Welcome to the very first episode of The Talk Freelance To Me Podcast! On this episode, host Ashley Cisneros Mejia shares her personal story of how she turned her freelance writing skills into a successful full-time career and business.
Ashley has been working as a journalist and freelance writer for nearly 20 years, and in this episode, she speaks about why she decided to create the show and what it means to her. She talks about how she got started with freelancing - from being laid off from her dream job during the Great Recession to finding success in B2B freelance writing.
Listen in as Ashley reflects on how freelancing gave her the freedom to build a life she loves. Tune in now for an inspirational journey into the world of freelance writing.
SOMETHING JUST FOR YOU
We’ve just released our “Niches Get Riches” Brainstorming Worksheet – and it’s absolutely free! This worksheet will help you identify the most profitable niches for your freelance writing business.
Simply download and go through the prompts to explore potential niches that will quickly set you apart in the marketplace! Grab your copy here: https://pages.talkfreelancetome.com/
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SOMETHING SPECIAL JUST FOR YOU
We released our “Niches Get Riches” Brainstorming Worksheet – and it’s absolutely free! This worksheet will help you identify the most profitable niches for your freelance writing business.
Simply download and go through the prompts to explore potential niches that will quickly set you apart in the marketplace! Grab your copy here!
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SPECIAL SHOUT OUT
Our original show music was composed by the one and only Donna O. Raphael of World Instrumentals. Please visit her website and support her!
BUY ME A COFFEE
Welcome to the very first episode of the Talk Freelance To me podcast. I'm your host, Ashley Cisneros Mejia. I've been working as a journalist and professional freelance writer for nearly 20 years. And as an editor and marketing agency owner, I also had a chance to hire lots of freelancers, from writers, to designers, to programmers and more. Today, as a mom of three little kids, I'm dedicated to helping other women writers get started in earning money from their creative gifts in their own way. On Talk Freelance To Me, I'll be interviewing amazing writers, journalists, editors, designers, and other freelance professionals. Many freelance creatives, we'll be exploring all things freelance from ways to find great paying clients, pricing strategies, Using systems to save time and so much more. If you want to monetize your writing skills, make money on your own terms and design a flexible life that you love, then this podcast is for you. To get started, I wanted to record a quick solo episode to let you know what freelance means to me and how I even found this world. So my first big freelance when came when I least expected it, but when I really really needed it. So I was feeling low, low, low, low, okay, lower than low, like underground low.
And it was a cold day in February 2009. It was cold for Florida anyway. I was 26. At the time, I had graduated from a master's program at my alma mater, the University of Florida Go Gators. It was a program just for working executives, people like me who wanted to study and keep their main job. I had just purchased my first real estate I purchased the condo not too I think it was probably late 2007 November 2007. So at this point, I had had my condo for a little over a year. I was living independently and I had been since I was 18. But all with all of these accolades and all of these great things happening in my life. I found myself moving back to my small North Florida hometown. Four months earlier, my world was turned upside down. When I was laid off the day after my birthday, and it was from my dream magazine job. All I ever wanted to do as a kid was right. And I had a writing job. I felt very lucky. I was really happy at the time. But the great recession was roaring, the advertiser dollars had dried up, and my job was part of those advertising dollars. So it was eliminated due to budget cuts, and overachiever, perfectionist and people pleaser. I hadn't really ever failed at anything. I felt very defeated. But I couldn't wallow for very long. I had an underwater mortgage to pay and $17,000 in student loans to pay. So after applying for jobs for months, probably about three months, I finally landed a role as a tech writer for a government defense contractor. Our client was the United States Navy. And this was way different than anything I did in journalism. The new job would require me to move back to my hometown six hours away from Orlando where I was living at the time. But you know what, I was really grateful to be working at all because it was a horrible time for a lot of people. So I was about four hours into a six hour drive back to my hometown, and it was just me, this skinny Florida long leaf pine trees and the seemingly endless two lane road in North Florida. Darius wrecker was assuring me that it won't be like this for long, that was a song that I was playing on the radio, and I was in my 1997 Toyota Camry, when the phone rang my cell phone, and I didn't recognize the number. I thought was it Wells Fargo? My mortgage provider? Was it some creditor? I didn't know who it was. I didn't recognize the number. But I decided I need to answer. I don't know who this was. So I'm so glad that I did. I remember that the reception was really bad because again, I was in the middle of nowhere. It was very country and very rural. So I found a place to pull over. And it turned out to be the manager at a custom Publishing Company in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact. He had found my profile on a media website that I had joined one
