If you’ve sensed the winds of change blowing here at Make a Living Writing, you’ve got good instincts. Maybe our blog’s new footer clued you in.
How and why did this happen? Why this specific partner, and why now?
Writers often ask me to share my journey . . . so here goes. Here’s the story of how this blog was founded and grew, why I decided to make this change — and why I think it’s going to rock your world.
A passion project is born
In 2008, I was just another freelance writer, hustling to make a living. Writing about business finance, insurance, and other glamorous topics.
Then came the Great Recession. I was busy ramping my business to six figures despite the melting economy, but I kept hearing from other writers who were starving as they slaved for content mills. This made me insanely angry. I wanted writers to know how to find good pay and stop being exploited.
Next thing I knew, I was freelancing by day, tucking in my then-preschoolers promptly at 7:45 pm, running up to my bedroom office, and writing this blog until midnight. Six nights a week, for 2.5 years. Didn’t see a play, watch a TV show, go to a dinner party, nuthin’.
I built a small audience. Eventually, I even learned how to get them on an email list. #n00b
Almost accidentally, I had created an online business.
This crazy schedule continued until 2010, when my blog got discovered by thought leaders, hit some top 10 lists, grew to over 1,000 subscribers, and became a real business. One that could help a lot of writers to earn a good living, and could offer them useful e-books, courses, and community, too.
All it took was one “You helped me quit my job and live my dream life” email from a reader, and I was hooked.
Why I kept freelancing
Every coach faces a dilemma: Whether to quit doing the thing they’re advising on and exclusively coach, or to keep doing that thing.
I always wanted to continue with freelance writing. I didn’t start my blog because I hated the freelance hustle — I always loved it.
If I stopped freelancing, I also worried that I’d quickly become out of touch with the realities of the freelance marketplace. And my advice would be less valuable.
So I kept freelancing. Yes, it was nuts. But it was the only way that made sense to me.
My crazy juggling act from 2010-2021 was: mom of three, online business owner with a staff of 10 part-timers, and freelance writer. I ran on 6 hours of sleep and worked 6 days a week.
Growing a blog-based business along with freelancing allowed me to be home with my kids and flexible about what hours I worked. It also let me provide a lifestyle for my kids that I did not experience growing up in Van Nuys, California.
But those great, mostly local “vacations” almost always included a laptop.
Did I miss a lot of hang time with my kids? Yes. Do I have regrets about that? Definitely. But again, I didn’t see a better way at the time. And you may know my home life wasn’t easy.
Kids weren’t great travelers. In 10 years, we moved once, 10 miles away, and it was a nightmare. My husband and I went on one international trip, without them. I felt a little like George Bailey, who never gets out of Bedford Falls.
While I was coaching location-independent, remote-work writers living and traveling everywhere, I was pretty stuck. Between family issues and the level of responsibility I felt to my readers and especially to Den members, it was hard to truly get away.
It was like I was going along writing and minding my own business, but I suddenly found myself holding the tail of a rocket shooting up into the sky.
It was exhilarating, it was unexpected, it was amazing, and it was often scary — Would I let people down? Writers, my team, my family? Would I earn enough this month to pay payroll and feed my family? No matter how well a course sold or how big Den membership grew, the worries were hard to outrun.
Always, there were a million things I should be doing, reading, people I should be meeting, to keep the business growing. To keep up with social media changes and tech advances.
But a lot of the time, all I could do was hang on for dear life and hope the rocket kept flying.
Work/life out of balance and hitting my limit
By 2012, my husband developed health issues and I made a decision to have him quit his job. I’d earn all the money. So he could heal. (Which he did, thankfully.)
If I had more work hours, I thought I could build this blog up. And I wanted my husband to live. Both worked out well.
On the plus side, I would help many writers (nearly 1 million read this blog a year now). For many years, I loved every minute of it.
Until I didn’t.
