Do you ever let your personal “issues” hold you back when it comes to your writing career?
I have – after going through some very toxic relationships – and it nearly ruined both my career and my life. But I managed to come out on top.
I was able to become the well-paid writer I was meant to be. So, how’d I manage to overcome a legacy of toxic abuse and build a thriving writing career?
Would you be shocked if I told you that my “issues” literally became my content niche? They did – these days, I’m also a certified life coach who specializes in narcissistic abuse recovery.
So why am I writing about abuse? Why do I keep talking about it? Because I’m a survivor myself.
Quite honestly, I feel the universe planted this particular niche in my front yard for a reason. These days, I make a pretty healthy living from my work – and yes, I’m writing every single day now. Here’s how it happened…
How I found my niche
Truthfully, because of the insidious nature of narcissistic abuse, I didn’t realize what I was dealing with at first. But when I started to research (as we journalists tend to do), I began to realize that I had been dealing with someone who seemed to have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
So, I did what I do – I learned as much as I could about it. It turned out that ending contact with the toxic person in my life was the best thing I could’ve done for myself. There was even a name for it – “going no contact.”
As I learned more about the disorder, I began to write more about it. And each time I did, I found that I got more traffic on my blogs and articles than I did when I wrote about literally anything else.
My posts would go viral, and for awhile, my traffic would spike.
The freelance ball and chain
Meanwhile, I continued to plug away at my various freelance writing jobs and marketing gigs I picked up along the way, and I thought life was pretty set. I had figured out that the personal development niche felt good to me, but I hadn’t quite narrowed myself down to a single area. Honestly, I didn’t see the point – there wasn’t any real money to be made in the self-help niche for me, right?
To be perfectly honest, I wanted to find a niche that was, I don’t know, more fun and glamorous – but I kept discovering that each time I’d write about narcissism, narcissistic abuse and recovery from toxic relationships, I got more hits than ever.
I tried to write about writing, and I had some moderate success. I wrote about other stuff, and again, moderate success. I continued to need to do work for other people, because I needed to pay the bills.
I wasn’t mad – at least I was making money with my writing, right? But I wanted more. These days, I’m doing exactly what I want and making more money than I’ve ever made before – and while I work my ass off, it doesn’t usually FEEL like work.
So, how did I go from being a moderately successful freelance writer to making nearly six figures doing exactly what I want to do every day? I did two freelance writing career experiments that literally changed my life.
#1: The great Kindle publishing experiment
Life went on and I continued along the road to personal development. I managed to write a couple of books, and that gave me the idea to try an experiment: produce about a book a month for Kindle.
It was a success, and over the course of the next few months, I managed to publish a bunch more than I expected – about 20 of which are currently available on Kindle.
During that time, I published four books that were specifically focused on how to recover from narcissistic abuse. I noticed how quickly all four hit the top of my list! They were my best-sellers from day one of publication. In fact, I’m still bringing in around $500 a month on the royalties from these books.
This led me to want to take my service to my readers to the next level, so I found and enrolled in an online life coaching school that offered certification. After a few months, I finished the courses and became a certified life coach – with honors.
Initially, I only did this in order to enhance my credibility in my work – but as it turned out, it was a divinely inspired move.
#2: The single niche experiment
As I’d experimented with my career and seen success, I decided to take my experimenting to a whole new level – one that took me from a multi-faceted writer to a one-niche pony.
I decided that for 30 days, I’d focus on a single niche – and after much consideration (and several signs from the universe), I realized that focusing on narcissistic abuse recovery would be my best option. After all, it was definitely where I was getting the most feedback, and where I connected with my readers the most.
So I did it. And along with writing, I started posting YouTube videos and offering live coaching sessions. By day 28, I’d been invited to participate in an online summit which featured 12 experts including the well-known love guru John Gray – the guy who wrote Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
I was starstruck, and given that the summit would be held a couple weeks later, I decided to give my single-niche experiment another 30 days. My career took a sharp upturn that day, and I haven’t looked back. Today, I get about 75 percent of my leads from YouTube. And I earn about 50 percent of my income from coaching and 50 percent from writing.
