About Jessica Greene
Jessica Greene is a freelance marketing and business writer. A former writing instructor and corporate marketer, she uses her subject-matter expertise and passion for educating others as a driver for developing actionable, in-depth, user-focused content.
The Story of My Writing Career
I can’t remember a time in my life where I wasn’t writing or reading. It started with Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat, a book I could read—or at least recite from memory—before I could write my name.
I was published for the first time when I was 12. An ad on the back of my local newspaper promoted a contest with the National Anthology of Poetry, and I talked my dad into giving me a stamp so I could submit an entry. I was thrilled when I received a letter saying that my poem was going to be published.
In the year that followed, I came to the realization that everyone who sent an entry had been published, and the whole thing was just a ploy to sell books, pens, and other miscellaneous items.
I started off as a psychology major in college, but I enrolled in as many writing and literature classes as I could to fulfill my general education requirements. In my psychology classes, I was bored, but in my English classes, I felt invigorated. I switched majors my sophomore year, though I didn’t really believe the degree would lead to any viable career options.
In 2006, I was a junior in college, and I decided I was fed up with bartending. I’d been reading about freelance writing jobs online, and I was ready to put my talents and education to use.
The Joys of Getting Published and Paid to Write
I quit my bartending job—much to the horror of my family who believed all work-from-home jobs were obvious scams—and started replying to freelance writing job posts. Within three weeks, I landed my first gig.
The role: write several 300-word articles a week about mortgage and loan topics. In hindsight, it’s horrifying, but back then, all I cared about was that I was getting paid to write—something I thought was reserved for novelists and journalists.
I used my writing samples from that first job to land other jobs. I wrote about mortgages, spas, mesothelioma, hip hop music, human growth hormone, and health insurance. I had zero subject-matter expertise in any of those topics before they were assigned.
Eventually, I was hired by About.com to build and manage their Louisville Guide. In this role, I was finally writing about something I knew and cared about—my hometown—and the training the company provided was extremely high quality. They trained all guides how to do keyword research and optimize content for SEO, and if I increased traffic to my site, I was paid a bonus.
Transitioning from Freelancing to Full-Time Marketing
I wrote for About.com for three years, but eventually I turned my newfound SEO expertise into a full-time role with a local startup that needed someone to optimize their city guide content. This was in 2010—before companies like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Google dominated local search.
From there I transitioned to a marketing manager role where I took care of all of the offline and online advertising and marketing for a local restauranteur’s three businesses.
Next I worked as a project manager for a local web development company.
Then I was contacted by a recruiter for a Fortune 100 company headquartered here in Louisville. They were looking for an agile product owner to work in the company’s digital marketing department.
I didn’t know what an agile product owner was, but it wouldn’t be the first topic I’d educated myself on before accepting a role. I did some research and discovered it was very similar to what I was doing as a project manager.
So I took the job. I worked as a sort of liaison between business and IT, writing and prioritizing the requirements that our development team needed to rebuild the company’s websites. I helped launch six major projects during my time as a product owner.
In the summer of 2015, my boss accepted a new role in California, and in September, he called to offer me a job.
Accepting it was the first big mistake of my career.
Moving to California and Making Big Mistakes
Though a lot of the work I did as a product owner involved writing and educating, the subject matter was unchanging. I wrote the same email replies day after day and explained the same concepts over and over again in meetings. I found myself nostalgic about my days as a freelance writer when every assignment was a new learning opportunity.
I knew before I took the role that my heart wasn’t in it, but the salary and opportunity to move to the land of endless sunshine corrupted that little voice in my head that said, “Maybe you shouldn’t.”
I spent a month packing, donating, doing research, and making decisions, and on December 26th of 2015, I arrived at my new home in Silicon Valley.
In April of 2016, I came home to visit family during my daughter’s spring break. On the plane ride back to California, I felt nauseous at the prospect of going back to work.
The Tuesday after I returned to work, I learned that my boss—the man I’d moved to California to work for—had died the day before in a hiking accident.
This is where people usually respond with a sad noise, but I’m not aiming for sympathy. It’s just a fact, and I tell it only because it’s important to the story.
Death is an inevitable catalyst for personal reflection, and what I discovered in my musings was an extreme need to get back to my roots.
From Corporate Marketer to Freelance Writer
Corporate life was exciting and challenging. The best way to describe it is actually with another story.
I had a friend who worked as a paramedic for nearly a decade before deciding it was time for a career change. He tried a number of other careers, but he could never find one that felt fulfilling. Eventually, he came to the realization that 10 years responding to serious emergencies had changed something inside of him. Without that constant rush of adrenaline, work was just boring.
On some small scale, that’s what working in a corporation was for me. Every day there was some new challenge, some complicated concept to explain to angry stakeholders, some new issue in development that threatened our release. My job required quick action, creative solutioning, and effective communication, and those aspects of it were extremely appealing.
For a while, anyway. Over time, the emergencies seemed less urgent, the missed deadlines became commonplace, and I learned that stakeholders are pretty much in a constant state of frustration.
When my boss died, I knew immediately that what I really wanted was to return to writing—to abandon corporate life and the nice paycheck that came along with it, to struggle and starve for a while before finding quality clients and opportunities, and to revel in the challenge while learning something new every day and using that knowledge to educate others.
I stuck around for a few months to keep things as stable as possible after my boss’ death. He managed a team of more than 50 people, so I wasn’t the only one affected and saddened by the loss. But when our senior director finally hired a replacement in August of 2016, I left my job and launched my career as a freelance writer, again.
What I’m Doing Now
Now, more than 10 years after that moment in 2006 when I decided to quit my bartending job, I’m back where I began, and I’m loving every second of it. I use the knowledge I gained over the last decade to develop high-quality business and marketing content that’s optimized for both search and users, and I love using my skills to educate others and help my clients grow their businesses.
If you’ve made it to the end of this too-long story, you’re probably the type of person I’d enjoy working with. Feel free to review my resume and writing samples if you want more evidence that I’m the type of person you might enjoy working with, and don’t hesitate to reach out when you’re ready to get started.