How I Freelance: Rob Swystun

How I Freelance: Rob Swystun

For Rob Swystun, one of the upsides of freelancing is the opportunity to learn about new subjects. Since launching his freelance business in 2011, his curiosity has led him to write on evolving topics like electric vehicles, robotics and sustainability.

Despite his interest in technology, Rob still sees a need for a human touch in content. Read on to learn more about how he brings this mindset to his work as a content marketing strategist, journalist and writer.

When and why did you go freelance?

I started freelancing in 2011. It made the most sense at the time; I had just left my last newsroom position and started doing freelance writing gigs while I was looking for a job. I enjoyed the freedom of being my own boss and freelancing eventually became my full-time job.

What is your niche?

I have several: content marketing strategy, B2B, electric vehicle charging, space, robotics, fintech/finance, agtech and cleantech.

How did you choose your niches?

I basically learned content marketing strategy as I progressed as a freelancer. Content marketing was in its infancy when I started, so I was able to learn by trial and error, seeing what worked and what didn’t.

Space and robotics are things I’ve been interested in as far back as I can remember, so they were natural niches for me to get into. I kind of fell into the niche of electric vehicle charging, but since I’m interested in new technologies, I wanted to pursue it as a niche as I learned more about it.

I’ve always been around agtech growing up in an agricultural community, so that one was also natural for me. And I love learning about anything to do with finance and fintech. One of my main passions is sustainability, so anything that can help the Earth recover from the current climate catastrophe is of special interest to me.

Who are your clients?

I primarily work with B2B companies interested in content marketing but don’t know how to get started or where to put their budget.

What types of projects do you work on?

Content marketing strategies, website content, articles, blog posts, white papers, case studies, guides, brochures, brand journalism, press releases, video scripts and ghostwritten books.

Where do you freelance from?

I’m in Winnipeg, Canada.

Go forth, learn and write about anything you find even remotely interesting. Just do your research first.

Tell us about two tools you rely on to run your business.

LinkedIn for cold outreach. And Google Docs for writing and sharing work.

Name one thing that’s surprised you about freelancing.

Although I’ve gotten used to it now, I was surprised at just how bad a lot of businesspeople are at communicating. People whose job it is to form relationships with customers will ghost a freelancer for no reason. It’s really quite disappointing. A lot of businesspeople are clueless when it comes to dealing with freelancers.

Made any big mistakes during your freelance journey?

Giving away my expertise when I should have been charging for it. I’m naturally a giving person, so when people ask my advice, I’m inclined just to start talking to help forge that relationship. I’ve probably given away tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of consulting when I should have been getting compensated for it.

What are you proudest of with your business?

That I’ve been able to thrive as a freelancer even though I had no idea what I was doing when I began my journey. Starting in content marketing when content marketing was just getting started has really helped me grow as a marketer alongside the entire content marketing industry.

There’s lots of advice out there for freelancers. What advice do you agree with?

Never stop learning. Whether it’s a new skill, learning how to run your business or just a subject you’re interested in, always be learning. This isn’t exclusive to freelancing; it’s also for life in general. You should always be curious and be willing to learn and grow as a person.

What common advice do you disagree with?

While I don’t disagree with the advice of “write what you know,” I don’t think it should be exclusive. Write what you know, but also write what you’re interested in. Write about stuff you have no idea about, as long as you do your research first. Write about topics you never even knew existed before (again, after doing your research).

As a human who is capable of learning, there is no reason to limit yourself to only writing about what you currently know. Go forth, learn and write about anything you find even remotely interesting. Just do your research first.

What areas of opportunities do you see for current or future freelancers?

As companies continue to get less and less human, I see the opportunities for freelancers being mostly in building those all-important human-to-human relationships with customers who are already growing weary of automation. The value we create for businesses is in building trust with customers. The businesses that understand this are going to be the ones that survive.

Leave us with some words of wisdom.

I’ve had training from some excellent tutors throughout my career, including Mandy Ellis and Adrienne Smith. One of the best things a new freelancer can do is see out help when they need it. It’s worth it to spend a little bit of money to get training from people who have been there and done what you are trying to do.