How working for me works for me
Now, I only work for myself – AND, I have an amazing office manager who does a lot of my admin work, including scheduling, for me. These days, I write my own ticket – and it’s literally because AND in spite of the abuse I suffered in past relationships.
See, having experienced narcissistic abuse is something you can’t really understand unless you’ve been there. Even therapists aren’t educated on this topic these days, from what I hear from readers and clients.
I’m able to empathize with my readers in a way that most people cannot – and I’m able to communicate in a way they understand. Because I’ve been where they are, I’m able to help them in unique ways.
Now, I research, write about, and make videos about narcissism and narcissistic abuse recovery, because it’s my intention to help other people go from being victims of narcissists to being survivors.
My best advice for healing and writing
Take the time you need to heal yourself. But don’t be afraid to start working toward your writing career goals now. You just need to start going. As Joel Saltzman says: “Progress, not perfection.”
One of the biggest mistakes I made on this journey was waiting as long as I did to finally get on YouTube. It’s been a game-changer for me. While my channel has been around for more than six years, I’ve actually only been posting regularly for around four months. And in that time, I’ve managed to choose my projects (and they’re all MY projects – I don’t need to work for others anymore).
How’d I do that? Well, YouTube has offered me an entirely different audience than years of blogging produced – and this one’s incredibly interactive. I have quickly built a thriving community around my channel – a community of supportive and wonderful people who see things sort of the way I do. And, of course, the occasional person who…disagrees.
But every comment, like and even dislike, counts. Even better, more views and longer average view times mean a bigger bottom line when it comes to AdSense revenue you can earn through YouTube. Subscriber counts likely figure into the cost of the ads on your site, and they certainly provide a certain amount of social proof. Plus, they get notified when you post new stuff.
Even better, your would-be clients and customers can find you this way. This gives people an easy way to get a sense of who you are and whether they want to work with you. This has been excellent for the coaching side of my business. Now, I’m as busy as I want to be with client appointments – people who already know me and know my methods – and I have more of my own writing projects in the works. Life is good these days, my friends.
Once I was able to let go of things that were holding me back, I tapped into YouTube to grow my audience and my business. And you can, too.
9 Ways to Grow Your Audience with YouTube
If you’re thinking of getting yourself a YouTube channel, my advice is to go for it! A few quick tips:
- Start with what you have. Even the most professional YouTubers started out filming on their phones and webcams. Just start!
- Post on a regular schedule. No less than once per week. I post daily, but you don’t have to do that.
- Have a defined niche. Post things that your audience will be interested in. Once you get some fans, be sure to pepper in some personal stuff here and there.
- Customize your thumbnails. Eye-catching thumbnails with legible words on them or interesting pictures seem to work best – and bright colors. Red in the thumbnail seems to really draw clicks.
- Don’t try too hard. I’ve noticed that less scripting and more natural speaking seems to get more hits and help more people. That’s why you give yourself a general outline and start talking.
- A 2-minute video is not the only video. That isn’t true for my niche, and it’s not true for most. People are watching more YouTube than regular TV these days. Use that to your advantage.
- Teach people something they want to know. Solve a problem or explain something they need to understand.
- Brand your channel and add a custom header. It just looks more professional. Avoid the biggest mistake of all: not customizing your front page. Otherwise, when someone visits your channel, they see a blank page that reads “this channel has no content” – and unless they click on your video tab, they can’t find your content.
- Demonstrate your knowledge and passion, if you’re using this to acquire clients.
Follow these tips to build your presence on YouTube. Be yourself, and it will help you attract the right clients, grow your audience, and your business.
My single best piece of advice – and what I wish I realized sooner – is just eight words: Choose a single niche and stick with it. That’s the gold.
What do you think? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.