Although BlogMutt is finding great new writers every day, we have a core group of veteran wordsmiths who amaze us every day in their versatility and talent. In February's freelance writer spotlight, we would like to highlight one of these amazing writers: Emily Goodman, who has just passed her two-year anniversary as a writer here at BlogMutt.
In the last two years, BlogMutt customers have purchased nearly 2,000 of Emily's posts! And even while being unbelievably productive, Emily's work is never anything less than the highest quality. She's one of our go-to writers for challenging projects and has helped us keep even the toughest customers happy.
Outside of BlogMutt, Emily is a fiction writer with two published series: Dancing for the Lord and Heir to the Caves. She describes her work as "Christian fiction with a heavy emphasis on fantasy." Check out her blog and find out more about her all of her books, or find them on her Amazon page.
Emily describes herself as a "mother of four, happily married, country girl from Tennessee with a big imagination [who's] willing to take on the world."
Read on to find out how Emily makes a living by living her dream:
1. How did you get started as a writer?
Emily: I think in some ways, I've always been a writer. I was just in grade school when I started writing short stories, and I can remember getting into a lot of trouble in class for working on those instead of class work.
I've always wanted to be a writer, too. Unfortunately, when you're headed into college and doing all those, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" surveys and things, they don't like that answer.
"It doesn't pay well."
"You might never be able to actually make a living doing it."
When I went to college, it was to get a degree for my backup plan (which happens to be teaching). I was so focused on that for several years that I put writing on the back burner...
Then, I decided to focus on having babies and staying home with them for a few years. When my youngest was born, I told my husband that I was going to make a real try at freelance writing and see if I could pull it off, and that if it didn't work out by the time she was two, I'd go back and get my master's in special ed.
Turns out, this is still my dream job, and I'm doing well enough to keep it.
2. Do you have any tips for beginning freelance writers?
Don't quit. Getting started is the hardest part. Opportunities don't just drop into your lap, and about half the time, just when you think you have the perfect opportunity, it will fall right back out from under you.
Be willing to write the stuff that no one else wants to write about. Learn about something new. But most importantly, if you want to be a writer—if that's genuinely what you want to do with the rest of your life—don't quit.
On the other hand, if you discover that, after just a couple of months, you dread sitting down behind your computer and it takes everything you've got just to get through what you "have to" for the day, take a break and decide whether or not this is really the life for you.
It's not for everyone. Something in you has to love it—even the nitty gritty hard parts where you're just piecing together a repeat of what six other people have already said...
Also: don't take rejection personally. It's easier said than done, but eventually, you have to develop a thick skin and learn to move on. Sometimes, it's not that you aren't a great writer. It's that someone else got there first, or a particular client doesn't really care for your specific voice, or you're writing about a subject that just isn't a good fit for you. Try again with someone else and move on.
Learn from it, refine your craft, but don't let it stop you.
3. What's your favorite subject to write about?
My first love is story.
That little girl writing short stories in her fourth grade classroom... [she] grew up into a woman who still sometimes zones out and misses what someone was saying because her brain said, "Well, what if...?" And that could be anything from, "What if this character in my favorite series were put in [this] situation...?" to "What if we lived in a galaxy where psychic powers were real, but psychics were collected and put on the front lines of a war?"
...That love of story also extends to a fascination with the written language in general. I love writing about new subjects and learning about new things. From how to install a bathroom counter top or install a new garage door opener (because, really, who knows when you might need to know how to do those things?) to health articles, there's always something new to be learned.
I've been deeply appreciative of everything BlogMutt's clients have taught me about marketing over the past year or so. Eventually, I'm going to take that and turn it around for the books that I've chosen to self-publish in the hopes that more people will be able to find them. I love writing about kids (which I know a thing or two about) and education (which I still love, even if it's not the career I chose to pursue, wholeheartedly)[...].
I like writing about all of it. I love the written language. I love the way words can be changed to influence how someone views a particular piece of information.
4. What is your strategy for writing about tough or unfamiliar subjects?
Research, research, research.
I try not to ever rely on a single source to inform my writing about a new topic. Ideally, I like to write a couple of different posts for clients who are dealing with something totally new, because that second post is often what gives me a deeper understanding of the topic. I don't ever fill a post full of garbage just because I can, nor do I make up facts or opinions if I don't have one.
If I can't find anything to say about a topic or can't find enough sources, I move on to something else, because I'd rather do that than submit a post that's inaccurate.
5. What is your favorite quote or piece of advice about writing?
My favorite piece of writing advice: writers write. If you want to be a writer, you have to put in the time to learn it, to refine your craft, to develop all those little pieces. The more you write—from product descriptions to long-form blog posts to books—the better you get.
6. What was your favorite book as a child?
I was a fantasy buff as a little girl (okay, fine, I'm still a fantasy buff). I loved Tamora Pierce's Tortall books. Harry Potter is still a favorite today. Going back a little younger, I fell in love with the Babysitter's Club books (and might or might not have owned the first hundred of them).
7. What does a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have a schedule, set goals, etc.?
Most of my writing right now is done during my youngest's nap time, which ranges from about 2-4 every day. I try to get up before the kids in the morning and get started a little early, but that goes better some days than others. If I've had one of those terrible days where nothing gets done or I spent a little too much time being distracted (I'm looking at you, Facebook!), I'll pull the computer back out after the kids are in bed for the night.
My goal is to hit $80 worth of articles/posts/general writing per day in stuff that will pay out in a reasonable time frame, which gives me the spending money to do things like put braces on my eldest child, plan a family vacation somewhere besides our own backyard, and take care of Christmas presents. As a new year's resolution, I've also promised myself one thousand words of fiction per day. I've been struggling to keep up with that part of it, since I'm still a little-known name and there's not as good a payout for it, but story is my first love, and I can't make a name for myself if I don't ever get that part out there.
Recently, I've also taken on blogging for my church's website, which has to fit in there somewhere. I've given up trying to schedule it; somehow, God stretches out my day and makes it happen.
Luckily, I type fast. Also, my kids are pretty patient and understanding when mommy has to work... especially when Sofia the First is on.
8. What is one thing about you that we might find surprising?
With all that writing, I don't spend my life in my chair! I'm also a martial artist, and I've recently developed a love of running that my twenty-year-old self would think was completely insane (I used to be one of those people who said I would only run if I was being chased by a bear).
As it turns out, I like the mental reset.
9. What does your freelance workspace look like?
My workspace is wherever my laptop goes. It might be sitting on the couch with my feet up in my husband's lap, interfering with his video game controller; it might be sitting on the swing outside while the kids run around; it might be sitting in my favorite rocking chair.
I really, really love working in coffee shops and libraries; someday, when my youngest goes to school, I'll probably spend more time in them. It makes me more productive than being at home, where the internet beckons and makes it difficult to stay on task. I'm not sure what the difference is between public internet and private internet, but something about being out around people who just might peek over my shoulder and realize that I'm on Facebook for the fifth time in the last hour makes it easier for me to stay on task.
Thank you so much to Emily for answering all of our questions, and for being such a great part of our community. If you want to read more about her work, be sure to look up her Heir to the Caves Facebook page!
Want to join top-notch freelance writers like Emily for a job that's as portable as your laptop? Apply to become a BlogMutt writer and work whenever and from wherever you want.