Having Confidence In Yourself and Building a Community with Melanie Padgett Powers
Many people dream of taking that leap and going into business for themselves. When it’s time to take that leap, even the most competent people frequently start second guessing themselves and having doubts. My guest today is someone who was so confident that she didn’t let doubt slow her down. In fact, she knew that if her freelancing didn’t work out, she could always get another job.
Of course, it worked out so well for her that she started a podcast to help other freelancers do the same. Melanie Padgett Powers is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington DC area. She is also the owner of MelEdits where she primarily works with membership associations and healthcare organizations. She is also the host of the Deliberate Freelancer Podcast which focuses on the business side of freelancing.
While she’s not unique in her approach to podcasting, she does stand outside of the norm as she has a very interesting story that we all can learn from. Her story is that she doesn’t podcast to get more clients. Instead, her focus is to help people just like her. There are advantages to having a podcast. It does have an impact and make her look like more of an expert, but her podcast focus is helping people and building a community of like minded freelancers.
In this conversation, Melanie shares her background and how she finally got the nudge to take the freelancing leap. We talk about why and how she started her podcast. She shares inspiration from her parents, some of her future plans (which may revolve around podcasting) and a reading list that will be making you hit your buy button on Amazon. Anyone who has started or thought about starting their own business or podcast will benefit from this episode.
- [02:39] Melanie’s podcast is about helping other freelancer’s become successful.
- [03:07] Melanie has always been into writing and loved English class. She was on the high school newspaper staff when she was 14. She went to journalism school and became a newspaper reporter. She liked things to be planned out, and became a freelancer completely by accident.
- [04:16] She was a newspaper reporter in Indiana and then moved to Washington DC and landed a job at a membership association.
- [04:49] There is a membership association for everything. It paid better than working for a newspaper, and Melanie loved doing it.
- [05:31] She was at a job that she didn’t like about six years ago. She was finally fed up with having bosses and decided to do it on her own.
- [06:06] She had work right away because of her network that she had already built.
- [06:39] Her photo on her website was an out take of a website photo shoot.
- [07:54] She is a healthcare writer and editor, and she also writes about membership associations in general.
- [10:27] Melanie loves language and science and healthcare.
- [11:30] Her parents are retired teachers. Growing up it was all about reading and education.
- [12:59] She taught English in Prague and traveled a lot.
- [14:28] Melanie looks giving advice about how to run a freelance business, so the podcast was a natural progression.
- [15:06] Having a podcast makes an impact and helps Melanie look like more of an expert, but her podcast doesn’t directly focus on her client base.
- [16:13] Melanie’s podcast is about helping others be successful freelancers. There are financial possibilities down the road, but that’s not why she started her podcast.
- [17:36] A lot of her listeners are editors and writers. She is also active on Twitter. She is also looking into ways to purposefully grow her community.
- [19:24] Melanie was a fan of podcasts after listening to Serial, but she spent time waiting to find someone to do all of the podcast chores that she didn’t want to be bothered with. She’s a content person but wanted someone to set everything up for her.
- [22:19] She is a fan of Excel spreadsheets to keep track of topics, episodes, and checklists. She also creates templates to speed things up.
- [26:00] Melanie is trying to build a community. Some day she would also like sponsors, but right now her focus is growing her community.
- [27:09] She has Twitter superfans who are amazing. She always replies and thanks them.
- [28:52] Melanie suspects her listeners are people like her. She wants to narrow down the demographics with surveys.
- [32:15] If taking the plunge to freelance doesn’t work out, you can still find another job. Have a plan and save money. It takes bravery to make the jump. You can also control what you do with your business and who you work with.
- [35:08] Books Melanie recommends include The Freelance Content Marketing Writer, Atomic Habits, the Company of One, and Make Time.
- [37:43] Melanie is very close to her parents. Her mom showed her and her brother to always fight for the underdog. Her dad taught her that she is smart and strong and that boys or teachers shouldn’t talk over her.
- [40:16] A big goal for Melanie is to start another podcast that is more client focused.
- [42:39] Darrell’s takeaways: I like how Melanie keeps things simple. Her podcast success is defined by building a community of freelancers. That’s what comes first. She keeps a list of goals and ideas for the future, but is mindful to take things as they come and not get too far ahead of herself. I could really identify with her story of making the transition to becoming a freelancer. She also knew she wouldn’t be trapped if it didn’t work out.