Want to connect with Rob? Find him on LinkedIn or visit his website at

How I Freelance: Naomi Hattaway

How I Freelance: Naomi Hattaway

People move on from positions all the time. And when they do, it can give way to a host of complexities, complications and confusion for an organization, especially when leaders leave.

Naomi Hattaway thinks there’s a better way to facilitate the process. As a consultant, she works with individuals, companies, nonprofits and political campaigns with her “Leaving Well” program, designed to help them navigate personnel transitions.

Read on to learn more about Naomi and how her experience in working with affordable housing programs led to her current work.

When did you start freelancing?

I worked in the nonprofit space with a focus on affordable housing impacts, and I’ve also been a licensed Realtor since 2014.

I first started freelancing during Covid. I was called on to support the emergency rental assistance funding from the federal government, as well as launch and implement a noncongregate shelter by leasing several hotels for folks over the age of 55 who were experiencing homelessness. I learned so much!

Following that, I stayed in the nonprofit space as an employee and helped to launch a new organization in Omaha, Nebraska, in September 2021. After a relocation to Florida changed my employment status, I went full-time freelance in February 2023. I’m not looking back!

What is your specialty?

I call it Leaving Well. It’s navigating the leaving of jobs, places, roles, titles and projects – and leaving with intention and joy.

I offer consulting to individuals and organizations who are ready to acknowledge that people leave, and they wish to prioritize embedding practices and tools to make it better for all involved.

How did you get into that line of work?

It chose me! I’ve mostly been freelancing in the space of homelessness prevention and affordable housing, which is what I’ve focused on since 2014.

The Leaving Well work, which is now my priority, landed in my lap as I started talking publicly about my own journey and experiences with workplace transitions in 2021. After I ran for public office in 2022, I realized the necessary work of normalizing the reality that people leave (jobs, places, projects, contracts) impacts so much more than just the traditional workplace.

Folks started reaching out to ask for advice in their own situations, including political campaigns, volunteering, board of directors, jobs, etc. I decided to formalize it (i.e., start charging money for my services!) in late 2022.

Why did you decide to pursue that line of work as an independent consultant?

I wanted to be fully in control of my work cadence. (Although that’s kind of a silly thing; I know I’ll never truly be in control.) Mainly, I deeply desired flexibility and the option to design my mornings and, ultimately, my relationship to work and productivity.

I also know that I’m really creative when it comes to innovation and bring a new product to market. This game-changing work of Leaving Well needed to be introduced to the world, and the best way to do it was in the capacity of a freelancer.

Who are your clients?

I work with both individuals who are leaving and organizations who are either in triage mode (a leader has just departed) or wish to proactively implement the Leaving Well framework.

Primarily, nonprofits (community serving or justice and equity focused) and social impact organizations find their way to me. But I have my 2024-25 sights set on hospital systems, entrepreneurs, large online community leaders and state and federal political campaigns!

What types of projects do you work on?

Inside of the Leaving Well work, we focus on transition planning, which includes a rigorous inventory and knowledge transfer (the way to make sure really important information doesn’t leave with the person who is departing). We also provide a beautiful documentation process for team members to embed.

We also prioritize PR and communications work. Communication about the workplace transition is SO important, both internally and externally. This includes email scripts, blog posts and media strategy where applicable.

The work done with each client is a bit customized, depending on their existing structures. It can include a really in-depth process to develop and create values-based offboarding practices, as well as support for employee retention strategies.

I also do a bit of coaching with the individuals impacted to help them with their relationship to change and transition.

Where do you freelance from?

I freelance mainly from my home office in Pompano Beach, Florida. I travel to meet clients on-site from time-to-time. My clients are all over the United States, and I appreciate being able to take my work on the road for personal trips. In the summer of 2024, I’ll experiment with maintaining client work during a trip to Asia for about a month.

What’s surprised me most about freelancing is my ability to “batch” my time and work on really meaningful and impactful projects, in a way that supports my energy, abilities and life.

Tell us about two tools you rely on to run your business.

