What are you doing right now to create opportunities for yourself? Sometimes we need to take matters into our own hands and create the job we want or need at any given time. Our guest today did just that.

Courtney Danyel is a business writer and content strategist with more than ten years of experience in professional writing. She has her MA in anthropology and her original plan was to continue on to her Ph.D. So, how did she wind up as a business writer? She didn’t conform and built a business from the ground up that allows her to live abroad, travel, and support herself and her family in Ethiopia. 

From freelancing, ghostwriting, consulting, the options are limitless. Give yourself the permission to branch out and create something for yourself using the skills you know you have. 

Show Notes:

[3:19] – Fatimah and Courtney met through Courtney reaching out for a collaboration and it has turned into a bigger collaboration than initially planned.

[4:09] – Courtney stumbled into freelance business writing 6 years ago. She is a content writer for various businesses that outsource their writing for blogs, articles, and social media.

[5:01] – Courtney has an MA in anthropology and had never intended to go into business writing. She planned to continue on through a Ph.D. and dreamed of being a professor.

[6:05] – The reason Courtney changed her path so drastically was due to burn out. She “plowed” through and had a master’s degree by age 24.

[6:49] – Through her favorite part of anthropology, field work, she found herself in Ethiopia and fell in love with the country. She didn’t want to go back to her original path.

[7:31] – Courtney knew she needed to be able to support herself in Ethiopia and with the advice she gained from her mother, she branched out into freelance writing.

[9:03] – In the beginning, Courtney’s experience wasn’t great because she didn’t know what she was doing. She needed fast money and put herself on a freelance site called Fiverr writing press releases.

[10:10] – Imposter Syndrome followed her into this world of freelance writing because she felt that she didn’t deserve to be paid well for this new venture. 

[11:17] – Fiverr is an outsourcing site that can be good for making a little extra money, but is not the best for building a business. Fatimah describes another freelance site called Upwork that is similar but a better for building a more reputable and high-earning business.

[12:27] – Initially, Courtney was only writing about things in her anthropology niche, but it wasn’t lucrative enough. She then branched out into marketing content. She used her researching skills to write in areas that she wasn’t familiar with.

[13:38] – While researching for a client, she stumbled across one of her own written pieces on Forbes and realized that she wasn’t getting paid what she was worth.

[14:14] – Courtney was aware that she was ghostwriting, which means that someone was paying her to write something and then publishing it under their own name. But she had no idea she was ghostwriting for CEOs of businesses submitting to Forbes.

[14:52] – This experience was a turning point for her as she now knew she was able to create valuable content for people. She built her own website with her own pricing and is now running her own successful writing business.

[16:52] – Courtney feels that any academic who wants to branch out into entrepreneurship already has the skills to succeed at it. The key is persistence.

[18:02] – Going back to Ethiopia was very important to Courtney to be with her partner. Her freelance writing business has also allotted her the freedom to travel.

[18:54] – Courtney also has three foster children that she homeschools and this job allows her to do that.

[21:18] – There are a lot of ways to set up freelance work and Courtney breaks down the process of starting with a client.

[22:57] – Adding in 10% to what you think the project’s work is worth is a good idea as a buffer for the inevitable extra time it will take.

[24:40] – Creating a contract that is agreed on between you and the client is crucial to make sure you get paid what you are worth.

[26:37] – A challenge of being an entrepreneur is time management. Courtney explains that one week she won’t have any projects and the next week, she’ll have dozens.

[27:37] – Another skill Courtney says is crucial as an entrepreneur is being comfortable reaching out to people. She calls this cold-pitching.

[28:34] – The least important part of the business for Courtney is the delay in response from clients who drag their feet.

[29:27] – In addition to her freelance writing, Courtney built an online course after people were reaching out to her saying that they wished they could do it, too. 

[30:17] – Courtney has found that many in academia don’t feel qualified to do anything outside of academia and the idea of freelancing is intimidating.

[31:16] – Her course, Academia to Affluence is designed specifically to help people with an academic background use their skills to begin and succeed in freelancing.

[32:20] – Courtney uses her anthropology degree everyday because of her research skills in writing.

[34:32] – Fatimah believes that everyone should have the ability to earn money at any point they need it. What skills do you have that you can use to earn money?


Hang out with Dr. Fatimah Williams

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