Living the Writer's Life: Colette Rice
Flexible Schedule, Benefits Package, and Six-Figure Income … from Home!
Years ago, Colette Rice and her sister took a life-changing trip to Egypt. While exploring a spice market, one vendor proudly told them his family had held the same booth for 250 years. When he saw her look of surprise, he explained, “Here, we think in thousands.” Colette’s fascination with the people in the world around her was the driving force that led her to seek a new career in copywriting. She tried freelancing for a while, but it was an in-house position with a nonprofit company that gave her the writer’s life of her dreams …
What were the biggest things you wanted to change that led you to look for a new career path?
I had moved across the country to be close to family and care for my elderly mother. I wanted to work from home, make good money doing something I liked, and contribute to something that mattered to me. Having been “the boss” in my previous position, I wanted freedom and flexibility.
What does a typical week look like for you as a full-time nonprofit copywriter and consultant?
I am the corporate and foundation officer for a community-based, nonprofit hospice. I prospect funders and write grant proposals for my agency’s hospice, palliative care, bereavement, and caregiver support programs and develop the organization’s grants strategy. I also assist with other communications and fundraising writing as needed.
I work from home, on a flexible schedule, 40 hours per week. It’s busy, but manageable, and quite engaging. I work with our program people, learning the impact of the work they do, and then translating those stories into funding proposals and campaigns.
I recently helped create a new relationship with a major tribal government that resulted in a $1 million, three-year grant for my agency.
That’s fantastic! What do you love most about the nonprofit niche?
I’m thrilled to be doing something that’s making a tangible, positive difference in the world. I’m humbled every day by the life-changing work our program people are doing in our community. And I’m a part of that, working with a beautiful team, using my skills to help people in pain feel hope, kindness, and positivity.
I'm curious … What do you see as the main advantages of an in-house job as opposed to freelancing?
I don’t have to spend time marketing myself or searching for clients, which I absolutely loathed. I just never got good at it, and I tended to put it off. As a result, I was never that successful as a freelancer.
I love having an excellent, steady paycheck and an exceptionally generous benefits package. Between salary and benefits, I top the six-figure mark easily. And I do it on a flexible schedule, with a lot of independence, working from home.
You are still working for someone else, so if you are determined not to do that, in-house isn’t for you. In my case, in-house works because I found the right house.
What advice would you give to someone trying to break into the nonprofit writing niche?
Research your prospects. Learn how much money per year they raise through philanthropy. If they aren’t raising $5–$6 million-plus, they probably can’t afford you. If they are spending money on fundraising and marketing, they may be hiring writers.
Make some decisions about how you’ll handle the organizations that tear at your heartstrings but just can’t afford you. You can do pro bono work for a group you love, and make your money on bigger nonprofits. And don’t rule out a full-time position. It’s what gave me my writer’s life.
That’s great advice. What do you love most about your writer’s life?
Doing what I love, from home, on a flexible schedule, earning a six-figure compensation package while also having security, all those paid benefits, and a wonderful team. Knowing that my work is making a real difference.
I love that I don’t have to search for clients, market myself, or the other things I was trying to force myself to do as a freelancer. Now, I just write.
Tell us about a vacation you took that was really incredible.
My sister and I went to Egypt in 2000. The extraordinary history and culture of the country are simply breathtaking, and the people were kind and welcoming on a level I have never experienced anywhere else. A truly life-changing experience.
Colette'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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