Hi, I’m Jessica Elliott. I’m a writer, blogger, and binge-reader of Dan’s Featured Writer Friday posts. Reading about the lives of writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs is inspiring. There’s a camaraderie that exists in the blogger world, and it continually propels me forward. Thank you, Dan, for inviting me over to your site.
As a writer-turned-business-owner, any hobbies I once had (gardening, homesteading, crocheting, DIY-everything) fell to the wayside this past year. I even gave up television to focus on my business.
I create content, like data-driven articles, web page copy, lead gen blog posts, and e-books for a variety of clients. Plus, I blog on JessicaElliottWriter.com about writing for a living while navigating mental health, women’s issues, and being a sole caregiver.
My world revolves around my writing and my family. I live on an acre in the Midwest with my three children (two teens and a toddler) and five pets (three dogs and two cats). Over the last decade, I’ve developed some life and sanity-saving hacks that help me run a business and a household on my own.
1. How long have you been blogging?
Although I’ve been writing and creating content for small businesses for many years, I didn’t start my blog until June 2017. Ten months later I went self-hosted with my site and put a real plan together.
2. Are you a full-time blogger or do you also have another job/career?
Right now, my full-time “job” is my writing business, and my blog is a piece of that puzzle. Although I spend the majority of my time on client work, so I’m not sure that I would consider myself a full-time blogger. I also waitress about 20-hours a week. My professional background is well-rounded, with many years in management in the restaurant and public housing industries.
3. What got you started into blogging?
I simply couldn’t wait any longer. Since I was very young, I’ve always known I would write for a living “someday.” Having my website was this lofty dream of mine. I had kids to raise, gardens to grow, and a hundred other hobbies vying for my time. I kept putting off the idea of self-employment until the kids grew up. Instead, over the last decade, I’ve written and saved hundreds of blog posts to my Google drive. Waiting for the elusive “someday.”
Then, in 2016, I had a beautiful surprise baby. There was no way I was waiting another 10+ years before I jumped into writing full-time. I didn’t want to miss a single activity with my bonus baby due to an inflexible work schedule. I didn’t want to be away from my home, children, and pets, 40 hours a week. And quite honestly, I was tired of struggling to earn a decent living in my small town.
At first, blogging felt like a necessity. However, that turned into a creative outlet for sharing my business-related resources, trials, errors, and successes. It’s where I find my voice after spending my days writing brand-focused content.
4. What is your blog about and how does it help others?
Let me put it this way… If you’re staying up late at night trying to figure out how to earn a living writing, juggling life as the sole income provider and only caregiver for your family, and need actionable tips and real-life inspiration to pull you through those exhausting days, nights, and years… then I’m writing for you.
I grew my business into full-time pay by hacking every spare minute I had for over a year. It was intense, but proof that you can take whatever time you have and find a way to get to where you want to be.
If my writing reaches even one struggling writer and helps them not only carry on but also succeed, then I’m happy.
5. What is working for you and your blog? Why?
My blog is still in its infancy, so I tweak my strategy as I learn and grow. For the business of blogging, the processes that work are the ones that keep me on task on a day-to-day basis.
For example, at first, I was uber-focused on monetization and traffic. Now, I dump the data into a spreadsheet and bulk task the analysis on a monthly basis. This eased some of the mental pressure that I struggle with as a blogger. In July, you featured Linda and Fred Witte of Witte’s World and their words about blogging versus marketing resonated with me.
Another useful strategy was mapping out an editorial calendar with keywords. However, allowing myself the freedom to ignore it works for me. Half of my blog posts are outlined before writing. The rest are ones that I started on a whim.
6. What did not work out so well for your blog? Why?
Honestly, it was trying to do everything myself. At first, I had zero budget, so outsourcing wasn’t an option. That meant I spent a ridiculous amount of time learning about website-building when I went self-hosted. As soon as I could afford professional services, then I reached out to a fellow business owner and Twitter pal, Sarah, of XeraSupport. Having that extra support allows me to worry less and focus more on creating excellent content.
7. What tools, programs, apps do you use to create your blog/website (tools that you can’t live without)?
I try out a ton of apps. It gets obsessive at times. Here’s what I’ve stuck with so far:
- Buffer. Perfect for scheduling and sharing my blog and client content.
- Grammarly. I use Grammarly to give me the confidence boost I need to press publish. It checks my comma usage, and both the free and paid versions include nice features.
- Tweetsmap. This free service connects to your Twitter account and sends one email a week about your followers/unfollows. It’s unintrusive yet informative.
- Google Docs/Sheets/Drive. I jump between devices, so having my documents accessible from anywhere is essential.
- WordPress. It powers my site, and I love the Gutenberg update.
- Canva. A must for images.
- Pocket. I save articles from the web to Pocket and add tags relevant to clients, industries, or topics. Finding research and ideas is easy. Plus, it helps me close out the hundreds of open tabs on my devices.
8. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a blog?
The most crucial piece of advice is to just go for it. You can start blogging for less than you spend on a monthly treat, whether that’s eating out or buying a daily coffee.
While you’re going for it, dive into learning the craft of writing, of online marketing, and begin developing your bigger picture. All of our paths are unique, but there are some tried and true methods and great advice to help you find your way.
My last suggestion for time-strapped bloggers is to reach out to other creatives for both support and also estimates on projects. Some business-related tasks are huge time sucks. Others require a fair amount of skill-building. Small business owners may be able to help you for a reasonable price. Then you can spend your time doing more of what you love (or need to finish).
9. Where can everyone find you?
Blog URL: https://JessicaElliottWriter.com/blog
Well everyone, Featured Writer Friday is back in full force!! Keep coming back I have some more AWESOME writers/podcasters scheduled.
If you enjoyed this post, please leave a comment below. Your comments really help and I read and respond to each one. If you are a little shy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Just like the comments, I respond to every email.
Until next time everyone,