Our interview today is with Tammye McDuff, who calls herself “awkwardly successful. Find out why in this interview.
You began writing ten years ago but call yourself “awkwardly successful.” LOL- I think a lot of writers can relate. How did you decide it’s what you wanted to do?
I call myself awkwardly successful because writing is not something I ever took seriously. I would do a press release on occasion or write the brochure for a company I was working with, but never considered it my profession. [I have to add here that my folks gave me my name because they thought it would be a good pen name!]. At 45 I had lost my job due to the economy and really felt lost. I had been in public relations and event planning since I was 20, and I must admit I was in a ‘burn-out’ stage. I had a friend who had read some of the things that I had written and told me I was a fool if I didn’t change careers and write. She said I was good. But then again she was my friend and perhaps a bit biased. But she persisted to encourage me, actually more like a dare, so I began a Yahoo! Group to see if anyone was interested in what I had to say. To my surprise I quickly gained followers. I used the pseudonym Magikal Martha, because I add a bit of magic – fairy dust – to everything I write. Not until I landed my first story in a worldwide published book, and was approached at a store for an autograph, did I begin to think I actually had talent.
Have you noticed the “feast or famine” world that people think about when they picture freelancing?
There are two ways to answer this.
If you are referring to having something to write or a client to work with, then No I have not. Because I have not reached the level that I would consider a success, I am always searching out new media to work with or write for.
BUT, if you are referring to finances then Yes. Sometimes you have a client that pays well and sometimes you don’t. This is one of the reasons I started my FB page Your Wellness Guide [which will become an eZine later this year]. I have tons of information on how to live well on a budget. Just because you have to watch what you spend doesn’t mean you can’t “Live Well ~ Every Day”.
Many freelancers today work for clients and also supplement that with their own blogs and books. What’s your approach to maintaining a successful freelance career?
I had a very successful clothing designer tell me that being an artist and being successful with your art is like training for a marathon, you have to keep a steady pace. For me that is writing every day. I don’t care if it is a review on Yelp, being an interviewee for HARO or doing an interview for a major magazine. The aim is to keep your name out there. No one becomes famous over night, besides the bills have to be paid!
In your opinion, what’s the best way to get new clients as a freelancer?
Ask. Everyone needs something to be written, whether it is copy for their website, a blog edited, an article written or a book reviewed. Sharpen your skills. Know your market. Understand that the word ‘No’ is not permanent. Go back in 30 days and ask again!
Tell us what your day is like. How many hours do you work and do you have the flexibility that many freelancers crave?
I am usually up between 3:30 am and 6:00 am. My husband goes to work very early, and I can’t get back to sleep. After he is up and out of the house, I get any housework done and bills paid. I usually cruise my emails and internet for an hour or so. I then go to my editorial calendar to see what I have to get written for the day, grab a cup of coffee and sit down to write. By 9:00 am I will go into the office of the newspaper that I am an editor for or visit a client’s office. I like to schedule interviews in the afternoon, better for the person being interviewed and I know that my photographer will not be blurry-eyed, he has a new baby. I am usually back home between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm, time for dinner, social activities or winding up notes on work. My day is long and I am usually asleep before my head hits my pillow. Being flexible is a misnomer. You have to stay organized and on top of your schedule.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about freelance writers?
That we all drink. We are independently wealthy or don’t know our craft.
I can’t tell you how many people offer me an alcoholic beverage at all hours of the day in meetings. The funny thing is that I don’t drink. Most people believe that if you are a serious writer, you must be a serious drinker. I guess we should thank Poe and Hemingway for that misconception.
It is true that being a freelance writer may seem that we are not working very hard, therefore we must be doing this because we are bored or don’t have anything better to do. I have had someone in a social setting say to me “Oh, you’re a writer! You don’t work?”. We should always conduct ourselves in a businesslike manner; I have actually walked out of meetings, because the potential client did not take my craft seriously, even with an impressive resume.
What’s your best advice for someone who wants to start freelancing today?
Realize that not receiving the job or the accolades you feel you deserve is not necessarily an insult to your craft or to you, it is merely the reflection of what the client may or may not want. Remember you are an artist looking for an outlet, until you are successful [whatever that may be to you] you cannot act like a Diva. Even when you become famous, if that is your goal, being a pain will get you a bad reputation. Your writing is your business, conduct yourself accordingly.
Anything you’d like to add?
There are lots of things I would like to add, but perhaps I should keep that for a future column or a blog! Final thing to remember is that, for the most part, you will always be dealing with an editor or a publisher, keep your temper in check!!!
Where can we find you online?
Bio page: http://tammyemcduff.moonfruit.com/
personal page: https://www.facebook.com/tammye.dunn\
Your Wellness Guide: https://www.facebook.com/YourWellnessGuide.co
Your Wedding Guide: https://www.facebook.com/yourweddingguide.co
Blog page is currently closed to the public and will open in the fall as Your Wellness Guide eZine.