HoneyBook is a recent addition to my business toolkit. I was previously using Motion App for booking, scheduling and task management, paired with Toggl for time tracking. But I had yet to find a solution for client management with contracts, invoicing, etc.

So far, I love HoneyBook, although I’m a novice and still learning how to best let it work for me. It offers an all-in-one solution and helps me save money from using multiple other tools as my workaround.

Name one thing that’s surprised you about freelancing.

The absolute freedom it’s provided me. I don’t take work-related calls or meetings before 10 a.m. local. (I’m on the East Coast, so that rule doesn’t impact typical scheduling conventions.)

I also don’t take client meetings on Mondays and Fridays. What’s surprised me the most about freelancing is my ability to “batch” my time and work on really meaningful and impactful projects, in a way that supports my energy, abilities and life.

I’ve discovered so much more focus and intentional work!

Made any big mistakes during your freelance journey?

The biggest mistake I’ve made is being too broad with what services I could offer. I was so excited about bringing clients in that I took too many projects outside of my true skillset and scope.

I read the book Genius Jam by Felecia Hatcher and realized that while I was good at all of those “scope creep” activities, they were much better suited for other folks to navigate.

The solution to that was building a list of recommended people to refer those activities out.

What are you proudest of with your business?

Being able to bring on a small team of folks to support the business, and being able to pay them as well as contractors with my business!

There’s lots of advice out there for freelancers. What advice do you agree with?

That it’s time to raise your rates if you’re closing every project you pitch or sales call.

What common advice do you disagree with?

Not to work for free. It’s often recommended that freelancers don’t work for free; however, I disagree with it as a blanket rule.

There are often opportunities that may help build a specific piece of your resume or portfolio, for an organization or project that doesn’t have the budget to pay your rates.

Can they offer something else you need? Do they have access to help with an item on your to-do list? Maybe they can help you with photos or your website. Give you a great testimonial. Or introduce you to a decision-maker for another great opportunity. Think expansively about what “free” could lead to.

What areas of opportunities do you see for current or future freelancers?

I see so many future opportunities in the space of collaboration, cohort-based freelancing and fractional freelancing! So many freelancers don’t have the capacity to take on larger projects or pitch themselves for complex or nuanced projects that require an ecosystem of experts. I would love to see more folks working together to accomplish freelance work in this way to support the bigger opportunities. This would mean there would need to be folks who can navigate subcontracts, but I think it’s possible!

Interested in learning more about Naomi and her “Leaving Well” framework? Connect on LinkedIn, follow her on Instagram or visit her website at You can also tune into the Leaving Well Podcast for conversations about leadership, confidence, career development, grief and more.

How I Freelance: Brooke Shoevlin

How I Freelance: Brooke Shoevlin

Clean, clear and concise copy.

That’s what every writer wants, right? But the editing and revising process can be tedious and time-consuming – especially for busy writers who are juggling lots of clients.

That’s where Brooke Shoevlin comes in. Read on to learn how she’s created recurring income by packaging her editing and proofreading services into an affordable monthly subscription for content and copywriters.

Tell us about what you do.

I am a full-time editor and a full-time mom. I started my business in 2020 while my husband was still in the military. It allowed me to create something I didn’t have to leave behind. Now it provides me with the freedom and flexibility to be a stay-at-home mama while serving my amazing clients and doing what I love.

What is your specialty?

I provide editing and proofreading for content and copywriters. I help my clients send off their content and copy with more confidence, knowing that it’s clean, clear and will accomplish their clients’ goals and purpose. I also help writers take back the lost time they would otherwise spend on proofreading and editing their work.

My zone of genius is catching mistakes and wordsmithing for clarity. I love supporting freelance writers so they can work in their zone of genius without worrying about any hang-ups in their work that could come between their clients and the audience they’re trying to reach. After I review their content and copy, my clients publish or send their work knowing that it’s ready for people to read.

How did you choose your niche?

I actually started out supporting authors and aspiring authors with their manuscripts, editing and proofreading books. And while I absolutely enjoyed it, I found that I didn’t love the short-term client relationship. I much prefer the long-term relationships I get to build with my current clients. I support them continuously on every project, truly being in their corner and part of their team. From there, I found myself supporting business owners and entrepreneurs, serving as the expert eyes on all of the content and copy within their businesses.

