‘Tis the season of reflection

Image courtesy of Dynamic Business

Image courtesy of Dynamic Business

As the year comes to a close, it’s an opportune time to reflect back on the year; to magnify the wins and take the losses on the chin.

BUSINESS EXPANSION

I started off with the intention to broaden my client base. 2015 was my year to expand; to spread my wings and explore other fields of writing.

I attracted some new corporate clients through LinkedIn, which then translated into word of mouth referral for more clients. I had a steady income stream which complemented my freelance feature writing. I was making headway, finally!

I braved cold-calling editors, and had one editor kindly pick up multiple stories. I was largely ignored by the other editors I approached.

There was a job offer from the UK that although exciting, couldn’t offer competitive rates so alas I turned it down.

A NOVEL PATH

I was “discovered” and approached by a large publishing house and followed an unexpected road to the world of fiction writing. I was going to be a novelist! Until I wasn’t. The dream was big, the obstacles were bigger. For this year, anyway.

Temporarily discouraged by rejection, I bunkered down and licked my wounded ego.

LESSONS LEARNT

There were many lessons from 2015.

Being brave was the first. Jumping in the deep end of an icy cold pool, headfirst was never going to be inviting but it was definitely invigorating. Approaching industry colleagues and confidently presenting my case was well-received by those who chose to respond. And I had to just accept the ones who didn’t were the ones losing out.

Dreaming big had its perils. Letting myself think the big kahuna – my novel being published – could actually happen, put a buoyant skip in my step. When it didn’t go to plan, I dragged my feet.

You can’t dream big, be brave and be noticed unless you are willing to offer something unique. I confirmed to myself that I could be anything as long as it wasn’t beige.

And to be original meant I had to play my own game and be confident that my voice was strong enough to stand out. Throughout that process, I realised I was overthinking everything and it was time to get out of my own way.

I learnt there is value in setting the bar high, for myself and for my clients. Achieving excellence doesn’t come for free, yet within an industry that is notoriously undervalued, where I am often approached to write for nothing, I took a stand and said no. “Freelance” doesn’t mean I write for free.

Most of all, I learnt to be thankful for the opportunities, even if they didn’t follow the route I was expecting, leading me to the land of Oz (where my dream home stands atop a plateau with a view to die for, surrounded by lots of flat land for my children to kick a ball).

So, 2016.. 

It will be the first year all my children are at school. I will have five days to write, if I so choose. So shall I plan, set goals and work like a dog until I achieve them? Or will I sleep off the accumulated exhaustion of the first 12 years of parenting in preparation for the next 12 that will no doubt serve up their own challenges? Maybe I shall meander through the dandelions until I hear my next opportunity quietly whistling in the wind (all the while feeding my family on 2-minute noodles).

All I know is that I WILL finish the damn novel. Then I’ll go about the skin-toughening task of making someone believe in it as much as I do.

Merry Christmas to all. May you reflect on your own year, retrospective wins and losses, and recharge over the new year.

Thanks for reading!

Kylie Orr

P.S. I also found my dream advent calendar through Hachette Aus Books @HachetteAus. Maybe my book will be in their 2016 list to unwrap?

Hachette Aus Books Advent Calendar - drool!

Hachette Aus Books Advent Calendar - drool!

(First published on http://www.ausmumpreneur.com/tis-the-season-of-reflection/)

Play your own game!

I've completed a couple of challenging creative writing projects of late.

The first one was developing a new “voice” for a website aimed at teenagers.

It’s been a while since I was a teenager, and I’m yet to have one grunting around my home, so I expected it to be a challenge.

The client described their target audience, and by asking the right questions, I was able to gauge the feel they wanted for the website. I developed a tone and conversational communication that was friendly and welcoming but not something that screamed of an adult trying to sound like a teenager. Having freedom to create from scratch was invigorating and the client was thankfully over the moon with what I’d written.

The next project was briefly detailing a fairly obscure new product. The client only wanted a couple of paragraphs. I thought this would be simple. Until it wasn’t.

