it to life and managing its execution. It has given me a wealth of experience with many different programs and platforms.
Jenn: Have you found that your background in marketing has fueled your freelance writing career?
Sophie: Having a marketing background has definitely given me a “big picture” perspective on freelance writing.
I have a lot of experience working on different marketing and design projects from basic conception through final execution, which allows me to see writing projects from a more zoomed-out perspective. I can go into any writing project with a deeper understanding of my client’s voice and brand and what they are trying to accomplish as a whole, which then informs how I research and structure any pieces I write for them.
Jenn: Out of all the different types of content you write, do you have a favorite?
Sophie: On the freelancing side of things, my favorite thing to write is definitely blogs, especially anything 800+ words. I really love learning about new things. And I enjoy the challenge of putting together something that is valuable to the reader and meets the client’s performance requirements.
If we’re talking about any kind of writing, my truest passion will always be poetry. I will talk your ear off about poetry all day! I think poets make some of the best freelance writers because of their unique relationship with words, form, and structure. Reading and writing poetry will give you a fresh perspective on the power of language in any medium.
Jenn: When you hear someone say, “you have to niche down to be a successful freelance writer,” what are your thoughts on that?
Sophie: This is a divisive topic in the freelancing community! I am solidly on “Team No Niche,” but I really think there’s not one right answer here. It just depends on the writer.
I personally love the variety that comes with freelancing! While I have developed some expertise in certain industries, the joy of freelancing comes from the opportunity to learn new things constantly. Luckily there are lots of different kinds of clients with different content needs out there, which means there’s plenty of room for both niche writers and generalists.
Jenn: What are your “go-to” tools and resources to help support your career as a freelance writer?
Sophie: There are SO MANY great resources for writers out there!
Here are some of my must-haves:
- Grammarly: an essential for any writer and, in my experience, absolutely worth the Premium subscription
- Semrush: for all your SEO research needs
- Answer the Public: an excellent resource for finding topic ideas to pitch
- Hemingway Editor: analyzes writing to help eliminate unnecessary words
- nDash: I’m relatively new to the platform but super impressed with how intuitive and straightforward it is. A great platform to find opportunities and pitch.
Here are some must-have visual tools:
- Freepik, Unsplash, & Pexels: for stock photos
- Adobe Creative Cloud Suite: I specifically use Illustrator and Photoshop
- Fonts Ninja: a browser extension that helps you identify fonts on a webpage
- ColorPick Eyedropper: a browser extension that will find the color code of any color on a webpage
- Kaitlyn Arford’s Friday freelance jobs round-up email
- Freelancing with Tim
- Where to Pitch
- The Freelance Beat
- Blue light blocker glasses: Seriously, save your eyes!
- Mechanical keyboard: Trust me, once you hear and feel that satisfying clickety-clack, you will never return to a regular keyboard.
Thanks for talking with me about your background and freelance writing career, Sophie!
Work with Sophie Bebeau on nDash!
Do you have a project that aligns with Sophie’s freelance writing background? Check out her freelance writer profile to learn how her work can take your content strategy to the next level: Sophie Bebeau.