Talk Freelance To Me

How Freelance Writing Took Jessica Walrack Around the World

October 20, 2023 Ashley Cisneros Mejia Season 1 Episode 17
Talk Freelance To Me
How Freelance Writing Took Jessica Walrack Around the World
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Driven by a yearning to spend more time with her husband and expose their young son to the wonders of the world, Jessica Walrack transitioned from B2B sales into launching a freelance writing business over a decade ago.

This was a move that would not only re-define her career but also her life. Jessica lived out dreams many only fantasize about – like residing in scenic locales like Costa Rica and Mexico, wandering the breadth of Europe, and imparting a world-class, multicultural upbringing to her son.

This episode underscores the potential of the freelance life, not just as a career but as an enabler of dreams. Listen now!

About Jessica:
Jessica Walrack is a seasoned freelance writer/journalist with over a decade of experience. She has extensively covered personal finance topics for prominent national outlets, including CBS News, US News and World, USA Today, and Investopedia.
Jessica is also the visionary founder of All Things Freelance Writing (ATFW).

Connect with Jessica:
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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!

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Ashley Mejia:

Hello, everyone and welcome to another episode of the talk freelance me podcast. I'm your host, Ashley Cisneros. mahiya. And today, I'm so excited to feature another fantastic freelance writer, always a treat to meet another writer, the wonderful Jessica wall rack. Hi, Jessica, welcome to the show.

Jessica Walrack:

I Ashley, thank you so much for having me.

Ashley Mejia:

Thank you so much. I love being able to chat with people who take freelance and apply it to, you know, whatever their gift is, whether it's art, or design, or programming or web development. But it's always a special treat to get to talk to another writer specifically, because that's my flavor of freelance and entrepreneurship. So I'm super excited to get to chat with you today. Because I feel like you know, my world and I know your world.

Jessica Walrack:

Exactly. It's always nice to talk to another writer because we spend so much of our days in this business, and people who aren't doing it just don't understand on the same level.

Ashley Mejia:

I think so I think especially when you see everything that's happened with chat GPT or they'll have a conversation about it. I'm sure we'll dig into that. I think writing I'm defensive of it. I'm protective of it. I'm protective of other writers because I feel like there's nothing like a living breathing human soul having a person we write in a different way that a robot just never can. And I'll always absolutely think that so awesome. So freelance fam, I'm going to read to you a little bit from Jessica's bio so you can get to know her more. Jessica wall rack is a freelance writer and journalist and the founder of all things freelance writing. She covers personal finance topics for many leading national outlets, including CBS News, US News and World, USA Today and Investopedia. All things freelance writing is her passion project. It's a community and brand that she founded in 2022. To help writers build their ideal businesses. She offers social groups, a weekly jobs email and job board, a blog, a podcast, and a vetted directory of writers and much more. So definitely check her out. Jessica, thank you again, I'm so excited to talk with you. So how did you first get into this freelance world?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, so it all started about 10 and a half years ago, and my husband and I were both working out and traditional style jobs. Our son was five at the time, and he was in daycare or with grandparents or babysitters. And we just kind of reached a point where we were like, we're not really happy. We're not really seeing each other very often. Both of our jobs are very demanding. We'd work nights, weekends, sometimes holidays. Retail life is crazy. But yeah, we got to a point where we're like, we need to do something like what could we do? And so we started talking about different ideas of how to work online and ended up deciding, hey, we're going to do this. We're going to try to start this online business together and shift our lives so that we can spend more time together. And through that process. We had to hire copywriters for our website and for different communications for our blog. And I was like, Oh, that's interesting. And so I ended up going on to Elance, which is now Upwork. And looking around applying for jobs. I got a few when it started gaining traction, and I actually ended up pivoting to that. And here I am 10 years later.

Ashley Mejia:

That's awesome. Oh, my goodness, I love that. And especially, I mean, if you know Elance, then yeah, you've been in the game for a bit. That's one of like, the first I feel like it was Elance was yeah, it was like one of the first ones way before some of the more sophisticated, you know, marketplaces that we see now. So

Jessica Walrack:

yeah, it was Elance and oDesk. Were the big time

Ashley Mejia:

oDesk and was oh, just the one that would watch you. I feel like some of them had components where they would watch you create so that you could toggle at the time or will toggle is a source for time tracking. But yeah, I would like time track for you. I think. Yeah, I do remember that. Yeah, that always weirded me out. I was like, Oh, that's so much feels like you're on stage writing. Like,

Jessica Walrack:

yeah, I can't do that. I'd be like, if you need that you can find somebody else.