The client explained the concept over the phone. It took him ten minutes to describe it and that involved a sequence of clarifying questions from me. It was not easy to grasp and even more difficult to put into words.

He sent me drafts he’d attempted, in addition to some marketing material he’d had professionally written.

I tried one version using the material he’d provided and aimed to tighten it. It was definitely more readable but unfortunately the description still wasn’t clear enough.

I tried again, with more direct language and succinct explanations. I had someone read it who knew nothing about the product and they were none the wiser after reading my explanation. Fail number two.

My brain was close to imploding. I’d stared at the words for so long, I’d walked around the block, I’d eaten chocolate. None of it was bringing me a fresh perspective.

Finally, I decided to ignore everything he’d sent me and start again. I managed to write a simple Q & A format, where clear questions formed part of the explanation. The answers filled in the gaps. All of a sudden, it fell into place and flowed seamlessly. I sent it off as an alternate idea and that was the one he loved.

What I realised was that as much as working within the parameters of a customer or client’s needs are integral, we have been engaged for our expertise. When the solution is not obvious, we have to go back to basics, and trust we have the skills and knowledge to find an answer that will delight our client. Ultimately, we need to play our own game.

First appeared on Diary of an Ausmumpreneur: http://www.ausmumpreneur.com/play-your-own-game/

Kylie

What is the elusive secret to success?

It'd be nice if there was a more interesting answer to the question, "What is the secret to success?" than "hard work and determination". I sure as hell know it's not asking the universe for something. I've asked for all sorts of things and no postal delivery service has shown up with a gold plated, diamond encrusted VW beetle. 

Here's my latest pondering on my fortnightly diary entry through AusMumpreneur:

Inspiring Women (and damn good hot chocolates)

I love meeting inspiring people, especially women who are juggling becoming mums while running businesses. Kristy Mckenzie has three year old twins and runs a hairdressing salon called Petite Chique that fills a great gap in the marketplace: somewhere for mums and kids to go to get their hair done, without the tantrums from either child or parent! And as a side note, they make the best hot chocolate I've ever tasted - people talk about finding a great coffee, let me tell you, finding a great hot chocolate is even harder!

Babycino at Petite Chique anyone?  Photo by Susie Leversha Photography

Babycino at Petite Chique anyone? Photo by Susie Leversha Photography

My latest diary entry for Ausmumpreneurs talks about how Kristy inspires me with my own freelance writing business. And now I need a hot chocolate..

http://www.ausmumpreneur.com/inspired-by-smart-mumpreneurs/

Kylie

Thank the lord for chocolate .. and flexible working arrangements

Here's my latest diary entry for AusMumpreneur. It is quite cathartic writing about my progress - the successes the failures, the frustrations and the celebrations - in expanding my business. It also keeps me accountable. It could potentially be boring as batshit for everyone reading it. I hope not.

http://www.ausmumpreneur.com/thank-the-lord-for-chocolate-and-flexible-working-arrangements/

Enjoy! 

Kylie.

Chosen to contribute to the "Diary of an AusMumpreneur"

I'm excited to have been chosen as a contributor to the "Diary of an AusMumpreneur".  The idea was proposed by the AusMumpreneur Network - over 16,000 mums in business who are running successful businesses (or at least attempting to) whilst raising children.

The diary will have entries from 10 mums in a diverse range of businesses. We will document our routines, celebrate the triumphs and overcome the challenges of balancing the balls of life with young children and business management. Lessons learned, tips, advice (and probably a bit of swearing from me that may be edited out) will all be shared in the hope that other women feel inspired to follow their business ideals. 

Given I am in the business of selling myself, or at least my voice through writing, it is probably not a traditional "business". However, my goal is to make freelance writing a viable employment option for my family. I'd like to be able to feed my kids more than 2-minute noodles on my earnings. Maybe gourmet 2-minute noodles?

Check out the other fabulous women who will write about their foils, frustrations, fantasies, faux pas, and something else that starts with f. 

http://www.ausmumpreneur.com/diary-of-a-mumpreneur-welcome-our-ausmum-bloggers-for-2015/

Join the ride! 

Kylie.

xox