Over the past couple years, I started to feel tired and overwhelmed. I didn’t wake up excited to race to my laptop and see who wanted to tell me how I’d changed their life.
It was hard to admit that this amazing online world I’d created was beginning to feel more like a monster and less of a fun carnival ride.
When I started in 2008, blogging about freelance writing was fairly new. By 2020, the competition was a lot stiffer. Winning the internet got more complicated. As a non-techie person, I felt increasingly out of my element.
At one point I spent a small fortune on an outside SEO team, with little result. I felt like I didn’t really know how to fix this. We had incredible content, but others with B.S. posts on those same topics ranked better. That ate at me.
There was another factor, too: A lot of online-biz people develop a pretty thick skin for all the hard-luck stories you get, once you become a known entity online. But I never did.
It hurt to open my email and hear from starving people oceans away, begging me to hire them. To give them clients. To show them how to earn from writing in English, even if they were barely literate in it.
It aches to know that I cannot help everyone.
A decade-plus on, content mills are still a thing. Exploitation still happens. There’s more education still to be done.
But I felt weary from the fight — like someone else needed to pick up this torch, who would have the energy to fight on.
Built to sell
You may notice this blog isn’t named caroltice.com (that’s my writer site). Because I’d covered startups for decades as a reporter, I knew that I never wanted to be my brand. I wanted to build something that could eventually be sold.
I didn’t want to work forever! Hopefully you don’t, either. From early on, I wanted to create a resource that could keep helping writers without my working 24/7 to keep it going.
If you’re curious how you know it’s near time to sell a business that you’ve loved almost like a fourth child, I have a metric for you: It’s when people ask if they can buy it.
My first serious inquiry came back in 2017. It was a real discovery process. Do you do monthly profit-and-loss statements on your business? I never had.
At the time, I used the opportunity to learn what buyers look for. What I’d need to do to find a good buyer. Then, I started doing those things. In case the moment came when I wanted to sell.
To build the business up, I did $15,000 of business consulting. Took that advice and grew 20% bigger. Got to be the size where selling made more sense.
Then, like it does, life changed. And one day, I thought this blog would definitely be better off with someone else in charge.
Through the COVID looking glass
In early 2020, I was a mom of two high schoolers, firmly rooted to a busy life in Seattle. We were out every night of the week, seeing friends, dancing, eating at great restaurants, at our synagogue 3-4 times a week, with a kid in religious school.
In March 2020, the schools and houses of worship closed, and that life vanished. You know that story.
Fifteen months later, we graduated our last child. We still could barely socialize. Services are still not in person, here in the West.
We were in a completely new, empty-nest phase of our lives, like it or not. COVID isolation gave me the chance to reflect and realize that my work life needed to change.
I had taught what I know, from 25 years of freelance writing. More than a dozen e-books, ten different courses in the Den. We’d even built a self-study version of my Den 2X Income Accelerator coaching program that successfully doubled writers’ income, without my having to hold their hand every day.
It was time to gear down and enjoy life more — because, who knows how long any of us have, these days?
This time, when buyers came calling, I was ready to listen.
To everything, a season
I recently learned in my Talmud study that the sages believed every life has 42 phases. (Fans of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will also know 42 as the answer to life, the universe and everything.)
Wow, that’s a lot of phases. It made me realize I was really at the end of one, whether I liked it or not. In so many ways.
Running an online business full-time wasn’t for me any more.
I’d reached a point where it was better for both my readers and me if I moved on to my next phase. Time to stop knocking myself out trying to do things I wasn’t great at, and let a better-qualified team have at it.
Time to follow where my heart is pulling me — back into full-time freelance writing. I’m already fully booked for the rest of the year as a book ghostwriter, and loving it.
So I started taking seriously the people who approached me about brokering or buying or investing in my sites. Finding a new partner during COVID isn’t something I’d necessarily recommend, but it was what I needed to do. And I think it’s turned out for the best.
Freelancing for me means less responsibility to hundreds of thousands of writers. I feel free to travel, recharge, reflect and figure out my next move. I think that will only benefit all of you — let me explain how.
