How Writing Is Changing My Life
My post today is part of my friend Cat Alford of Budget Blonde‘s “Get Paid to Write for Blogs” course launch! Cat makes a full time income from writing for blogs, and this course will teach you how to do the same.
I never thought I’d write Frugalwoods. Financial independence, early retirement, and our entire homesteading journey weren’t even on my radar a few years ago.
And personal finance isn’t a lifelong interest of mine–I didn’t grow up as a math whiz (quite the contrary), or major in accounting (quite the opposite: English and political science), and I’ve never worked in a job even remotely connected to the field of finance (again, quite literally the other end of the spectrum).
So why on earth do I write to you all about money every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Because I think that in many ways, money dictates our lives and to that end, you can either control your money or it’ll control you. I’m passionate about spreading the philosophy that a good life isn’t one where you spend a ton of money–it’s one where you spend on what’s meaningful to you and simplify/frugalize the rest.
Finding Your Passion
Discovering my passion for writing was transformational–I feel like for the first time in my life, I know what inspires me, motivates me, and what I deeply enjoy at a fundamental level. Doing what you want with your life is sadly a rare occurrence and I sincerely hope that you’re able to find the thing (or things) you’d do even if no one paid you to.
My friend Cat of Budget Blonde (who came and stayed with us along with her husband and adorable twins in March) turned her writing into a remarkable business that she operates from home and uses to support her kiddos and husband (who is currently in medical school). She’s a dynamic beacon for what you can accomplish through a driven, entrepreneurial approach and I’m continually amazed by her successes in the field.
The “Get Paid To Write For Blogs” Course
Writing Frugalwoods is truly a highlight of each day for me and my constant inspiration. Since I feel so fervently about the power of writing to transform and empower, I want to share with you all that Cat is launching an online course called “Get Paid To Write For Blogs.”
I sincerely respect Cat’s work and her prowess in making writing her full-time gig. She is both incredibly successful and touchingly humble (the perfect combo in my book). Cat is a powerhouse in the blog-writing sphere and has generated something of a dynasty–all through her writing, networking, and business acumen.
She has also been very kind and helpful to me as a fledgling writer and offered me advice numerous times when I’ve emailed her in a panic (usually late at night… usually with a lot of CAPS and !!!).
If you’re interested in writing full-time, part-time (like I do for Frugalwoods), or employing writing as a lucrative side-hustle (trust me, there’s serious money to be made in this field), I encourage you to check out Cat’s course. Cat is offering Frugalwoods readers 15% off the total cost of the course (thanks, Cat!), and you can access that discount through this link.
In the course, she covers everything from the very basics of getting started all the way through how to pitch professionally, where to find jobs, managing a busy workload and rejecting clients, not to mention handy practical stuff like how to orchestrate your taxes, invoices, and accounts. I don’t promote many products on here because this isn’t a promotional, sales-y blog and I don’t like blogs that are, so rest assured that I’m only sharing Cat’s course with you because I believe it’s a valuable resource for anyone who wants to navigate the intricacies of online writing.
Me On The Homestead: Dirt On Feet, Laptop In Hand
Speaking of doing what you want in life… when Mr. Frugalwoods and I envision our existence on our homestead in a few short years, we cast ourselves in different roles across our little future domain. Mr. FW will undoubtedly be doing things with wood much of the time–chopping it, hiking through it, building things with it, measuring it, forestry managing it (if it’s still in tree form), and burning it (to heat our home).
I’ll be gardening, canning, thinking of clever ways to make our lives more sustainable, and writing. Of course we’ll have myriad other diversions to keep us busy–like running our AirBnB cabins, playing with Babywoods in the woods (that name is getting very meta… ), doing yoga, cooking, and tending whatever fruit/syrup trees we happen to have.
But for both of us, there’s a vocation buried in there that’s foremost in our minds and that’s almost always the first thing we say when people ask what we’ll be doing out there on the farm. For me it is, and always has been, writing. Sure, I can (and do) write anywhere–on airplanes, busses, at home, in the car while Mr. FW is driving–but I want to write in the serenity of our own woods.
And even more crucially, I want to have the time to write, which is what early retirement will grant me. At present, my writing is crammed into the early morning hours before I go to work, the evenings (after my free yoga classes), and on the weekends, when it competes with everything else that comprises a life–grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, household chores and maintenance, and our plethora of insourced tasks, which will only increase once Babywoods is on the scene.
While this squeeze on my time has made me a faster writer, it doesn’t allow me to write anywhere near the capacity I’d like to. My life is littered with ever-present sticky notes containing story ideas, which I find trapped in all sorts of unusual places throughout the day. Fortunately, Mr. FW–who has never met a problem he couldn’t fix through technology–now makes me use Trello to organize my thoughts, which I must say has cut down on the drama of lost stickies.
