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Rising Stars: Meet Allison Morris of University Heights

Today we’d like to introduce you to Allison Morris.

Hi Allison, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
My journey to become a writer started with quitting my job. I didn’t have anything lined up and only about a month’s worth of bills saved ahead of me, but I knew something needed to change. I was drowning. Within a few weeks I landed a full time nannying job, which was exactly what I wanted–something to pay the bills that I didn’t take home with me. A “landing pad” as I called it.

I spent the first year of that job exploring all of the creative hobbies and interests I’ve always had but put to the side for lack of them being “responsible.” I’d always taken the more straightforward path, putting so many of my passions aside. I wrote content for a web developer, tried my hand at graphic design, took painting classes, a calligraphy class, arranged flowers for a few friends’ weddings, and mostly tried to have fun and get my life back. In the end, I circled back to writing. It was something I had always enjoyed and found myself doing off and on over the years.

An avid journaler and letter writer for as long as I could remember, writing made the most sense. I was good enough to know I could do it, but also knew I had a lot to learn. Most importantly, I found value in the words I wrote. For myself or for others, it felt like a way I could make a difference in the lives of other people. People have stories to tell and messages to share and I wanted to use my gifts to help the cause.

It’s been seven years since then. After nannying full time for three years, I moved back to San Diego (my home town) to continue on my writing path. I knew it made more sense to be near family (i.e. live with my parents for a while). It was a rough start; I’ve nearly quit or tried to find traditional jobs so many times since. But one of us, me or writing, can’t seem to quit the other. While nannying only part time, I enrolled in UCSD’s Extension Program in hopes to get some formal training in writing. I took odd jobs dog-sitting, watching kids at hotels, arranging flowers for various events, selling vintage art online for my brother’s business, and then all the writing gigs…editing T.V. scripts and friends’ graduate school applications, writing blogs for whoever needed it, creating social media graphics and captions, and then some of the bigger ones…editing and writing content for books and curriculum, then websites, etc. As the jobs grew bigger, the side-hustling fell more and more to the wayside.

I’ve been full-time writing for only a few months now. Most of the work I do is for non-profit organizations and people in helping industries. I love the people I work with and getting to help communicate their story or message. There is so much good out in the world that people need to know about…I just want to get it out there!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has absolutely not been a smooth road. Finances have been the biggest struggle for me. I support myself fully, which meant that I couldn’t just jump into writing and stay focused on that. Until recently, I’ve always balanced multiple jobs. That meant a chaotic, inconsistent work schedule and struggling to bounce between different jobs and parts of my brain.

Comparison has also been a huge struggle. I started my journey at 27, and it definitely wasn’t an overnight success. It still is’t! So many times I have felt like I started my career path over. Like I sent myself back to college and have had to figure it out from the ground up while my peers are well into their career paths or family life, buying houses and doing all the things I thought I’d be doing by now. I’ve done and experienced plenty in life, but the last years I intentionally put a lot of things on hold to figure out if I could make this writing thing work.

Other people’s opinions can also be really hard at times. Especially at the beginning (and in the middle) when you look particularly crazy. Most people either didn’t understand, didn’t care to ask, or thought I should give it up already and get a regular job. Heck, I thought that too sometimes. The reality is, I have definitely chosen a weirder, road-less-taken kind of path. So I can’t expect everyone to understand. It’s also hard for people to grasp how much time and weight it takes to work for yourself. At the end of the day, all you can do is keep asking yourself if you’re enjoying what you’re doing and always… can I pay my bills?

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I am a freelance writer/editor. I specialize in working with nonprofits and those in the helping industries. Most of my work is focused on copy and line editing, ghostwriting, web copy, and marketing copy for newsletters and blogs.

I am most proud of the marketing project I managed with Evergreen Alliance, an accounting firm that works solely with non-profits. The firm is only six months old (with years of experience to back them up), but it we put a ton of work into their branding, marketing materials & video, website design, and now continuing to build out their social media and monthly newsletter. Their business is booming and rightfully so–the work they do is incredible.

What sets me apart is my experience prior to writing. My degree is in Religion from Vanguard University and I worked at a church in children’s ministry for six years. I am also on the board of a nonprofit that serves nearly 60 kids in Haiti. Much of my life has been spent in the nonprofit/helping industries and I am surrounded by friends and family in similar fields. This education and experience allows me to better understand the needs of my clients and speak their same language.

Where do you see things going in the next 5-10 years?
The more and more our world moves online, the greater need there is for quality content. Literally every single thing you read on your website, phone, tablet, streaming service, caption on an Instagram photo, description of an Amazon product, or the menu of a restaurant on Yelp…someone wrote that. And if it’s written well (whether you notice it or not), chances are someone was probably paid to write it. That said, the need for writers and editors is only continuing to grow.

With that, writing is so much less stuffy than it once was. People are getting creative and making it fun. Those restaurant menus? Read the descriptions. Sometimes they are really witty and way more interesting than anything you’ll find in your Instagram feed. People and businesses are learning to use their voice to tell their story and speak to their audiences more authentically. With so much content and media out there, the only way to really stand out is to get real.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Meghan Branlund

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