by Karen Knowles

Wendy McCance knows about struggle and transformation.  In 2012, bankrupt and jobless,  she turned to blogging to “scream at the world” and discovered a passion for writing that has changed her life. In just a few short years, she has become a successful freelance writer, social media strategist, and music journalist. Her blog, Searching for the Happiness, is a mix of personal and business insights as well as how-to tips for new freelancers.  Wendy’s take on happiness?  “Keep your eyes open and reach out when something interests you.”

I’ve read in your blog Searching for the Happiness, that becoming a writer pretty much saved you. Could you describe how writing transformed your life?
My husband and I were both working at General Motors, we were working on the line. In 2009, the plant closed and neither of us had much in the way of a college education. I had an associate’s degree, and that was it. We knew we needed to go back to school and figure out what we were going to do with our life. In the middle of all that, I got fibromyalgia, and so I was trying to figure out how I was going to support three kids and how to work with fibromyalgia. It was just a lot, all at once. We had been trying to save our house and we went through all of our savings and weren’t able to save it. We had a rental and we lost that, too. We had to claim bankruptcy. We lost everything. We lost the jobs, the house, everything you can imagine. Plus, my health was horrible. I struggled through school. It was just hard to sit for so long.

I was determined to get something where I could jump back in and have a decent job, so I went for paralegal because I knew it would be quick. I got that and found a job. They started me out as a receptionist. Back when the economy went to hell, no one could find a job where you could make very much money an hour, and it was horrible. I couldn’t sit for that long. It was too painful. It got to the point where I realized I had to get very creative as to what kind of job I was going to have. So I did a lot of crying and hating the world and everything and decided that I just had to get all this toxic feeling out of my system, and I decided I wanted to write. I didn’t want to just write in a journal; I wanted to scream at the world.

As it turned out, when I put the blog together, it wasn’t horrible. When I was writing, it wasn’t like I was saying awful things, it was sort of like I was questioning: why am I in this position and how am I going to get myself out? People related and I started getting some really good comments, and I didn’t realize people were reading it, but it dawned on me, this isn’t just helping me, this might be helping other people, too. Three months in, there was a company that asked me if I wanted to do articles for them. And it clicked. And I thought, Oh, my God, I love writing, it’s done a lot for me. Someone actually wants me to write for them. Maybe this is the path I need to be taking. So I looked into freelance writing, and my husband was fabulous and said “You know what, I think this is a great move for you” and supported it. I went into writing and it worked out amazingly well.

Were you inspired to be a writer before the blog?
Oh, yeah. I had always been that person who always had a book. Constantly reading. I have a library at home that spans an entire wall, and I still have piles of books beside it. When I was a kid I wanted to be Judy Blume. Desperately. But I didn’t know how to go about it. Before the internet, to be able to research how to become a writer, you had to know all the right things to ask. With the internet, it’s like a crystal ball. You can throw out any question and eventually it leads you to the right spot. You might not have the right wording, but you can figure it out. Back then, it just seemed too elusive. You’d hear, “Oh, it’s so hard to be an author,” and I didn’t know the first steps to take. I thought that’s too much of a pipe dream. I can’t do that.

What are your favorite subjects to blog about?
There are two main areas I’ll write about. Personal, just different things that are going on in my life and that I feel like everyone has dealt with and can relate to, and then there’s that support for writers and bloggers and this was how I was able to create a career out of it and you can, too. Because I just feel like other people have gone through this and if I can help them along so that they can have those same opportunities, I would love to do that. Whenever I find new information now, I’ll share it.

That’s really commendable and what drew me to you. I see you as a mentor where you’re inspiring and guiding other freelance writers.
Thanks, it’s just that there’s so much stuff on the internet. It’s so negative. If you don’t do this or that, it will never happen, and being a freelancer is such a hard thing to do, and honestly, for me, it wasn’t. Everything just started falling into place. And that’s what I wanted to show people. I know what it’s like not to be able to have that job you dream about but just have the job that makes you money. That’s what happened for me at the plant. There was no challenge to it; it was so horribly boring. We didn’t even have savings when I started writing, and I was thinking, this better work. My husband was making barely any money. I just lucked out because I had someone who was incredibly supportive, but anyone can do it and the information is all over the internet. You just have to look and be confident about what you want to do. If I can help, I would love to. There’s enough out there for everyone.

Sounds like with writing that you’ve followed your heart. How does it feel to know your true life’s purpose?
It feels like I’m finally in my own skin. It feels like I’m a kid again. When I was young, I had a better sense of who I was. As then as you get older, the world starts getting in your head— these are the steps you’re supposed to take to live life in a certain way— and it starts being confusing. Where’s your voice in it all? When I really got into writing, all of a sudden everything else fell away and it was like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is what it was all about.’ It’s really nice.