Fast forward to today, and I’ve found my people: content and copywriters. Their work is not only important to one audience, but important to many clients and audiences, often across a variety of industries! They need my support the most and they truly want and value the editing and proofreading support I can give.

Since making this shift into supporting more content and copywriters, it’s made my heart happy to see and hear how they’ve been able to get the editing support they need while meeting them where they’re at with their small business budgets and an easy editing process.

Who are the clients you work with?

Content and copywriters who:

🔸Create blog posts, articles, emails or website copy.

🔸Take the time to step away from their work before editing or proofreading (or wish they had the time and energy to step away and come back), but would rather be spending that time elsewhere.

🔸After writing the content or copy for their client, they’re ready to be done with it, ship it off and move on to the next thing on their growing to-do list.

🔸Want a set of fresh eyes to come in and not only catch the spinach in their work, but to look for areas that can be enhanced and elevate the content with their particular target audience in mind.

🔸Don’t have it in their business budget to hire an editor onto their team (on the usual hourly or per-word rate), but if they did, they would love to make that investment.

What types of projects do you work on?

Primarily blog posts, articles, emails (campaigns, newsletters, sequences) and web copy. All offered through my monthly editing membership, the Confidently Clean Copy Membership.

I also offer support on manuscripts, digital products and any other individual projects needing expert eyes.

Where do you freelance from?

Currently Phoenix, Arizona, USA.

Tell us about two tools you rely on to run your business.

Google Docs and an epic classical playlist.

Name one thing that’s surprised you about freelancing.

There truly is this whole online community of freelancers who want genuine connection and who want to know you, partner with you and cheer you on, if you’re willing to put yourself out there and build partnerships and friendships. Working remotely can be quite a lonely road, but if you put the time and the passion into showing up for other freelancers who are in the same space as you, they’ll show up big-time for you as well. I’m so grateful for my “co-workers” and the incredible support and community I’ve found in them.

Your clients are out there! Keep showing up and keep talking about how you can serve them.

Made any big mistakes during your freelance journey?

Waiting too long to take my ideas and run with them! Make it happen. Launch the dang thing. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect.

The idea for the Confidently Clean Copy Membership was born many months before I finally launched it in April 2023. So much “life” was happening at the time with a big military move and lots of changes for my family. I kept pushing it off until things were “more settled.”

When things finally settled, it took me sucking it up and setting a launch date to do it, imperfectly. And what happened blew me away. People loved it. I signed up my first members. And it’s been the best thing I’ve done in my business since I started this journey.

What are you proudest of with your business?

Through the highs and lows of business (and the craziness of life), I’ve weathered the storm, continuing to serve incredible clients with the editing and proofreading support they need while also having the privilege of supporting my family through work I love. I’ve come out a stronger business owner and mom, in more ways than one.

There’s lots of advice out there for freelancers. What advice do you agree with?

Working from home can be tricky if you don’t have some parameters in place when it comes to “clocking out.” Set a time for when you step away from the computer or how long you can spend on LinkedIn or other social media platforms each day. Setting those boundaries for yourself can make all the difference in the way you show up for your clients and your family. Plus it can prevent burnout!

What common advice do you disagree with?

There’s a general belief that if your analytics are down or your reach is low, you’re not attracting clients. Analytics and reach can be super misleading! It can be easy to see those numbers and get sucked into the belief that your people aren’t interested in the support you offer or they aren’t seeing your content.

But I’ve had people reach out, ready to work together because they had been reading my content and deciding my support was the right fit for them – and I had no idea they were there. Your clients are out there! Keep showing up and keep talking about how you can serve them.

What areas of opportunities do you see for current or future freelancers?

The opportunities for networking with like-minded freelancers, both virtually and locally, are growing! With so many people shifting into remote work and starting their own businesses over the last few years, we’re seeing a lot more coffee chats, networking “happy hours” and in-person events. It’s something I’m really excited to see!

