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Writing Up Self-Employment

Skip Press is a writer, editor and teacher who has been self-employed for nearly 30 years. Residing in Burbank, California, Skip aims to write something every day. Skip started his career with a typical corporate communications job but later moved on from that and began writing things like news and magazine articles, plays, screenplays, novels and much more. One of his biggest passions is teaching young people to write well and inspire creativity.

When and why did you join the NASE?
I joined the NASE a decade ago, while dealing with the aftermath of a divorce that put my children in jeopardy and gave me the necessity to double up my efforts to provide for them.

What inspired you to enter the field you are in?
I’ve known I’d be a writer since a day when I was seven years old and something happened that made me think this would be a remarkable life. Thereafter, I mentally saw just about everything in my life as something I might write about. I first truly learned the impact of a good story when I was 15 and I read a story I’d written in English class. The girls reacted with smiles and my teacher propositioned me after class.

When and why did you start your business?
When my son was born in 1990, I was not long out of a corporate communications job I had to leave because the CEO was involved in criminal activities that later put him in federal prison. I turned back to journalism, sold a couple of screenplays, and then began writing books, and a couple of years later, teaching.

How do you market your business?
These days I get a number of referrals from clients, and return clients. I also get regular messages about opportunities from some websites that are set up to connect small business people and clients. 

What challenges have you faced in your business? How have you overcome them?
The biggest challenge has been in dealing with emotional issues, whether it be domestic or work-related. Thankfully, I’ve had very few troublesome clients. But no one trains a freelancer how to deal with people who cannot write. People who come to you and then want a refund after you’ve done work that would be lauded by others. Also, I became a single parent just as my kids became teenagers, and that offered unique challenges that somehow we got through by learning to be more polite to each other.

Do you have any employees?
The documentary I’m currently making is a project I put together to help my son, who was out of a job and looking to move up in Hollywood. He’s my one employee at the moment, although we’ve hired various people temporarily while making the project. In 2019, I might have to add an assistant and who knows, we may start a production company.

What’s your schedule like, what’s a typical day for you?
I usually wake up very early in the morning and deal with social media and email. I also do a lot of reading. After that, I start with whatever writing project I have on the slate. Later in the day, or in the evening, I might do some editing, right up until bedtime. It’s not unusual for me to work an 80-hour week during the busiest times.

What’s the best thing about being self-employed?
If you have ever enjoyed the luxury of being able to mostly set your own schedule, wear whatever you want, work in bed if you like, then you know something about what it’s like being a successful writer/editor.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received from a client?
I recently spent a couple of months editing (through many drafts) a biography written by a young woman who overcame major social and psychological challenges to become a media success. Her repeated comment about my editing was “I can’t believe how smooth you made this read! How do you do that?”

What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own business?
If you find yourself being terrified, pat yourself on the back. I’ve never known anyone, including famous CEOs, who don’t get freaked out about the future on occasion.

Any other information you would like to share?
I’ve been repeatedly amazed at how major executives in companies I’ve worked with have difficulty writing even simple documents. Also, because I grew up poor, I try to help young people who want to write get started. I’ve taught tens of thousands of people around the world how to write well, via books and classes. So I would advise anyone to do their best to better their communication, particularly written communication. I guarantee you it will put you ahead of the pack.

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