Financial health does not equate to your worth. When your livelihood depends on the money you earn, it is easy to get depressed when you’re struggling financially or when you’re not making as much as you’d like. However, it takes time to build a sustainable business model and reliable cash flow. Look at the ways you can improve — better marketing, better management, rate increases — then put your head down and work. The financial rewards will follow.
Many successful people reinvented themselves in a later period in their life. Jeff Bezos worked in Wall Street before he reinvented himself and started Amazon. Sara Blakely sold office supplies before she started Spanx. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was a WWE wrestler before he became a successful actor and filmmaker. Arnold Schwarzenegger went from a bodybuilder, to an actor to a Governor. McDonald’s founder Ray Croc was a milkshake-device salesman before starting the McDonalds franchise in his 50’s.
How does one reinvent themselves? What hurdles have to be overcome to take life in a new direction? How do you overcome those challenges? How do you ignore the naysayers? How do you push through the paralyzing fear?
In this series called “Second Chapters; How I Reinvented Myself In The Second Chapter Of My Life “ we are interviewing successful people who reinvented themselves in a second chapter in life, to share their story and help empower others.
As a part of this interview series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christy Murdock Edgar.
Christy Murdock Edgar is a content writer, consultant, and coach who helps real estate and business professionals stand out as industry leaders through effective content marketing strategies. A former English teacher turned real estate agent, Christy is passionate about sharing her knowledge and creating engaging platforms for real estate professionals who are interested in growing their online presence. Through her company Writing Real Estate, Christy writes blogs, property descriptions, websites, and promotional copy that increases traffic and results in higher conversions for real estate agents, brokers and other professionals.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I grew up just south of Atlanta and always dreamed of working in the business world. Somehow I had learned the term “corporate executive,” so that was my un-childlike answer when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I always had a talent for writing and a passion for reading, so although it took me quite a while to get there, I guess it’s only natural that I ended up as a business writer.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have so many, but I guess the one that I subscribe to the most is from Bethenny Frankel: “Come from a place of YES.” I see so many competent, capable, and talented people — and especially women — turn down great opportunities out of fear or insecurity. Frequently, I’ll ask a real estate agent or broker to be profiled or interviewed for a story I’m writing and they’ll say no because they don’t think they’ve accomplished enough or they don’t think their website looks good enough. When you come from a place of yes, you don’t let those things get in your way. You say yes and figure out the details later. It leads to many more opportunities and, ultimately, builds the confidence that you need to succeed.
You have been blessed with much success. In your opinion, what are the top three qualities that you possess that have helped you accomplish so much? If you can, please share a story or example for each.
First, I’m not sure if it’s a personal quality but I would say that my biggest blessing is that I have never suffered from writer’s block. I attribute my ability to get up every day and write thousands of words to my work as a schoolteacher. Every day I was creating new “content” in the form of lesson plans, lectures, and discussions with an audience of dozens of students. I couldn’t just say, “Oh, I can’t think of anything to say about Hamlet today, guys.” I had to have something to say that would inform, engage, and, hopefully, inspire.
Second, I am incapable of settling for the ordinary in my life. I have always believed that I was meant to do something special, though I haven’t always known what that would be. I’m not sure where I got that positive sense of my own potential, but it has served me well and helped me to push myself to pursue a growth mindset throughout my career.
Finally, I have dealt with struggles and setbacks throughout my life, and it has helped to build resilience that has allowed me to bounce back and move forward even when things seemed their darkest. One thing I see as a teacher and a parent is that many people are unwilling to let their children struggle. However, I know from personal experience that it is the struggles in our life that help us learn what we are capable of and give us the confidence we need for high achievement.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about ‘Second Chapters’. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before your Second Chapter?
I was a high school English teacher for almost twenty years. I never set out to be one, but I found myself living in a small town in Georgia where the only jobs other than teacher were cashier at the Piggly Wiggly or secretary at the mobile home factory. I had a degree in English so the small school there hired me to teach Literature. I subsequently got my Master’s degree and moved to a teaching position in Fairfax County, Virginia where I taught for many years.
And how did you “reinvent yourself” in your Second Chapter?
