Interested in becoming a content writer? Lacy Boggs explains how she started as a freelance writer and expanded to having her own content writing agency. Learn how to start your own content writing business (and what to avoid when starting your own content business).
Can you tell us a little about how you got the idea for Content Direction Agency?
When I got pregnant in 2010, I decided to leave my job as the associate editor of a local magazine (because the hours were long and the pay was… less than generous). I first tried my hand at a food blog, because I was an award-winning food writer, but that didn’t make much money, so I decided to hang out my shingle to blog for other people.
I started out calling myself “the Ghostblogger,” but when I decided to redo my website, I wanted to rebrand as well to bring my courses and DIY products under the same umbrella — it didn’t seem to make sense to continue calling my business ghostblogger if I was doing more than ghostblogging.
We came up with the idea for “Content Direction Agency” during the branding process, and I liked it because it sounded like detective agency. But almost immediately after choosing the name, I started bringing on subcontractors, thus becoming a true agency model.
How did you get started in content marketing?
It was sort of a fluke, really. I started out wanting to blog for other people’s businesses, which went well, but I thought they would just give me the topics and I would write about them; not so.
They started asking me about marketing and strategy and stuff almost immediately. So I took it upon myself to learn everything I could about content marketing, and along the way, I started developing my own strategies and opinions about how to make it all work.
There weren’t many people at the time who seemed to be talking about blogging for business, and so I had to come up with some of the strategies for myself.
What is the thing you dislike the most in running your content writing business? What is the best thing? What are the biggest challenges?
I dislike all the numbers and admin stuff. I don’t like sending out invoices, or doing my books — though I DO very much enjoy getting paid! 😉 The best thing is the flexibility the business affords me to set my own hours and work from anywhere.
When my family was going through some rough times a couple of years ago, I just packed my laptop and headed home, and none of my clients were ever the wiser. It gives me space to stay home with my daughter, and I love that.
The biggest challenge is deciding what direction to take, what to focus on next. I literally could do almost anything, and choosing what my next focus will be is always a challenge for me.
How has becoming a mom changed how you write?
I left my last full-time job just as I had my daughter, so my work life completely changed. I gave up the security and exhaustion of a 60+-hour workweek for working from home.
It’s taught me to work in small chunks and try to create distinct pockets of time for work or for family. For example, last year my daughter was in half-day preschool, four days a week, so I got 2 hours a day, four days a week to work on my business. Period.
The upshot of that is that I’ve more than replaced my previous full-time salary working 20 hours a week or less, and that feels amazing.
Do you have any tips, resources, or tools for writers managing work/life balance?
I had a yoga teacher tell me once about balance that if you stop moving, you’ll fall over, and I think that’s true in life as well. You don’t ever “achieve” balance; it’s a constant push and pull. Some weeks I work more, some weeks I work less.
I think it’s about setting realistic goals for yourself for both work and home life. I’m four years into this business, and this looks to be the first year I will clear six figures in revenue — but that was never my goal.
My first goal was to replace my previous salary, then to double it, and so on. Having reasonable goals has helped me see the big picture that staying home with my kiddo was just as important to me as bringing home the bacon.
Do you have any advice for someone thinking about taking the plunge in their own writing business?
I was incredibly lucky to have a husband with a full-time job and benefits that we could rely on when I left my job, but we did go from two incomes to one overnight. And, as I said above, I wasn’t an instant success — I think I made about $5,000 gross my first year of business.
But we knew we could pay all our bills on his salary (even if it was tight) and that gave me the freedom to go slow and work my way up to it. If you are caring for an infant, there’s no other way to do it, I think.
So I guess my best advice would be to get as much support (physical, emotional, and financial) as you can and then have realistic goals for yourself, especially in the beginning.
How did you manage the day-to-day process of running your business with children?
As I write this, we’re in the heat of summer, and for reasons too complicated to go into here, I find myself with very little childcare. A friend takes my daughter one day a week; other than that, I have no childcare right now.
So she and I have found a balance. She’s most likely to go play by herself and entertain herself in the mornings after breakfast, so that’s when I sit down to work, and in the afternoons when it’s hot and we’re both bored, we run errands or go do fun things together.
Do you recommend any resources (websites, organizations, books, etc) for people interested in pursuing a career in content marketing?
You can get your MBA in content marketing from reading Copyblogger, Copyhackers, and ProBlogger. I think those would be the places I would start. In addition, get a free account at Inbound.org and just read as much as possible and ask questions if you need to.
If I could have a superpower, it would be: to instantly transport myself anywhere.
A famous person I would love to meet, I get super nervous meeting famous people, but I’d love to meet Neil Gaiman or David Tennant.
Life inspires me.
If I weren’t a writer, I’d be a film critic or screenwriter.
If I had an extra 2 hours in the day, I’d be done with my novel. 😉
Lacy Boggs is an innovative wordsmith helping small business owners connect with content marketing strategy. Author of “Make a Killing With Content,” and director of The Content Direction Agency. She helps small businesses and solopreneurs teach them how to drive their own content marketing with strategies and frameworks that make content easier and more effective to produce.