My Journey as a Writer
"The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord, and you also will testify."
- John 15:26b, 27a -
- John 15:26b, 27a -
When I launched my website, a friend asked me how she could do the same thing --- make a career out of writing.
I know there are many options out there, but if you don't live in the U.S., the options pretty much trickle down to just a few.
The easiest way to write from anywhere and earn is to be a blogger. The InternationalFreelancer is one such blogger who started writing from India until she moved to U.K. And there are many other bloggers (both in the U.S. and abroad) who can testify that they earn a decent living, even a six-figure income doing it.
I know you're raising your eyebrows. Don't ask me if I'm one of them. No... Not yet.
But I will tell you their stories below.
First Things First, Finding Your Voice
You will soon learn that you need to have a unique voice to succeed at this -- what to write about and how to write it.
And this will require a lot of introspection, discernment, and prayer.
Yes, you heard me. Prayer. Pray first -- get an anointing from God. All your efforts will be useless and the climb steep without His hands to lead you. I know. I've written a lot of blogs with only a handful of friends and family reading it... on lucky days.
So ask Him to show you the way.
He spoke to me through books, blogs, emails, just about anything, even through a simple packaging of Bob's Red Mills barley.
Okay, I may have to explain myself about that.
When I first started out, I did a lot of research.
I came across this email invitation from Jeff Goins on HOW TO GET 10,000 FANS PUBLISH A BOOK AND MAKE $100,000...IN 18 MONTHS.
He talked about four easy steps, but one step resonated the most for me.
Step #1 Finding my platform. This platform, according to Jeff, depends on your voice. What voice do you have?
Are you a journalist who is naturally curious and inquisitive, who'd rather talk about other people and events?
Or are you a prophet who just wants to change the world and everyone in it? You are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and always fight for a cause or advocacy.
Are you an artist who loves poetry and prose? Everything that drips off your pen is a literary masterpiece.
Are you a star who naturally draws people like a magnet, and everything that you say turns into a BuzzFeed?
Or are you the professor who likes to teach and impart knowledge? You love to research, synthesize the ideas and make it simple to understand.
Looking at my history, all the materials I have written, and what comes to me naturally, I realized I had the voice of a professor. I like imparting knowledge.
I don't necessarily have that knowledge or experience, but because I like to read and research, I easily get the information I needed to share with friends and family.
Usually, I apply this knowledge first, and if it works for me, I usually get so fired up and share it with everyone I love.
It's easy to get pretentious in this writing business, to adopt someone else's voice just to become the next big thing.
So what I can say is do your research, but you also need to lift it up to Him, Who knows best; Who knows you more than you do.
And you'd know it's Him guiding you because the road will be smooth. If there is a stumbling block, that means He is redirecting you, making you stop.
Ask Him why.
He is quick to show you. He will purify your motives
At first, you may be more fixated about making money. Ideas will come in so many noisy ways.
Ten ways to become viral.
Five easy way to earn money blogging.
Three quick ways to get paid writing online.
How to increase your readership through SEO optimization.
All these stuff are out there.
Pro-blogger is probably one website you can learn a lot about blogging.
But in the end, I think it's your sincerity that will resonate with your reader's core.
Passion and Purpose Before Product
One thing I noticed, those who've truly succeeded at blogging started out with their passion. These people didn't think about earning money. They just wanted to help, to answer a need.
Read the story of Bob, founder of Seed Time (formerly Christian Personal Finance) and how he found financial freedom helping others manage their money the Christian way.
Or how these 10 Bloggers made six figures a year online.
By pursuing their passion first, the product followed. Here is how these top writers turned their hobbies into six-figure careers.
A lot of times we get fixated with what to write. What is the "in" thing? What do people want? But if you do not love what you write, you won't be able to go past three blogs.
Why? Because it will become a tedious task.
If it's a tedious task, you will not last long.
Why? Because it does not pay at the start. Who wants to work for free doing a tedious task?
So find something that you really love and see if there is something that others need that you can satisfy doing the thing that you love.
Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic Institute and author of many New York Times best-selling books illustrates this well in his book, The Rhythm of Life and Dan Miller, author of 48 Days To The Work You Love.
Nowadays, people are so sick and tired of being sick and tired. Life has become so stressful. Many want to have some control of their schedule that's why the idea of freelance work or working-from-home sounds so appealing. Perhaps just like you.
You want to give more time to your family when they need you the most, not when you are available, or work is done.
We have compromised so much in trying to make a living; it's sucking the daylight out of us.
I used to hate the feeling of having to ask permission to take time off because my child is sick. The guilt of abandoning my work to take care of my family ate me up. I know other people would easily do this, but not me. I don't know why. Is it my Asian upbringing? I know my Filipino friends feel the same way. They'd rather go to work feverish or even with an IV on so that they don't get branded as a slacker. It's weird but it happened and still is happening.
On the other hand, I also felt guilty abandoning a sick child. That devoured my gut.
"Mommy guilt" was probably the worst thing I had to deal with in the past, as a working mom. It's like trying to juggle five balls at a time. There's just not enough time to do everything. In the end, I had to settle for what I love doing. As long as I can serve them good home-cooked food for dinner, that assuaged my conscience.
So yes, I know the feeling. This is exactly the reason why I'm doing this writing. But I don't want it to become just a career.
I am 45. I have lived half of my life in halves -- half-hearted, half-fulfilled, half-dreaming, half-wanting…
I want to embrace God's promise of an abundant life, a life of fullness. And I had experienced that as a Jesuit Volunteer --- that feeling that you are exactly where God wants you, doing exactly what He wants you to do and loving every moment of it. THAT is what I want. That is how I want to live the other half of my life.
You can read the book Half-time: Changing Your Game Plan from Success to Significance by Bob Buford if you are feeling this way. It will show you ways to deal with it.
As I always try to remind myself --- seek first the kingdom of heaven and everything else will fall in line. That's how I will pursue my writing career, rather, my writing ministry.
And, oh, before I forget. Let me tell you how God used Bob Red Mill's Pearl Barley package.
The Pearl That I Found
Yesterday, as I poured out the pearl barley into the pot, the label caught my eyes. Just to the right of the recipe is this simple letter signed by the owner, Bob Moore.
"Recently, I announced that I was handing ownership of Bob's Red Mill over to my employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).
For me the decision was easy because I could not stand the thought of our stone milling tradition, our mission to improve people's health through whole grains and the love we put into everything being compromised in any way."
And when I looked at their website I literally cried when I read this paragraph on the landing page:
"It's so obvious, it's not. That thing you make - That thing you love - It should be a good thing. After all, isn't that the point? Isn't that why we're here? To help one another. To add something. To make folks a little happier, a little healthier for doing what you do? We are Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods. Good Food for All."
Wham! That is the kind of copywriter I wanted to be, what I will strive for. Simple, direct to the point, authentic, and with a sincere voice that speaks to the heart.
A voice that constantly asks, How can I help others?
I will use my voice as a teacher. I love to research and to teach. So that's what I will do. That's how I will write.
What to write about?
God will dictate in response to someone else's prayer.
So to my dear friend, thank you for your question. You just helped me write my first blog.
And because you shared this deep desire to write, I invite you to make the same journey.
Remember, "Everything is possible to one who has faith." (Mark 9:23)
And many times doubt will attack us.
In times like these, we need to pray, like the man in today's gospel, “I do believe, help my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24)
Let me end this blog with a prayer from Psalm 20:4.
May He grant you according to your heart's desire, and fulfill all your purpose.
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