Interview with Jessica Schmeidler.

14 Dec

Jessica Schmeidler is a freelance writer, online paralegal and virtual assistant. As many writers look for ways to create a long and fulfilling career, today we look at how Jessica has applied her skills to tailor a profession that she not only enjoys, but broadens her horizons.

Jessica has benefited from the recession by filling a gap in the market. Many employers, cannot commit to a permanent employment for administrative work, this is where Jessica steps in. With an impressive resume, in just under six months, Jessica has built a business from scratch, that now allows her to pick which work she wants to complete.

A graduate of Fort Hays State University, Jessica double-majored, receiving a bachelor’s degree in english (emphasis in literature), as well as a bachelor’s degree in political science (pre-law), in 2007.
 
Following the completion of her degrees, Jessica gained the position of paralegal at Clinkscales Law Firm in Hays, KS. Soon Jessica was writing and preparing multiple newsletters, as well as submissions for newspaper articles. It was when then attorney began asking Jessica to prepare PowerPoint presentations for his seminars, that Jessica realised the potential of her skills.

“I decided to dabble with freelance writing.  So, I did a little online research and started submitting to copy brokers online.  You don’t make much money submitting to them, but they offer a consistent income.”

Building a portfolio as a writer is a daunting task, but Jessica held the advantage of having written some assignments for the University local, and state wide newspaper.  The broker sites provided Jessica with the opportunity to write for many subject categories, providing experience in varied fields, as well as helping her to understand which niche suited her particular writing style.  Once Jessica was receiving an income from the broker sites, she was able to buy membership to some of the writing lead websites such as Elance and iFreelance.

“You can create a rather nice-looking portfolio as a part of your profile, so I simply linked my website to that portfolio.” 

 The idea of rejection can defeat many writers before they have even begun. Jessica discusses how she approached the idea before it became a reality.

“The main way to combat rejection is to treat all your initial clients like they are the rock star of your clientele.  Good reviews are absolutely imperative.  If those first few clients come back unsatisfied, it’s going to be really hard to shake off.  So, I was careful to go that extra mile for my clients, including sending them hard copies, adding some marketing into the deal, and generally adding that special touch to each project that they wouldn’t get if they went to someone else.  Overall, I haven’t really had to deal with rejection yet, but that’s probably only because I haven’t been at this too long.” 

 This added touch really pays off. One testimonial, written by Rachel Fast, described Jessica as a: “wonderful individual to work with. Timely, considerate, and accurate. Extremely pleased with the completed work. By far the best value for a job well done I’ve seen in a long time. I will definitely be recommending this provider to others.”

A large part of Jessica’s workload is editing and proof reading, both for the text she writes on others behalf, as well as on a freelance basis. Many people break these two  into separate fields, but for Jessica, they are in essence required simultaneously.“They both require a thorough reading of the composition and should leave it smoother than when you found it.  When I say proofreading, I’m referring to editing for punctuation, spelling, typos, that sort of thing–obvious errors.  When I use the term editing, I’m referring to everything included with proofing, as well as style, flow, and other substantive qualities of the writing.  Generally speaking, I usually break down editing into three levels:  Grammar, organisation and style, and depth.” 

The title of Virtual Assistant is confusing for many.  A new term, it is a person that works from home on a freelance basis, offering a wide and varied service, depending on the clients need. So when Jessica refers to herself as a virtual assistant, what exactly does she mean?

“I use the term virtual assistant to cover all of the miscellaneous tasks that clients may need.  For example, if someone needs spreadsheets created or kept updated, this would fall under the virtual assistance category.  I don’t operate a answering system or faxing service from home or anything like that (although, I’m equipped to, if the need arises).  It’s just a nice umbrella term to cultivate a diversified clientele. “

 Jessica has started writing a couple of novels, but admits she doesn’t have as much time to commit as she would like. Living on a cattle ranch with her husband, Jessica works strictly 9-5 Mon-Fri. When she clocks out, Jessica heads outside to help with the family business.

Although published, but not necessarily under her own name, Jessica considers herself a professional writer, but not an author. She has completed some short stories, however. (one of which is available to view on her blog www.thewriteshadow.wordpress.com).

Recently, Jessica was featured in an article written by Donna McGill for Lawcrossing.com; “If there was ever any question about whether a paralegal could both freelance and have a powerful presence in a virtual world, Jessica Schmeidler answers that question; in fact, she redefines the model.”

Whether writing professionally, or for the mere enjoyment, Jessica stills suffers from every writer’s headache – writer’s block. So, how does Jessica get the better of it?

“There are many tactics I use to combat brain rot (my term for writer’s block).  Sometimes I just sit and knit, watching an old 1950s movie, or I’ll work on a quilt.  I’m a crafts person, so during the winter, those are usually the routes I’ll take to let my mind navigate around the blockage.  Otherwise, I might go for a ride (horses) or run to clear my mind and get the creative juices flowing again.  If that doesn’t work, I’ll sit down and simply read a nice classic, like Jane Austen or Edgar Allen Poe (the author just has to have a well-rounded vernacular).”

It is clear talking to Jessica that she is knowledgeable in a wide and varied field. As well as her blog, Jessica regularly writes posts for www.momvesting.com , and features on wedding, outdoor, and financial blogs.

Jessica is currently studying through the Boston Institute of Finance to become a Certified Financial Planner.

 For details of all Jessica’s work, visit her blog, www.thewriteshadow.wordpress.com, or her website, www.paralegal-writer.com.

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4 Responses to “Interview with Jessica Schmeidler.”

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