Natasha Tracy is an award-winning mental health writer and author of Lost Marbles.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
Initially, I started writing online just as a way to express myself with no concern for the audience. I simply wanted a place where I could share my experiences with living with having a mental illness.
In 2009, however, I was laid off and I found myself writing online with a growing audience and no job. At that point, being a professional writer seemed to make sense. It was at this time that I started focusing on digital publishing my work at Bipolar Burble at http://natashatracy.com and elsewhere. Eventually, I also moved into social media consulting work as well as professional speaking.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
As a contractor, I wear many hats so my days are varied. Sometimes they involve travel as I might be speaking at a conference or event or sometimes they are about producing at home.
Then I work on my social media presence. I set up what I want to publish for the day. I continually check on any feedback on social media throughout the day.
I like to do any serious editing work at this time when my brain is at its freshest.
Once these tasks are done, I begin working for one of my various clients. This might mean writing articles or consulting with business on their own social media presence.
I also try to fit in some networking where I connect with those I work with or have worked with or take on something promotional.
Finally, I try to ensure that all communications are dealt with before the end of the day, but I admit, sometimes a communication will slip until the next day.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I use five main tools per day: Outlook, Word, Excel, Photoshop and my phone. I use Outlook to manage email as I receive so much that the auto-sorting and folders are critical. I use Word for writing (often backing my work up in the cloud). I use Excel to keep timesheets and other data. I use Photoshop to create the images that go with my work. I use my phone to keep me on track and keep my appointments straight.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
Inspiration is a funny thing. I actually don’t tend to “do” things to get inspired, I tend to get inspired spontaneously. I’ll be going through my day, making dinner, talking to a friend or whatever and a concept will just appear in my mind. My pieces usually start with a small concept or an opening line. From there, things just flow.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
My very favorite quote is by Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
I think this fits me as a writer and my ever-changing roles, thoughts, and opinions.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
At the moment, I’m working with Dr. Prakash Masand on a writing up a survey on the patient’s perspectives around electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). This write-up is the conclusion of a survey I started last year and is destined for scientific publication. I believe it is groundbreaking work as it focuses on patients’ views on this very serious treatment rather than on how doctors perceive it as these things can be quite convergent and focus on the patient is rare.
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
WordPress the tool I use to publish my work for myself and for some clients. I don’t think WordPress is the ideal solution for publishing, but I do think it’s the prevalent one. Working with a prevalent tool has many advantages in terms of plentiful themes and plugins. With the right theme, WordPress gets better.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
When I’m focused on digital publishing, I’m focused on writing high-quality content. If there’s one thing I can tell people about publishing work, it’s that quality content really is king. I would never have gotten where I am today without focusing on quality.
Readers want something unique that can only come from you and they want it in a package that helps them digest it. One of the reasons my platform works is because I respect this. My pieces have decent usability and are presented in a pleasing way. (That said, I am looking to improve this presentation with a new look. Stay tuned for that.)
I also suggest digital publishers consider expanding offline at the right time. Last year I wrote a book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar and not only has the book done well but it has also lifted my profile online. This book contains many of my digital writings but in a new way with fresh insights and readers appreciate that. This publication also makes me a more desirable speaker.
Finally, it’s truly important to develop the right relationships. Early on, I started working with HealthyPlace and writing Breaking Bipolar for them. We have continued with a very positive relationship for seven years wherein I do a lot of content production for them. I have a similar relationship with Healthline.