Ashley Mejia:

Right? Yeah, I just can't work that way. That's so interesting. And so you mentioned the retail sales. And I'm only I'm thinking immediately when you were talking about that, like the holidays and Black Friday and just these times where Yeah, I could imagine you wanted to be home with your husband and your little son at the time and just how that retail background, how that impacted your work. Now, how did this background and selling directly to consumers and then later in b2b affect the way that you right content.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah. So, you know, it's kind of funny when you look back in hindsight and you see your path and how things kind of like built on each other to help. And that was definitely the case with that past career. So although it did lead me to a point where I was like, I gotta get out of this, I am thankful for it for the lessons that I learned. And so one of them, I would say, was just the sales fundamentals, the company I worked for was T Mobile, I started as a part time sales rep. And then I built my way up to being a store manager. And they really invest in or they did at the time in employees and their development. And so they sent me to different sales trainings, where you're really like role playing and learning the different steps of the sales process. And then I was on the sales floor almost every day greeting customers and had to hit a quota. And so just having all of that experience, I felt when I started writing, it's still sales, everything I was doing is copying content for companies helping them to move their customers through a funnel. So I'm like, Okay, I already know all of the basic steps that I'm going through, but instead of talking it through in a conversation, it's coming through these assets. So that was hugely helpful. And then on the b2b side, that's a whole different game. But I think the biggest most important lesson I learned there was just about the 3% rule, which is I would get lists of companies to call. So it's in the office and just call call call, trying to see if they wanted to switch over to T Mobile, you know, with their whole business plan. And at first, it's really hard and demoralizing. Because you just get no, no, we're not interested or they hang up or people don't want to hear anybody just calling them out of the blue for the most part, you know, but what I learned was that about 3% of every 100 people that you call are going to say yes, or be interested. It's just a principle that occurs out there and cold pitching, not just at that AT T Mobile, but across the board. So that kind of gave me hope. It was like, I'm not just getting nose, every note is moving me closer to a yes. And that proved true again and again. And so when I was starting my freelance writing business, I had to put in tons of pitches reach out to companies, you know, but I knew that it wasn't hopeless, if everyone was telling me no. So I would get nose and nose, I'd be like, I'm, I just gotta keep going until I start getting those yeses. And sure enough, that was the case. Once again,

Ashley Mejia:

that is so cool. I'm thinking about a lot of freelancers. And I know you work with a lot of freelancers, too. It feels like a lot of us get nervous when it comes to asking for the sale. You know, we love talking about the strategy and the story, the benefit, when it's time to actually like ask for the business, talk about invoicing, talk about cost. And I don't know what it is, I don't know if it's a function of writers sometimes not being respected or valued. People think what we do is easy. But I love that you're bringing that experience to this world, because that's what you did you literally call people who weren't really expecting your call, and you're asking for their business in being able to develop that thick skin. And that comfort with rejection. Because that's, you need that in our world. That's so interesting.

Jessica Walrack:

We absolutely do and just to not take it personal, it's easy to feel like something's wrong with me, or I'm not meant for this or, you know, I think that's very common to feel that way. But just to realize, no, you are, you just got to keep going. And I think you can definitely improve those odds. As you start to identify your ideal customer, and you start to build your brand and all those things, those numbers go up and you don't deal with rejection as much. But from the beginning, it's so normal. And I have so many writers that reach out to me, like, I don't know what to do. This isn't working what you know, feeling all that self doubt. And I'm just like, you gotta keep going, like, I sent 40 applications before someone gave me my first shot. 40 So I just tried to put that into perspective.

Ashley Mejia:

That's so cool. I love that that's so inspiring. And it really is a numbers game. And you know, even now, I feel like there was a lot of chatter in the industry about you know, what inflate what the recession or, you know, this economic downturn that we've been in what that means for us and in certain forums, you know, you've seen I've seen people talking about that are things slowing down, it feels like things are slowing down and really just having that ability to get back up to pitch somebody else. You know, that's how we we weathered the storms. It's just being able to like keep going and it is a numbers game that 3% is gonna come somehow. Really cool. So I was checking out your website and I love the tagline that you have great content no headaches? Because I really think that's what clients want. I think that's what customers want for everything, right? We just want what we need. It can be a product or service. And we want the experience to be easy. Can you tell us more about this? How have you intentionally designed your customer experience to be easy? And how can other freelancers kind of think about those things in their own processes?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, well, I'll start by saying that I definitely did not start out this way. I learned so much just from having things go wrong. My taking notes, and then asking myself, How can I prevent this in the future over and over over 10 years? But yeah, I would say after about seven, I really started to dial in. Okay, how can I just make this as easy as possible, seamless on both sides. And I would say the very first thing that you should do is vet your clients, you have to choose carefully who you're going to work with, because it's impossible to deliver a seamless, great experience to somebody who's not organized and can't provide you with what you need as a writer. Because you're just going to find yourself, you know, spinning your wheels, and they're going to be trying to figure out what they want through trial and error with you, which is not a fun place to be, as the writer is trying to guess. And then they're like, oh, actually figured out that I want this. And I mean, if you're going to be paid as a strategist or something, then that can make sense. But when you're just supposed to be delivering the deliverable of writing, I, it's much better when they are all organized, they know exactly what they want. So I think that's one of the keys is, you know, interviewing clients, making sure that they need what you offer, what's in your expertise, and that they're organized and ready to be a great partner. And then once that said, I think it's carefully reviewing all of the details of the project, planning a deadline, that's reasonable, that you're not going to feel rushed, we're going to have enough space and time to give it your best. And things do go wrong. Sometimes I try to meet all my deadlines or beat them. But life's crazy sometimes. But I think it's also important just to let the client know as soon as possible, if you need an extension, and most of the time, there'll be understanding, and then doing the best you can to double check everything that you have to make sure everything meets all the requirements, asking for feedback, I specialize in one service. And I've been doing it five days a week for three years. So I have it pretty dialed in, you know, but I'm still going to turn it in and say, Tell me all the feedback you have. We have two revision rounds we can go through. So gather all your thoughts, let's talk about it, you know, I'm totally open, and I try to get aligned as close as I can to exactly what they need. And then I just ensure that they're happy. And throughout the whole process, I want to be proactive, positive, professional, friendly, never want to leave emails kind of like sitting around for more than a day or two business days, not over talking to them or telling them too much, because they're busy, you know, but also not being short. So there's just kind of like this balance that I find.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that I love that the first part about interviewing the clients that it starts from, you know, a healthy partnership, that you can only have a healthy journey, if you've got two people who are ready for this interaction. Because I feel like and that's so empowering, I think, for us as business owners, because a lot of times again, when you're in a field like ours, that again, some people aren't they don't value it, or they think, oh, I'll just hire somebody from, you know, another country because the exchange rate is better, or I'll just use a robot, they don't always come to us, you know, understanding like, it's, it's very much of you should be happy that I'm just giving you business. And I feel like no, that's not we're service providers. We're business owners, we have expertise that's hard won from years and years and years of practice and investment and courses and certificates and college or whatever. So I think starting having that respect for ourselves and our businesses in finding and knowing that we're not, you don't have to accept every client that reaches out, and that we're not in a place of oh, I'm a starving writer. I'm starving artists and I just need to accept anybody with a pulse and $1. And know because when we get to those women, the relationship, the business relationship starts in that way. I think it's just a recipe for disaster. So I love I love that that's was your first point. I think that's really, really

