January is the famous month of new beginnings, and I’m right there with the newly rebooted “Sex and the City” in starting a new chapter.
No, I’m not planning on wearing outlandish clothes and super high heels or making drastic changes in my life. With January the month I launched Get It Write, I’m simply celebrating 30 years as a solo writer.
Even this long afterward, I clearly remember agonizing about leaving a corporate job for more than a year before I did it. I registered the name Get It Write in January 1990 and signed up for a tax number that December. The business was officially active on January 15, 1991 and the first invoice went out the next day. I haven’t looked back.
Those early days involved setting up my office with an chunky computer and monitor and equally bulky printer that took up most of my desk. I delayed getting a paper business card until I got a fax machine (!!). The phone, not the internet, was my lifeline and with young sons in the house, Call Display my dear friend.
Fast forward out of the Dark Ages. I disposed of the giant hardware in environmental drop-offs, and my writing happens on a small, light laptop. I’ve had a website since 2006 and blog since 2007. I live by email and text. I still have a phone on my desk, although it seldom rings; when it does, it’s as likely to be a spam call as a client or colleague.
Over the years, I’ve often marked the blog anniversary, but many times the business anniversary just wasn’t on my radar. I started paying attention to the date and marking it on my calendar after a random question in 2014. Now, I make a point of celebrating this milestone and others, however small – something we all should do. Right now, making it through 2020 is right up there as reason to cheer.
#WFH before its time
Thanks to the pandemic, many people are discovering some of the joys I’ve had running my own business. Top of the list is what a relief it is not to commute, ideally (like me) taking a short walk to a proper, established work space. There’s more flexibility and (possibly) more control over your day when you work from home. I have the balance in my life that lets me be a better writer, wife, mother, daughter, friend — in whichever order happens to be most important at the time.
How to make it last
If you’re thinking about launching your own business, I have some ideas. In 2016, I answered some questions about what clients look for, the skills you need and how to build up a client base in How to take the leap to the independent life. It’s a different world out there these days, but the pandemic has put communications people in the spotlight and many need help.
If you’re new to or early in the indie life, here are my four top tips:
1. Be visible: Market yourself in some fashion. Have a website. Be active on social media; take part in Twitter chats and comment on posts on LinkedIn, for example. Volunteer. Be seen at virtual networking events until in-person events come back (can’t wait).
2. “Old school” still has value: Pick up the telephone. Write thank you notes, both email and snail mail. Meet new colleagues and prospects on Zoom until it’s safe to meet in person.
3. Spread the word: Let friends and family know what you do in a way they’ll remember. Find work through connections, networking, word of mouth, prospecting. Volunteering can show what you do and how reliable you are while you do a good deed.
4. Build a virtual team: Get backup, like an accountant, lawyer, tech support. Partner with other independents (writers and graphic designers have a particular affinity); you may be able to share or swap work, or work together on projects too large for one.
You’ll find more specific details in a post written on my 23rd anniversary (Thinking about hanging out your shingle? Start here); be sure to check the comments for more great tips from my colleagues.
Do you have any other questions I might be able to answer? Post them in the comments or get in touch with me. And feel free to raise a glass at some point to say congratulations, and to celebrate your achievements. Cheers!
LinkedIn never seems to tell others about my milestone, as I lament in I’m not waiting for LinkedIn to say congrats