[DreamHost Feature – August 2020] Corporate Gigs to Freelancer Freedom: How msloydwrites Made the Switch
August 12, 2020by Celia Shatzman
Originally published on DreamHost
Ever since she can remember, Michelle S. Loyd has loved writing — in all its forms.
“Writing has always come naturally to me and is one of my favorite ways to pass the time,” she says. “I find myself taking notes and writing things down in the weirdest situations in preparation for a new article, post, or social media update.”
It makes perfect sense that Loyd is now a freelance writer, social media influencer, and digital gamechanger. As the owner and founder of msloydwrites — a freelance writing, blogging, and marketing agency — she provides services for local and international brands.
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Finding a Path
But it wasn’t always that way. Before launching her own business, she worked for some of America’s biggest brands, including AAA, Verizon Wireless, and Apple Inc.
“While it wasn’t my destiny to stay with any of these companies, my time at each company taught me a lot about the business world and customer experience,” Loyd says. “I also made a few lifelong friends along the way.”
Ultimately, her heart wasn’t in her work, and she wanted to change that. “Since I love writing so much and I kept hearing from strong business leaders that you should love what you do, it finally dawned on me that I wasn’t doing what I loved,” Loyd says. “So, I changed my career and began freelance writing in 2016. Apple was the last company that I officially worked for before opening msloydwrites.”
Her experience prepared her for launching her own business.
The most important things she learned were how to operate a business in a virtual environment and use metrics to make business decisions. Loyd’s degrees also helped; she holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Southern Illinois University and a graduate degree in human resource management with a concentration in information systems management.
The self-described “digital nomad” is currently based in the Golden Isles of south Georgia, located just south of Savannah, and considered one of the state’s best-kept secrets. “I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about the history of the area and discovering more about my roots and myself in the process,” Loyd says. “As an African-American woman, I have a deep interest in the history of South Georgia.”
Many cities there have strong ties and date back to the original roots of American slavery. She was amazed to learn that in this part of the country, there are still direct descendants of the original West African Slaves brought over during the Atlantic Slave Trade called “Geeches” or “Gullah.” But her favorite part of the Golden Isles is the breathtaking ocean views from the barrier islands.
At Your Service
Through msloydwrites, Loyd provides freelance writing and marketing-related services online. Clients use her services for everything from ghostwriting to blogging, Twitter marketing, and consulting. “My clients are small businesses, startups, and individual entrepreneurs who need help creating or enhancing their content marketing strategy,” Loyd says.
“I create engaging content based on research and fact-checking that is targeted for each industry. I specialize in providing quality web content for blogs and social media sites that are focused on mental health awareness, psychology research and innovation, online therapy and telemedicine effectiveness, customer relations/customer experience, and small business consulting.”
Lately, the bulk of her work has been on writing mental health and psychology-related content for leading online therapy providers and developing new affiliate relationships. “The topic of psychology and mental health has always been important to me,” Loyd says.
“I’ve always wanted to be able to contribute to the healing of others as it relates to mental health. Even when I was young, I could see that not enough emphasis was placed on education, research, and developing realistic treatment options. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I know that living with mental health challenges can be difficult — even debilitating in some cases. As a result, I do my best to make sure I’m doing my part by sharing fact-checked education and resources for people suffering from chronic mental health symptoms. I try to create clear and factual content that helps people get connected with the resources and support they need to improve the quality of their mental health. I figure that helping on at least a small scale can make a difference.”
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Like many other small business owners, Loyd uses her social media and marketing skills to promote her own business. She regularly engages with her followers on Twitter via updates, polls, and inspirational quotes, to name a few.
“I’m an active presence on Twitter where I share, learn and network with experts, influencers, and other like-minded professionals,” Loyd says. “Talking to people who share similar interests and ideas makes it easy for me to organically find new leads and partners to work with. I use my social media platform and website to share relevant, engaging, and useful information with my followers and other like-minded professionals.”
Pushing herself to grow and evolve her own business has had both professional and personal payoff for Loyd. “I’m a huge nerd,” she says. “So, outside of exceeding the expectations of my clients and inspiring others, the most rewarding part of my business has been getting to learn and experiment with so much new technology! It’s weird to go from being a customer to learning how a business works from the inside. I love all the apps, tools, gadgets, and widgets I get to play with at work now.”
