Amanda Lien

Content Writer

Amanda is a thought leadership ghostwriter, brand copywriter and strategist, and creative content producer for PR and marketing firms, entrepreneurs, and small businesses worldwide. When she’s not donning her many professional hats (sometimes all at once!), you can find her writing short science fiction stories, polishing her novel, or attending to the needs of her cat, Warden.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

I’m a simple gal – I just used my own name! As a content writer, my ability to put my name behind each piece of copy I create is essential to me; if I couldn’t happily slap my byline on something, why did I produce it? So having my name tied to my work – even my ghostwriting, though very few people will ever know it’s me behind the words – is a nod to the integrity I want to carry with me into every client engagement I tackle.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

After I wake up, the first thing I do is brew some coffee and spend some quality time with my Balinese shorthair cat, Warden. I also try to journal at least a page every morning to get the gears in my brain turning and also to excise any doubts, worries, or anxieties that might be lingering subconsciously. This not only boosts my creativity but also helps me form a to-do list for the day ahead.

The actual scope of my work day varies day to day depending on what’s on my schedule, but I try to get at least three hours of client work in each day – it helps me stay “in the zone” and productive! At any given point, I’m either crafting brand strategy and messaging documents, writing thought leadership articles, drafting press releases, or sitting down with new clients to strategize content for their business.

After my lunch break, I pivot to working on my side projects; I write a column for Luna Station Quarterly about the intersection of speculative fiction and chronic illness and I’m also writing several academic papers about composition pedagogy and teaching methods for the 21st century. I know it sounds dry, but it’s a lot of fun!

By around 3 pm, my brain is pretty much tapped out, so I take a break and either hit the gym or go for a walk. I live in southern Virginia, where there is no shortage of beaches and scenic trails, so I often forsake weight lifting for walking along the bay or the beach. I’m trying to convince my cat to walk with me on a harness, but he keeps getting distracted by all the plants and sticks he can chew on in the great outdoors…

When I get home, I spend a little while cleaning up the kitchen and living room; my apartment is small but homey, and the key to keeping it clean and uncluttered is taking a few minutes every day to tidy up. While I do this, I typically listen to music or a podcast because it helps the time go by faster!

When dinner time rolls around, I transform from my go-getter self to my potato-shaped alter ego. Rest and relaxation is just as important as go-go-going all the time, and I engage with that by playing Animal Crossing and Mario Kart with my sister every night (purchasing the Nintendo Switch was the best holiday gift I gave myself), and reading a bit before bed.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I blend personality with prose to ensure my clients’ voice and tone shine through the copy I write, even if it’s something as simple and formulaic as a press release. People love other people, and by infusing the content I create with personality and a sense of who a person or business is, I’m ensuring that audiences are more compelled to engage in a meaningful way!

What’s one trend that excites you?

There’s a renewed push for, and emphasis on, quality and meaningful marketing and leadership content – and as someone who has spent her career in digital media, that trend is incredibly exciting to see. While SEO rankings and keyword density are important metrics to consider when sharing content online, there won’t be meaningful audience interactions if the content has no substance. I’m so glad more companies are seeing that, and I’m thrilled to be able to champion that content for my clients.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Working in sprints. I set timers for myself – typically in 30-minute increments – and work as quickly and intensely as I can within those time frames. It helps me hold myself accountable for my tasks and ensures I use my time well.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Your passion is what makes you a strong writer and leader. When I was younger, I was often teased or looked down on for being so passionate about my field and my craft – I think people around me mistook that passion for naiveté. But I wouldn’t be where I am today without that fire in my belly, and I’m sad that I spent so many years trying to tame it for no reason.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There is no one “right” way to be productive. If popular productivity methods don’t work for you, that’s not something to be ashamed of; you just need to find a method that does work for you. As someone who is chronically ill and neurodivergent, I learned the hard way that trying to make my brain conform to someone else’s way of doing things when it really doesn’t work for me detracts from my workflow. That’s no good!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I talk about my work to someone who has no idea what I do. In my case, it’s my mom. I love her so much, but she doesn’t understand the world of content creation, but that’s a good thing because the questions she asks me and the explanations I give her force me to go back to the basics of what I do – and why. It’s a good attitude and reality check for me, and it’s therapeutic to talk about my process to someone who is more interested than listening than anything else.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Joining invite-only groups like Dreamers & Doers and Ellevate has enabled me to connect with likeminded businesswomen and non-men who are truly invested in supporting one another. While I am a solopreneur, I’m definitely not interested in going at this business-building thing by myself, and I’m very lucky to be in company with business leaders who help me give back and have given so much to me.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I struggled to keep up with client demand early in my business, and several projects nearly fell through the cracks as a result. While the clients didn’t feel the strain, I definitely did, and that’s why I established a lot of my time-dependent workflows. I didn’t like how stressed, burnt-out, and harried I felt during that time, and certainly never want to feel that way again!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I would love it if someone would build a platform for freelancer rate calculation; specifically, somewhere where new freelancers could plug in their industry, their years of experience, location, and their areas of expertise, and get a comprehensive rate breakdown of what they should be charging and why. It’s something I wish I had when I was just starting out, and while there are platforms that do some of this, it would be lovely to have it all together.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I booked a weekend trip to my favorite city up the coast: Washington, DC. You’d be surprised how many ideas can pop into your head on a three-hour drive, and sometimes relaxing in a hotel room is just as recharging as an hour-long workout.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Shift! It’s an email management client that allows users to manage more than one email account at a time on desktop. A lot of my clients have onboarded me into their own domains, but having multiple email tabs open at a time can really mess with my computer’s processing power. Shift is an easy at-a-glance desktop solution that has really sped up my workflow.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Disciplined Dreaming by Josh Linker offers a really comprehensive approach that businesses and people can – and should! – take to harnessing creativity and turning those ideas into actual processes, businesses, or solutions. If you’re like me and sometimes struggle with the concept of taking ideas from ideation to execution, this book is for you.

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite poet, Richard Siken, wrote a line in my favorite poem of his (“Snow and Dirty Rain”) that has stuck with me for years: “We are all going forward. None of us are going back.” It’s a good reminder that looking to the past doesn’t get you anything, because the world is going to keep moving forward no matter what.

Key Learnings:

  • Transparency and passion are two key traits to running a successful creative business
  • A work/life balance isn’t a suggestion – it’s essential
  • Being honest with yourself about your failures will help you set yourself up for success