I first came across Kiera Abbamonte through Grasshopper, where her exceptional work as a content editor helped me to write some of the pieces you’ll still find in my portfolio. Then, Kiera took the leap and became a full-time freelancer, writing for sites as wide-ranging as KISSMetrics to Help Scout. She recently took the time to tell me about her freelancing advice, networking with other writers, and how it’s important to budget if you want a puppy any time soon:
Q: What’s keeping you busy lately?
KIERA: I’m really focused on a few things right now: building community with other writers, building out my project calendar, and reveling in the variety of work I get to do. I loved managing Grasshopper’s blog, but it feels fresh and exciting to write on so many different topics now.
After three and a half years, pretty much all of my words came out in Grasshopper’s voice. I love doing the research and learning about new things, and I get to experiment a lot with form and finding my own voice.
Q: How has the transition to working freelance been?
KIERA: Bigger and better than I even dreamed. It’s a scary, exciting time but I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by kind, like-minded people with oodles of experience and a willingness to share.
I’m loving the variety of projects and topics I get to write on, too, and the space & flexibility I have to pursue my own writing projects outside of client work.
Q: What’s been your biggest challenge since branching out on your own?
KIERA: Right now, I’m feeling like I’ve reached critical mass on clients. I have several that keep me busy, but I still have the occasional empty space in my work-week, and I’m not yet at that point where I have projects lined up for the next 2-3 months. That’s where I’d like to be – makes scheduling and budgeting a little easier with a better sense of what I’ll be bringing in next month. (Budgeting is only important so I can buy a puppy.)
I’ve reached out to most of the companies I think I’d like to write for and I’m hitting that “okay, now what?” stage.
Q: What’s been the best benefit of working on your own?
KIERA: Without a doubt, the flexibility. My leap into freelance was well-timed in that I was able to get a few projects under my belt and then pretty much unplug completely during the holidays, which was an amazing feeling.
Q: Is there anything you would do differently if you had to start the leap to freelancing all over?
KIERA: I’d make more of an effort to get projects lined up before leaving my full-time job. I spent a lot of time perfecting my website and setting up Wave and bugging my brother to make me a logo, but…not so much time lining up work.
I was fortunate to have some clutch referrals, but the lack of regularity in those first few weeks kind of sucked up my momentum. I’m a little more zen about it now, but in that moment, not having anything to do on a given day was terrifying.
Q: How do you focus on building community with other writers?
KIERA: One of the biggest things is just being open to it. Engaging on Twitter, reading what other writers have to say, reaching out with my own questions. I’m also focusing on giving back a lot. As I mentioned, I’ve been spoiled with help and advice and support from all around. Now that I’m settling into freelance, I want to give that back as much as I can and share my, albeit limited, experience so far.
Q: How much does communicating with other writers factor into your day?
KIERA: It ebbs and flows with my client work. I try to supplement my slower weeks with lots of conversation and really digging in to the community. I’m a bit of a Twitter addict, so I probably spend way too much time interacting there!
Q: What’s one freelancing tool or software that you find yourself using every day?
KIERA: Trello! We were big into Trello over at Grasshopper, and now I’m addicted. Having all of my clients, projects, and pitches displayed visually makes it crazy easy to keep track of everything. I also love the calendar add-on for scheduling and managing deadlines.
Q: How about a physical tool?
KIERA: Honestly, I’m in love with my desk – I actually miss it when I’m out of town. I used to have a smaller one without any storage, and the cluttered workspace really did not work for me. I also recently invested in an external monitor that actually cooperates with my MacBook – only had it for a few days so far, but life is already easier.
Q: If you could tell a client only one thing to get them to improve their content, what would it be—and why?
KIERA: Focus on quality. This is something I notice a lot of clients already starting to do. We used to be so set on churning out content 3, 4, 5 blog posts a week, but now we’re seeing people slow down and put more emphasis on fewer, better pieces of content. Those are the clients I see finding the most success right now.