She’s learned many lessons along the way with msloydwrites. “One thing I think that every business owner should know is a tip that I took from working at Apple, and that is: Even in business, you don’t have to know it all,” Loyd says.
“It may seem strange to say, but we try to seem knowledgeable and keep so much information in our heads on so many topics, that we forget to leave room for learning new ways of doing things. This includes innovation and improvements. As long as the internet and Google are available and you know how to use your resources, everything you ever needed to know is available at the click of a button. Take it easy on yourself.”
Host with the Most
Having the right tech and tools at her fingertips has been crucial to Loyd’s business expansion. “Speaking of apps and tools, DreamHost is actually one of the latest additions to my toolbox,” she says. “I initially started my blog on the WordPress.com platform and DreamHost was featured there. I always kept it in the back of my mind when I was ready to host my own domain as my business began to scale. Once I learned the ins and outs of WordPress, I tried hosting with another provider.”
While their hosting services were OK, the pricing was confusing, and they didn’t have nearly enough options to meet her needs. She became frustrated and remembered that years ago, she had told herself she would give DreamHost a try. She switched her hosting over to DreamHost and has been very happy with the service ever since.
“I’m also my own webmaster, so simplicity in a hosting provider is mandatory,” Loyd says. “I’m satisfied with the price, integrations, and features, and I’ve had zero issues with uptime on my website.
One of Loyd’s favorite things about DreamHost is the user interface because it’s clean and provides clear instructions on completing everyday tasks related to managing her website. Even transferring her domain and selecting a hosting package was a cinch.
“The one-click WordPress install made it easy for me to deploy and access my self-hosted WordPress website in just a matter of minutes after setup,” Loyd says. “Easy-to-follow support guides help me navigate and manage the hosting features of my DreamHost account as a self-service option. I’ve never had a major issue with my hosting-related services. DreamHost offers a solid hosting package at an affordable price. As long as things continue to progress with DreamHost as smoothly as they have so far, I plan to be a lifelong customer.”
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Loyd’s website is, of course, an integral part of her business. “My website makes it easy for me to showcase my work, my personality, and to describe my business in a nutshell for new clients, customers, and people who just want to know more about what I do,” Loyd says.
She also created her site to share updates, news, and business tips with writers, marketers, and other small business professionals to make it easier for them to succeed. “I’ve been working on the ‘community’ feature of the site that includes forums and chat rooms for writers, marketers, and small business professionals to meet and chat about some common business questions, issues, and tips,” Loyd says. “When it’s complete I hope to have a ‘virtual water cooler’ environment. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I do as much networking and shopping as I can online.”
To keep her website fresh, she uses quite a few technologies and products. “I’m looking for a simple solution to integrate everything,” Loyd says. “I recently started using Salesforce essentials, which seems to be doing a really awesome job of bringing things together!”
Other tools she uses are WordPress for blogging, Crowdfire, and Zoho Social for social media management, as well as Google Docs and Sheets for word processing, writing blog posts, creating documents, and easy file sharing. “I have a comprehensive list of resources on my website that talks more about the products and services that I use to power it.”
Back to the Future
Loyd aims to continue expanding both her business and her website. “I plan to keep learning, growing, sharing great content, and keeping up with the pace of technology as things change,” she says.
“I hope that one day msloydwrites will be a source of information and inspiration for people who are looking for writing and content marketing services to increase their brand presence online. I also hope to become a central hub for other writers, marketing professionals, and small business owners to communicate and share information and best practices. It makes me feel great to be able to share relevant information and tips that can help another writer or a small business have an easier time. As long as I am inspiring people in one way or another through my work, I feel like I’m making a difference.”
Some kids dream of becoming President of the United States or going into outer space. Celia Shatzman, on the other hand, always wanted to be a writer. In addition to outlining website best practices for DreamHost, her work has been featured in a host of top-notch publications — think Forbes, New York, New York Post, USA TODAY, CNTraveler.com, Time Out New York, and many others.