Friday, December 12, 2008

Interview: Lisa Russell, online freelance writer

I found Lisa when I was new to the blog world and was looking for other Mommy Bloggers. I am grateful I stumbled upon her because she has become a friend and a mentor. She homeschools 6 daughters and makes good money writing solely online and selling ad space on her blogs and websites. She's even written an e-book called "How to Write Nasty Letters."

Lisa’s husband worked as a Director of Photography in Los Angeles and was losing work because he put his family first. They moved to Washington and got into the 15-hour-a-day restaurant business. Eight days after their last daughter was born, they closed the restaurant down due to overwhelming financial burdens. Over the next few months they lost their home and had both their vehicles repossessed. It was devastating, but Lisa started writing for income soon after so her daughters could eat. She says, “After slaving away at the restaurant so much and neglecting my kids for that business I refuse to work outside the home ever again.”

Below is a short interview with this impressive and energetic woman.

KERRIE: How do you find the time to homeschool, write and raise 6 daughters? Do you have a structure or schedule?
LISA: We have a pattern, but I really don't keep track of the time. I write before they wake up and I keep the computer on all day long, pop on and off while they're occupied (or nursing).

KERRIE: How do you keep the kids occupied while you write?
LISA: I usually only try to write things I need to concentrate on when the smaller ones (under age 8) are asleep.

KERRIE: When did you start your freelance writing business?
LISA: About one year ago.

KERRIE: How much time do you spend on it in an average week?
LISA: Three-five hours a day, seven days a week, so 21-35 hours a week.

KERRIE: Does anything suffer because you write? (e.g., the dishes sit for a while, the laundry piles up)
LISA: I feel very blessed that I always have something more important to do than dishes and laundry! I make sure the dishes are done when I go to bed and the kids fold their own laundry because they don't care if it's done right.

KERRIE: Do you older kids help with chores so you can get writing done?
LISA: My 14-year-old has been volunteering to do a lot of the cleaning lately, my 11- and 8-year-olds will clean when I ask them, if I can give them some candies or something.

KERRIE: How many online, blogging sites, etc. have you written for?
LISA: I would estimate between 50 and 100. [like eHow,, Suite 101]

KERRIE: If you've done print work, what (if any)percent of your income would
you guess is based on reprints?
LISA: Alas, I am a wannabe in this department. Online income is so much easier.

KERRIE: Where do you get all of your ideas?!
LISA: My head is a crazy place. I have way too many ideas, and I bet I talk in my sleep. I think I must have some kind of mental disorder that creates too many ideas. It's hard to finish things when you're always thinking of the next thing. You don't want to know how many screenplays I'm writing right now. My characters even get confused.

To learn more about Lisa, check out her blog, Mrs. Hannigan. From there you can link to her other blogs, check out her past posts, leave comments, etc.

What I learned from this interview:
I’m the same way as Lisa as far as having too many ideas … on scraps of paper (the baby eats some of them), on the computer, in spiral notebooks, on a legal pad I write on while I drive. I like working on quick projects online and also longer-term stuff like essays and articles to submit to print publications.

It’s good for kids to learn chores anyway (otherwise how will they take care of themselves when they leave your home?), but when they see that they’re helping their mom so she can do something she loves and is passionate about, kids benefit from that, as well.

When my kids ask for “extras” (like expensive homeschooling supplies or field trips) I tell them if they let me concentrate on writing every now and then we’ll have the money for those things.