Living The Writer's Life: Donna Kaluzniak
What was your background before freelance copywriting?
I had a wonderful career in the water utility industry for 35 years. But I’ve loved writing since I was a child. I majored in English/Communications in college, and even in my technical-oriented job I wrote a lot — presentations to elected officials to get funding for projects, reports to regulatory agencies, numerous grant applications, and educational materials for the public.
In 2004, I got a magalog from my writing hero, Bob Bly, about “a retirement plan you never even heard of.” This was a promotion for AWAI’s Accelerated Copywriting course and I was hooked! After attending my first FastTrack to Copywriting Success Bootcamp and Job Fair, I was inspired to start a part-time writing business. While I had little time to devote to it, I was able work on short copy for local businesses.
After joining Circle of Success (COS) and attending the B2B Copywriting Intensive, I decided to focus on B2B writing for the water industry once I retired in 2015. I now own H2O Writing and am enjoying every minute of it.
What were the most important steps you took to become successful as a freelancer?
Having a support/educational system makes a difference. I attend local Florida Writers Association meetings to learn from area writers. I just finished a six-month mastermind session with a business coach and group of four women business owners — myself, an artist, a travel concierge, and a yacht outfitter. While this wasn’t a writing group, it helped me focus on the business aspect of freelancing.
Needless to say, AWAI and COS have been a cornerstone for my business, providing every resource imaginable. The AWAI family wants all of us to succeed. They’re ready to help with any question or problem. And I love seeing my friends at Bootcamp each year.
I think choosing a niche that you love is another important step to take. It’s been much easier to market myself to companies in the water business because of my background. And I enjoy working in the industry.
What makes Barefoot Living ideal for you?
I love the flexibility of being a Barefoot Writer. I’m retired, so I don’t want to pressure myself into working long hours. Also, I want to work with companies and people I admire and enjoy. Freelancing provides the opportunity to meet those goals.
This flexibility allows me to spend time with my husband or my 86-year-old dad, or take a long girls’ weekend with my best friend. And I have time for my other passion — photography.
I like having control over the direction of my business, too. My goal is to create passive income rather than chasing clients. Barefoot Writers can take their business in any direction they choose!
What sort of setting do you prefer for your writing?
I work at home, in a small office that my husband and I share. If it’s nice out, I may take the laptop to the front porch to enjoy the sunshine. I also enjoy going to a coffee shop for a change of pace.
What projects are on your plate right now?
I’ve become a publishing company’s go-to person for Q & A articles for water equipment manufacturers. I’m working on three articles at this time.
I also write online courses for environmental professionals. I recently finished a course called Introduction to Reclaimed Water.
And, I’m working on an e-book about careers in the water industry.
What books are you reading and what do you recommend for other writers?
The Last Man on the Moon, an autobiography by Eugene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17. I’m also re-reading Ilise Benun’s The Art of Self Promotion.
As far as must reads for writers? I like Bob Bly’s Secrets of a Freelance Writer, Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer, and Stephen Pressfield’s The War of Art.
Have you gotten any Glicken from your writing journey?
I’ve had some nice dinner invitations. But the best reward has been the opportunity to work with some icons in the water environment field.
Donna's Living The Writer's Life story was originally published in Barefoot Writer. To learn more about how you can start living your dream writer's life too, click here.
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