Seattle Freelancer Carol Tice on Building Community, Creating Killer Content

Carol Tice
As if it weren’t enough to write for publications including Entrepreneur.com, The Seattle Times, and Alaska Airlines Magazine, Carol Tice pens the popular blog Make a Living Writing and runs The Freelance Writers Den, a members-only community for writers. Ebyline chatted with Tice about why she created the Den and how she seemingly juggles a million projects at once. Here’s an excerpt from that interview.

You’re among a small number of freelancers who’ve recently created online communities for members. Do you think these sites are becoming the new blog or ebook?

I don’t think they replace either blogs or ebooks. Community is SO MUCH MORE than either. Communities are also waaay more technically complex and time-consuming than having a blog or putting out an ebook. So I don’t think I see everyone jumping into it.

I started Freelance Writers Den for a few reasons. I realized that I love to post to my blog and help loads of writers with a tip here and there. But what I REALLY love is to help writers who’re dead serious about growing their income to really make it happen. Like, this year.

And by putting in a membership fee, that cuts the pool to those who are serious. I love working with these writers because they get results. They get in there and learn and then they get out and market their business, and they get better rates and new clients. We’ve only been open about three months and already have a string of success stories. And that to me is just better than butter. I’m happier than if I got the gig myself. Intensive support and all-you-can-eat learning WORKS to improve writers’ earnings.

You’re a content creation machine, Carol, but it’s all really useful content. How do you find time to update your blog, tweet several times a day, plan webinars for den members, raise a family, and complete all your paid assignments?

First answer: I have no freakin’ idea!

Second answer: I actually only post to my blog twice a week, and then a third post is usually a (paid) guest post. I have a background in traditional radio and I LOVE doing live events. And so do the members, so it’s a great situation. At this point I’m connected to quite a few other experts in different areas of freelancing, so I’m not having trouble finding guests. That all springs pretty naturally out of Twitter conversations I’m having and chat in the Den about what people need to learn.

As far as getting to have a life…I have some sacrosanct blocks of time for family. 5-8 pm every day, until my two kids who’re still home go to bed. Friday sunset to Saturday sunset I’m never, ever online. You have to draw the boundaries and make sure you don’t become a human doing instead of a human being.

There are tons of blogs about freelance writing and yours has done very, very well. What do you think is the secret sauce that’s made it successful?

Early on, when Jon Morrow from Copyblogger discovered my blog and asked me to guest on Copyblogger, he told me what my secret sauce was: I’m really still a freelance writer. I still earn the majority of my living from freelance gigs. Then I write about what I learned from those client negotiations, and doing those assignments. With most experts, it’s been ages since they actually did the thing they’re teaching. They say things like, “When I used to take client work…” and then you know they don’t know what’s really going on anymore, especially at the speed new media is changing everything.

I think I offered a fresh voice. When I came on the scene, it seemed like a lot of the advice was like, “Wow, you moved up from $10 a post to $15 — that’s awesome!” And I thought whaa-a-a-a-t? That’s crap! Writers should earn a good living. It just made me mad.

I knew good pay was still out there, because I’d earned more every year since 2006, straight through the downturn. And I just started telling other people how they could do it, too.

Any closing thoughts on this brave new world of online journalism?

Embrace the changes. They’re not going away. Be open to new ways of writing. Learn WordPress. Learn blog style. Write your own ebooks. Learn to produce multimedia. Find a part of this new pool that intrigues you, dive in and start swimming. Because I’ll tell you a secret — once you get on top of at least some of the tech learning…it’s fun!

Free Ebyline Guide

Don't Let a Bad Content Writer Damage Your Brand

The new content marketing basics anyone can use

Subscribe to the latest content strategies...

About Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston is a Boston-based freelance writer whose work appears in Bankrate.com, The Boston Globe, The Christian Science Monitor, MediaBistro.com, Parade Magazine, and SELF, among other places. She is the author of The Urban Muse Guide to Online Writing Markets and blogs at The Urban Muse.

css.php