Role Call is a Petal + Sass blog section featuring interviews with professional young women occupying diverse careers – and their advice to teens.
Name: Valerie Williams
Age: 34 next week (sad face)
College & major: SUNY Oswego and SUNY IT, B.S. degree in Communications
Past jobs: My most recent job before blogging was admin and event coordinating work for a wine and liquor distributor. Before that, I was a stay-at-home mom for 4 years. Before that, I had a few brief stints in marketing. I designed some pamphlets and websites.
Current occupation: I am a daily blogger for Scary Mommy.
How did you become involved in blogging? It was kind of odd! I was a frequent visitor in the comments section of a smallish parenting site. The editor liked my point-of-view and asked if I’d be interested in writing for them. That was April 2014. After my first post, they asked me to do more and it just sort of blossomed. By September of that year, I was writing enough to leave my office job and write full-time.
What was your college experience like, and how did it prepare you for your career? It was a positive experience. As far as preparing me, I did a lot of writing for some of my classes. I’ve always loved to write, I just didn’t see how I’d be able to do it professionally without a journalism degree from a bigger name university, so I set my sights on marketing and figured I’d have an easier time finding a job that way.
What is life really like as a full time blogger? How do you get started and gain a reputation in the blogging world in order to make it a career? Well, I started small, but in the world of parenting writing, your name spreads. After a few months, I was getting messages from editors at other sites asking if I’d be interested in writing for them. I’ve now written for several other sites in addition to Scary Mommy. As far as gaining a reputation, it seems that writing daily was enough. All sites promote their content on social media so I joined Twitter. I would sometimes retweet my work on my personal account, which helped me grow, along with what my own sites did to share my writing.
What do you love most about your field of work? I love how no two days are the same. I cover news for Scary Mommy, so I write about everything. Vaccines, baby registries, celeb moms, breastfeeding – anything pertinent to parents. It’s so much fun and I rarely have a “bad” day. I’m very fortunate to do what I do! Working from home is also amazing, particularly as a parent. I used to get home late in the evening and felt I was truly missing a lot of their best hours. I know lots of moms would be happy to do what I do, since it affords me that extra time with them. Although there are times I miss office life too! I’m alone all day but I do buffer that out by speaking frequently with other writers I know on Skype or Facebook. I stay social. 🙂
Do you feel that women are stigmatized on the internet when it comes to posting content? What obstacles have you noticed or experienced, if any? I absolutely do. I’ve been pretty selective with what I’m willing to write about. I know comments sections on the internet can get pretty heated and I definitely consider someone having it out for me over something I’ve written and taking it to a dangerous level. I try to stay away from anything too political or religious. I had a colleague last year run into a scary harassment and stalking situation where the FBI got involved and that’s sadly a reality for writers, and for women more often than men. To that end, I don’t write anything under my real last name, mainly out of concern for my kids and their safety at school. I don’t want to scare anyone looking to go into writing professionally, but safety is certainly a consideration for women in my field!
What advice would you give to girls considering a career path in blogging, or writing in general? Write, write, write! And don’t write for free! Some sites will say the exposure is your compensation but if you do good-quality work, you deserve to be paid! Write and pitch and make connections. I’ve gotten nearly every writing job I’ve had because of someone I knew. Connections are very valuable in this business.
What would you wear to a job interview (do bloggers typically interview in person to land a blog spot?) I’ve never been interviewed in person! All of it has been conducted either over the phone or on Skype. 🙂
Any favorite websites particular to your field (or ones you just love for fun)? Not really! Blogging is mostly opinion-based, so I just frequent the news sites to find things to write about. I’m sure there are sites specific to my industry but I’ve never used them. In reality, I find talking to other people in my field is the most helpful to me as far as learning new things.
Looking back, what general life advice would you give to your former high-school self? I wish I had written more and considered more heavily the ways I could have turned writing into a career. I truly enjoyed it, but wasn’t really thinking outside the box.
Any other relevant info or words of wisdom? If you start blogging, try your hardest not to take angry or mean comments too seriously. It’s easy to get bruised by that sort of thing and have it hurt your confidence as a writer. A lot of people who make mean comments probably wish they were being paid to write too, and will only be too happy to criticize. Sometimes, people are wonderful and supportive and other times, they’re awful and will try to poke holes in your self-esteem. Don’t let them. Ever. 🙂
Find posts by Valerie Williams at scarymommy.com. You can also follow Valerie on Twitter @valeegrrl.
Find more professional women and their inspiring career paths here.