A Year in Review
When looking at 2018 in retrospect, a few themes surface and lessons learned begin to form. And as we get our feet wet into a new year, we’re eager to focus on refined services and continue onward with faithful consistency.
Laying the foundation.
In the winter of 2017, the idea for Required Reading sprouted while sitting in a coffee shop. Not an unfamiliar scene, I would set up shop with a latte in hand on weekends or after work to get freelance projects done. But on this day, a chilly and grey Saturday afternoon, I realized I could make this a “thing.” Not just as Diana, but as a business.
Cue the next 11 or so months of research, diving into the digital realm of creative entrepreneurship, forming services, using my limited skills to throw together a semblance of a brand, and asked myself hard questions.
“What are my values in business?”
”How will I go about finding clients?”
”Is there a clear need for a brand-focused copywriting studio?”
It was thrilling. And still is. I soaked up podcasts and blogs from the likes of Jenna Kutcher, Jessica Comingore of Marbury, The Minimalists, Beth Kirby, Jocelyn K. Glei from Hurry Slowly, and plenty more. Their wisdom, mentality and expertise served as ripe soil.
Making the leap.
The goal was always clear from the start: to move away from the semi-corporate world. Sure, working in creative agencies wasn’t necessarily an episode of The Office in real life, but the politics, days stacked with meetings, and very little time to actually create still rang true. And it was becoming more and more evident that I function differently. It was time to try something else. Or I would regret not trying at all.
So, after nearly a year of planning, acquiring clients under the new moniker, and getting much-appreciated confirmation that my services were a real need, the call to make the jump came; and I answered. I amicably resigned, lined up some interim part-time work, and since have gained the momentum I was looking for.
By way of trust, patience and the art of enduring uncertainty, a few learnings stood out over the course of the year:
Take your time.
This can relate to far more than creating a business, but patience is a virtue for a reason. It’s always apparent when captions are written haphazardly out of haste, your website is full of typos, or your business plan has some holes that you don’t notice until you put pen to paper. Take your time, contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a rush or a timeframe for creating something from scratch. And the more time you take to carefully and mindfully form your vision, the better the end result will be.
Refinement doesn’t happen once. It’s for the long-haul.
Stressful seasons have their purpose. The refinement that comes from enduring uncertainty, fear, or making it through the busyness of juggling a side hustle and a full-time job will help prepare you and strengthen you for the eminent struggles in entrepreneurship. Refining is continual, and we have to choose to believe that we will come out on the other side more polished, stronger and wiser.
I used to wonder if I was just lazy when I realized that I work better when I start my mornings slow. Preferably silent, letting my coffee do it’s job, thinking through the day, and settling into my chair to get to priority work first. But understanding your own natural workflow, preferences and strengths is essential for creating routine and setting yourself up to your best work. The topic of mornings is diverse, but starting to become self-aware as a business owner with your personal needs helps with more involved topics like client relationships, communication styles, or how to handle challenging projects.
We’re halfway into January, and while I’m not much for resolutions, there are a few words that have repeatedly come up while thinking about how I want to approach Required Reading this year.
Going from a highly structured work culture to suddenly having more time on my hands that I’d ever had as a professional was foreign. I know most freelance creatives can relate, but experiencing it made me realize I work best when I have a bit of parameters. So with my own schedule, with the way I interact with clients or set timelines for projects, structure will be a focus for this year.
We all know content is queen. And as more share-worthy projects get finalized, I’m excited to share more brand messaging client work, post regularly here on our Footnotes, and keep Instagram going, consistency is crucial for continuing to build a brand, voice, and trust among readers.
Simplifying my services and writing packages made me realize keeping things short and sweet doesn’t go out of style. I want Required Reading to live up to its name, to provide only the essentials when it comes to a brand’s message, and that includes how clients and partners work with me. Honing in on a few things, doing them well, and letting them breathe is much more appealing to me as a business rather than trying to do everything that could possibly be related to copywriting and content.
Thanks for reading. I’m so honored to offer help, guidance and insight, and I’m thankful for the clients and designers I’ve been able to work with to create clean and value-driven copy.
One year down, more to come.