Click the link to learn more about Brooke and her Confidently Clean Copy Membership. You can also find her on LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

How I Freelance: Sarah Glinski, RD

How I Freelance: Sarah Glinski, RD

Professional burnout is real.

Sarah Glinski experienced that firsthand in 2022 in her full-time role as a clinical dietitian. After stepping back and examining her options, she decided to turn her part-time gig as a freelance health and nutrition writer into her full-time focus.

Read on to discover how Sarah used her experience and expertise to pivot professionally and build a growing freelance writing business. 

When did you start freelancing?

I started freelance writing as a side gig when I first started working as a registered dietitian (RD) in 2018. Between 2018 and 2022, I had two or three consistent clients, but I never considered pursuing it full-time. It wasn’t until I experienced burnout from working as a clinical dietitian in 2022 that I considered making freelance writing my full-time job.

While I freelance full-time now, I work far fewer hours than I did at my clinical job. My workload shifts depending on what projects I’ve got going, but I typically work between 20-25 hours per week.

Why did you choose to pursue freelance work?

I’ve always loved to write, and I found myself enjoying my writing projects far more than my clinical job. However, I wasn’t sure how to turn my writing side gig into full-time.

When I experienced extreme burnout at my clinical job in 2022, I was forced to take a month off work. It became clear to me during that month that I couldn’t return to clinical work. I quit my full-time job and dove headfirst into the world of freelance writing.

While I started pursuing freelance work out of necessity, I now freelance because it provides me with much more flexibility than working a 9-to-5 job. I now set my own hours and choose which projects I take on, which has led to much greater satisfaction with the work I do.

What are your niches – and how did you choose them?

I write in the area of healthcare, with a specific interest in nutrition. Since I’m an RD, focusing on healthcare-related content was a natural transition from my clinical work.

Who are the clients you work with?

They’re a variety. Some of my clients are private practice dietitians who want to maintain an online presence through blogging but don’t have the time to do it themselves. And some of my clients are larger healthcare companies such as Nourish (a telehealth dietitian company that aims to make dietitians accessible to more people) and CopilotIQ (a company specializing in remote health monitoring for seniors).

I also write for larger health outlets such as Forbes Health, Well+Good, Livestrong and Everyday Health.

What types of projects do you work on?

The majority of my projects are consumer-facing articles about different health topics. I also write blog posts and website copy for nutrition-focused businesses.

Where do you freelance from?

My home office in Langley, British Columbia in Canada.

Tell us about two tools you rely on to run your business.

The two tools that really keep my business afloat are Trello and LinkedIn. I use both of them daily!

Trello enables me to track each phase of the projects I’m working on and helps me consistently meet deadlines and track invoices. It’s like my freelancing cheat sheet.

LinkedIn has been invaluable for helping me connect with potential clients and other freelance writers. A year ago, I had zero LinkedIn presence and struggled to find clients. Now that I’m more consistent with posting and engaging, I’ve found lots of opportunities and connected with some amazing peers who are also freelance writers.

Name one thing that’s surprised you about freelancing.

How quickly your business can grow if you put in the work. While the first six months of my full-time freelance journey were slow and involved a lot of cold pitching, I’ve reached a comfortable place where I have enough work without having to do a ton of outreach. I definitely didn’t expect this to happen so quickly, and I’m sure that in the future, I will likely need to jump back into cold pitching. For now, I’m happy with where my business is.

Now that I’m more consistent with posting and engaging, I’ve found lots of opportunities and connected with some amazing peers who are also freelance writers.

Made any big mistakes during your freelance journey?

Not charging my worth! When I first started freelancing, I took on a lot of low-paying work just to get started. While I think that was necessary to build my portfolio, if I were to do it all over again, I would raise my rates much sooner in my freelance journey.

What are you proudest of with your business?

I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve been able to build a business that supports my lifestyle and mental health. While I think hustle is important (especially when you’re first starting out), my dream was never to be hustling all the time. I crave a certain amount of ease in my life, and I’m so proud that I’ve built a business that allows me that freedom.

There’s lots of advice out there for freelancers. What advice do you agree with?

