Crystal Maddux is an editor, author, and consultant from Ohio. She has been writing since 2002 and launched her freelance business in 2016.
I’d like to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Crystal. Without further ado…
Why did you begin writing?
Mostly, I began to write because it was an escape. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at a young age, and writing helped me to cope with it. I never anticipated it would evolve into a passion, but eventually it turned into a dream, and soon became my career. I count myself lucky and blessed that I’m able to do what I love, and help others do what they love as well.
What guidance did you receive that helped you improve your skills?
Funny story. Once upon a time, I couldn’t stand the thought of reading. I struggled with it, I hated doing it, and I never could focus on it. My cousin, who became an early education teacher, brought me to the library several days a week and made me read a book for hours. This happened well before I began to write, but I also believe it’s one of the reasons why I started to write. To this day, I’m filled with so much gratitude that she remained patient with me and helped me. If not for her, I probably wouldn’t be doing what I do now.
Now, I continue to garner support through an online writing community that I founded and moderate. The group of people in that community are incredible and so supportive. Every day is a learning experience and every day, my skills change in both small and big ways.
How did you get started in the freelance ghostwriting industry?
The way I found myself in freelance was kind of unorthodox. For years, my dream has always been to become a published author, but I always put it on hold to work. I had been working at a Ford Dealership as an SEO Marketer and Content Creator when I discovered I had a heart condition. While I was working for the company, I was always
stressed, so I would write (while on the job) to relieve some of the tension I was under.
Eventually, my heart condition worsened and before long, my doctor said it was high time I quit.
I found myself unemployed with no income, and that wasn’t acceptable by any means.
Now that I had found myself jobless, the notion to pursue my dream started to tickle my brain. It wasn’t until I heard about ghostwriting through my sister that I realized I could work from home and do what I love. So, I researched freelance ghostwriting; I read all the horror tales, all the success stories, what I needed to start, and what I should avoid. All the ins and outs, I made sure I was familiar with. So, I made myself about 20 writing samples. I had nothing to start with, and I was nervous making my own samples, but when you’re a new writer, how else are you going to attract business? For the next month, I sent my samples out to every job I could find – during this time, I got rejection after rejection, and that was difficult.
It was around the 30-day mark, and I was close to throwing in the towel. I had no money, I was pretty much on borrowed time. And then, someone finally decided to take a chance on me. It was the next month after that I made my business.
How did you grow your audience?
Power of Persuasion, determination, and frankly being witty.
Growing your audience is tough, and it was something I really struggled with when I first started out. I’m socially awkward, so communication with others is a challenge for me. But, I’ve found that people don’t like business talk, they like wit and charm, and relatable stories. I mean, why else would the seek out a writer if they didn’t want a storyteller?
So, I grew my audience by connecting with them on a personal level. I shared in their woes, gave them encouragement, told them stories, all the while not changing how awkward I was, because my awkward personality is a great narrative. I made sure to never stray from my niche and I always kept my word when delivering promises. When I finally figured that out, it wasn’t hard growing my audience from there!
What have been your biggest challenges as an author?
Lack of confidence. Doubt. Fear of rejection. It’s hard to narrow it down to one, but they all kind of run in the same vein. As an author, you’re not only writing just to write, you put a piece of yourself into your work, and if you get any negative feedback, it’s incredibly difficult not to take it personal. It feels like you are getting judged and rejected, and maybe you are a little. It makes you doubt whether you’re good enough. The challenge is not to let the doubt, the fear, or the lack of confidence win.
What sort of pieces work well in a portfolio for a new writer?
Two things: Variety and Niche.
As a new writer, you must have an objective and determine what you want to do in the writing industry, and once you have a plan, you need to build off the plan by creating your portfolio. For me, I went the freelance fictional writer route, so I needed a variety of genres in my arsenal, but it also didn’t hurt to expand and add a few other things like blog writing or academics to my skills.
Your portfolio doesn’t have to be large, but your skills need to outshine what you don’t have. And whatever you don’t have, in the meantime, you work at trying to earn it.
It’s really all about variety; anything that showcases your skills (and your niche) and that gets the point across to whoever you’re trying to sell to.
If you could offer one piece of advice for an aspiring author, what would it be?
No one is going to tell you what the right way is to write, because there is no right way. They’ll say there’s a main rule to abide by, that you must constantly read, constantly write, or carry a notebook in your pocket to keep track of your ideas. All good pieces of advice.
Honestly, if you want to become a successful writer, you must believe in yourself, be dedicated, practice, and never give up. It’s all about taking a chance on yourself and hoping the world will return in kind.
Thank you once again for taking the time to chat with me and give me a glimpse into your world, Crystal. I enjoyed it very much and I’m sure my readers will, too!