I was recently interviewed about work, life and balance by the team behind Balance the Grind. Balance the Grind is a platform for conversations with people from all walks of life about their careers, their daily rituals and how they achieve some semblance of work life balance.
When I was approached to do the interview, I felt a little ‘fraud-y’. After all, I’m new at this too and I certainly don’t have aspirations to be the next Sheryl Sandberg. What could I possibly shed any light on? But then I realised that the sort of stories I really connect to are about ordinary people doing things that feel relevant to my own life and seem vaguely achievable.
So, my interview may not be groundbreaking but it’s honest and will give you a little insight into my work life and daily routine. I hope you enjoy it!
Read the full interview
2018 was an eventful year for me, both personally and professionally. As I write this post, our internet is down due to last night’s storm, providing a welcome distraction-free moment to think about my goals for 2019, and how the year we’ve just farewelled has shaped them. Here they are:
Goal 1: Prioritise health and happiness
From a health perspective, my husband and I have had a rough year. In August, I ended up in a pretty serious emergency situation which has had major physical and emotional consequences. My husband also dealt with some major health issues of his own, necessitating extended time off work. The hurdles that life threw at us in 2018 were certainly a pain in the arse, but the rallying of family and friends and resulting personal growth have been two comforting rays of light to have come out of the grey. I’m now clearer than ever on what’s important to me, and I reckon I’m more resilient than ever before.
So how does this impact my goals for 2019? I’m fully prioritising health and happiness above all else. I’m determined to become a better wife, daughter, sister and friend. I’m seeking help to let go of any bitterness or helplessness that I feel. And I’m going to stop trying to fix things for others, and let them come to their own solutions in their own time. And as difficult as this may be, I’m going to TRY to stop bombarding my husband with my kooky, half-baked business ideas, because sometimes my wide-eyed enthusiasm and excited chatter about product ideas at 11pm is just a bit too much for some people.
Goal 2: Grow my online gift business
If you’ve been reading this blog, you’ll know I started an online gift business while I was still working in a 9-5 corporate job. Gift Boss has been going for a few months now, and I must admit, I’m mighty pleased with how it’s progressed in such a short amount of time. Although I gave up a good salary and financial benefits to earn absolutely nothing while I get the business up and running, I feel it was worth it. Every time I sit down to work on the business, I enjoy it so much that it doesn’t feel like work, and the positive customer feedback I’ve been receiving motivates me to keep improving and growing.
Sure, there are challenges in running a business in the hugely competitive gift hamper industry (the cost of Google ads alone is mind blowing and I’m really not as on top of the numbers and bookkeeping as I should be because I am not a numbers person and never will be), but I learn something new every day. And being able to use the skills I’ve developed in the 20 years I’ve been working for others, but in my own business, is enormously rewarding.
So, this year, I aim to complete a small business course to get on top of the nitty gritty of running a business, up my marketing and photography game, and consider fresh avenues for Gift Boss, such as pushing more into the corporate gift space, and manufacturing products as a side venture.
Goal 3: Get clear and intentional with my freelance work
Make it clear has been chugging along nicely for 12 months. Interestingly, it has grown organically through referrals, rather than Google, which makes me wonder about my online presence and whether it’s up to scratch. Is my website the best representation of me? Is it getting found easily by my ideal clients? Who even are my ideal clients? These are the questions that I ask MY copywriting clients when I’m getting to know them and their business. It’s time I ask them of myself.
Therefore, in 2019, I want to get clear on what sort of copywriter I want to be, and where I want to take my business. I also started blogging on my website recently, and it’s been challenging to decide what I should write about. How personal do I get? What do people want to read about? Does the world need more copywriting and marketing tips? Is anyone reading my posts, and if not, what’s the point of writing them? Excuse me while I have a minor existential crisis!
Goal 4: Meet more kindred spirits
While I was in a bit of a funk last year, I sought out others who were experiencing similar struggles in an effort to feel a little less alone. The Meetup app was an absolute godsend. I joined a couple of groups which resonated with me, and have been to several face-to-face meetups. The understanding, support and encouragement that have come out of them has been incredible. I’ve since continued friendships outside of the organised meetups and I want to make the effort to nurture these connections more.