What new projects are you working on these days?
I’ve been getting into songwriting. I’ve always loved music, but I can’t sing and I can’t play an instrument. I’ve always wanted to know— maybe I could be a songwriter, maybe that could be my way in.
Not too long ago I decided, you know what, I’m just going to do this. I had already written some songs and I wanted to see where it could go. This is just how I work. I just jump right in. I started looking at recording studios in the area and figured that maybe I could contact someone and just ask about what are the next steps I should be taking. And I found a recording studio with a guy who is an award-winning recording artist, and he’s had all sorts of really big name artists in the studio.

Of course, I always go big, so this was the guy I wanted. I started looking at all of his information and noticed that he had a really crappy social media platform. He didn’t have anything on Twitter and he was barely posting on Facebook and he had so much to offer, but he was kind of blowing it on that end, so I thought you know what, I’m going to make him a deal. I found his personal Facebook page and actually wrote him a message on it and said this is my background, this is what I’m interested in, and I was wondering if you’d be interested in making a deal where maybe I could work on your social media and you could help me with songwriting. And the weird thing is that this guy’s really bad about getting his messages, which I found out afterwards. He happened to be online at the moment when I wrote and he wrote right back and said, “Yes, definitely. I don’t have the time to do social media and I can definitely use someone to help me out and I’d be thrilled to help you.”

It worked out wonderfully. Ever since I started, he said he’s getting so many calls from people who want to schedule studio time. And at the same time, I’ve been going in and he’s doing everything for me with songwriting. We’re putting music together. He already has someone lined up to do the songs. It’s so much fun. The collaboration is really nice.

What advice do you have for others about success and opening up to new possibilities?
The best part about living your life is constantly finding things that are new and challenging. Just because I found ‘it’ doesn’t mean that’s the end all. There are more layers to it.

Here’s a quick little story about my daughter who’s just out of high school. She’s a dancer, which is not the typical thing your kids go into, so she needed to be a bit more creative and keep her eyes open for opportunities. I had connected with a woman who has a website that is all about inspiring women. I found her website because a good friend of mine had written an article about 52 women in 52 weeks who were inspired and overcame obstacles. I thought this woman would be amazing for me to connect with, so I connected with her on LinkedIn and she wrote back and said, “I don’t usually connect with people I don’t know. What led you to me?” I talked about my website and everything, and she lives in my area. She said, “You know, I really want to get together with you. I would love if you would do an article for my website.” [Later], when I had gotten off the phone with her and set up a meeting, I went in to talk to my daughter in her bedroom. I said, this is how you get your opportunities. You keep your eyes open and reach out when something interests you. The worst someone can say is no. But if you feel there’s some kind of connection, why not go ahead and attempt to connect? Who knows what could happen?

So here’s the crazy part of the story. After I told her this, I said I needed to go up to the grocery store and [she] said she’d go. When we got to the store around the corner and were getting out of the car, we heard someone say “You’ve got to be kidding me!” Here was our old neighbor we hadn’t seen for years until the last couple of weeks and then we saw her three times in a row. It was bizarre. Why did we keep running into each other? I still had that thought in my head of what I’d just told my daughter and I asked [my neighbor], “What are you up to these days?” I don’t know why I thought to ask that. She said, “You know, a few years back I lost my job in marketing. Ever since then, I’ve been doing social media. I handle the social media accounts for a ton of different companies.” She does everything in social media that I don’t do, and I do everything that she doesn’t. It was really weird. I said, “This is crazy. We need to get together, we need to collaborate.” She said, “I think so, too.”

Since we kept running into each other, I thought there must be something to it, and I asked. And that’s the thing, it’s not opportunities coming your way and grabbing them, it’s deeper than that. It’s seeing opportunities where another person might not. Keeping your eyes wide open. You know it’s like that thing where you take a walk and some people will always find money and other people don’t; it’s because the original group always has their eyes open to see what will be around them.

Trust in yourself. Anyone can do anything. The people who say you can’t are really the people who are too afraid to do it themselves. It doesn’t mean that’s what it will be like for you. You have to block it out. Stay true to yourself.

Great advice. Thanks so much, Wendy. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.

Wendy McCance is a Michigan based freelance writer and social media consultant. Wendy has gained attention as the founder of the popular blog Searching for the Happiness which can be viewed in 9 local papers online, including the Oakland Press. The combination of writing skills and social media knowledge is what makes Wendy such a powerhouse to work with. To contact Wendy McCance about a writing or social media assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: mccance.wendy@gmail.com

Get to know Wendy at:
Website: http://searchingforthehappiness.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/searchingforthehappiness
Twitter: https://twitter.com/w_mccance
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/wmccance/