Charge your worth. I get that raising your rates can be really scary, especially when you’re first starting out and the imposter syndrome is loud. But your skills are worth paying for, and you deserve to be compensated for the years of learning you’ve put into your craft.

What common advice do you disagree with?

I don’t believe that a successful business can be built on cold pitching alone. While it’s definitely a good way to get started, I think it’s just as important to build your online presence and reputation so that your ideal clients can find you.

What areas of opportunities do you see for current or future freelancers?

Everyone is talking about AI. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for freelancers to leverage it to make their jobs easier. While I don’t think AI will ever replace writers, I see the value in using AI to generate ideas and break through writer’s block.

Any words of wisdom to leave with us?

Believe in yourself! If you put in the work, you can succeed as a freelancer.

Want to connect with Sarah? Find her online at, connect on LinkedIn and follow her on Instagram.

How I Freelance: Melissa Ripp

How I Freelance: Melissa Ripp

Women have valuable expertise to share and stories to tell. And Melissa Ripp wants to help them tell them.

Mel – as she’s known to her friends – originally started her marketing company as a side hustle, offering marketing services for small businesses. Over time, she shifted her focus to thought leadership and content strategy for female executives and business owners who want to build on their personal and professional brands.

Read on to learn more about how freelancing helped Mel develop new skills and find a fulfilling career path.

When did you start freelancing?

I started freelancing in 2007. My company, Peapod Marketing and PR Consulting, has been a thing for 16 years now.

At the time, I was living in my hometown of Door County, Wisconsin. It’s the thumb of Wisconsin, the Door County peninsula. Funny enough, I now live here again.

Door County is a place that depends on a lot of tourism. We have 300 miles of shoreline. We also have all these lighthouses and incredible water views. Fall leaf-peepers like to come up here. It’s just a beautiful place.

I moved back home after college and got a full-time job as a marketing director for a nonprofit. I worked in nonprofits for a long time, and then my freelancing was a side hustle along that for a long time.

But what I noticed is that when people needed help with their marketing and writing, there weren’t really a lot of resources for them. Social media was just starting to become a thing, and unless you had your own creative chops, you were kind of out of luck.

I was writing arts and entertainment columns for an independent newspaper, the Peninsula Pulse. People would reach out through the Pulse and ask if I would be interested in writing for their business. They had a press release or website copy they needed. That was how I got started.

Do you freelance full-time or part-time?

Peapod has been a thing for 16 years. But I just celebrated five years of full-time freelance work in November 2023. The day after Thanksgiving in 2018 is when I officially decided to hang up my full-time shingle and become my own boss.

Before that, I had a bunch of W-2 jobs. I was a director of communication and PR for an EdTech company. I did a lot of content strategy and writing work. I got tired of saying, “One day” instead of “Day one.”

Why did you choose to pursue freelance work?

I always knew I wanted to go out on my own and run a business. Peapod was a side hustle for 11 years, and I hustled hard.

I loved how freelancing gave me new skills. I was a really early adopter of social media and started to understand webinars and lives and those trends early on. Freelancing opportunities gave me a chance to figure things out.

My full-time jobs were still toying with this idea of digital marketing. I know it sounds funny to think about that now. But in 2007, when I started, we had websites, we had Facebook, we had all this stuff – but nobody was really using social media for business yet. Having a freelance business gave me an opportunity to discover different types of work I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

The other reason? I’ve never quite fit into corporate life. There’s a reason why the first 10 years of my career were in the nonprofit world. It was a better match for the way I looked at marketing and communications. Storytelling resonated with me early on, and it felt like nonprofit and educational institutions were the same way I was.

When I moved from Door County to Chicago and then Madison, Wisconsin, I had to be part of the corporate machine because that’s where I was finding jobs. I quickly learned that I wasn’t corporate materials. I worked my way up to a director position and was managing six people. And I don’t think I was doing it that well.

I decided to pursue full-time freelance work because I thought, I can’t do this. I’m not good in a corporate setting. I’m burning myself out. I had incredibly high anxiety. I’m still an anxious person. I just need to be in the driver’s seat.

