Sarah is one of those more than generous people that is always quick to offer advice and guidance whenever someone asks for it.
She founded B2B Writing Institute, a resource for writers and freelancers who want to learn about B2B writing. Sarah’s courses are genuine, helpful and another really great resource to help you learn the ins and outs of this whole online business thing.
We’ve asked Sarah to be our guest for this week’s Freelancer Spotlight and share her challenges and wins. And boy, did she deliver.
What do you do and how long have you been in business?
I’m a B2B writer specializing in white papers and ghostwritten blog posts for companies.
I’ve been working for myself since 2013, but in the past three years, I’ve focused on white papers and other kinds of content in human resources, retail, and higher education spaces.
I write about the personal side of freelancing at Five Figure Writer. But my passion project is the B2B Writing Institute. There’s a real need for B2B writers who know what they’re doing. I want to help the next generation of B2B writers get ready to meet that need.
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
I was laid off in 2013 from a marketing position. At the time, I really wanted to see if I could “make it” as a freelancer.
During my first year, I exceeded my salaried income, and in my second year, I almost doubled that. Every year got better and better until I hit six figures last year. I should be able to double it again this year.
What surprises me most is I am not alone in this story – I know lots of other six-figure freelance writers now. They’re just not a loud or brassy bunch, and they work too hard to talk about it a lot on the Internet.
I had no expectations for this kind of success. It’s just not a common story for writers when I was growing up. The narrative was: either you embrace your love of writing and live poor, and one of us per generation gets to be J.K. Rowling with a fat book deal.
I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I have been overjoyed with the personal and professional growth that has come with these achievements.
I had no expectations for this kind of success. It’s just not a common story for writers to earn a good living writing.
What has been most challenging part of solopreneurship so far?
You really do have to master yourself to be in business for yourself. This is not a line of work for the scattered or unmotivated – you’ll get really tired really fast and you just won’t last.
Once I learned to look for it, it constantly surprises me to see how often I limit myself and my potential with my mindset. There’s just something in our brains that tries to protect us from success or change, and it’s a constant battle to get that out of the way so you can do great things.
Do you ever want to quit?
I keep a shortlist of companies I’d work for if I ever wanted to throw in the towel, so yes.
But then I think about my language and mindset there – throw in the towel.
Hmm. Looks like I think I’d be “giving up” if I did that.
What I’ve come to realize is that the desire to quit isn’t usually about my employer. It’s about my workload.
Pushing back a few deadlines, landing a new client or taking a day off is all I usually need to renew my appetite for the work I do. I really love it.
And it’s funny when you look at my lifestyle, I might as well work a full-time job. Freelancing has a lot of flexibility to it if you want it, but I tend to mimic my client’s workday – 7am to 4pm or so. But every single day, I get to make my own to-do list. And that is priceless to me.
What would you love to pay someone to take off of your plate?
I try to avoid work that I don’t like, so nothing comes to mind!
With the B2B Writing Institute, though, I work with two very talented VAs who have taken on the social media content as well as outreach and email engineering (sequences and things like that).
With a young family, I can’t just push through and work late evenings anymore. I’ve come to realize I really do have to buy my time back for non-writing activities.
What task in your own business would you like to do more of?
Teaching is my first love, writing my second. I’ve been putting my Master’s in Arts in Teaching to good use developing the curriculum for the B2B Writing Institute courses and I’m excited about the prospect of doing even more of that.
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
In the first half of my time in business, I had to limit my working hours for various reasons. An autoimmune condition at first, then two pregnancies and recoveries. It was a huge win for me to maintain my full-time income working a reduced schedule of 15-20 hours a week for several years.
Last year, I hit the six-figure mark. That has a lot of personal significance for me. This year, we took a big risk and my husband quit his job to be a stay at home dad. We’re about six months into it, and I’ve had my first real stretch of time with full-time hours in a long time. It’s really suiting our little family!
What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow your business?
The Internet is so full of amazing advice that I’m not sure where to start. Gina’s encouragement to outsource and delegate is very powerful. Do more of what you’re good at and your income will grow.
Early on, I also took Dale Carnegie’s advice to heart that business is about people. My nature might have me avoiding phone calls or reaching for more transactional assignments (I send it, get paid, then I’m done). But once I started connecting with the people I work with as people, getting on the phone more, and generally serving more, my income also made a big jump.
That attitude has revolutionized both the work I receive and the enjoyment I get out of writing for my clients. It’s just a richer experience in general, and that’s what being a consulting writer is all about.
What are you most excited about for your business next?
I’ve waited my whole life to find a cause that helps a community I love (writers) with skills and practical experience that I have (B2B writing) – the B2B Writing Institute is it. I am so excited to see how this community takes off and the research and writing we’ll be able to do in 2021 to really formalize this as a career path for up and coming writers.
Is there anything you’d like to know about B2B writing? Check out Sarah’s free B2B Writing Foundations course!
Sarah Greesonbach is the founder of the B2B Writing Institute, which prepares the next generation of B2B writers to own their marketing impact. Click through to take the forever free Foundations of B2B Writing course and learn more about writing formats like white papers, case studies, and thought leadership articles.