Jessica Walrack:

and what you're saying right there. I mean, I think that's one of the most important things for freelance writers to understand. And it was the biggest shift in my business is just switching mindset from surviving to thriving from being like an employee mindset to being a business owner. You know, And it's not just when you get on a discovery call, I think it's easy to be like really nervous, like, what are they going to ask me? Am I good enough? But switching that to? Are they good enough? Are they the right fit? Are they you know, my ideal client, I think is huge. Like we should be interviewing them and asking them questions about their systems, about their strategy about all of these things to make sure that they're ready, both sides have to be on the same page.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. And I think that's true. If they have a fundamental business issue and operations issue, customer service issue, or the person who's answering their phone is not friendly, or does it doesn't follow through on tasks, then we can write the most glowing copy on our website, we can write the most beautiful press release, but the customers are not going to stay or they're not going to have those conversions or that retention that they might be looking for. And they may be looking at us as the writers like in terms of did the copy that we generate, did it achieve what they're looking for. But again, if they have glaring issues, you know, we're not very good mothers that we could just solve all the problems. Right. Right. Love it.

Jessica Walrack:

The strategy definitely has to be in place.

Ashley Mejia:

Yeah, I think so. And so part of this some of the stuff that we're talking I mean, I think that you you cover you help other writers with through all things freelance writing, I love that you have this online community. And can you tell us more about what you have to offer writers just like us, maybe ones that are even just starting out and are brand new to this world?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah. So as I've talked about a little bit, freelance writing has had a profound impact on my quality of life. Now that my son's 15, he's about to drive, he's going off in his own world, you know that to be an adult. And now I look back, and I'm like, thank goodness that I made that change at age five, and we got to spend at least you know, 10 years together, making all of these incredible memories, like, I can't even hardly express how thankful I am for that experience. And so when I see other people who are struggling in that sense, maybe they're not able to spend the time with their kids, or they're tired, running them to daycare all the time, you know, kind of the place I was in before, I just felt a strong need to want to help more how I can just based on my journey, and I know a lot of other freelance writers in the industry who have had similar experiences. And you know, they've had a different journey and different lessons along the way, that are also valuable and that are helpful for up and coming writers to know. So all things freelance writing really tries to bring together the voices of experienced writers in one place through our blog and podcasts and social channels on an ongoing basis, just so you can go there and find answers from and they're not like token answers, you're going to find just by searching the web, it's real people who have been through experiences and they're sharing actual, the steps, they took what actually worked, what didn't work. And aside from that, we also have the jobs email, which goes out every Friday, which one of the hardest things when getting started is just finding the work. Like I said before, you're putting all the pitches and and so the job board just we searched the Internet each week on different social media platforms online to find people who are looking for writers. And we put it all together in a list. So you can go through and see you know, it's been it's not a cold pitch, they're asking for writer, so you already have a better chance. And you're sending a pitch based on what they're asking for. So that's been growing. And we've been focusing on making sure that goes out each week. And then we've also started this new branch, where we help businesses to find writers that are going to give them a great service experience with no headaches and all that. So writers can apply to join our vetted directory. And we have a list of requirements like two years of experience samples that are error free, and show expertise and online brand, those sorts of things. And then once writers are approved, they get into this list that's open, anyone can see it. And then business owners can also come to us if they need a writer, and we'll match them with three writers from our directory. So we're kind of helping business owners and then we also want to help writers in another way to find work. So that's our current things that we've been working on lately.

