If you’re a fan of The Write Life, you’ve probably already read a blog post or three written by today’s Freelancer Spotlight guest.
Thanks for joining us, Jessica!
What do you do, Jessica?
Hi! I’m Jessica and I’m a communications consultant, writer, personal branding expert, speaker and yoga teacher in the Philadelphia area.
I know. Multi-passionate for sure, right?
Let me explain. After six years working full-time in public relations while blogging and freelance writing on the side, I made the decision to quit my job in December 2015 to turn all my passions and side hustles into one business.
I’m documenting the journey in my monthly Becoming CEO blog series, where I share lessons learned, an income breakdown and the highs and lows of solopreneurship.
One of the reasons I love running my own business is that I’m able to both help clients with communications AND teach yoga, two things that are starkly different from one another.
I wake up excited each day because I’ve truly turned my passions into my career.
What got you into freelancing? Was it what you expected?
In college, I read a book about freelance writing and was fascinated by the idea of making extra money on the side of a full-time job. I knew that it was something I wanted to do one day.
In the meantime, I started a blog and have continued blogging ever since. My blog is all about what I call getting gutsy; it’s about stepping out of your comfort zone to reach your goals and living a life that makes you truly happy.
Through my blog and being very active on social media, I developed a strong personal brand that began attracting freelance opportunities.
My very first client actually came after I included a link to something the CEO of that company had written in a blog post of mine! I started to see that my blog could be an amazing outlet to develop a platform to attract clients and opportunities.
What has been most challenging part of solopreneurship so far?
The most challenging part of solopreneurship is figuring out my work capacity or how much I can take on in any given period of time. I’ve been at this for nine or so months now and I seriously struggle with knowing how much to take on. I never want to say no to an exciting opportunity, but I’m also starting to become wiser about protecting my time and energy in order to keep my current clients happy.
Did you ever want to quit or give up?
Oh, yes! Every other day.
It’s such a cliche, but entrepreneurship truly is a roller coaster. One day, I am way, way up; I feel like I can do anything! The next day (or sometimes even the next hour!), I am way, way down. When I feel that way, I wish someone would hold my hand and say, “Hey, here, do this next and everything will be okay.”
In the moments I want to quit, I try to take a deep breath and remember that everyone has bad days.
I try to take a break from my work, go to a yoga class or take a nap to reset. Often, I wake up the next day wondering why I felt so off-balance.
Is there anything you’d like to outsource?
Oh man! Such a great question.
I am actually in the process of hiring my first two team members now, so I’m definitely feeling the pull to start getting some tedious items off my plate. The first thing I plan to outsource is scheduling social media posts and laying out emails for various email marketing campaigns. Both of these tasks aren’t difficult, but they absolutely suck up my time.
I want to clear space for more creativity, strategy and content development.
What task in your own business would you like to do more of?
I’d love to do more public speaking.
I recently spoke at a major public relations conference in Florida and the experience gave me such a natural high! I’m already in the process of pitching that same presentation to other organizations and I’m developing a public speaking page for my website.
(Gina’s tip: I recently had my first public speaking gig at the Double Your Freelance conference. You can read all about my misadventures in this post.)
What are some big successes you’ve had recently?
Two amazing things happened this summer in my business! The first is that I landed my biggest client yet; after months of back and forth, completing a test project and lots of negotiation, I secured a major contract with a well-known brand for content management/creation services.
The second success was speaking at a conference in Florida. I love speaking and do it frequently here in Philadelphia, but this was the first time I was invited to travel to speak at a conference. It was also the first time I talked about my brand message (stepping out of your comfort zone) rather than industry-specific topics, so this was my first taste or what it might be like to be a keynote speaker one day.
What are some specific strategies, tactics or pieces of advice that helped you grow?
Practice energy management. Energy management means maximizing my energy and the times of the day I am most alert and creative to get my most pressing work done. It means prioritizing my day based on when my body and mind work best.
Be vulnerable. I’ve built my brand on being honest, open and vulnerable. When things suck, I talk about it. When things are awesome, I talk about it. Being real has helped me build a brand people can both relate to and trust.
Be kind to yourself. We’re often our own worst critics. Solopreneurship is not easy. Every day, I work hard to be kind to myself, even when things are challenging.
What are you most excited about for your business next?
Right now, I’m really excited to see how my business can grow and thrive with the addition of new team members. I didn’t think I’d start building a team this soon, but I know that the additional help will allow me grow, while also freeing up my head space to truly step into the role of CEO of my business.
Thanks for chatting with us, Jessica!
After six years in the corporate PR world, Jessica Lawlor left her job to run her own communications agency, blog/brand and teach yoga. Jessica blogs at JessicaLawlor.com about getting gutsy: stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals and live a life that makes you truly happy. You can follow her on Twitter @jesslaw.