I was looking for full time work really. He wanted me to write attorney profiles and advertorials, or aka sponsored content for them. But he didn't want me to be a staff person. He wanted me to work as a freelancer. He told me that the rate at the time was $1 per word and asked me if I was interested. At this time, I had to pick up my jaw from the floor. And answer remember that I you know, someone was talking to me and answer, I managed to pull myself together and my words tripped over themselves. Why? Yes, yes, I was very interested. I was so interested. That publishing company became one of the longest and most profitable freelance clients of my entire career. For the next seven months, I worked at my new tech writing job writing white papers and business documents for our client, the US Navy during the day. And at night, I was hustling, I would freelance for the publishing company and some other magazines that I kind of picked up along the way. If I needed to conduct interviews, I would go straight from work to the nearby Dunkin Donuts parking lot, because they had Wi Fi, and I could park and get close enough to the door that I could get Wi Fi on my phone. So I could use their Wi Fi, and I put my cell phone on speaker, I'd grab my laptop out of my purse and put it on my lap. And I would interview my sources, I would be typing feverishly talking to really, really brilliant, often veteran attorneys from big cities, to small towns all across the 50 states. I'd be talking to them about these groundbreaking settlements and verdicts. And I was learning on the fly by the seat of my pants, how to speak in a way that I didn't sound like a complete idiot. It was very, very interesting. And I learned a lot from that. On the way home. See, my job was maybe 45 minutes from my mom's house where I was living at the time when I was starting this new job. And I had my my condo still in Orlando. So I'd use that time to call my boyfriend at the time. And it was great. I mean, I was very happy to be working at this company. It was an awesome company, probably the biggest company that I had ever worked for. And since then it's the biggest company I've ever worked for. My boss was an angel. I love her to death. And I've loved pretty much all of my bosses I was really thankful to be working with and she was my boss at the time. But it was hard. I had never, I hadn't been home in like six years. It was hard for my parents to having this 26 year old person come back when they remembered me as just a teenager before I left to the University of Florida. This was our first time doing like a major long distance long distance for us. Anyway, we were college sweethearts, and they were now six hours apart. And dating long distance was really hard. But before long, I realized I did my calculations, I felt like I had my head down for so long, I finally looked up and realized that I was actually making enough freelance revenue to replace my full time salary. So after lots of debate, and planning with my boyfriend and talking, I decided to quit my job. Yes, that job, the one at the great company with a great boss that I had just gotten that I had literally worked for like three months to get and I finally had been working at the job for about seven months. And I decided to pursue freelance full time. It was a way for me to be able to move back to Orlando where I lived and actually move into with him. We realized that we were ready to take our relationship to the next level at that time. So during the time that I had been looking for jobs like an animal and feeling really low about myself, his career was actually taking off. He was a registered nurse. He still is now he works on the business side of the hospital. But he was an ICU nurse and neuro ICU nurse young. You know, I wasn't there at the time. We have no kids or anything. So he was working overtime on the night shift and just killing it. He had been socking money away and the market was down. So I had this condo that was underwater. But for him the real estate was market was perfect for him to buy his first piece of property. And so he bought what would be our first home. It was a foreclosure and he renovated it on the side, fix it up with his uncle whenever he wasn't working at the hospital. So I made all these plans and it was time to tell my parents. I broke the news to them. They are very old school. very religious, very conservative, and they actually took it back
Wow, better than I thought, because that boyfriend that I mentioned, well, he actually proposed, and we worked our tails off. We ended up moving into that house, paying later, we saved our money, we got married, but then we saved our money for a couple of years to pay for a 250 person wedding. That was awesome. It was literally the best party I've ever been to. And that just happened a few years later. And today we have three beautiful children ages eight, five and three. So freelance not only saved my financial life in 2009, it really helped me and enabled me to find a way to stay in the same city with my now husband, when the traditional job market sucked. It allowed me later to stay at home for two of my kids. The first one I had to my daughter had to put in daycare right away. That's another story. But my two sons, I was actually able to stay home with them because of freelance. What about you? How did you get into freelance? Or if you're listening to this as an aspiring freelancer? What impact could have flourishing freelance business have on your life? And with that, we've come to the end of our very first episode, so please make sure you hit subscribe if you haven't already done so and give me a five star review on Apple. It will help me out a lot and getting the word out about this new podcast. I invite you to check out the show notes and grab my free niches get Rich's freelance writing worksheet to brainstorm the best niches for your writing business. If you're not a writer, you can still use it to get business ideas. And until next time, this is Ashley stand with me here. Don't forget, we all get this one precious life. Don't constrain yourself to a box that you were never meant to fit in. It is your right to profit from your own creative gifts. This podcast was created by Ashley Cisneros Mejia. Our intro music was composed by the one and only Donna Rapahel of World Instrumentals. Talk Freelance To Me is a product of Fenix Creative Studio.