Back in 2011, Thuy Yau was a 22-year-old stay at home mum who had settled down early and put her studies on hold. But by discovering blogging, she began a path that would lead to a successful freelance writing future.
Her blogging gave her an outlet to write about her personal experiences in a motivational parenting role. But soon, a new dilemma. “I’d been blogging for one year and realised that I no longer saw writing as a hobby,” recalls Thuy. “I felt really passionate about what I was writing and wanted my words to inspire others to lead happier and more fulfilled lives.”
An interesting insight was also emerging. “The positive feedback I was receiving about my blog wasn't just from parents – it was from those without children as well!” she says. At this point, Thuy made the important decision to change the direction of her blog from ‘parenting' to ‘personal development'. And it was around the same time that she identified just how much she wanted to be a writer.
Cogs start turning
Thuy also realised that she couldn’t achieve her dream without some further help. “I knew that if I wanted to work as a writer, I needed to equip myself with the right skills,” she says. “That's when I contemplated the prospect of studying with the Australian Writers' Centre.”
Her motivations were very clear. “I knew I needed to seek the help of experts. I wanted to find out exactly how the writing industry worked and follow the advice and methods of the professionals.”
It was just the tonic she needed. “Knowing that my tutor was not only knowledgeable but more than willing to help – made learning so much easier and enjoyable,” she says. “Valerie Khoo was always encouraging on the audio. It was really beneficial having Sue White, my tutor, provide me with feedback on my assignments and answering my questions in detail.”
With her husband as the sole income earner at the time and having three young girls to raise, Thuy admits she had initially been apprehensive whether shelling out money for a course was a good idea. “But it was most definitely worth it!” she enthuses.
The support and encouragement she received on her Magazine and Newspaper Writing course had an immediate impact on her own validation. “Studying with the Australian Writers' Centre boosted my confidence”, she says. “It helped me to believe that I really am a ‘writer' … helped me see that confidence is so important to achieving success.”
Living the freelance life
Most importantly, the skills she learnt allowed her to combine her two worlds – continuing as a stay-at-home mum while also pursuing a career as a freelance writer. Although, she is the first to admit the combination can be hard work. “I'm often rushing around during the day – preparing school lunches, doing school runs, taking my youngest to appointments or off to playgroup – and amongst all the busy-ness, finding the time to write during the day and/or at night.”
When it comes to the work itself, Thuy does a mix of paid and non-paid writing, and she has found that writing for the web (the place it all began) is where she feels most comfortable and confident as a writer.
In her paid work, Thuy regularly writes for parenting Fairfax websites Essential Kids and Essential Baby – with many of those articles going on to appear on the online versions of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and WA Today. She also loves the conversations that her words encourage. “Two of my pieces have led to radio interviews and another piece was republished by the Australian Institute of Family Studies . Many of my articles have been shared by well-known psychologists across Australia. I've also written for careers site Women's Agenda.”
Meanwhile, it’s the non-paid writing assignments that add another layer to her passion. “They may not reap monetary benefits but they've been a massive step forward for me,” says Thuy. “I regularly blog for The Huffington Post UK, have had work published on news.com.au, and was invited to become a regular blogger for three different websites.”
Thuy believes that while it's important to follow your passion, you must always remember that work is what you do – not what you are.
She elaborates. “For me, it's been less about the money, but more about doing what I love. I love writing something that makes a positive difference in someone's life – that makes them re-evaluate their life and/or the world around them, whether it's about parenting, psychology or personal development. It's knowing that my writing has touched someone else's life that makes my work so meaningful.”
Confidence is everything
For someone who once thought nobody was reading her blog, she feels really proud of how far she has come as a writer. “As a child, I was discouraged from reading and my love for writing was never encouraged. I grew up pushing my creativity to the side.”
But not any more. “Every time I breastfed my youngest daughter one-handed so I could write blogs or guest posts, every time I stayed awake until crazy hours like 3am to write – it all added up in the end. All those steps paved the way to my current occupation as a freelance writer.”
And it comes down to one thing.
“Confidence helps you get pitches accepted,” says Thuy. “Confidence helps when contacting experts through email or over the phone. Confidence helps you believe that you really can get published where you want to be. The [Magazine and Newspaper Writing] course helped me succeed with my pitches online, structure my articles accordingly, and all in all, become a better writer.”
Meanwhile, Thuy happily encourages others to pursue their dreams. “I have already recommended Australian Writers’ Centre to a lady at the library. She's a stay-at-home mother and has always loved writing – but lacks the courage and time to start a course.
“I would say to anyone what I said to her – you will never regret it. It doesn't matter if you're a stay-at-home mother, 55 years old, or never written much of anything in the past – if you're determined to succeed in the writing industry, then the Australian Writers' Centre will help you make it happen.”
“I know that I played a massive role in my own success – but I also know that I couldn't have done it without the fantastic help of the Australian Writers’ Centre.”