Welcome to the very first episode of my podcast, The Write Podcast! I’m so, so thrilled this day has come. In a relieved-finally-it’s-out sort of way. I’ve been pouring the last four months of my life into grueling things like learning what the heck dB/Hz means in Audacity (one of the best podcast editing softwares), the joys of recording and re-recording episodes in the hope that things finally work, and the wonders of Skype (it tends to freeze mid-sentence: and I’ve actually learned how to repair those suspenseful mid-sentence hangs in the raw audio file).
So, here you are–and I’m so thrilled that The Write Podcast is finally around, so I can share information, fun-packed episodes to inspire and grow your skills in content creation, marketing and entrepreneurship!
In my first episode, I’ve shared my story, nutshell-ed (you’re welcome), in a 14-minutes-type-of-nutshell. For those of you who ask me about my story all the time, here you go!
I hope this will inspire those of you who are in the “starting” points, at ANY stage. This episode is JUST for you. Keep trudging on, you rebel you. Keep breaking the mold, and do something that a bunch of folks might think you’re “crazy” to do. Back in 2011, when I coined my company name in 5 minutes. I never dreamed Express Writers would be where it is today–a team of nearly 70 people, all working remotely, all hired by me; a revenue of six-figures; clients like Bank of America, Shopify, PayPal. Heck, I dropped out of nursing school and quit McDonald’s. And I’m even looking at my first published book and second brand on the horizon today.
If I could share one tip with you beginners, right now: work hard. Stare at that sentence, and realize it’s simplicity. Seriously. I put in 16-hour, 50+ hour work weeks every single day, sometimes even Sundays, in the first couple of years. Life was a ball of constant stress. And yes, there were days I didn’t know where the next dollar would be coming in for my month’s rent. But hey, don’t all success stories have this type of beginning? Work hard. Don’t overthink that. Be willing to put in the work, and (excuse me while I get all Nike on you) just do it.
If you like my podcast, whether that’s a single like or a big fat heart like… I would be so honored (times a million) if you could rate it via iTunes. That really helps with the rankings and overall search/audience visibility. Thanks for stopping by and listening! P.S.: If you like boring things like a very specific word-for-word transcription of my full audio, it’s below the bulleted recap.
In this introductory episode of The Write Podcast, Julia covers:
- Her early beginnings as a 12-year-old, when she started 3 companies and wrote a novel
- How Julia quit McDonalds and left nursing school…and what prompted her 180-degree career decision to be a writer
- How she turned a heartfelt passion into a career
- What SEO content writing was like in the early days of 2011
- How Google influenced/influences online writing
- What good standards are today and how Julia runs her agency
- Get ready for Julia’s how-to guide on online writing coming out!
Full Transcription of The Write Podcast, E01: How I Quit McDonalds & Nursing School to Start a Six-Figure Writing Agency
Julia: Hello and welcome to the Write podcast!
This is your host Julia McCoy and for my first episode I’ll be sharing my story, how I went from being a broke college student at nursing school, working at McDonald’s to a self taught successful online content writer and business owner at 20 years old, so stay tuned.
So for those of you who don’t know me I’m the founder of Express Writers an online content agency. I have over 60 writers, editors and content creators and together we write blogs, website pages and other forms of online content.
I started this company in 2011 when I was 20 years old with a personal investment of only $75 I taught myself everything I needed to know to run my business well. Today is a six figure company we broke our first half million in my fourth year in business which was 2015. To sum up how I got here I would say that it’s a combination of really hard work and a lot of passion.
I’ve also failed a lot to get to where I am, so let me start at the beginning without telling you my life story, which could go on for hours. I’m convinced I was a born writer, when I was seven I started writing down story plots poems and I was drawing. By the time I was 12 I had a fully illustrated 200 page medieval fiction about a night in the middle ages.
I was going to publish this book when I was a teenager but I lost it on a corrupted 3 ½ floppy disk. I think that at 12 I also found my roots as an entrepreneur, at 12 years old, when I started an Internet company which was actually going around and helping my neighbors fix their computers and get on the Internet.