Ashley Mejia:

That is awesome. I really, really love that I especially like that piece for the businesses. Because a lot of times I've hired freelance, I've been a freelance writer, and I've also hired freelance writers. And sometimes, you know, it's been hard and I don't know if you've experienced that too, right. There was my gosh, another podcast that I heard and somebody was talking about, they were giving advice, you know, 10 a talking shop like us, and they were sharing you know, just meet your deadline or like it was very basic things like in terms of best price just says and I thought it sad that we have to say that, but it is we need to say it because there's a lot of dancers who are just they're not really communicating, they're not really turning step in. So the fact that you offer that for business owners to save them time and to get them someone really competent, that's super valuable. I really like that.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, you know, and that ties back into what we're talking about earlier with the great content, no headaches, you know, a lot. That idea that tagline came after I tried to hire writers. And it's amazing how much can go wrong. And just doing those simple things, right, is actually rare, and it is actually going to set you apart in the industry. And I hear that feedback from clients too, all the time. Like, they're so excited and happy that you delivered and they don't have to edit it, it's like that. So rare. And it's like really, like, it's kind of surprising to hear that. But then, once you kind of have been on the other side, you're like, oh, yeah, and if you get a piece of content, that's bad, I'm sure you know, I mean, you can spend way more time fixing it than I would have taken you just to start fresh from the beginning. So it can be a huge tax on your business, your time, your energy, your stress. To have a good writer you can trust is just like gold. It really

Ashley Mejia:

really is finding somebody who also just, you know, does their homework, kind of researches, the business kind of sees what the goal is, puts the clients first and kind of understanding I might not be writing for the client, I might I'm writing for the clients customers and understanding like, the target audience and what we're really trying to achieve here. Those skills, it's not super academically challenging. But I think if you can nail those and listen, while you know, be a good listener and do what you say you're going to do and follow up, I think you have a bright future. Ahead and freelance

Jessica Walrack:

couldn't agree more.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. Super cool. And so you mentioned this a little bit that you are really grateful to freelance to making those decisions so many years ago, 10 and a half years ago now, because it gave you that flexibility and more time with your son. And I find that that's a common thread with a lot of our listeners too. A lot of them tend to be women, men, even if they don't have their own phone, children. They're caregivers in some way. So maybe they're caring for an elderly parent or a loved one. Or maybe they're caretaker to a niece or nephew. And you have actually done freelance for you've been able to have more time with your family. And I know that you've lived abroad, I think you lived in Costa Rica, if I remember correctly. That's super cool. Can you share some more about how freelance has allowed you to balance your family life and even work from another country?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah. So once we got the online business going, and all of that, we're like, we don't my husband and I had always loved to travel. And so we just had this dream of heading out and seeing what was going on in the world. So yeah, once that was a possibility, we're like, let's do it. And we were pretty established, we'd been working for six to seven years, we had a little our house and our cars and that whole deal set up you know, so it was a total switch, like a hard gourd turn crossroads, we sold everything. And we left with just some bags. I think we had a whole suitcase full of Legos.

Ashley Mejia:

Got to have the essentials, got out

Jessica Walrack:

the toys, books, we had our laptops. And yeah, we moved to Costa Rica, and we decided to do kind of a slow travel thing. So we stayed there in the first city for a year. And then we moved to down to the beach for a year. And really the first year we moved there was just like decompressing from our stressful days, we were kind of out on the side of the central valley of Costa Rica, which is a very lush, lots of jungle very peaceful, and we just were kind of like, okay, we can relax and just, you know, spend time together. And after about a year we're like, okay, let's do something fun. So we moved to the beach for a year and learn how to surf, which I had always dreamed of doing. And we all did that together. And then after that, we're like, well, we're happy here. But we set out to travel, we want to see more of the world. And so we're like, we gotta go. And so we did a year of Europe. So we did one month, and I think we did ended up doing 10 different countries. That was really, really cool. I mean, it was just a dream. It didn't even feel real, almost even looking back and like I can't believe we did all that. And that was crazy. But you know, it's all just thanks. Once you have this location, independent online income, the possibilities open up and it's just like, What do you want to do, which is a cool, cool place to be. So just being able to have a lot of those experiences. I feel really great. for it, and it's something that drives me to want to help other people who, you know, have dreams that they might not be able to achieve because they're stuck in a job in one place. That's incredible.

Ashley Mejia:

And I got to know more about that. So was your son doing homeschool? Or did you have him enrolled in the school while you and your husband got on the laptops and worked,

Jessica Walrack:

we did a mix. So wherever we went, we kind of looked at the options and decided what we thought would be the best for him at that time. So when we first moved to Costa Rica, we actually had this little preschool down the street from our house we could walk to, and the whole neighborhood of kids there went to that school. And so we ended up enrolling him there. And they're, you know, out there digging with shovels is, is a very cool age for him to go into it. Because it's not so much structured academia yet, you know, they're just learning all the basics anyway, so he was getting to learn it with them. And so he learned Spanish, more than us use fluent now, where ours was still a little bit, you know, choppy. And then in Tamarindo, that beach town in Costa Rica, there was a really awesome International School, there's actually quite a few of them there that we could choose from. So that was half English, half Spanish, which was perfect. So he did that through second grade. And then Europe, we did online school slash, kind of world schooling, where we were incorporating museums and history and art and all that stuff into our lesson plans as we went, which was so much fun. So cool. I really enjoyed that. After that, we moved to the Riviera, Maya and Mexico. Oh, my gosh. So we're kind of in the Tulum area. And then we went to Costa mille. And there's a lot of expats there. So we met a community of people with kids. And we were in kind of like a homeschool Co Op the first year. And then we fell in love with Cozmo ended up staying there for three years. And there was a good international school there, which was half Spanish, half English. So he went there for three years before we decided to move back. So yeah, it was a mix.