What’s in it for you!
I know — you’re wondering what might change for you, as a reader of this blog or a member of Freelance Writers Den. The short answer is: If anything, it’ll be changed for the better.
Why do I think selfpublishing.com is the best possible partner I could have found for Make a Living Writing and the Den? Let me count the ways:
It’s is a bigger organization than little ol’ TiceWrites LLC. Like, over 10X bigger.
That means more people on deck and deeper pockets to invest more in great content and courses, as well as the tech savviness to keep these sites state-of-the-art.
If you’ve never run a big blog, it’s like painting a battleship on the back-end — a never-ending series of updates and better tools to implement to stay on good terms with Google.
They’re pros at all that, and I honestly am not. That’s why I believe this blog is set to reach and help more writers than ever.
Keeping our team
If you’re wondering if any of the people behind the scenes here have been axed over this, the answer is nearly none. We have a new blog editor in Jeremy Anderberg, who’s just been hired to oversee all selfpublishing.com platform of sites, which includes The Write Life, The Book Designer, and Self-Publishing School. It’s a comprehensive family of blogs that will take from newbie writer to published author (or whatever your ultimate goal/dream might be).
Jeremy brings along his own rolodex of top-notch guest posters. (And if you’re interested in writing for any of those sites, email him at [email protected])
Our longtime editor, Evan Jensen, is still helping him out a bit.
CEO Chandler Bolt has stressed that he wants us all to keep doing what we’re doing, because we know freelance writers’ needs. But now, our team has access to a larger team’s brainpower, as well as their experience crafting courses and connecting with writers. I think that’s going to be a dynamite combo.
All SP.com does is develop courses, build community, hold events, and help writers. I think you’ll all benefit from that, versus my trying to keep a freelance career afloat on the side while also helping you all.
Running an online business is a game for the young. There, I’ve said it.
As the years have passed, I’ve come to see this ever more. It’s for people who can hop on a Facebook live or make a YouTube video without needing hours of makeup and hair work to get presentable (cough). And who are full of energy to stay up ’round the clock thinking of how to keep leveling up what they deliver.
I started my blog 13 years ago, when I was closing in on 50. My birthday is this weekend. You do the math.
Meanwhile, Chandler isn’t even 30 years old (!!), and has already built an online empire. He’s got a young team backing him up, too, and I think they’ve got the energy and smarts to make this blog and the Den even more useful to you.
This isn’t goodbye
If you’re wondering if this is a farewell post from me, it’s not. I refer to SP.com as a partner for good reason. The first thing Chandler asked me was: “What do you love doing here? Because we want you to keep doing those parts — long term.”
So while Jeremy and the rest of the team takes over the day-to-day tasks that made me pull my hair in handfuls, I’m freed up to focus on the things I’m good at:
- Still writing blog posts? Check. You can expect my byline to keep showing up here.
- Serving as education director for Freelance Writers Den, making sure we recruit awesome presenters, continuing to create and deliver the courses writers need to earn well today.
- Coaching mid-career writers through my Freelance Writers Den 2X Income Accelerator Grads group. Love-love-love helping writers double their income! (And also, perhaps having more bandwidth to coach newbies and offer Den members more 1:1 time.)
- Consulting with SP.com on best ways to deliver more value and help even more writers launch and grow a lucrative, home-based freelance writing business.
As I write this, I’m just off a paddleboard on a private lake in Fort Collins, Colo. We’re traveling in an RV, beginning our search for where we want to eventually retire.
I’m refueling, recharging, and getting more ideas on how to help you earn more as a writer — now that I’m fully living the lifestyle I’ve been enabling for other writers, all these years.
I’m excited to see this new phase unfold, and to be along for the ride. Are we getting it right? I’m counting on you to let us know.
Got questions about what’s next for Make a Living Writing and Freelance Writers Den? Let’s chat in the comments.