What are your niches – and how did you choose them?

I’m a thought leadership strategist and ghostwriter for women executives and entrepreneurs. I help women determine what their content themes are and how they can get their ideas, thoughts and perspectives out into the world. And I write that content for them, in their tone and voice.

This wasn’t always Peapod’s direction. I pivoted to this work in 2020/early 2021. The reason is that I’m 42 and I came up in a world that straddled both of these really interesting times to be a woman in business.

At the beginning of my career, I had situations where I wasn’t taken seriously. I was ignored. A man would say the same thing I did or present the same idea but say it a bit differently. And everyone was like, “Oh, yeah, great idea.” I got tired of feeling like my ideas and thoughts didn’t count.

I wanted to figure out a way to present my own story and my own accomplishments. I didn’t want to feel like I was waiting for somebody to tap me on the shoulder or notice me. I’m a firm believer that if you want someone to notice you, you have to do things yourself.

I also believe that anyone can be a thought leader. I think we all have stories, perspectives and expertise that can influence people to take action and make them feel they are less alone.

Take what we’re seeing on LinkedIn. There are a lot of LinkedIn influencers who say you should be doing this and you should be doing that. But there are also a lot of people who are simply leading and teaching through their experiences. That’s what I wanted to do. And that’s also what I wanted to help other women do.

Women deserve the chance to talk about what they’ve done, what they’ve learned and what it means to them in a way that can help other people. And in doing so, they can also help themselves. A lot of women, myself included, deal with confidence issues. We need to deal with it by actively and openly talking about things related to our lives or our professional careers, and I wanted to remove that stigma.

Who are the clients you work with?

My clients are leadership, executive and organizational development coaches. They’re also fractional CMOs and VPs. What they all have in common is that they’re women, and they’re either building their own incredible thing or doing great things in the corporate world.

All of my clients are incredibly busy people who understand it’s critical to have a personal brand that’s consistent and engaging. I help them discover that – and then I help them put it out into the world.

What types of projects do you work on?

I do individual and personal brand and thought leadership messaging. My clients are asking, “What am I about and how can I make sure my ideal audience knows what I’m about?” I help them decide on content themes that resonate with them and their audience.

Once we have those content themes, I help with social media posts. LinkedIn is my bread and butter. I feel that’s where I shine and also where my clients shine.

I also do a lot of long-form writing, which can be anything from blog posts and ebooks to other lead-generation sources. I do a lot of speechwriting and website copy. And PR work, helping find places where women can extend their voices beyond their own platform. Earned media opportunities. Podcast guesting. I have a pretty extensive network and that has helped me cultivate those kinds of things for my clients.

Tell us about two tools you rely on to run your business.

I would not be able to do my business without Fathom. It’s a note-taking app that integrates with Zoom. It gives me transcripts I can use to create posts and articles. It’s been a game-changer in being able to do my job more quickly.

The other tool I rely on is HubSpot. It’s not only my CRM, but it’s also where I publish my newsletter and my email welcome sequence and all those things. It’s a really great way to make sure everything is all in one place.

Name one thing that’s surprised you about freelancing.

When you surround yourself with the right people, it becomes collaboration over competition. When I first started my business full-time, fellow writers would want to book discovery calls with me trying to get some insights. And I remember thinking, “What if they steal my work?”

There are people who do the exact same thing I do. Maybe they do it for other types of people or they do more PR and less content creation and ghostwriting. I had to adopt a mindset that there’s enough work for everyone. I know right now that’s a little hard to recognize. There have been layoffs in the tech sector and a lot of my clients have said, “Oh, I’m going to start using AI.”

But when it comes to thought leadership work, there really is enough room for everyone. It’s a complete collaboration. I don’t feel there’s a competition or that I need to hide any of my intellectual property from anyone.

Having a freelance business gave me an opportunity to discover different types of work I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Made any big mistakes during your freelance journey?