Ashley Mejia:

Oh, my goodness. So he was around five, I guess, when you started this journey. And then so when you he got back? What grade? Was he? And when he returned,

Jessica Walrack:

he was going into seventh into seventh? Wow. Yeah. So we wanted him here for Junior High in high school. Okay, that makes sense. And that was during COVID. So that was kind of a hard reentry, because it was like online school, and nobody could go and meet people and stuff. So that was kind of a tough phase. But luckily, all that's kind of passed.

Ashley Mejia:

I think you should write a book just about that. Just about that. For people like me, who are freelance, who have kids who want to do that, but maybe don't know how I don't know how to balance the like, I don't think I would want a party. Oh, it's, I don't know, if I would have the discipline to like get out and like start writing, like if the beach and you know the way

Jessica Walrack:

okay. And that's a fair point. Because I would say my business was just surviving. While I was doing that. I was experiencing life. I was focused on that. You know, it was very exciting. And so it wasn't really until we came back to the states in 2020. That I would say my business really, I fine tuned it. I started all things freelance writing, you'll see a lot more excitement in my business after that point.

Ashley Mejia:

Yeah, wait, good reason. I mean, you were living. And I love that. And I think that's the dream, right? You hear people who are who have lived in other places, talk about just this hustle culture we have here in the States, and just how that's just so different than the way the world approaches work. So I think that's so cool that you have that that you guys did that for yourselves, for your family and for your son. So from an early age, he got to see, yeah, there's more than one way to approach work and education and learning everything about it. Yeah, everything. Just the whole philosophy. Like I love that we honeymooned in Costa Rica. And it's so funny that you live there because I always told my husband I was like, that's where I want to retire. You too. You know, it's just Gosh, it's so beautiful. What

Jessica Walrack:

part did you go to?

Ashley Mejia:

We went to Flamingo beach. We went to the ghetto, which I guess is in the Northeast. I can't remember by the Caribbean. We went to autumnal the volcano area. Yeah. I love that area. Yeah, I feel like we went to a couple where the turtles were at middle and then we went to the beach. We went on the coast, right? It's between the border of Costa Rica. And is it Nicaragua that's under? Uh huh. Now I'm forgetting but I remember Panama's Ender, Nicaragua, Panama. It was Panama. It was at least one. Does that sound familiar?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah. On the Caribbean side. Yes.

Ashley Mejia:

So we went there. I was like, Man, this is the type of lifestyle I was met. To live because it was just so chill and slow. And you know that I really

Jessica Walrack:

lush and amazing.

Ashley Mejia:

It's absolutely gorgeous. That is so cool that you did that. Do you think that you'll take your business abroad again? Later? The implants?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, I'm really murkier while my son is doing high school and getting his roots then figuring out what he wants to do, but I definitely am itching. That's so cool. Jessica and Costa Rica is my favorite. So I can't see not going back.

Ashley Mejia:

Oh, that's so cool. Very cool. That just sounds like hashtag goals like the kids say. Cool. That's so neat. So we've had a lot of trends in writing, as of late in the last year, I would say I feel like the beginning of this year, you couldn't open an email or attend a conference or log on to a webinar in this world without somebody talking about chat GPT and how it was going to take our industry and just we were all going to be retired by force. Was your business impacted by this for better or for worse? Or did it not even make a blip? On your side?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, it was quite a shock. I definitely was shocked by how far it came in such a big leap, like it was so bad. And then all of a sudden, it was coherent, which was pretty surprising for me. But I feel like at the start of the year, between that and all of the threats of a recession, a crazy inflation, a lot of businesses were just kind of like scared. And they were holding off on launching their content plans and hiring, there was just kind of like this pause, I felt like for a month or two, and a lot of the other freelancers in the community were kind of saying the same thing, like where's the work, what's going on that sort of thing. But now looking back and looking at the whole thing, it hasn't really impacted my business, very much. Most of my clients say that it is not allowed. You cannot take content from Chachi, pte and use it, copy and paste it and use it as your writing. If they find out that you are, they're going to be done with you, they don't want it. And so I agree. I tried, I have a few websites of my own and I've experimented with it. I'm just to see, you know, and I find that it takes me longer, just like if you get a piece of writing from a bad writer, it takes me longer to fix what chat GPT spits out than it would for me to start fresh. Because not only is it generic, boring, repetitive, but you can't trust it, you have to go back and check every single line to make sure it's accurate. So I rather start with a clean slate. Say what I mean, and make sure that every single thing is true along the way, and go back and try to piece this thing back together. But perhaps if you're not a writer, that might be a good way to start just to kind of figure out what to do. But I do I have to say I'll give credit where credit is due. I do think that it is a cool tool that can be useful for certain things. Like I like to use it to brainstorm titles for blogs, meta description, ideas. And sometimes I'll take my piece and paste it in there and ask it for feedback and analyze it and it will tell you areas where you might want to add more or less or things like that. So I do find it helpful. But I don't think that it's a replacement for an experienced writer.

