When I first started working as a freelance copywriter, I had only ever been an employee and never in the creative space. I barely knew how to be a copywriter, let alone a functioning business owner.
Being a freelancer had its perks. I was essentially a hired hand, being given briefs, managed by project managers and safe in the little bubble of effectively renting yourself as an employee to a number of clients.
I enjoyed the work, even when I was writing about cow effluence and side-lifters for professional services businesses all over the world, but I knew I wanted more.
My husband, Valerio, is an incredibly talented graphic designer, his work can be seen all over this site as well as in the number of pieces of content we share on other channels, and we knew our skills were complimentary. So, naively, we decided to leap and start our own company and sell our services in copy AND design together.
What do you think happened?
Well, we had only ever known how to be employees, so employees we became.
Undercharging, overworking, completely out of our depths.
Because we had no idea how to be business owners.
Being the type-A kind of person I am, I read everything I could; books, blogs, you name it.
I spent hours on Youtube, signing up for online courses, attended networking events all over the world, and I realised one key thing:
Everyone told me something completely different! And I realised this was because they had all done as we were doing; they learned from experience. They learned their way through the years of riding the ups and downs of business.
Going into too much debt.
Signing up for systems too early for their stage of business.
Not factoring tax into their pricing and getting caught out at the end of the financial year.
We belong to a culture where everything can be learned at the click of a button but that is not necessarily a good thing.
We spend too much time consuming and not enough creating.
Your best lessons come from experience. Your expertise grows through those jobs where you over-promise, you stretch yourself beyond what any person is capable of. It is this constant pursuit of more information to try to skip this step that causes the information overload.
If you’ve been following me for a while now, you know I’m a sucker for the Stoics.
I love Seneca’s thoughts on this, even back in the times of Roman emperors:
“The primary indication, to my thinking, of a well-ordered mind is a man’s ability to remain in one place and linger in his own company. […] Be careful, however, lest this reading of many authors and books of every sort may tend to make you discursive and unsteady. You must linger among a limited number of master-thinkers, and digest their works, if you would derive ideas which shall win firm hold in your mind. Everywhere means nowhere. […] There is nothing so efficacious that it can be helpful while it is being shifted about. And in reading of many books is distraction.”
He argues that reading everything by everyone is the same as reading nothing.
Choose who you listen to very carefully, then when you have decided that they match you in your values, your beliefs and your approach to work, consume everything those few people have created.
Choose something each day, small enough to implement or ruminate on and decide if it is for you or not. If it is, make a plan to implement it. Get it on the calendar.
If not, discard it and move on.
Do this consistently.
There is power in choosing what you absorb on a daily basis. Choose carefully.
Are these posts helping you? It has become a nice practice for me as, I too, face complete overwhelm in extremely uncertain times. None of us are immune. But, we can control how and where we spend our energy. I’m grateful that you have chosen to spend it here with me.