I've been writing professionally for 14 years now. I started out as a technical writer when I was living and sailing in Scandinavia. I took up grant writing after moving back to the US, settling in Maine, and getting involved with a boat-building program for at-risk youth. Basically, I took a grant writing course, built a web site, and went into business.
True story: As part of the course, I wrote a proposal to be scored by classmates. I wasn't satisfied and felt some criticism would be valuable. Well, you know what happened: the "reviewers" loved it and held my proposal up as a model. The instructor said I'd do well.
Confidence boost aside, the best lesson was learning what it's like to review a proposal in 10 minutes. Fancy fluff? Fuhgeddaboudit. Clear and concise writing makes a difference; as a technical writer I could do that.
Freshly armed with a certificate, I landed my first assignment: lead writer on a $2.1 million request. No starting off easy! But if there's one thing sailing gives you, it's the confidence to trust your instincts and take command. I framed things the way I meant they should be framed and—call it beginner's luck—that request was funded.
Enough with the stories, what's my track record? Proposals I've written (or with which I was involved) have been fully or partially funded by the Wege, Richard and Rhoda Goldman, Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck, Weeden, and Marisla foundations, and the Houston Endowment. Others to Darden Restaurants and the Marin Community Foundation were not.
I've done other writing as well—reports, case statements, and the like—and, while I can't say I have a long customer list, I can say I have a satisfied one.