Ashley Mejia:

Yeah, I love that. Thank you for saying that. Every time I hear that makes me feel better. I think it makes everybody feel better in their in our world. Right? I find the same thing. I think it's so funny now because now I can recognize it. Like there's a couple tail telltale signs right? Like I'll notice the word Delve is used let's Adele or let's dive into or unlock, unleash unveil. And I use it I use it more well, sometimes with the podcast like I'll use otter.ai for transcription to help me with show notes. So sometimes I'll use it for things like that, like helped me come up with a summary or some key points, or my YouTube descriptions or you know, things like that where I'm, I'm using it as I'm giving it fresh, original content, and I'm asking it to help me repackage it. But what you're saying about because I've experimented with it, like a blog, write me a blog about XYZ in your right, it's atrocious, it's horrible. It's frustrating. I don't know. I think that it's definitely it has its place as an assistant, but it's not a replacement for a thinking person who can write about current things or like you said factual things and I'm sure especially in your world and finance, that's heavily regulated. You got to be correct. You've got to be on your P's and Q's you can't be just robot at

Jessica Walrack:

every most article So I have to submit, or the I submit, have to have a comment bubble on almost every sentence with a source to an authority. That proves what I'm saying is true. You know, like, there's just no way. It's so interesting.

Ashley Mejia:

I was talking to a friend, my best friend, she's an attorney. And she sent me an article, and it was about this attorney who used it, I guess, for his points to make in court. So he used it for his points. But all of the cases that, I guess, charge up cited, were all made up cases, like they made up whole case law to use as precedent in this guy's remarks, or his whatever he was justifying. And the judge, he used it, he used it, the judge found out, they got into serious trouble, he got thrown out, you know, of course, he lost the case. And so some of its like, you know, humorous, like the applications, like how people are using it, you know, how much they're trusting it for some of these things. I did use it to write a snarky email to my kids after care program for a bullying and but yeah, I would never, if you're being paid to write, I don't think there's any comparison between writer that knows their stuff, and Chad GPT. So,

Jessica Walrack:

you know, I request a lot of quotes from professionals that I can include articles. And so now a lot of people are using chat GPT to create the responses, and they're sending me these, and it's so obvious when you're looking through the results. What's human and what's not, right, just this specific, like, humans, it's not that predictable, what we actually say, talk, it's actually more unique than you might think. But you don't realize it until it's next to this generic thing that everybody's using. That sounds the same. But yeah,

Ashley Mejia:

it's fun here. Everything's like exciting news with like, tons of emojis. And I'm like, nobody really uses this many emoji. So there's a couple of ways to tell it's it's kind of funny. I mean, I think it because it's based on machine learning, it will be interesting to see you know, how it advances and how smart it gets. And, again, all the applications, but I think for right now, I think we're good. And I think we just need to keep leaning into what we do well, and even getting better in our craft, making our customer journey or customer experience more pleasant, more seamless, more services, more value add, it will be good. I think we'll be good there.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, for sure.

Ashley Mejia:

That's awesome. So every Freelancer that I know, wants to find their ideal clients, like you said, and that ideal piece is key, not just any client, the ideal ones, can you share some a business development or client attraction tip that maybe our listeners haven't heard before, or they haven't thought of before,

Jessica Walrack:

I would say, if you want to find clients that pay well and have the budgets to afford your rates, it's important that they are profitable and growing, and that they have a lot of money. Because if they don't, they're just they're not going to have the money to spend, no matter how nice they are, or how great they are to work with. They're not going to have the budget. And so that was one important thing I learned, you know, I was trying to raise my rates, and everyone just kept saying, no, no, no. And then I realized, like, who am I talking to? What kind of companies? Am I talking to what companies don't give me those objections. And after reviewing it, it's like, okay, certain industries, you know, are gonna have higher budgets, and then certain companies within them are. So I think it's important to think about it through that lens. And you can look on places like CrunchBase, to see company's revenues and their trends, you can just look for the companies that are at the top of Google and are at the top of the niches that you're working in. And then one thing I've been hearing from a lot of writers lately is to follow the news updates for the companies that are receiving funding from angel investors and VCs and those things, because they're pumping millions into these companies. And then they need to launch their marketing strategies. So if you see a company that comes up, they just got funded, and they're in line with you know, what you want to do, that can be a good company to add to your pitch list.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. Very, very cool. That makes sense go where the money's at. I feel like early in my freelance career, I would hang out around the startup pitch contests and the startup boot camps. And you know, because I love entrepreneurship, but the problem was everybody there was just starting out. And so everybody wanted web copy, or they wanted help with their sales collateral or their pitch decks or, you know, whatever, but they were broke. They they were the ones trying to get the angel investment or the VC funding. And so I think what you're sharing about finding customers that are, are established or that just have the money that are maybe not brand new, maybe have been worth their new maybe that they have that funding and that backing so that they're from a financial, a strong financial position, to be able to invest in our services so important,

Jessica Walrack:

and also like we were talking about earlier They have the strategy in place. Because again, even if they have all the money, but they don't have the strategy, you can end up in a super frustrating situation where you can't get anything, right, because they don't know what they want. You know, I would just look for somebody who I mean, has really detailed assignment briefs, really detailed style guides, really detailed descriptions of their target customers, all those things are really good signs that they've put in the work to figure out who they are, who they're talking to, and what assets they need to create, to reach their audience.