I helped a lot of people in their late ’60s and early ’70s learn how to use the Internet: it was a lot of fun. So before the time I was 13, I founded about three different little tiny companies One was my computer repair company, another was trying to get people to sign up to the online survey, which are probably not recommend that today.
My third company was a little cleaning company. When I was growing up I didn’t think I was supposed to be writer. I thought my calling was to be a nurse. I was home schooled up until College and when I was 16 I started dual enrollment classes at college to get my prerequisites done for nursing school.
By the time I was 19, I was working full-time at McDonald’s a lot of times over night shifts and I was balancing full-time semesters and nursing school. I hated when I was doing everyday. I was so tired, worn out and I wasn’t enjoying my life. So at 19 one morning I woke up and the thought just popped in my mind, why am I doing what I don’t like to do?
I don’t have to do this for the rest of my life. Then I asked myself what I love to do and I knew that I loved to write and I needed that the route to go would be online because of the companies I started when I was 12, and my experience dabbling back then in Internet marketing, just like writing I thoroughly insulated using the Internet and learning how to market through it.
So at 19 when the idea popped in my head about trying to discover what I love to do and trying to make a career out of it. Basically the next morning I got up at 4 AM and researched everything. I started learning about Elance and Upwork which were the early freelance communities for online writers, I taught myself SEO skills, I taught myself some HTML, and I just got started.
Over the next year I taught myself all the skills I needed to know to write successful online content from webpages to blogs to press releases, product descriptions and all different kinds of content. I was up really early and working really late. Some of my favorite first jobs were from Craigslist gigs.
I was really surprised to find a lot of writing jobs there with really good clients but in my first year things were pretty hard. I was paid such low rates that it’s pretty embarrassing to talk about today. There were days when I was writing 50 articles a day just to get a paycheck that will pay for my rent and my phone bills.
I even started getting carpal tunnel and my fingers would lock up at the end of the day from all the typing I was doing. But I actually don’t regret those early months because that’s how I fine tuned my best online writing skills And that was my starting ground to get to where I am today.
There was a mindset back in 2011 that the cheaper the writer, the better it is and you don’t have to treat your writers well. It was almost like writers were slaves. And we weren’t paid well and we were treated really bad. Google was a driving force of the amount of content needed on the web.
And I got a lot of jobs from marketers who were looking to fill their website with optimized content. This content was optimized for a certain keywords that they wanted to rank for and back then Google was not as smart as it is today. So marketers simply needed to get content to fill their website with the keyword in it, so the content was not as good as the content on the web today.
And when I was given jobs it was very often a keyword without any sense, without any grammar, and I was told to stuff that in amount of words as many times as I could and I was writing stuff like payday loans now Atlanta with that in my sub header, title and throughout my content.
And it sounded really stuffed, and it was really bad content. Today Google doesn’t look at keywords like this anymore it doesn’t just count the amount of keywords in content it bases ranking on authority, relevance and trust, which means that the content you need to produce today is a lot more human than just that keyword stuffed forced content of years ago.
Today when my team and I write content it’s more about the reader than the keyword, we use any keywords naturally throughout the content but we write thinking about the reader. We write to be engaging, to pull in that reader, to be useful. And that is what content today should be like.
Google is smart enough to pick out the content that serves the reader. So the mindset and needs for online content writing have really changed since I started out in 2011 and it’s been a really good change. Just months after delving in and teaching myself all of these skills, I got really good at writing online content and I picked up a lot of work.
Although it was a lot of hard work it involved what I absolutely love doing, putting my creative writing talents to use and using the internet as a means of getting paid to write. So when I was 20 in 2011 I was able to quit McDonald’s because in March of that year, I was earning more money than I’d ever earned.
In May of 2011, I formerly began Express Writers, I filed an LSC and my business Name. I coined my name Express Writers in five minutes. I was trying to come up with an agency name because I was getting more work than I could handle and I immediately thought of just looking for writers who had the same passion I did.
Hiring them and starting a company, it was literally a 5-minute idea and I ran with it. Looking back, I wish I would have spent a little more time with my company name, I only spent five minutes but the funny thing is that it worked and today we’re a half million dollar company.