I reached a place where the realities of modern education — constant standardization, testing, and planning — took all of the fun out of actually being in the classroom and interacting with the students. I didn’t know what to do next, so on a whim I posted my profile on a freelancer platform. I had previously obtained my real estate license, thinking I would sell a few homes as a side gig, and the combination of my writing skills and real estate experience soon helped me find clients as a writer specializing in real estate-related content.
It took about two and half years of constant effort to get to a place where I could support myself and my family through my writing, but since then I have built a business that I am truly proud of.
Can you tell us about the specific trigger that made you decide that you were going to “take the plunge” and make your huge transition?
I used to spend a lot of time working with students on their college essays, helping them generate ideas for the prompts they were assigned and helping them refine their narratives. One day I realized that while I was helping many students get into their dream schools, my own children were in danger of being unable to pay for college because of my low-paying job as a teacher. Thus began a ten-year odyssey of trying out a variety of business ideas before finally falling into my current role.
What did you do to discover that you had a new skillset inside of you that you haven’t been maximizing? How did you find that and how did you ultimately overcome the barriers to help manifest those powers?
My late mother used to tell me all the time that I should be a writer and I would say, “You can’t just become a writer. Even if I could do it, it’s too late for that.” After she passed away, however, it just seemed to keep coming up to me, the idea that maybe there was a way.
I had been a journalist early on, when I first graduated from college, so my idea of professional writing was that I would have to work long hours in random markets for low pay in order to build a career. However, I soon figured out that everyone needed online content to grow their business, and real estate agents and brokers need more than most people. They need property descriptions, bios, blogs, and a host of other branding and marketing collateral. I found that I had a talent for helping them express themselves and market their properties.
How are things going with this new initiative? We would love to hear some specific examples or stories.
I am very lucky that I am able to work for a variety of clients, from real estate-related publications with huge readerships to individual agents who are just starting out. I’ve worked with startups and established brokerages and with everyone from brand new agents to CEOs at some of North America’s largest companies.
I recently had an incredibly rewarding experience with an agent who had moved and was just starting out in a new market. For many agents, everything depends on name recognition and a network of local acquaintances and referral sources, so moving is very difficult.
I worked with her to create website content, promotional materials, targeted emails and a host of other written content. All along the way she was saying, “I’ve got to start selling some houses to pay for all of this.” Well, I talked to her a few weeks ago and everything is paying off better than she could ever have imagined. She’s getting inquiries from all over the country and really seeing the results from all of that time and effort.
I put together a bio for another client recently whom I had just gotten to know. When she received it, she asked me if I had made a mistake. Was that really her? It’s interesting to me how smart, accomplished people — women especially — don’t seem to see themselves clearly. They don’t seem to realize how much they do and have done until they see it in a bio or website. Then they step back and say, “Whoa, I did that? That’s pretty awesome!”
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My best friend Alyssa Blevins is a real estate agent in Northern Virginia. She and I were sharing a bottle of wine one evening and she said, “I’m dying to take my real estate test, but I want someone to do it with me.” I volunteered and we both started studying the next day. We took our test together and both passed on the first try, then launched a real estate business together.
Even though I write full time now, I know I would not be where I am today if she and I hadn’t partnered with each other early on. She’s still my go-to source for the nuts and bolts of real estate practice and process — smart, wise, and so capable.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
I was attending a conference a couple of years ago and I walked into a room where they were having a meet-and-greet. I started to introduce myself to someone and he said, “Oh yes, I know who you are.” It turned out that many of the people there knew me and my work and followed my writing at Inman as well as my blog.
Before that I thought of myself as creating content without really realizing how it was connecting with people and adding value for them in their lives and businesses. That evening was an important moment for me and gave me a clearer sense of who my reader is and what they are looking for in the stories I write. Now, that is the touchstone that I return to again and again: what do people need in order to do more in their business?
My latest venture is creating courses to help educate real estate agents and support personnel. I just did a soft launch for a course on writing property descriptions. I have created a step-by-step process, combining my experience as an educator with my role as a writer to create something that really helps simplify what is, for most agents, a dreaded task.
Did you ever struggle with believing in yourself? If so, how did you overcome that limiting belief about yourself? Can you share a story or example?
