How A College Side Hustle Has Become A $6K/Month Content Writing Business

Emma Sloan
Founder, The Wee Writer
$6K
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
The Wee Writer
from Victoria
started January 2015
$6,000
revenue/mo
1
Founders
0
Employees
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How A College Side Hustle Has Become A $6K/Month Content Writing Business

Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?

Hi! My name is Emma Sloan, and I am the founder of The Wee Writer. We’re a content writing business that orbits around one key offer: writing well so you don’t have to!

We are a small team of fully remote contractors who, while based out of Canada, work with a variety of individuals and small-to-medium-sized businesses across Europe, Australia, Asia, and the United States.

To date, we’ve served 100+ happy customers by proving that, when it comes to the ever-changing world of digital marketing, words are the bread and butter– and that hiring a professional can make all the difference when it comes to their impact on your biz!

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Original post

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

As the first person in my immediate family to graduate from university– where I majored in professional writing and publishing– I felt that the pressure was on me to do something meaningful with my degree.

The Wee Writer originated when I was in the second-to-last year of my degree: I needed a flexible income that worked around my full class schedule and began offering writing and editing services as a sole proprietor to give time back to teams who needed to be sweating over operating a business (versus last-minute copy that they’d end up scrapping anyways!)

I first made the mistake of being too general. Before I received client requests for the bulk of those services and thought to myself, “You know what? That’s not the best that I can offer. I’m stretching myself too thin.”

Having previously worked in the non-profit, journalism, and public relations sectors, I’d witnessed first-hand how much time teams spent on a day-to-day basis trying (and failing!) to craft conversion-oriented text for brochures, social media, websites, and more. Still, I had no inkling at that time that offering done-for-you writing services would escalate to being my full-time job in less than two years!

Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

When it came to outlining The Wee Writer’s initial services, I first made the mistake of being too general: I was trying to offer Google Ads, newsletter creation, graphic design, copywriting, editing, and social media marketing… before I received client requests for the bulk of those services and thought to myself, “You know what? That’s not the best that I can offer. I’m stretching myself too thin.”

Within the first year, I scaled down our services to our top three: writing, editing, and social media calendar creation. Even then, it took a year to nail down our initial pricing guide (after receiving a flood of helpful feedback from others in the Canadian freelancing bubble), testing turnaround times, and “hiring and firing” multiple platforms and tools before finalizing our martech. Even then, we’re learning and growing all the time: like all businesses, we’re continuously striving towards being better and more efficient at what we do.

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Describe the process of launching the business.

The biggest lesson that I learned right off the bat? Say it with me: that your website matters!

I was in a unique position during the launch of The Wee Writer that, because it’s the selling of a digital service, I had no overhead, product costs, or another financing to worry about– and so I thought I could get away with a bare-bones Wix website as well.

Luckily a mentor of mine who specializes in both copywriting and web design swooped in to get me set up with my current Squarespace website, which is optimized for SEO, is easily navigable, and is a natural extension of The Wee Writer’s social media presence.

After that switch was made (five months after The Wee Writer’s official launch) my first clients began trickling in, which increased to a constant stream by the end of that same year.

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Image of the original website

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

At The Wee Writer, we don’t believe in a scarcity mindset– meaning that if we don’t think we’re the best fit for a potential client’s needs, we’ll happily bounce them over to a fellow business that we think will knock the project out of the park.

As such, what has worked to attract clients has been a blend of our referral program (which offers both clients and fellow business owners alike 5% of each project payment for six consecutive months when referred), word of mouth, and being interviewed on platforms like Subkit to expand our visibility online.

And when it comes to retaining clients? We keep it simple: under-promise, over-deliver, and keep our deadlines tight. Our punctuality and quality assurance are what keep clients coming back.

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Interview

Understanding that confidence is the best currency– and pricing my services accordingly– was a learning opportunity that took me years to truly capitalize on.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Today, The Wee Writer has grown its consistent client base by over 40% since 2020 and our team’s size is increasing year by year. Our goal is to break $100k by 2024.

We have recently launched our LinkedIn Company Page and are orbiting our short-term goals around increasing that online following. We’re succeeding in growing both that and our newsletter through our brand-new feature series, “The Nifty Networking Showcase”, which highlights fellow business owners across Canada on our website as a way to give thanks to the community that contributed so much to our success!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Understanding that confidence is the best currency– and pricing my services accordingly– was a learning opportunity that took me years to truly capitalize on.

When I was first turning The Wee Writer into my full-time job, I struggled with under-charging: however, knowing your industry’s monetary benchmarks and understanding the true quality of the service you provide clients can help rectify this common confidence problem– and, in turn, will help fellow business owners in your sphere by not devaluing the service in question.

This lesson has the added benefit of applying to other related situations, such as how you conduct yourself during client calls and being firm on payment terms.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

A business’s output is only as good as the tools it uses, which is why it’s taken years to iron out which tools serve both my team and our clients best.

Like many other business owners, my favorite project management tool is Asana to keep deadlines firm and team members on-task. Hemingway is our favorite editing app for tonal purposes (and is free!), Surfer is The Wee Writer’s go-to SEO-optimization tool, Bonsai is used as our default contract and payment scheduling platform, and Moz is our trusted tool for keyword rank-tracking.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

As a big reader, my top two influential book recommendations are as follows:

  • Profit First” by author Mike Michalowicz, which offers step-by-step recommendations on how small businesses can scale their profits sustainably
  • The ONE Thing” by authors Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan, which centers around the value of simplifying your daily workload to maximize the quality of both your work and your long-term mental health

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Three words: get mentorship early!

Having a mentor in your field to outline the mistakes they made early on in their career, highlight the missteps you are likely making, and provide insight into relevant benchmarks (such as what your direct competitors may be charging or how they’re operating) is invaluable. I credit my mentor, the Canadian copywriter and web developer Jason Finnerty, for helping refine my skills into a sellable offer early on in my career.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

While The Wee Writer is a small team, we are always looking for fresh talent to keep on file for potential future openings. If you have a knack for writing, editing, and/or project management, feel free to reach out via The Wee Writer’s contact form so we can get acquainted.

Where can we go to learn more?

If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!

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Emma Sloan, Founder of The Wee Writer
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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