Living the Writers Life: Catherine Catozzi
You’ve only been a Barefoot Writer for a few months now, correct?
I joined AWAI in June 2018 after I left my full-time job. Took a leap of faith and moved down to Florida with my husband, who had a job waiting. I told him that I really wanted to just work at home. I was tired of the corporate life. It was my time to try. I said, “Before the Fourth of July, I will get at least one paying gig.” And I did. It was to write a resume for my friend for $129. And that July, I also won the Barefoot Writing Challenge and got a check for $100.
Where did you take your writing from there?
I’ve started specializing in short form. I’ve written news articles, social media posts, and social media advertising. Video scripts, too. My favorite is really news-type articles. I love to write in a conversational tone. I love to write about social media. I love to write blog posts. So really anything that’s short form. Projects between 1,000 and 5,000 words are really my specialty.
Do you write for a specific niche?
My niche is the lighting manufacturing industry. That includes decorative lighting like chandeliers and pendants, that sort of thing. It’s a niche that really needs writers. If you think about buying lighting, it’s one of the few commodities that you buy where you literally go into a store that just sells one thing. Across the world, there are a lot of shop owners who really need help. They’re small business owners. So I’ve been writing blog posts for them. I also write for the American Lighting Association. They reached out to me on LinkedIn.
So just keeping your LinkedIn profile updated really paid off.
Absolutely. All I did was announce that I was opening my business. I had my website all set up. I had three companies contact me within a week of making that announcement, and I’m still writing for two of them now.
How did you get into the lighting industry in the first place?
The last 10 years I worked for two different lighting manufacturers as their head of marketing.
You leveraged your experience. How about past contacts?
Absolutely. The funny thing about LinkedIn is that all I did was change my status from working at my former company to opening my new business and people contacted me. That was without doing any marketing or the other things I had planned. It’s only been a couple months so I will be doing that at some point. But it was amazing to me that those contacts I already had in the industry were so willing and quick to work with me as a freelancer.
How does that new success feel?
For October so far, I’m billing over $3,000 for a couple different clients. So I’m really excited about that.
What was your very first paying job?
I was a newspaper carrier when I was in seventh and eighth grade. I was also editor of my school newspaper and editor of the yearbook. And I published a book on the Vermont Marble Industry, because I’m from Vermont. Most of the monuments and things that you see in Washington, D.C. came from the quarries in our little town in Vermont, so there’s a lot of history.
Fascinating! Do you have any advice for new Barefoot Writers?
Use your connections. It’s really about who you know and what your background is. How can you pull that all together into your writing career? I’ve been talking to people over the course of the last few days and they’re kind of amazed by my story. First of all, everyone says, “Lighting? What is there to write about lighting?” And then I tell them. And I tell them that my first big client was the American Lighting Association. So professional organizations can be terrific clients. Also industry publications. There are just a lot of people who are looking for writers, so you really need to get outside your preconceived notions of where you think you can sell your copy.
Catherine'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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