At a conference last week, I got slightly offended by one of the attendees. I struggled with why I was so hurt by the interaction I had with this woman.
She said, “What do you do?” I told her I was a copywriter. She rolled her eyes and said, “Good luck with that. My son’s a writer and he can barely make a living.”
I felt judged and defensive.
“Well,” I laughed, “I’ve been successfully supporting myself as a writer for over three years, and I’m into my fourth now.”
And as I said this, I glanced over at my colleague, another successful creative professional (in photography, visual arts, and a dose of writing, too.) So, I’m going to tell you the truth about being in business:
You can do anything you want.
Whether you want to bake cakes shaped like shoes, or knit the living shit out of all things home goods (sorry, loved that rhyme!) – you can make a business out of it that pays your bills.
Yes, I’m actually saying that you can earn your living doing exactly the things you love every single day of your life, no questions asked.
You see, I believe in you. And, if you believe in you, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will be as successful as you deserve to be in this life – and beyond.
Enough Inspiration – Here’s the Smack Down
Now I have to be clear about one more thing – no one said it would be easy. You might have heard the phrase, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
So, while millions have been made by selling t-shirts out of vans (Life is Good), or giving away free artisan ice cream (Ben and Jerry’s) – not one of them will tell you that their life was a piece of cake.
As you consider what business you’d like to pursue, think about the viability of your concept and what it really means to own a business.
You have to:
- Know who your buyers are
- Market the dickens out of yourself
- Have a kitty for start-up costs like a website, etc.
- Stick to ‘the plan’ every day of your life
For example (a real life one), my mother thinks I spend my hours banging away on my computer, spinning tales of woe and vigor for the masses.
I do not.
I wake up at about 8am every day and head straight for the coffee. I’m online by 8:15am and I start the day with some personal business marketing. I check in on Facebook, and usually write some SEO blogger advice.
By about 9:30 or 10am I’ve started on my first paid project of the day. In my current business model, I have chunked each of my clients down to specific time slots. So, I might:
- Write four blogs (topics have to be outlined and pre-approved by clients)
- Review websites for content, suggest a multitude of best practices’ changes
- Do keyword research, run the reports, make creative content suggestions
- As a Amazon listing optimization I will either write a listing or carry out keyword research
- Write website copy, make the changes in their platform
- Develop an opt-in for list-building and/or manage the implementation of one
- Have an in-person (gasp!) meeting to ghostwrite a book chapter
By this time, it’s usually 2 or 3pm, so I’ll check in on Facebook again, post to Twitter, and give some free advice in comments were warranted. It’s also common for me to pop around to my email during the day.
And Then There’s More Work…
Do you think I can stop working after the morning session, though? Nope.
The more clients I’m working with, the more I need to get done. About three days a week, I’ll double up on my client work, giving me an afternoon and a morning session.
So, it’s back to my desk for session #2 so I can…quit working? Not exactly.
Remember that when I’m not doing client work, I have to spend my time doing personal business marketing and administrative work, including:
- Writing guest blogs/columns (to increase my exposure)
- Telephone conferences with mentors (to inspire me)
- Checking in with colleagues/following up to say hello (relationship building)
- Answering discussion and blog comments (audience engagement)
- Implementing a newsletter (epic fail here so far)
- Checking analytics in Google, Mail Chimp, etc.
- Sending invoices, following up on payments, etc.
While I’m at the cusp of hiring someone to take the administrative chores off my shoulders, I’m not there just yet. I’m currently doing a morning and afternoon writing session, as well as cramming in everything from the list above.
And I’m happy.
Thrilled as little clam must be holding the pearl of all pearls in its moist little belly. So, when that woman at the conference implied her son couldn’t make a living with his writing, I did what any nice girl would do – I told her to have him call me.
Because I think you can do anything you want. I think you have it in you to create the business and life that you want. As long as you recognize that while anything is possible, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.