It has been quite a whirlwind of a year.
I know: that’s as understated as it gets.
While I’m still processing (and likely will continue to for many years to come) the emotionally, physically, and mentally draining realities that have taken hold of our world since early 2020, I’m happy to report at least one wonderful outcome from the last 12 months.
On July 11, 2021, my content writing business Sunshine Creatives, LLC was officially born.
Technically, this birthdate doesn’t represent Sunshine Creative’s legal incorporation. I actually started my company several years prior, in January 2019. I created the LLC to be legitimate with my blog and freelance writing taxes.
As you might know, I wrote freelance articles for years for various clients, from marijuana distributors to style and grooming magazines to travel sites. It wasn’t much—just enough to throw some extra money toward our student loans here and there. It was the classic “side hustle” that many millennials know all too well.
However, it wasn’t until July 11, 2021 that my business turned into something more and became my only hustle.
For my main real job, I’d been working for my first grown-up gig as a communications coordinator for a small public relations firm located in Glenwood Springs. I was going on nearly three years when I began looking at another position for a bigger outdoor adventure PR firm in Carbondale. Everything looked promising as I went to multiple interviews and was told to “hang on” just a bit longer as they tied up some organizational loose ends.
And then, the pandemic hit. No more job. No more “hang on” for the other position—they underwent a hiring freeze.
After applying for hundreds of jobs, writing countless cover letters, and feeling endlessly defeated, I had an epiphany among my many tears. I decided, in a do-or-die moment, that I would jump into my writing business, Sunshine Creatives, full-time. I promised that I would turn it into something more, something useful, something great. It was my visual to be totally independent, focusing completely on Sunshine Creatives alone.
Note: I wrote an in-depth confession-style post about this transition and the hardships I faced in this post.
Building a business
Though I’m sure many people—starting with my husband—wondered if I would be able to make my writing business work as a financially stable business, I never gave myself an option otherwise.
From day one, I built it all from the ground-up. I created my own website and social media pages, crafted a media kit, created a brand, and listed out prices. Next, I researched—for hours and hours—different businesses that could benefit from my services. Did this local shop have a blog on their website? What about social media? I made a list and wrote a pitch, then got to work. I emailed as many places as I could, pitching my content writing menu and requesting a chance to better their business.
It didn’t always work. Solicitations, especially “cold calls,” are often infamous for being a little greasy and desperate. However, it just took a single reply to change everything.
I started Sunshine Creatives with a single client in my first month. I severely undercharged my services, since I was just starting out and didn’t totally realize the value of my time and offerings. In July 2020 I made $500, writing three 500-word blog posts, uploading them onto a website, and creating and scheduling an original social media post to go along with each blog. This client took a chance on me and it was a pivotal, invaluable starting point that has blossomed into much more. I’ll always be thankful to them and so happy to have created something beautiful together.
Today, I have 12 active clients. I’ve built relationships with so many people spanning numerous industries, doing vastly customized work for each, from social media to strategy to mass marketing. I charge a more accurate and fair rate for my time and experience (which includes nearly 10 years of professional writing), starting at $1/word and $35/hour. I’ve built a niche in several different industries and have done my best to serve small, local businesses in creative ways.
Though I would have been happy to make the same amount of money as my last position as communications coordinator—I just didn’t want to make less—I now officially make three times as much. And I’m hungry to grow and keep reaching higher standards and goals that I’ve set for myself.
I’d love to give a shoutout to each of the clients I’ve worked with over the past year. Each of them have taught me so much and I’m endlessly thankful for our partnerships.
- Dillard Team at Integrated • Carbondale, CO
- Spoke + Vine Motel • Palisade, CO
- Sopris Realty • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Dancing Lotus Artistry • Grand Junction, CO
- Bay Equity – Picore Team • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Benjamin Kelloff Agency • Carbondale, CO
- Trish Romero Agency • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Monica Goldstein Agency • Edwards, CO
- Lisa Thomas Agency • Pagosa Springs, CO
- Corey I. Johnson, D.D.S. • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Jim Lord Agency • Rifle, CO
- Garfield County Democrats • Garfield County, CO
- Merry Hill & Co. • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Glenwood Springs Magazine • Glenwood Springs, CO
- Siloam Designs • New Orleans, LA
A personal journey
When I realized that I was heading into the anniversary of starting my business, I took a moment to pause and reflect. Big professional changes like these don’t come without some personal ones, too.
Having my own company has been a mix of things—mostly great, but hard, too. At the beginning I faced rejection on a pretty consistent level, and it took a lot of effort and energy and focus to keep trying anyway. Though I had hope and knew that I was offering relevant and quality services, it was in the middle of a pandemic—there was always an underlying stress and worry that what I offered wasn’t essential enough.
I’m a writer and content creator, but I quickly jumped into being a business owner, too. I had to teach myself, as I went, how to do all of the behind-the-scenes work of running a company while also providing its services. Invoicing, soliciting business, pricing, pitching, meeting potential clients, marketing, advertising, and keeping track of expenses and tax information—I wasn’t just writing anymore. And, I think I’ve done a pretty good job at it.
I think that people sometimes glamorize owning their own business. Having random hours and being your own boss is alluring, along with the idea of making more money than a set salary. But it’s also a sink-or-swim reality, one that’s filled with over-working (far beyond the clock-in, clock-out 9-5 structure), loosened boundaries, and a pressure to always be on and performing at your top bandwidth. You’re not just representing yourself, you are the entire company.
However, I know it’s been worth it for me. While not easy, it has been incredibly rewarding. I have worked so hard and have created something—on a large-scale but also individual pieces that I’ve created for all of my clients—all on my own. I’m proud of my brand of Sunshine; it’s growing, thriving, and making a profit.
I did all of this in a year and I am so proud of myself. I’ve grown, developed entirely new skills, and refined my writing. I strive to be the best at what I do and I think I’m getting there, closer every single day.
I can’t wait to see what the next year holds.