I never would have guessed back then when I coined that company name that I would be where I am today. Goes to show if you follow your dreams, you never know where you’re going to end up. So when I officially began my company I was still in nursing school which meant that I was really struggling to get through both studying to be a nurse and running my little baby company.
There were so many days when I had to make the decision, was I going to fill a clients order because the writer I hired disappeared and I had to write the content or was I going to study for my next nursing lecture test. And there were so many times where I chose my company and my grade significantly failed because of that.
The next spring in 2012 when I started my second semester of nursing school I actually failed my clinicals. My clinical teacher told me afterwards, that it was not because I actually did something wrong on paper but she just didn’t see a passion in me for nursing and she told me instead that whenever I talked about my little tiny company that I had just started, she saw a sparkle in my eye and she encouraged me to go and do that.
It was the worst thing that happened to me that year and it was the best. It opened a door for me to really focus on my company and change my entire career focus. The day my clinical teacher failed me in nursing school, I went from being a struggling nursing student to being a business owner, 100% involved in my company.
And that failure was the best thing that could have happened to me that year. So that year I dove headfirst into growing my little company Express Writers. I was up again at 4 AM to hit crazy targets that I set for myself every day. I was sending over a hundred cold emails before noon.
I was cold calling the list of SEO agencies from Google. I found daily clients off of Craigslist gigs, and on top of that I was my own copywriter and editor. I didn’t know how to hire my best candidate, so I was learning that by trial and error. Eventually, with a lot of hard work and commitment, I saw things get better and easier.
And in late 2012 and early 2013, I transitioned from being a self-managed company handling over 60 hour workweeks, to a fully staffed company with an entire management team. Since 2013, we’ve seen a lot of growth. In 2014, I was training and writing documentation for our entire team, including coming up with different roles for content strategist.
So we not only write content, but we plan it for our clients too. And in 2015, we launched our first e-commerce content shop. Where our clients could just go online and order their content. It’s a fully built custom e-commerce platform that my COO, Josh McCoy came up with from scratch.
So, I’ve come a long way since 2011. It seems like almost every year we’ve doubled our size, and our endeavors at Express Writers, and today I still look at us as a growing company.To me growth is like a heartbeat, the only reason to stop growing is if you're dead. We're always brainstorming and we're always growing our quality, and our level of service.Click To Tweet
And I’ve tried never to lose focus on that. We never allow our quality standards to drop no matter how difficult hiring can get. Our entrance testing is a two step, really rigorous testing process, so we bring in the best writers. And we keep refining. As Google changes, I study those changes learn, and then I will adapt our online content writing principles.
So you’ve heard the nutshell of my entire story. How I succeeded, failed and got to be where I am today. I hope that my story inspires and motivates those who are listening. I believe that as an entrepreneur the sky is the limit. Set big goals and don’t be afraid to reach for them no matter what stands in your way.
[MUSIC] Thanks for joining today’s Write Podcast. For more online content, tips and strategies visit expresswriters.com/blog. And now here’s your host Julia McCoy with a final message. [MUSIC]
Julia: Are you a marketer or a writer? Go Join our Twitter chat that happens every Tuesday at 10 AM central standard time, join us with the #ContentWritingChat.
We launched it the first week of January this year and I was thrilled to see it trending on Twitter. I think it was number 42 most popular in the US. So we host this chat every single week on Tuesday, and we have guests that come on weekly and share their insights and expertise on content marketing SEO and more.
You can follow our Twitter chat account, at twitter.com/writingchat. And also launching my first ever published book. I’m really excited about it. It’s called So You Think You Can Write, the definitive guide to successful online writing. And in my book I detail everything I’ve taught myself to get to where I am.
How to write successful blog content, website content even headlines. How to research SEO keywords and much more. This is for the writer, who wants to take their skills online or any business owner, who wants to learn how to maximize content online for their business. I’m really excited about this book. I’m still in the final editing round, and I’m thinking it will be out in March this year. You can get on my book’s waiting list here. When it’s out, it will be available on Amazon.
Thank you for listening to today’s Write Podcast!
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