In hindsight, it took me a long time to find my feet and develop my brand – even today, 6 years in, I still think it is very much a work in progress. I have always worked in corporate – clocking in, doing the standard day and then going home in the evening. However in reality, that never presented me with anything interesting or even challenging. I was looking for something to sink my teeth into. I enjoyed words -- having studied drama at university and had done quite a number of low-level marketing and recruitment positions, but it wasn’t until I ran my own Australian based online gift store that this realisation came into play. In 2009, I eventually made the move from online entrepreneur to writer, the best decision I ever made. My corporate days were well and truly behind me.
The hardest thing about starting your own business, or reinventing yourself, is finding not only your niche but your tribe, and of course, attracting the customers you want to work with. For a very long time, I was treading water doing unrewarding jobs for low pay trying to make a name for myself. I experimented with a variety of forums and business groups making contacts here and there, some of which still serve me extremely well today. But for the most part, I didn’t feel the need to spend a lot of time networking online unless the reward received was greater than the time spent.
I initially felt that I had to offer my services for next to nothing in order for people to want to work with me. In reality, that is so far from the truth. Despite the confidence I had in my ability to do the job, it wasn’t enough for me to get out there and yell it from the rooftop. What I quickly learned was that if I undervalued myself, then soon others would too. I no longer get insulted when people want me to work on their $10 jobs, I just explain that unfortunately what they want and what I want differ considerably and they are best trying to find someone who is a better fit for their brand.
I enjoy my job – the rewarding thing for me is helping people see what I call their “passion projects”, come to fruition. Many people I have come across have a book or project that they wish to get off the ground and it is my job to help them do just that. I massage it out of them bit by bit and assist where I can to either get it online or self-published, depending on the project specifications. It might be an article for Huffington Post or a full size publication; whatever it is, it is my true pleasure to be able to see it come to life.
I work with businesses that turn over just a few thousand dollars a year up to ones that can claim a turnover of a million dollar sum. I like the variety – no day is ever the same. I either work directly with companies or I work with a team of other writers to fulfill a client’s need. In all honesty, I try to make sure that my client interaction is minimal so I can concentrate on the writing task at hand without countless meetings and interruptions. And not all clients like that. People who like to micro manage find it difficult that they can’t get a hold of me 24/7. So we part ways early on the in the process. I have other clients that I have worked with for years, who know that I am just a simple email away. They send me the details and trust me to do the work that they have set. From someone who studied drama, I certainly opt for a drama-free workplace.
As a writer, I have penned a few mission statements in my time but am yet to sit down and write my own – that is where the work in progress thing comes in. I spend more time blogging for others than myself and I am quite comfortable with that too. I don’t have anything to prove to others by consistently churning out blog posts, the proof of my work is in the pudding and my commitment to the job.
Being a freelancer has its upside and downside. I love the flexibility; did I mention that I have been travelling through South America for the past two years with my family while still running my business? I break out into a cold sweat whenever I arrive at a destination without internet, but generally I can find a coffee shop or an internet café to check in with my clients and update them on how things are going.
The inconsistency of cash flow can be a little problematic at times. I have a regular base income which goes up and down, and then I have the short term clients who hire me for a singular project. The cash flow issue also comes down to how much time I spend promoting my services or finding new clients. For the most part, I survive on word of mouth but every now and again I need to get out there and tread the boards and introduce new clients into the mix. It is not my favourite part of the job by any means but as a freelancer, it is a necessity. Thankfully, however not always. Recently my laptop just up and died on me. Without a warning. It took me a little while to negotiate a computer from the US to Peru, which was no easy task. It winged its way to me a few weeks later however so the story had a happy ending thank goodness.
This past month alone I have been working on blog posts on a wide variety of topics, articles for Huffington Post and other online publications, e-books, video scripts, article rewrites, biographies, copy for websites and catalogue text while at the same time working on a couple of long term passion projects of my own: a kindness of strangers anthology and a family travel book.
Where from here? Well who knows! I hope to keep on doing what I am doing for the foreseeable future. Will I be convinced to head back into the corporate world; I guess the answer to that is never say never. Life is an adventure and you never know what is on the next page…that’s what makes a good story great.