My Love Affair With Writing
In many ways, writing is my calling. I’ve always loved it, I’ve always done it, and I even majored in English in order to, well, write more. But when I graduated from undergrad, I pushed my dream aside in favor of launching myself into a stable career trajectory.
I don’t regret this decision because I’ve (mostly) appreciated my career and I’ve been fairly successful–the compensation side of which is what’s, in part (along with Mr. FW’s salary and extreme frugality), enabling us to retire early. Don’t get too excited, I don’t make tons of money, but I’ve always earned a decent income and I’ve steadily advanced over the years. So while I sometimes wonder why I diverged from my true mission right out of college, I’m also fully aware that the career I chose is a factor in forging the future I want. This is my way of saying that I think any decision has upsides and can be translated into facilitating your goals.
When Mr. FW and I were at our lowest point of despair over our hectic, unfulfilling 9-5 city lifestyle last March, Mr. FW’s one piece of advice to me was to start writing. Thanks a lot, I thought. That’s some real actionable advice that’s going to improve my life (I said with no small amount of sarcasm). I asked him if he wanted me to just start some dumb blog. And yes, in fact, he did.
How I Was Forced Into Writing Frugalwoods
As I’ve shared before, he’d purchased Frugalwoods.com unbeknownst to me and had it all set up. All it needed was my writing. Although I was pretty aghast and angry at the time–I think I said unattractive stuff like “you don’t know me! you don’t know that I can just start writing!” In truth, he does know me–better than anyone else in the world. And he knew this was the catalyst I needed to open the floodgates of my creativity.
And so, under much duress, I hesitantly started writing posts. And then, I wouldn’t publish them. Mr. FW bargained with me that I should just publish them because “no one would read them anyway.” This reverse psychology totally worked and I started publishing. And, sure enough, true to Mr. FW’s predictions, no one read them (I was too embarrassed to even tell our families).
But then, slowly, over the next few months, people began reading. They even started commenting!! I had a near panic attack of excitement when the first person commented on a post. I felt sheer elation that someone (other than our moms) had read my writing and…. liked it! I about passed out.
Once I got past my initial shock, I realized I was absolutely smitten. For me, writing is a self-feeding cycle–the more I’ve written, the more I want to write. With each topic I cover, I think of five other topics I want to address. And the feedback, suggestions, comments, emails, and inspiration I get from you all is amazing. Over the past year, our readership has blossomed and flourished–to the point where we double in size every few months. I adore having you all here and I’m honored that you choose to spend your time reading these words I plunk into a keyboard.
As I think most regular readers know, Frugalwoods is the antithesis of a corporate or mega-blog. Mr. FW and I (with paltry assistance from Frugal Hound) are the only people behind the scenes. I write all these words myself, Mr. FW helps me edit, he manages our back-end and email systems, and together we reply to all of your comments and emails personally.
We don’t pay anyone to help us, partly because–as you might’ve noticed–we don’t really pay anyone to do anything for us, but also because I believe in the genuine value of sharing my personal, flawed, authentic experiences. When I tell friends about Frugalwoods, I apparently radiate with glee and I always say “I never make anything up for the site and it’s the most rewarding, enjoyable project I’ve ever done in my life.”
My Future As A Writer
Mr. FW and I are engaged in a great deal of reflection lately (well, since getting pregnant really) about how we want the next two years until we decamp to our homestead to play out. While we’re not yet ready to make any final decisions or formal announcements, the possibility of me writing Frugalwoods full-time is certainly rattling around in our minds, encouraged in no small part by the successful path Cat has forged.
Mr. FW and I call ourselves “inveterate tinkerers” (admittedly our terminology is ripe for improvement)–what we mean by this is that we’re constantly looking to tweak or improve or adjust or create greater efficiencies/avenues for happiness/frugality in our lives. We don’t approach life as a static, predictable thing–rather, we see it as providing endless opportunities for exploring new pathways. Remaining open to what the universe has to offer, and staying flexible in all things is our essential approach. Frugality is what gives us the freedom to explore nontraditional vocations and it’s the root of our success and our options.
Although we’d originally intended to both continue working our full-time jobs until our early retirement date of fall 2017, it’s possible we’ll recalibrate a bit now that we know when Babywoods will join our family (I’m due November 25th for anyone keeping track at home 😉 ). We’ve been planning and budgeting for her since long before she was conceived, but having the concrete timeline of her arrival date enables us to build greater specificity into our financial projection spreadsheets.
What I do know is that I’ll continue writing Frugalwoods until I run out of thoughts to share or it ceases to be the fulfilling respite and font of creativity that it is for me now. I love writing for you and I love writing for me–it’s the best of both worlds and I’m deeply grateful to pursue this passion.
And if you feel that writing could be your calling too, I encourage you to check out Cat’s course and see if you think you might benefit from it.