An interview with Melanie Padgett Powers: Finding your Niche as a Freelance Writer

Show Notes

Melanie Padgett Powers is the owner of MelEdits. She is a freelance writer and editor in the Washington, D.C., area. She primarily works with membership associations and health care organizations. She is also the host of the Deliberate Freelancer podcast, which focuses on the business side of freelancing and aims to inspire freelancers to think and act like business owners.

-There are so many freelance writers on there, how did you find your niche and take your own path so you don’t have to worry about your competition?
– Why do you like to attend so many conferences? Are there any you would recommend for freelancers?
-How are your head of resources and head of security doing these days? 🙂
-Tell me about the Deliberate Freelancer podcast and its mission
-how important is a blog to a freelancer?
-How can our audience follow you online?


Today, we have a special guest. Melanie Padgett Powers is the owner of meledits. a freelance writer and editor in the Washington DC area. She primarily works with membership associations and healthcare organizations. She is also the host of the Deliberate Freelancer podcast, one of my favorites. She focuses on the business side of freelancing and aims to inspire freelancers to think and act like business owners, which is something I continuously repeat to my students at Freelancer Masterclass.

Mike: Let’s talk about Deliberate Freelancer. How long is it? How often do you update it?

Melanie:  I just launched it in March of this year. I had been wanting to do a podcast and dreaming about doing a podcast for a year and finally just said, I have to launch it. I can’t just keep thinking about it and planning and being very deliberate, and I need to begin. It comes out every Thursday.

Some of the episodes are solo; some I have guests. I have an editor who’s super helpful. But it’s all about the business side of freelancing. It’s for any Freelancer in any industry at any level, who wants to focus on building and growing their business. My big mantra is you need to step back and analyze your business and have structures, processes and a business plan. Plus, you need to market and network. I really like to analyze where I am and change things up and make sure that I’m doing the work that I love and not working for clients that I don’t like.  I try to pass on all that advice to my audience.

Mike:  How did you find a niche? What advice can you give to other freelancers who don’t know what niche they want?

Melanie: I had never really dreamt of being a freelancer. I was a newspaper reporter years ago, and then I spent 13 years at membership associations working my way up. I hated my last job, and I wanted out, but I didn’t see any opening for the job that I’m passionate about. So, I decided to go freelance.

I told everyone I know that I do freelance writing because you never know where work will come from. I got a couple of clients right away.  I was fortunate from the beginning that I had this network that I hadn’t planned on building, but just because I’ve been in associations for so long and in the DC area for so long, that it worked out. I also have a diversity of services. I am not one that wants to write all day long. I love writing, but I can’t imagine doing it all day long.

Journalism can be where the prestige is. You can try to get into the New York Times and The Washington Post, but you can’t make a living doing that every day as a freelancer. I also love being an editor. It’s been helpful that I have managing editing services. I do copy editing for a select group of clients, I proofread magazines, and then I also do write. And in the beginning, I even did social media management. But after a while, I decided to pull back from that but it was really helpful by giving me a way to connect with clients.

Mike: You have mentioned telling everyone you know that you’re a freelancer. That’s what I did when I started as a freelancer. I talked about it so many times in my Freelance Masterclass. It’s very important to market yourself to everyone because you never know which one needs your service or knows somebody who can hire you.

I noticed that you love attending writers’ conferences to expand your network. How can it help a writer improve his craft? Many freelancers are introverts. Would you advise that they also participate in these meetings?

Melanie: I’m also an introvert, so I understand why many freelancers are hesitant. The good thing about going into a writers’ meet-up is that many of them are introverts, too. They are the kind of people who are just like you. You can meet a lot of writers, editors, and social media personalities that can be a good source for potential clients.

Make yourself a part of a community for writers. It’s a perfect way for networking and building relationships with other people like you. Sometimes, you also need to meet new people. Though I know you love working at home alone with your cats and dogs, it can get lonely sometimes. You need people to ignite those ideas back.

By going to many conferences, I can connect with other writes on social media and ask them questions or advice, so that network has been invaluable to me.

The best part is I can get work from other writers and editors who have passed on referrals or jobs that aren’t right for them. It’s great when I meet my clients at a conference, and then they pull someone over and say, “Melanie works for me. You should hire her.” I can’t buy that kind of marketing, right?

Mike: Correct. Speaking of cats and dogs, what I found interesting on your website is how your personality comes out. And I noticed you’ve appointed your cat the head sources and head of security. How are they doing?

Melanie: They’re good. They’re out of the room right now; I’m hoping they don’t bust through the door.  They like to hang out with me. I have two cats and I work from home. Slinky is the HR Director because she’s super friendly and chatty. Anytime someone comes to the house, she wants to be friends. The other one, Bella, is the head of security because she likes to sit on the back of our couch overlooking the street and keep an eye on everything all day long.

Mike: So, tell me how important a blog is to a freelancer

Melanie: I like my blog, and I keep having plans to revive it. But of course, like every other thing that you don’t get paid for, it’s at the end of the list. Right?

I think the important thing is to pick a few things that you enjoy because if you enjoy it, you’ll do it. I’m on Twitter all the time. I love Twitter. You don’t have to make me go on Twitter. You don’t have to remind me to go on Twitter. I’m just naturally there building relationships.

The blog is funny because I am a writer, but I write for money. And when I’m done writing for my clients, I don’t always want to write for myself. Now other writers feel very differently. They want that time to write for themselves.  My best advice is to know for yourself if you’re going to keep up the blog because I think consistency is the main thing.

Mike: Yep, consistency and a reason, like why would you be blogging? One of the things I do to maintain consistency is I make it a rule to live and die on my calendar. If it’s on my schedule, I know I’m going to do it. Like the gym, for example, I used to be in fitness and so many people come to me and ask me how I manage to do it regularly. Well, I put it on my calendar, and I’m committed to doing it, except during an emergency.  And it works. I think that’s the same thing with blogging.

So how can our audience find you online? How can they learn more about you?

Melanie:  You can go to my website, which is, you can find my podcast there, Deliberate Freelancer, or you can go directly to Find me on Twitter, meledits. I’m always there.


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