January 2, 2014 by Christina Hamlett
A Conversation with Amandah Blackwell
“I love deadlines,” wrote humor author Douglas Adams. “I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
The new year may be less than 72 hours old but many a celebrant keen on resolutions has probably declared, “I think I’ll become a writer.” Yes, it sounds glamorous and exciting to say it and maybe even conjures images of reclining on a couch, eating chocolates and waiting for one’s muse to drop by and supply effortlessly imaginative thoughts.
Real wordsmiths (the ones who make a living at it) like the multi-talented Amandah Blackwell will tell you that it’s not only harder than it looks but that it also requires a steadfast and lifelong commitment to become the best at your craft that you can possible be. Whooshing deadlines, demanding clients, and mercurial markets are just the tip of the iceberg as she shares in a recent interview on what it’s really like to be at the helm of your own writing business.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Back in the days before Savvy-Writer made its debut, what were you doing career-wise and how did it prepare you for the challenges of being your own boss?
A: I was a graphic artist at an Ohio direct mail company. Seeing the owners run the business prepared me for the challenges of being my own boss. The owners had to make sure that the administrative, graphic artists and sales personnel worked together for two common goals: keep the clients happy and keep the direct mail company in business. Asset (human) and time management were keys to the success of the business.
Q: What inspired you to launch Savvy-Writer (www.Savvy-Writer.com)?
A: In 2008, I was living in Arizona and fell into freelance writing by answering an ad for a blogger with a travel company. The president of the company encouraged me to start my own blog and Savvy-Writer was born.
Q: Tell us about the marketing strategies you embraced to get the word out that you were officially in business. Which ones were the most successful?
A: I embraced social media. Twitter and Facebook were popular so I opened accounts. I attended networking events and sent out letters of introductions to companies. The LOIs or cold emailing was the most successful.
Q: Is there anything you know now about being an entrepreneur that you didn’t know when you started?
A: Being an entrepreneur takes more time and effort than being an employee. Many entrepreneurs speak about the end result, but they don’t tell you about the hard work and struggles they went through before they had success.
Q: How has the current economy affected your business?
A: The current economy hasn’t affected my business. Companies need content writing and marketing and embrace the fact that they need to be online if they want to compete.
Q: What do you feel best distinguishes individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit from those who are employees of someone else?
A: I feel that tenacity distinguishes individuals with an entrepreneurial spirit from those who are employees for someone else. You have to want to be a success and own it – make no apologies. You also have to go after what you want, no matter what it takes.
Q: What is a typical day like for you and which tasks tend to consume the most time?
A: A typical day is split between writing (a couple of hours) and marketing. As an entrepreneur, you never stop marketing.
Q: How much collaborating/partnering is involved in the assignments you take on?
A: Even though I’ve heard the horror stories from other freelance writers who got burned from partnering with the wrong people, I’m open to collaborating and partnering. I want to connect with like-minded people and hope to get more involved in collaborating and partnering in 2014 and in the future.
Q: Has there ever been a project where you smacked yourself in the forehead and said, “What on earth was I thinking when I agreed to do this?”
A: Yes! I went against my gut instinct and accepted a screenwriting assignment that I knew would turn out to be more trouble than what it was worth. Lesson learned. I now listen to my gut instinct or if I need more time to decide, I say, “Let me get back to you.” I’d rather turn down a project than get burned.
Q: What has been your most satisfying moment in the five years that Savvy-Writer has been in business?
A: My most satisfying moment was collaborating on Media Magnetism: How to Attract the Favorable Publicity You Want and Deserve and writing several personal development books.
Q: What’s your definition of a dream client?
A: My dream client knows what they want, pays my fee (no questions asked) and pays on time.
Q: With so many projects going on at once, what’s your secret for finding creative new ways to present fresh and dynamic material for your clients?
A: The secret for finding creative new ways to present fresh and dynamic materials for my clients is that I read blogs, newspapers, magazines, eBooks and books. I also watch news and talk shows.
Q: How do you manage rejection?
A: Rejection doesn’t bother me anymore. My favorite saying is, “Rejection is God’s protection.” I move forward.
Q: If you could have anyone from history as a Savvy-Writer client, who would it be and what would most like to do for him/her with your wordsmithing and marketing expertise?
A: If I could have anyone from history as a Savvy-Writer client, it would be Mary Magdalene. I would ghostwrite a series of ebooks and books and perhaps a couple of short films and short stories based on her work and teachings. I would market Mary as an expert in the spiritual and personal development realm and help her develop a TED Talk series along with podcasts, videos and webinars. Of course, I would recommend that Mary use Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I would also create a weekly Twitter chat and possibly a Facebook and/or website group, which I could moderate. I would get Mary booked on local talk shows and then focus on the national and global stage. Mary would travel the world, spread her message of love and hope and sign lots of books.
Q: How has building a business from scratch impacted your relationships with family and friends?
A: Building a business from scratch impacted my relationship with my family and friends in many ways. I severed ties with certain people who were not supportive of me. You can’t grow a business with negative people in your life. The good news is that letting go of the old means you bring in the new. My closest family and friends support me and that’s all that matters.
Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?
A: Readers would be the most surprised to learn that two of my dreams were to be an actress (especially live theater) and/or singer.
Q: What three pieces of advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue his/her own entrepreneurial dreams?
A: Three pieces of advice I would give to someone who wants to pursue his/her own entrepreneurial dreams are:
Hire a business and/or marketing coach.
Speak with people who are doing what you want to do.
Go back to school and enhance your skills.
Q: What’s on your plate for 2014?
A: I’ll continue to provide the best content writing and marketing I can. I’ll continue to market my content writing and marketing services, write my blog on Savvy-Writer, write for the Huffington Post and increase my guest blogging. I’ll query publishers and literary agents about my children’s picture book (I may self-publish), and I want to query and pitch two teleplays that I wrote. They’re timely and are written for the coveted 18-49 demographic.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
A: I’d like readers to know that writing is my passion. I love it with all of my heart and soul. I enjoy working with clients and helping them to reach their goals such as publishing a blog and/or book.