I’ve also met some incredible female entrepreneurs through Gift Boss, and through business-oriented Facebook groups. I’ve connected with some in person (yes, IRL!) to share the good, the bad and the ugly of starting a business. It’s been both reassuring and inspiring to talk with others on a similar path – turns out we all have the same insecurities and face the same challenges, but we all agree the rewards are worth it. Connecting with like-minded, inspiring entrepreneurial women has been good for my soul and that’s why it’s on the cards for 2019.
Goal 5: Continue to take risks
It really sucks having a husband who works in risk and compliance sometimes. Because every time I say “I’ve got a good idea”, it’s met with about five reasons why it’s not a good idea. Despite this, I know deep down that taking risks professionally is the right thing to do. For me, it was a risk to resign from my job while we have a mortgage. It was a risk to start a business with no experience. But I’m awfully glad I took those risks.
Because what I learnt from 2018 is that if you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel, showing up each day but not really being present, then it’s time to jump off. And if you end up doing something that makes you excited to get out of bed each day, then the risk was worth it in the end, wasn’t it?
There you have it. Five chunky, but completely achievable, goals for 2019. I’d love to hear what yours are too, so please share them in the comments or drop me an email.
While I had a full-time job, I started two businesses: This one (Make it clear) and my online gift business Gift Boss.
Two years ago, I had no intention of running my own business, let alone businesses. So I thought it would be worthwhile going back in time and writing down how it all happened. It’s quite a detailed account, so I’ve broken it up into several parts. If you’re still with me, great. Let’s get started!
Part 1: The small business itch
I haven’t always been entrepreneurial. In fact, I fell into a ‘trained-to-be-an-employee-from-birth’ school of thinking, where it was expected that once you graduate from university or high school, you’d simply get a job and then work for other people until you retire or die.
Day in day out, you’d serve someone else’s customers. Earn money for someone else’s books. Get told what to do and when to do it. Complete the same annual performance review process. Give the same feedback on the employee engagement survey each year. Wow, doesn’t that sound monotonous?
Sure, the regular pay check, superannuation, employee benefits, training and social camaraderie that comes with a 9 to 5 job is a massive benefit that I could have been fairly happy continuing until retirement in approximately 30 years’ time. But after 20 years working for other people (gosh, that does sound like a long time now that I’ve done the math), I had the unmistakable, gnawing, relentless feeling that there was more to life than simply turning up to a job that no longer stimulated me.
It started with a growing awareness of the possibility of owning my own business. I watched several friends start their own businesses or freelance careers after experiencing similar feelings of corporate restlessness, or life-changing events such as starting a family. I was in awe of the flexibility that a small business afforded them, the risk they took financially and all the fun stuff they got to do such as create a website, build an Instagram following, write blog articles, and most importantly, work the hours that suited them, from the comfort of their own home.
Working 9 to 5
I was working as a Digital Content Manager for a large bank. It was a great job. I got to work with talented writers and creative agencies. I got to create content that smashed benchmarks and delivered a more engaged audience on social media than had ever been achieved before. I was part of a team I loved and made incredible life-long friends who supported me through some tricky personal situations.
Some of the content that did so well during my time in the role involved sharing the stories of Aussie millennials who had left their 9 to 5 jobs to start their own businesses, side hustles, passion projects or volunteer initiatives. They had found success doing what they love. Going against the grain may have caused them some anxiety at the start, but they stuck to it, hustled like crazy and changed their lives for the better.
Quotes such as this from one of our interviewees really resonated me:
I wasn’t excited about my career anymore. I always thought working as a marketing manager was what I wanted to do with my life but it wasn’t as fulfilling as I thought it would be.
I related because although my job was great, I didn't feel fulfilled. I had no aspiration to take on more responsibility in the company, get a promotion or climb the corporate ladder. My heart and soul simply weren't in it anymore and I needed to do something about it before I became resentful.
So this is really where my entrepreneurial journey started. I had the itch, I was inspired by others who had blazed the trail and I saw the logistical possibility in making a complete career shift.
In Part 2, I take a look at exactly how my freelance copywriting business, Make it clear, started.
This is the section where I tell you a little bit more about me. Not just as a freelance copywriter, but who I am as a person. The things that I like, the things that challenge me, my small business journey, freelance life, my copywriting and marketing tips, personal stuff and more. Because if you have a clear picture of who I am, then I feel you're in a better position to decide if I’m the freelance copywriter for you. Let’s go!