Living the Writers Life: Wendy Howarter
It took us a while to connect because you live abroad and you’re traveling. Where are you now?
I’ve been living in Medellin, Colombia, for almost five years now, after living my entire life in northern Illinois, about two hours away from Chicago. It was time for a major life change, so my husband and I quit our jobs, sold everything, and moved to South America. We wanted a more flexible work schedule and to travel more. Right now, we’re pet sitting in Grenada, the British West Indies, an island in the Caribbean. The pet sitting doesn’t pay, but we stay here for free, have a car to use, and get to spend time with two pups.
You started copywriting after you made the move to Colombia, correct?
That’s right. I quit my job as an attorney and didn’t know what the heck I was going to do once we left the country. My husband suggested I take six months off, and after three months I started thinking about what I would love to do. I took a couple of courses through Great Escape Publishing and started travel writing. Then I wanted to earn a little more money, so I took the Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting in November 2015. I picked up a couple of jobs right away for Colombian companies that market to English-speakers. I also wrote some articles for a publication that gives tips on how to transition to living overseas. After a few articles, they needed someone to write a weekly newsletter, and I wrote that for about a year and a half. This year I decided to really pursue copywriting. I stopped writing the newsletter in April, went to Bootcamp in May, and have been working on my business since then. I’m glad I went to Bootcamp. It really got me motivated, and I got so much done in a few months. I launched my website right before I went, and I won a couple of spec challenges while I was there. The event itself was amazing, also.
Who is your ideal client now?
My chosen niche is the wine industry. My husband spent over 20 years in the wine and spirits business, and I’ve traveled to wine regions, done tastings, and poured at wine dinners. I’d like to do web writing for smaller boutique wineries who would need some freelance help. I just took Ilise Benun’s 21 Day Challenge. It’s a great program, and I’ve been using what I learned to expand my LinkedIn network and connect with various people in the wine industry.
That’s great progress! What other industries have you written for?
While I was still taking the Accelerated Copywriting program, I did some work for a client in the gold-coin-buying industry. It wasn’t for very long, but it was interesting to learn that business. I’ve written for a fitness and wellness retreat center and an investment firm, both in Colombia, that cater to US citizens. I still write for the investment firm, things like a monthly newsletter and an intro for a webinar, which I also hosted. That was fun. And I’m writing a feature article about Medellin for a travel publication. Otherwise, I’m focusing on getting wine industry clients.
What have you learned during your writing journey that you can share with others?
Be patient and know that this business is all about connections. It takes some time, building up the connections. When you reach out to potential clients, it may not be the right time for them. But if you stay in touch, eventually they will need somebody and your name will pop into their heads.
It’s very admirable that when you realized your career wasn’t making you happy, you made up your mind to do something else.
It was pretty much my 20th anniversary at work that I realized I was feeling older and stressed out and grumpy all the time. It took a real mind shift for me and was very scary at times. But you don’t have to be stuck in a 9-to-5 job. You can change things, start over, and find a new passion in life. Moving to Colombia made that possible for me. And who knows what the next five years is going to bring?!
Wendy'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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