What started as two assignments written on spec (meaning without the promise of pay), very quickly turned into a long-term lifestyle of high enjoyment for Susan Nickerson. Discover how she went from running an office in Colorado to lounging as a writer with a view of the bay from the Florida Keys. No matter which way you look at it, Susan Nickerson’s writing lifestyle has brought her a lot of joy — and there’s no end in sight.
What was your background before you started freelancing?
I was practicing as a chiropractor and physical therapist in Colorado. I’d been a chiropractor since 1991 and later received my physical therapy degree and license.
Why did you choose the life of a Barefoot Writer?
I love being on or near the water and have been a scuba diver since the late 1970s. I live in a simple setting right on the bay in the beautiful Florida Keys and enjoy the casual, laid-back lifestyle here — it fits with my personality. Plus, I can go diving whenever I want and am also learning underwater photography. And another big benefit for me: I can travel much more. I’ve been to the Philippines, Caymans, Honduras, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Ecuador, Peru, Italy, Greece, and many other places.
How long have you been a working writer?
I have been working as a copywriter for about eight or nine years now.
Can you pinpoint the place where your business took off? What did you do?
I attended the AWAI Job Fair at their annual Bootcamp. I did assignments ‘on spec’ for two clients and landed paid work with both of them. One I worked with for about three years; the other remains my client to this day.
Please walk me through a typical day as a copywriter.
I wake up whenever it happens naturally (usually fairly early). I get my coffee and walk five feet to my computer, where I work for a few hours. When I need a stretch break, I open the door and go out on my deck on the bay, watching birds flying by and boats going back and forth. I usually do yoga or a spinning class at noon or early evening, or take a bike ride. I don’t have a set number of hours to work; it depends on the project(s) I have. I try to be available to my client during the day Monday through Friday, but that is flexible since I am an independent contractor. Some days are so beautiful, I just have to get out on the water.
What was your biggest fear before you started life as a Barefoot Writer, and how did you overcome it?
I wasn’t sure I could maintain a consistent income that would equal what I made as a chiropractor. However, I have never had any problems in that area and my income is actually better, considering I have no big overhead with office rent and employee salaries to maintain anymore.
What about the freelance lifestyle do you appreciate most?
I like the ability to work at home without having to get dressed up, and even work from my laptop when I am travelling somewhere but not on vacation.
What has been your proudest copywriting moment?
Getting an unexpected $15,000 bonus!
Previous Job: Chiropractor and physical therapist
Current Writing Interest: Health (alternative and mainstream) and info-products are my areas of expertise. I do long copy, short copy, and Video Sales Letters.
Best Part of Barefoot Living: I live in the Florida Keys in an RV and step outside onto my deck overlooking the bay. I get to wear shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops all year long. I enjoy water-based activities and sunsets to die for.
Top Advice: Decide what lifestyle you want and train yourself in a field (such as copywriting) that fits with your desired lifestyle. Don’t give up!