#128: How Jeanne Noorman Overcame 20+ Years Out of the Workforce to Launch a Successful Freelance Writing Business

This is yet another episode in our series on grit and its role in freelance success.

Check out the introductory episode here. As well as Hannah Glenn’s story of how she overcame numerous obstacles a while back in order to get her freelance business off the ground.

My guest this week is Jeanne Noorman.

Jeanne also faced a number of challenges when she decided to start her freelance writing business after being a stay-at-home mom since 1985.

She had little in the way of a career she could draw from—and no professional network.

Yet she overcame the odds and today is a thriving freelance writer.

You’ll hear Jeanne’s uncut story below. You’ll hear about her struggles… the number of times she thought about giving up… what she did to push through all the obstacles… and the five recommendations she has for new freelancers.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

Tell us about yourself

Jeanne Noorman primarily writes blog posts and web copy for small and medium size businesses. She enjoys the challenge of recreating her clients’ voices and personalities in their content.

How long have you been freelancing?

Jeanne first dabbled in freelancing in the early ‘80s. She sold a few stories to different magazines. But this was pre-internet, so opportunities were sparse.

Much later, around 2012, she started freelancing part time while working full time. About three years ago, she started freelancing full time. Her business really took off in 2015.

What challenges did you face when launching your freelance business?

Jeanne had been a stay-at-home mom since 1985. She home schooled her children for 16 years. During that time, she wrote a few articles and ran a home schooling blog.

As her kids got older, she did some work for a theater company and some volunteer work.

When her kids started college, she got a job to help pay for their education. She started in a retail bookstore and worked her way up to store manager. But all along, she wanted to write.

She started thinking about how to build a freelance writing business. She didn’t have much industry-specific experience. But she knew she was a good writer.

So she had to start from scratch. While working full time, she would get up two or three hours early and write. She did projects for free to get samples. She read everything she could get her hands on.

Prospecting was challenging. In retail, customers come to you to buy things. In the freelance market, customers don’t come to you unless you’re established.

This created a crisis of confidence. She didn’t have a niche. She didn’t have a professional network. And she didn’t have the confidence to sell or prospect.

Did you ever think of giving up?

Yes, several times! But Jeanne had the grit to keep going.

In mid-2015, she set a deadline to turn things around. To this point, work was slow coming in and was mostly low pay. In addition, her first big customer was tough—and led her to think maybe she wasn’t cut out for this kind of work.

About that time, Jeanne met coach Jennie Mustafa-Julock. Coach Jennie helped her get out of her own head. Stop trying for perfection. Stop procrastinating. Start taking effective action instead of busy work.

What got things moving in the right direction?

1. Jeanne picked three experts to follow and disengaged from the rest.

Jeanne had spent a lot of time studying how to run a business, prospect, etc. She attended workshops, read books and followed online experts.

She came to realize this learning was a way of procrastinating.

Learning about your business isn’t the same as taking action on your business.

So Jeanne picked three experts (Ruth Soukup, Coach Jennie and Ed Gandia) and unfollowed everyone else.

Every morning, she would sit down and decide what she needed to do. And she would do it.

2. Jeanne worked through Michael Port’s Book Yourself Solid.

She joined a group that met online every week to work through Michael Port’s book. They held each other accountable for reading the book and taking action on what they learned. All of their businesses grew as a result.

Which marketing, prospecting and self-promotion efforts have worked for you?

She started networking online. She joined a mastermind group to build relationships, which helped. And she’s landed a few clients online.

But networking with local groups has made her business profitable.

Recently, Jeanne moved to a new town and joined the Chamber of Commerce. She attends every meeting. And every meeting she’s given a few seconds to pitch her business.

Jeanne’s town is about 30 minutes outside a larger city, so she’s also joined networking groups in that city.

She nurtures these relationships with warm emails and the occasional coffee invite.

The best thing you can do build your business is to go above and beyond with your existing clients.

Do a really good job. Then ask for referrals.

Tell us about your “Rehearsing Retirement” blog

Rehearsing Retirement is Jeanne’s new blog. According to the AARP, over nine million Americans are engaged in second or third careers.

The blog is about living life purposefully and planning your retirement lifestyle. It’s also about living that lifestyle now, regardless of your age or employment status.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to launch a successful freelance business?

1. Start now. Live your life with purpose. If this is something you want to do, then do it.
2. Network, network, network. Tell people what you’re doing. Don’t expect to land work immediately. It can take months get a lead from a networking group. Don’t get discouraged!
3. Find work where you can. Work for free to get samples. Build a website. Learn WordPress. Create a site you can update regularly.
4. Get out of your own head. Ask yourself why you’re procrastinating. Find people to support and encourage you.
5. Figure out what you need to do today. Decide each morning what you need to do, then do it.

Where can listeners learn more about you?

Rehearsing Retirement

Jeanne’s website: jeannenoorman.com