As an older woman, I am prey to all of the anxieties our society imposes — I’m too old, fat, wrinkled, etc. For a long time I was very nervous to do video or podcasts or webinars, but I do all of those things anyway, always coming from a place of yes. Ultimately, I have found that nobody really cares what I look like. They’re just interested in the information that I can give and the ways that I can help them accomplish more in their business.
In my own work I usually encourage my clients to ask for support before they embark on something new. How did you create your support system before you moved to your new chapter?
I am blessed to have my two biggest cheerleaders living in my home. My daughters are kind and supportive and incredibly positive. They honestly tell me every day that they are proud of me and when something good happens to and for me, they are more thrilled than I am.
Starting a new chapter usually means getting out of your comfort zone, how did you do that? Can you share a story or example of that?
For me, the biggest factor was giving up the security of a paycheck in favor of the financial uncertainty that comes with entrepreneurship. I had to work really hard to re-frame the idea of reward as not just financial, but also the reward of freedom and the ability to scale up over time. While a salary feels like security, you have so little control over it and over how much you earn. When you have a business, there is so much more potential for growth there, and any conversation or new initiative can 2x or 3x your earning power. Salaried work rarely if ever does that, especially for service providers like teachers.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Take your time. Building a business is a long and winding road, not a straight line. When you are motivated and ambitious, it is so easy to feel like you are doing something wrong if you’re not getting the validation and success you’d initially expected. I wish I had had a better perspective on the time it takes and the fact that what you plan in the beginning isn’t always the shape your business eventually takes. You have to be open to the process and give yourself permission to figure things out as you go along.
- Hire a financial pro on day one. I didn’t put a financial advisor and CPA in place until I became completely overwhelmed by the demands of running my business and trying to figure out how to manage it. I felt that I couldn’t afford them, when in reality I wasted far more money by not having good financial minds in my corner. If I had it to do over again, I would have hired them on day one, if not on an ongoing basis, at least for occasional consultations to get and stay on track.
- Financial health does not equate to your worth. When your livelihood depends on the money you earn, it is easy to get depressed when you’re struggling financially or when you’re not making as much as you’d like. However, it takes time to build a sustainable business model and reliable cash flow. Look at the ways you can improve — better marketing, better management, rate increases — then put your head down and work. The financial rewards will follow.
- Learn how to say “No” when necessary. I think this is especially difficult for women, who are too often socialized to believe that they have to people-please all the time. It’s vital to learn to set healthy boundaries on your time and professional relationships. As you become more successful, people will naturally want your input or will want to collaborate with you. Choose wisely and take opportunities that really speak to you or that offer a chance you wouldn’t have otherwise. Don’t try to be all things to all people. In addition, watch out for toxic relationships with clients and colleagues and end them before they lead to burnout.
- Prioritize self-care. The first person I ever heard talk about self-care unironically was a former student writing in his blog. In my first years in business, I didn’t take care of myself in any way. I worked (and continue to work) long hours seven days a week. The difference is that now I prioritize sleep, skincare, and other healthy daily routines. I really pay attention to how I feel and make the effort to take that extra time to tend to my physical, emotional, and spiritual life. When you are an entrepreneur, everything springs from your energy and mental clarity. It is essential that you care for yourself first so that everything else can follow.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I absolutely feel that entrepreneurship is overlooked as a legitimate and important career path for young people. So many kids feel that they have no hope for a high-paying career because they’re “not good at school” or because they are challenged by neurodivergence. In reality, however, they just have a different skillset and can be as successful or more successful than their academically-inclined peers. Unfortunately, most schools don’t do anything to provide the kind of real-world business and financial education that would help these students to achieve the things they are capable of. I’d love to be part of an organization that rethinks the way we “do school” to make it more relevant to the needs of every child.
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them. 🙂
My childhood idol is Ted Turner. Growing up in Atlanta, he was an absolutely magical figure — brilliant, creative, inventive, and totally original. I was attending a French immersion program my senior year and didn’t go back for my college graduation. Imagine my grief when I found out our speaker was none other than Ted Turner. I always felt like I missed out and would love the chance to talk with him one-on-one.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Check out my blog at writingrealestate.com and my articles for Inman and ReminderMedia. Keep up with the latest on @writingrealestate at Instagram. Finally, check out my property description course — the info is at my website and linked at my IG.
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!