For our freelance writer spotlight in December, we’d like to highlight Denver’s own Casey Cline. Every day new writers join our system, but we never know when we’ll find a gem like Casey.
In her first six months with us, Casey has quickly become one of our go-to writers for special projects in almost any field. She does excellent research and has a talent for matching the tone, voice, and style of a customer to provide content that is truly unique.
Beyond the world of Verblio (formerly BlogMutt), Casey has her own stunning website and works full-time as a freelance writer, though she has a side gig walking dogs. She also loves to travel! Here’s Casey showing some love at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand:
Read on for some tips from Casey for the aspiring freelance writer:
1. How did you get started as a writer?
Casey: I have always loved writing, but I started writing as a job five years ago. At the time, I was working as an admin assistant at a university and back in school with plans to become a high school English teacher.
After volunteering in schools, I realized that while I loved working with students one-on-one, I am way too introverted to be “on” all day in front of large groups of kids… After having a few “Oh crap, what do I do with this English degree now?!” moments, I started freelancing on the side just to see if I could actually get paid to write. Within three months I realized I (amazingly) had enough clients to quit my job.
2. Do you have any tips for beginning freelance writers?
Your writing skills are important, but so are business skills.
Being professional in your communication with clients and your adherence to deadlines, learning to ask the right questions to ensure you only deliver products with which your clients are thrilled, and having a firm handle on things like self-employment taxes (ugh) are as important as your writing ability if you want to make a viable living by freelancing.
Writing comes easily to me, but being business-savvy is something that I’m definitely still figuring out.
3. What’s your favorite subject to write about?
I’m really drawn to anything relationship-oriented, like counseling or parenting, plus beauty and wellness topics. I’ve surprised myself by enjoying becoming a bit of a subject expert on things way out of my wheelhouse though, like solar energy, HVAC, and even sales tax. I live in Colorado, so learning more about the legal cannabis market has also been providing me with plenty of interesting material.
4. What is your strategy for writing about subjects you are not an expert in?
I mainly focus on the intended audience and putting myself in their shoes—what would I want to know if I was looking for information on this topic? How can I break it down in a way that is engaging, clear, unique, and fun to read? It also helps a lot to be naturally curious.
If you don’t genuinely enjoy learning about new subjects, freelancing will be much less fun for you.
5. What’s the most challenging aspect of writing?
For me, writing is easy once I get in a flow, but getting started is often brutally difficult. Writer’s block, perfectionism, and procrastination are all closely linked for me and are things I deal with more days than not.
I don’t always do a great job of overcoming this challenge, but setting smaller, manageable goals and daily assignments for myself helps. I thrive on to-do lists broken down by the week and day.
Since I write and edit full-time and have income quotas to meet in order to stay afloat, the fear of not being able to buy groceries is pretty motivating when I really don’t want to get started. 😉
6. Do you write for fun? If so, what do you write?
I write a lot of sad-funny short stories and some non-fiction and travel writing. I really want to write a novel but I tend to lose momentum or interest after the first 40-50 pages and then start a new book instead of plodding onward. I need to be more disciplined.
I have a lot of admiration for my book editing clients because writing an entire book and sending it out into the world is such a brave and difficult thing to do.
7. What is your favorite quote or piece of advice about writing?
“Good writing is clear thinking made visible.” –Bill Wheeler
Focus on clarity. A lot of amateurish writing comes from trying to sound impressive and intellectual instead of just aiming to express your thoughts in a clear, straightforward way.
8. What is your favorite book?
I’ve been a huge bookworm my whole life and am drawn to classics that I can happily read over and over plus a lot of contemporary literary fiction. Catch-22, Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, What Is the What, and The History of Love are a few favorites.
9. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Play with and walk my sweet little pup Miles, travel when I can, hang out in the mountains, binge-watch Netflix, volunteer, try every taco place in Denver, spend time laughing with my family (especially my sweet little nephew Benny) and amazing boyfriend.
10. What does a typical writing day look like for you? Do you have a schedule, set goals, etc.?
I refuse to have an overly rigid schedule or set an alarm, because I worked 8-5 office jobs for over ten years and didn’t enjoy that level of structure and predictability. For me the main appeal of self-employment is flexibility.
That said, on a typical day I usually wake up around 7, make coffee, and write on and off until lunch. I have a side business walking dogs, so I am away from my computer in the sunshine for a few hours midday. Then, I often write for the rest of the day, but sometimes I just catch up on “life stuff” and end up writing late into the night, instead.
I take a lot of breaks, to be honest, but it still adds up to 40(ish) hours of work each week.
Thank you so much to Casey for being part of our team, and for taking the time for our interview!