Ashley Mejia:

I love that. And I think there's such an opportunity there, because there's so many people, so many companies that don't have that. And even for us, you know, with chat GPT. And just looking at other things, I think that's an opportunity for even freelance writers who are listening, who maybe have done market research, you've probably already done half the things that go into like a brand strategy guide, where we're setting the target market, looking at competitors, talking about unique selling proposition, all the stuff that we need as the copywriters to create. If they don't have that, that's something that's another way another service that you might even want to get into. Because a lot of our skills translate well, because we're already researching, we're already looking at their competitors to see how they speak about themselves, their voice, their tone, how they're positioned in the market. So I think that might be an area of opportunity, because too many customers don't have what your say, like they don't have a brand guide or a style guide. So we could help them with that perhaps, for an additional fee. That's a separate,

Jessica Walrack:

sizable amount. I mean, I would say that's the bulk of where the investment goes is into that strategy piece. So that can be a super profitable way if you want to expand your offerings. But then you also have to realize that if you're in charge of the strategy, you're responsible for the results, so you got to be tracking and you got to be cued into, you know, what's working, what's not adapt as you go in that help? He's super cool.

Ashley Mejia:

Very true. You've been doing this a long time. I mean, 10 and a half years. That is a long, you've seen a lot

Jessica Walrack:

time flies? It really does.

Ashley Mejia:

You've weathered a lot. What have been the most important lessons that you've learned as a professional writer?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, I think what really stands out to me is the clarity piece. I think when most of us start, it's like, you're just excited to get a yes, after applying to 40 jobs. It's like, Yes, I can make money online, like that first initial step is exciting. And then once you have a bunch of clients, it's like exciting to have this whole base and all the stuff going on, you know, but I think it's important to get to the point where it's like, what do I really want from this business? How much do I really want to make per year? How many hours do I really want to be spending? What do I really want to work on? Who What kind of people do I want to work with, you know, all of these things start to add up. And a lot of times, it's after somebody reaches kind of a burnout point. Unfortunately, that's how it was for me. But I think it can be helpful to do that a little bit earlier. Not necessarily right off the bat, though, because that can kind of be limiting, limiting, I find, but once you have your feet wet, you have some things going on, you know, I think it's important to say, Okay, what do I want, and then set the boundaries around what you want. And then you got to have that backbone to stand by them, because people are going to be trying to cross those boundaries all the time.

Ashley Mejia:

Oh, my goodness, Ain't that the truth? I think that's the hardest part, that the enforcing part, right? It's easy to say this is how I want to be treated, or this is how I want to conduct business. But it's a whole different ballgame to actually put it in practice and redirect people kindly but firmly, you know, when they start to violate a little bit, that's hard, especially when you're in your service based business, where we're not really selling widgets, we're selling these services. So you know, we want the customers to be happy. But we also have to, it's definitely a balance to protect ourselves so that we don't burn out. But to keep them wrote happy and satisfied. So

Jessica Walrack:

yeah. And I think he learned a lot of things as you go. Like I said earlier, you just learn and then you put that in your contract you learn. And then I find that clients actually appreciate it at least the right ones. Once they say, Okay, we have to revision rounds. So it's like, you can't just keep sending me all these different things from different people. You need to get together, figure out what you want changed, think about it, and then submit it in one to get the most out of your kind of revision process. And I'm not saying that I'm still like, everything's always perfect. And, you know, I never let anyone cross a line or something like that. Like it's a challenge still, you know, I still have a gut feeling like, this probably isn't right, but maybe it's okay. And then sure enough, I should have said no, you know, that sort of thing. It's a constant testing, but I think over the years I've done Feeling gotten stronger and stronger and kind of better at listening to my gut and sticking to that?

Ashley Mejia:

I love it that intuition, man, it's a gift. And it's never wrong. That happened to me. A couple of months ago, I did a resume for a lady, which I don't really do resumes anymore, did it and she didn't pay her money. I had to chase her. It was like a whole thing. And I knew from the beginning, this is not really what I do anymore. But I kind of felt bad. And I knew I should have said, No. So it happens. I've been doing this since 2005. And I'm still chasing people sometimes are having those awkward conversations. So it's hard. It requires that resilience that we talked about,

Jessica Walrack:

because and sometimes you just want to be like, I just want to like, relax, go with the flow, do my work. But you've got to be on it.

Ashley Mejia:

Yes, it totally, totally. So you've done so much from working for clients, as a single provider, you have built this beautiful community for other freelance writers. What's next for you? What's your big dream? Where do you plan to take your business now?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, I love that question. My biggest focus right now is all things freelance writing, I mean, I'm just putting so much of my thoughts and energy into that project, I want it to grow, I want it to reach more writers, I want it to help and become a really, you know, well known resource for the community where they know they can go to find an answer or a regular source of leads, you know, and eventually, where they can go to find clients and where businesses can also go to know that there's some reliable writers there. So it takes a lot to kind of get something out into the world and going, and that's really my primary focus for the next year.

Ashley Mejia:

That's super cool. I'm excited for you. And I think I'm excited for our you know, freelance community, because I think we need more of that we need all of that, you know, when you think about the nature of what we do, you know, we're literally just staring at our machine, it's very solitary for a lot of us. And you need that community even more, because we don't have a water cooler in our house, you know, a lot of us where we can go and chit chat about shops. So it's great that you're creating these spaces for people to convene, and to learn and to to even get business. So that's super cool.

