Christine Peets has been a professional writer since 1991 with work published in Canada and internationally in newspapers, magazines, academic journals, and on websites and blogs. Her business, Captions Communications offers writing, editing, and proofreading services.
Read on to see how Christine started providing professional writing services from her home.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your freelance writing journey.
My journey to owning a communications company has taken a few twists and turns, including several years of being an early childhood educator working in childcare centers and nursery schools, and being a work-at-home mom of two sons—entirely different forms of communication!
I’d started writing in high school and then took the detour into early childhood education but I never lost the passion for writing. I came back to it in the late 1980s working for community newspapers and then branching out as a freelancer in the late 1990s. It’s been an incredible journey ever since. I started teaching writing courses and offering business communications training in 2002.
I’ve been able to combine my love of writing and my love of teaching by leading creative writing classes, and working with college students teaching Career Communications and Early Childhood Education courses.
I’ve also combined the two passions by organizing conferences and workshops and then writing the follow-up reports.
Whether you’re talking about written or oral communications, it’s all under the same umbrella, and I like to “capture” or “caption” people’s stories—hence the name of the business.
What did you do before launching your own business?
I was a staff reporter at two community newspapers and did a lot of other things—described above.
How did you fund your business?
Working from home, my start-up costs were minimal. I am very lucky to have financial and emotional support from family.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent in your home office?
My hours vary according to my assignments and most of the time I’m in the office. The advantage of being a freelancer is that I don’t need to keep specific hours, and with the use of portable equipment, I can write from many places.
How would you rate your success?
Success is a relative term, and it really has nothing to do with how much money you make, or don’t make. It’s all about loving the work you do and being present all the time in it—bringing your best to each and every client.
In the freelance world, we use the terms “feast” and “famine” and that sometimes sums up my career.
At times I am very busy with quite a few clients and assignments and then there are slow times. During those times, I spend a lot of time marketing.
What has been your biggest business struggle as a freelancer?
Getting people to recognize the value of hiring a professional writer to help them. Since all of us learn to write when we are children, we all think it’s easy to be a writer and communicate our message. Not true. A professional writer will save you time and money by communicating your message with the right words delivered at the right time.
What advice would you give to an aspiring freelance writer?
Follow your passion and the money will follow. As many have said, if you’re not loving what you do, more money isn’t going to help. If you love what you do, it doesn’t seem like work.
Join associations related to your work. I have had a lot of success through memberships in organizations, especially the Professional Writers Association of Canada, and the Napanee and District Chamber of Commerce. I have had a great deal of support as well as work from other members in these organizations, or they’ve provided leads to more work. Being part of a professional association gives you many opportunities to learn from others who share your passion for the work.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I have been extremely lucky to have family support, and they know that family comes before work. They have their own work and activities but we make time to be together.
I do a lot of networking both online and in the community. I especially enjoy meeting with others who write and teach, but I enjoy meeting all other entrepreneurs because we can all learn from each other.
Thanks to Christine Peets for sharing her story!
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