My website was essentially a “display case” for my work, which was fine for lead gen, but I still also had to do the work — making the art and writing the copy or articles for e-zines, magazines, local small businesses, and the people who hired me on elance.
On top of that, I was out there pitching the work in person — setting up a tent at holiday art shows, traveling to art retreats and drumming the pavement for local work. Not to mention personally bidding on lots of odd writing jobs and losing half of them to other wirters… Yes, it was a lot of hustling!
I was — and still am — a stay-at-home mom. If you’ve ever had tiny children you know any sort of regularity is impossible when kids are small. To everyone else, the stuff I was doing, making and building looked more like a hobby, especially since I wasn’t making much money doing it. If I had to describe my work-life “balance” back then it was like trying to staple jelly to a wall!
Ten years later, we’re still going through some challenging times with some “special needs” older teenagers, and life is good, given all its twists and turns.
But as a small business owner I’ve turned a corner, and that’s what I want to share with you.
I have the greatest respect for people with a business mindset and a big dream. People who are focused on building a business from home, even when it seems like not another living soul believes in them.
But I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t think gainful employment would be cool sometimes. Even though I know it doesn’t really work like this, I still fantasize about it: I’d clock in and perform some enjoyable, assigned task with supportive and appreciative coworkers for X number of hours, with the certainty that I was going to get paid X amount at the end of the week! (Oddly, I’m usually picturing stocking produce when I imagine a job other than writing… it looks like fun.)
It’s a mindset. A go-to job would never work for me because I made a choice, at least for now. I’m an entrepreneur-freelancer who chooses to work from home. I have a full, but unusual schedule. I can’t expect anyone else to live around it, either, especially when things get a little crazy around here.
But do I work hard? Of course. Do I place high demands on my work and productivity? You bet.
And that’s a typical entrepreneur-freelancer’s mindset for you. Helping folks create relevant content, and putting effort into marketing efforts is how I grow my business. It’s essential to filling any freelancer’s funnel.
For personal and financial reasons, a lot of folks are adopting a similar work habit. Freelancing and self-employment are not too far out of the norm.
Last year, self-employed workers made up 10% of the overall workforce. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, that’s 15 Million people!
We’re a growing population, that’s a given. In order to support my fellow freelancers, self-employed solopreneurs and entrepreneurs, I’ve been assessing the changes in the last decade, and wanted to share my experience.
After ten years freelancing and working for myself, what’s changed and what’s stayed the same?
1. The more experience you have, the better you’re able to vet projects before you take them. I still hustle for jobs, but now I’m better at predicting which jobs wouldn’t be a good fit so I don’t take them or even bid on them at all. I used to spend hours on the phone with “prospects” who would ask hundreds of questions about marketing strategy, in effect getting valuable consulting for free. Then I’d spend half a day putting together a proposal based on their specific business and goals. Many times I would never even get a response when I followed up. Not cool, but it happens to new freelancers all the time.
2. Business details no longer consume time and drain energy. I still spend a fair amount of time working IN my business, rather than ON my business (the cardinal sin of entrepreneurship), but I’m gradually getting to the point where my business doesn’t drag me down. I can get on top of it and see where I’m truly helpful, and where I need to get help from others. I get to spend more time doing what I’m good at because there’s a bit of infrastructure in place, finally.
3. The name My Team Connects is a name we gave the company when a former partner and I had in mind a SAS that helped sales teams collaborate via email. I like to think it’s still a name that works. Three reasons:
- I’m building a team via a network marketing company I believe in, separate but complementary to my writing business.
- As a writer and marketing consultant, I get to help other freelancers and businesses grow. When the energy is great, I feel like I’m part of a team, albeit a revolving team.
- I feel a connection to my professional and personal team of people on whom I rely to get me through the days. If we didn’t have a good connection working together, it wouldn’t be much fun, so I’m grateful for that.
4. My confidence underwent an adjustment. I’m not exactly sure “confidence” is the right word, because it sounds prideful, when what I mean is that I’m more aware and willing to admit what I can’t do, instead of pretending that I’m something I’m not. The word Confidence has evolved to mean “Less bravado, more kindness.”
5. Success doesn’t mean building an empire. I used to think that if I didn’t have an Inc. Fortune 5000 Small Business Award hanging on my wall someday, nothing I did would count. Success these days is more about choices, freedom, and giving back.
6. Trust your talent and skill. Listen, I’m a big believer in coaches and teachers, but there’s a moment you realize that their way isn’t always the best way for you. For several years, I spent lots of money and time taking courses on how to be a better writer, and comparing my writing with others’ writing. I mistrusted the words I penned, even though I’ve been writing almost daily since I was 11 years old; and while I know there are better writers, I didn’t allow myself to trust my voice. I’m getting better about that.
7. I also bought into what seems to be the inspirational speakers’ mantra that invariably goes something like this: “I was living in my car; I was such a failure, my mother didn’t even claim me; but now I’m over all that stuff that was holding me back. So follow exactly what I do and you’ll be a raving success just like me.” I would wear myself out readjusting my thoughts to someone who seemed like they had it all together, and taking to heart the voices and opinions of others who knew nothing about me. Weird, I know, but tuning out all that “inspiration” is a sign of growth. For me, at least.
Today, not only do I detect a trace of desperation in some of those voices (which makes me sad), but the message also makes me uneasy because I look around and see leaders with quiet confidence whose kingdoms are every bit as great. You have to learn to trust yourself and your own story.
If I can share the dream of building a business from home while being happy at home, then I know I’ll be doing my best work here. The things that have helped me build a writing business helping people sell millions of dollars in products and services, are things I can share with you, too.
My blog is a course in itself, where you can get hundreds of posts I’ve written over the years about copywriting and email marketing . You also have access to some of the information products I’ve created to add value for my small business clients.
I’m adding to this content library weekly, and working on organizing it into categories so that it’s easier to find relevant topics. Meanwhile, please enjoy what’s here and let me know if there’s something you’d like me to cover from a work-from-home standpoint, a business-building standpoint, or a copywriting standpoint.
A good place to start is with the Lucky Deck of content creation tips. Most people have a natural voice when it comes to their expertise, but they just don’t know how to tell the story. These help with that.
Then, you need the copywriting part. When you learn to infuse your content with specific calls to action, then your social media and blog, etc. really start to bring in the people who will buy products and services from you. This is how you transform your communication into writing and speaking that closes sales.
You really can’t build a business without it, so if you have 21 minutes today, I invite you to get the pointers for writing and speaking these words that sell. They’re my best 21 tips in short 60-second videos and I think you’ll like them a lot!
By the way, did I mention that all this content is free! Just register for the content library membership here to get started.