Jessica Walrack:

Thank you so much. And yeah, I mean, I operated by myself for a long time, mostly all while I was traveling, and then joined LinkedIn while I was already on LinkedIn, but I started becoming more active on it in 2020, and met so many other writers and just started talking shop comparing notes. And it helped so much for me, just to figure out what was possible just to hear like how other people handle situations, how they're charging, it helped me to build the business that I have today, you know, and to build my ideal business where actually was happy and not feeling kind of like in survival mode. So yeah, I personally experienced just that shift of how powerful it can be to be in a community. So hopefully, the one that I've created also will help writers to get to that next step.

Ashley Mejia:

I love it, I think so that's super cool. Do you have like a hack or a tip resource, an app or something that's really helping you lately that we need to know about?

Jessica Walrack:

Okay, so I was thinking about this. And something has kind of been helping me lately. So right now in the industry, it's pretty crazy. In some aspects. There's a lot of layoffs going on to people who are employed at these, like massive tech companies, and media outlets and all that stuff. So people are moving around, some editors are taking pre emptive action and moving around, because they don't want to get laid off. So it's this a lot of movement right now. And so I've seen that within with some of my clients. So one thing I would say is, it's so important to build strong relationships with your contacts, at companies, but don't just have one point of contact whenever you can, you want to have a few on the team. So if one person leaves, you don't lose that client, and all of the trust that you gain, I mean, it takes a while to get in alignment and for someone to trust you and be like, Okay, I can just send this to them, they're gonna get it back to me, we don't have to go through all these revisions, you know, it's powerful for them and for you. So you want to have those relationships multiple at each company. And then when the people leave, they're most often going to other publications, you know, where they might possibly reach out to you again week, or they're so left, and then went somewhere else. And then someone from she introduced me there and then someone from there went somewhere else and ended up with three clients just from this one thing in this movement of the things like wow, that was crazy that that just happened like boom, boom, boom, you know, but I think it reflected the importance of just having those strong relationships and Jumping right in and meeting people and making a good impression.

Ashley Mejia:

Super cool. I love that. And it's so refreshing to hear that because it's people forget about that, you know, it's you want to dig that well, before you are thirsty, you want to build that relationship before you need it, and you lose a client, and you're like scrambling to find another one. And I think it speaks to the power of social media. But that social piece, too, is essential that it's we are not robots. So we cannot just pop up and be transactional, when we need something, we really need to connect with other human beings and care about them and be a good person, I think that pays a lot of dividends just kind of being decent.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, and just like what we talked about before doing those basic things, you show up, you're professional, you're friendly, you get your work done, you reply, you're responsive, they can trust you, all of those things, you know, make sure that those are apparent, and they'll see we're gonna want to hold on to you, wherever you go, wherever they go.

Ashley Mejia:

It's true, because like we were talking about before, it's hard to find good people. And I think sometimes we forget that, or we really don't put a lot of emphasis on that we don't maybe take those aspects for granted. But those things cannot be taught. There's not a LinkedIn certificate for like, just using some social skills. And you know, like you said, responding when there's a question or doing what you say you're going to do. So that's super, super powerful. And those are essential reminders that we can really catapult ourselves to the upper echelons of writers or, you know, whatever we're selling really, by just having kind of those basics mastered.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, it's not some rocket science crazy, which I think is kind of a relief. That simplicity is difficult. Sometimes

Ashley Mejia:

it is, it is, sometimes it's hard to just kind of come back to level one and the basics. So I love this conversation. Jessica, thank you so much for carving time out for us. I know people are gonna want to learn more about your work and about your community. Where can people find you online?

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah. So for me, personally, I'm on LinkedIn, and I post a couple times a week on there. So I always love to connect with other writers and see them in the feed and my DMs are always open on that front. And then for all things freelance writing, I think the best thing to do is to subscribe to the jobs email. We currently have like 1600 writers that are subscribing for the weekly email, which is amazing. And yeah, it goes out every Friday at 8am. Sharp. And in there. We share the job opportunities, along with resources, tips, and all the latest things going on with all things freelance writing. So that's probably the best spot.

Ashley Mejia:

Fantastic. It sounds like a wonderful way to spend your Friday looking, you know, planning the week ahead. That's that's really smart. Strategically, I love it. Jessica, thank you so much, again, for being on our show. We really appreciate it.

Jessica Walrack:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's always fun to talk shop.

Ashley Mejia:

Likewise. Thank you. And with that, we've come to the end of another episode. Please make sure you hit subscribe if you haven't already done so. And give me a five star review on Apple. This will help out a lot and getting the word out about this brand new podcast. I invite you to check out the show notes and also grab my free niches get riches, 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 a talk freelance to me. 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. mahiya our music was composed by Donna Rafael of world instrumentals talk freelance to me is a product of Phoenix creative studio

How Jessica Walrack got started in freelance writing 10 years ago
How Jessica’s retail background helped her in freelance writing
How the "3% rule" in sales applies to freelance pitching
How to achieve work-life balance with freelancing
The challenges of finding good freelance clients
About All Things Freelance Writing
Interviewing clients to find the right fit
How Jessica lived abroad in Costa Rica for several years
The limitations of ChatGPT
Finding profitable, growing companies as clients