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Learning to love your own voice

Learning to love your own voice

So I’m finally a cover girl (actually I’ve been one before but not quite like this). I must say it was a little thrilling to see my head on the cover of Roooar magazine and I was thrilled that new sole owner Anna Dower picked me.

If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend subscribing to Rooar, it’s free and packed with great articles about business and life. A great source of inspiration and motivation. You can sign up to it here.

Tell us a little about your story.
What’s your background? How did you start? 
Why did you start?

I’d love to say I always wanted to be a writer. But the truth is I had no idea what I wanted to do. After uni I wanted to
study magazine journalism, but I’d racked up too much debt and so had to get a real job.

Ultimately, my journey towards writing for a living took me down a windy path of bar work, office jobs, production, gibbon keeping and massaging.

I worked in advertising for many years, and enjoyed the endless beanbags and booze for a while.

But it’s a hard life and, frankly, a young person’s game. After ten years, I found the environment soul-sucking and stressful.

At 34ish, I was on my way to a General Manager role. I should have been happy, but instead found myself sobbing on the bus to work.

Thankfully I got pregnant, and had to choose between my career or mumdom.

The choice was easy. I couldn’t wait to wave those beanbags goodbye. I started my own eponymously named business when I was five months pregnant, doing anything and everything ‘digital’ to earn a buck. Since then, my business has evolved hugely.

I’ve built a somewhat successful copywriting business, and have now branched out into ecourses, training and public speaking. Even though I miss the water cooler banter and free wine some days, I’m so glad I went solo.

What’s one thing we should know about you?

That I have a split personality. I go from working a trillion miles an hour to being a complete slob. I go from happy as a fat piglet to depressed as a bipolar sloth in a minute. Catch me on a good day and I’m awesome.

On a bad day I recommend shuffling away quietly.

How do you remain creative and focused?

Although I’m prolific, I’m not in a constant state of creativity.

I have my moments and I go with them. But on days when the creativity isn’t there, I just plough through—working on admin, finance or boring stuff— and allow my creative froth to bubble up again.

But I do have a lot of ideas, and I try to shove them out into the universe quickly, while I’m still excited about them.

I’m not that focused. I flit about a lot. But I try to control my flittiness by writing lists, using time tracking software and setting micro-rewards (“I can watch an episode of xxx when I finish this task”).

What has been your proudest achievement in your business to date?

Hmm, that’s a toughie. Presenting at Problogger last year, albeit briefly, felt like a big step forward professionally.

But personally, getting my TOONCave (my backyard home office) felt like a huge achievement.

Not just all the hard work of laying floors and painting, but also that it allowed me to make such a big investment in me. I still get a buzz every time I look at it!

What goals are you working towards?

I’m not particularly goal orientated. I don’t set goals or make mood boards.

I tend to just keep on keeping on.

I’m quite financially motivated, so I have goals around increasing revenue and profitability.

But these are in direct conflict with my other goal to have a healthier, more relaxed life. So I’m constantly bobbing between ‘earn more’ and ‘work less’. I guess, like many, I’m still searching for that passive income pot of gold.

“I’m not particularly goal orientated. I don’t set goals or make mood boards. I tend to just keep on keeping on.”

What’s the hardest thing about what you do?

For me, it’s customer relationships. I’ve gone from having a few one-on-one copywriting clients a month to having hundreds of course students and copywriting community members.
And they’re all customers.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the line between keeping them happy and running myself into the ground.
I’m a people pleaser and I like to be liked. And sometimes that’s not great for business.

What has been your biggest lesson in business?

That some people just won’t be that into you. It took me a while to learn this lesson in the dating world, and even longer in the business world.

When I started out, I was devastated when a client didn’t like what I’d produced. Horrified if a business relationship didn’t work out.
And when someone made a nasty comment about a Facebook update, I was crushed.

But then I realised that not everyone is going to love what I do. And by trying to be all things to all people, I was making myself miserable. Now I’m much more confident about my business style, how I run things and how I communicate.

I’ve learned to love my own voice and not give two hoots if others don’t. I have a thicker skin, but I’m still squishy on the inside.

If you could rewind 10 years, what would you tell yourself?

I’d tell myself, “It will all be okay”. Wow. Back then, I’d just broken up with my fiancée, was living in England and worked in a job I hated. I wondered if I’d ever find someone to love, find a career I was passionate about, have kids, get a dog, learn to drive…

And all of those things have happened – apart from the driving, which I just can’t be arsed with frankly. It’s what I tell myself on tough days: “This too shall pass”.

Generally that big crisis you’re going through today will seem like nothing but a good dinner party story or blog article idea a year from now.

Who are your biggest heroes?

I honestly don’t have any. There’s no-one in business I aspire to be like, and I admire many people for different skills. When I was younger and writing a lot of music reviews I met quite a few famous people. I was always a little underwhelmed about how normal they were.

I popped the ‘They’re so awesome’ bubble early on. I always try to look beneath the surface of success, which is hugely reassuring.

My Mum and Dad are pretty awesome though, so if I have to pick some heroes, I’d say them.

Finish these sentences… I find simple joy in… eating crisps and drinking wine.

My current mantra is… don’t hold on so tight. If I could give my fellow biz warriors one piece of wisdom, it would be… business sometimes feels like a popularity contest, but the trick is to find a few crazy raving fans.

Having a small group who are crazy about what you do is better than having crowd of indifferent customers.

Focus on being you, and your people will find you and love you.

Over to you

Have you struggled to find your own voice?

What techniques did you use to find your writing style?

Want to have a chat?

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This article first appeared in Roooar Magazine.

  • RF

    Dear fellow manic sloth creature. I’m about to ‘get real’ with my copywriting business after dabbling for a while outside my soul-sucking job and writing for others for free. Gah! I appreciate all of the useful content on your site. Thanks for being so generous with your knowledge, and honest about your experience.

    • Thanks RF. I hope my honesty hasn’t put you off. Copywriting is actually an amazing career and I’m so glad i made the leap.

  • LOF

    Ditto the comments below. It’s also kind of nice to hear you don’t make goals. Or maybe you do but they don’t seem like goals? I really have no idea how you manage to juggle so many bits of your job and manage them well – good on you. I’m only just getting going and have chopped and changed my mind about what I’m offering and what I can actually offer – I’m there now. I don’t know everything, I don’t have anywhere near the experience of others but I know what I do well and I’m completely comfortable with saying ‘that’s not my area of expertise’ and offering to on-refer clients. I’m looking forward to slowly carving out my little niche, one client at a time. Taking this leap doesn’t scare me anymore. Thanks Kate for your inspiration.

    • Ah thanks LIsa, so glad this post was helpful. It’s all a bit of a journey!

  • caznomis

    Hey Kate, wanted to say thanks for the words. I’m an aspiring copywriter graduating from a big liberal arts school in the states and I’m trying to make my leap into the world of copy. It’s nice to hear that you’ve been so successful with your flitiness — It’s something I feel I am struggling with currently with every mentor I’ve talked to breathing down my neck about choosing one interest and sticking with it. I was wondering what you use to stay on-track in terms of lists? I’m addicted to Google Keep and making little notes in .txt’s, do you use any specific software to track your time/incentivize yourself?

    • Hey that’s a great question. I am a pen and paper girl. I like making lists and crossing things off. I have several lists going and revise them each day.
      For copywriting projects I used basecamp.
      Now I manage a small team I use Asana.

      I still find excel one of the best ways to keep track of customers.

      But my fave app is still pen and paper.

      Oh and I sometimes use Pomodoro timer to plan out my day into 25 minute lumps and really smash through tasks.

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