When I first started my business, I was so enthralled with the fact that I can do this thing. I can charge for this thing. That led me to take on anything and everything when it came to writing. If you needed something written, Mel was your girl. I wrote copy for B2B manufacturing sites and social media posts for a social services nonprofit and blogs about cybersecurity. The mind cannot compute all of the context-switching you have to do to work within those realms. I kept wondering why I was so exhausted every day.

I realized I loved the variety, but I couldn’t keep doing this. I hired a coach who helped me get really clear on my values and purpose and what I wanted Peapod to become. I went backward to go forward. I was able to think about what I wanted the business to be and how I didn’t just want to be an order taker. I wanted to be a strategist and a partner.

And honestly, working with that coach helped me determine I really love ghostwriting work. I stumbled upon ghostwriting by accident. It was a woman who I had done a bio for her and she asked if I would be interested in helping her craft some LinkedIn posts. I loved it, and it was because I worked with that coach that I uncovered that little nugget. Now that’s 60% of my business.

I don’t know if it was a mistake, but I moved way too much in the direction of I don’t care if I’m overworked and I don’t care if I don’t exactly like what I’m doing. I wonder what would have happened if I had worked with a coach sooner. Maybe I would have uncovered that it didn’t need to be that hard.

What are you proudest of with your business?

When I quit my job, I had six months of bill money saved up in my savings account. There was definitely a part of me that was like, “OK, here’s my six-month vacation.” I had a couple of clients in the pipeline. I knew my money was going to run out in April and I would need to look for another job. I just didn’t have a lot of self-confidence that I would be able to do this full-time.

And then I got to my one-year anniversary and then two and three. That was during COVID. I had my best year ever during COVID, which is pretty wild. Now I don’t think about what happens when my business dries up, because I don’t feel it will.

I also have a much better business development strategy than I used to. I’m not just waiting for things to come in. I don’t pretend that I’m not scared sometimes. This year has been weird, just like it was for everybody. My phone wasn’t ringing as much as I thought it would be. But I’m proud that I’ve been able to support myself and my family for five years. That’s pretty cool.

There’s lots of advice out there for freelancers. What advice do you agree with?

I’m not particularly a “woo-woo” person, but a lot of things shifted for me when I changed my mindset. I’m not saying mindset is the only reason I’m successful or that if you just change your mindset, everything will be OK. It’s a constant battle to get up every morning and say, I choose to believe I won’t have problems booking work with my ideal clients. I choose to believe there is enough work for everyone. Those things are really tough to believe because most humans aren’t wired to think that positively.

But I know mindset is a choice. It’s choosing to think differently. It’s not easy and it takes an awful lot of time. I’ve been on the other side of that equation, where I thought no one would hire me and my business would go down the tubes. My grandmother always used to say worrying is like a rocking chair: It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. That’s something I think a lot about when I think about freelance work and entrepreneurship.

What common advice do you disagree with?

I don’t agree with the idea that you have to be constantly scaling and doing other things besides your craft to grow your business. The way you grow your business is to be impeccable with your word, to do things when you say you’re going to do them and to build solid relationships and become incredibly referrable.

I don’t always do a great job at that. I slip on deadlines. Sometimes I over-promise and under-deliver. It’s part of me being a perfectionist. But if you want to write for a living, you should write for a living.

Your business will sometimes have to shift, as we’ve seen with AI. But I don’t agree that for freelancers to be successful we have to be doing five different things and creating five different revenue streams.

I believe anyone can be a thought leader. We all have stories, perspectives and expertise that can influence people to take action and make them feel they are less alone.

What areas of opportunities do you see for current or future freelancers?

I think there is a perma-lancer movement that’s really interesting. A lot of companies are bringing in freelancers and having them act as an internal agency. Sometimes when you keep things in-house, a lot of innovation and ideas get missed. Having a freelance writer or designer or developer gives you a competitive edge.

The coolest thing about freelancing right now is that we are in the driver’s seat. We have the authority and the expertise. We have what it takes to be thought leaders ourselves. We have the ability to perfect our brands and get out there in a way that people can see us. They see our values and what it’s like to work with us. We have the ability to pick and choose our clients based on what’s best for us. And that part’s really cool.

Want to connect with Mel? Find her online at or connect on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook or Threads.