Introduction and Interview by David Wagstaff
This interview with Taylor is among the first in a series of articles from entrepreneurs, compiled with the goal of providing other business owners and soon-to-be business owners with a realistic view of what it takes to run a business and some of the challenges commonly faced.
Taylor’s LinkedIn profile caught my attention. I was just in the process of starting this series of articles and knew I would need an editor. I can write, but unless I’m very careful, I often look back at my writing and say, “how could I have written that?” There are errors, typos, and things I know better than to tell. So when I read Taylor’s profile and saw that she helps busy people who “wear too many hats and don’t have time . . . and are passionate about their work”, I was curious to learn more. And I saw that she writes content, newsletters, and can even help write emails.
In working with entrepreneurs, one of the lessons I’ve learned is that we must choose which tasks to focus on and dedicate our time to. It isn’t possible to do it all and do it all well. When we need to produce some writing, for example, we need to decide whether to do it quickly and throw it out there as a little less than perfect or to spend the money and hire a writer to get it done. Most writing jobs can be less than perfect, but there are times when it really makes sense to outsource the job and achieve a more professional product.
In my interview with Taylor, I admire her willingness to just let go of her regular job to pursue the things she cared about, and I like her willingness to jump in and learn the things she needed to learn to start her own business.
At the core, this is really what most entrepreneurs experience. They need a website – but don’t have deep pockets. So they roll up their own sleeves and figure it out on their own. I also like how she developed her own approach to focusing her time. As entrepreneurs, I think most days we all face an infinite number of potential tasks to tackle, and prioritization is really the key to success. Focusing on the right tasks and ignoring those that are less critical.
1) What led you to become an entrepreneur?
From someone who never planned on owning her own business, this is a fun question to answer! I did some research into running a small business as a freelance writer before, but I didn’t realize how doable it actually was until a few weeks before I quit my full-time job as a journalist. It was a small-town newspaper and I liked it there, but I’d always wanted to use my degree to work for nonprofits, especially those that helped people caught in human trafficking or who were being persecuted for their faith. Shortly before I landed my job at the newspaper, I’d been looking more in-depth into freelance writing as a side hustle, and I started to build a website about the same time I got hired. But after a month and a half of fighting my way uphill trying to build my own website and figure out the freelance world, I’d had enough.
I got serious with it and invested some money into buying three courses, one to teach me how to build a WordPress website and two that covered several things related to freelance writing. I’ve never looked back since, and I’m so happy that I took a chance and struck out on my own.
2) A brief description of your business and what are your aspirations for it?
Taylored Writing is my freelance writing business where I provide services as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and blogger for other businesses and nonprofits. I write blog posts, website copy, emails, social media posts, and other content, and right now I’m leaning heavily into the digital marketing area as well.
Aspirations become reality when you have attainable goals and when you think outside the box. I aspire for my business to be bringing in 8K a month in two years, but to get there, I’ve mapped out several attainable goals to achieve first. I have a goal to bring in 2K in February, then 3K in March. I’ll reevaluate at the end of each month, but those are goals I know I can achieve while still challenging myself to continue growing.
3) What have you done with the business that you are proud of or that has worked really well?
The way I landed my first gig was pretty interesting and it taught me a valuable lesson as well. I realized that anytime I invest the right amount of research into something and strive to do an outstanding job, I’ll be successful in more ways than one. For this gig, all the applicants had to write a product description for the company, then create a Facebook ad that linked to that product. Whoever designed the Facebook ad that beat out the others would get the job. I’d never put an ad together before or wrote a product description, so I was pretty thrilled when mine did the best!
Other than strong research skills, another tool that has worked incredibly well for me is social media networking. Not only have I gained clients through it, but networking has also connected me with so many other freelance writers, small business owners, and marketers, who are all more than happy to dish out great advice and support me in my business.
4) What were some of your biggest challenges along the way?
The huge amount of information that’s out there can be overwhelming to sift through.
For example, if I Google “email marketing,” I might click on an article about the basics of email marketing, but once I start reading it, I’ll see all these links sprinkled inside. And those links lead back to some other really good resources, so I’m trying to open all of them in different tabs, save them all and try to make sure I get back to them. Or I’ll start reading one of the linked articles, and that leads me to another article, and before I know it I’m way off topic.
By the end of the day, if I don’t have a plan, it just becomes too much and it’s hard to keep it all straight.
5) Have you overcome the challenges? If so how?
I quickly learned I needed a plan for conducting research. I’ll pick one thing I want to learn and then I’ll break it down into more things. For example, let’s say I want to expand my knowledge of digital marketing. Simply running a Google search for “digital marketing” is way too broad, with a vast amount of information all over the place. So instead, I break it down into its categories, like email marketing, business blogging, social media marketing, SEO, marketing automation, and so on.
Once I’ve figured out the different categories, I’ll research them one at a time instead of bouncing back and forth between several. Doing it that way lets me zone in and learn way more about each subject than if I’d tried to dive into several in the same sitting.
6) What have you learned and what would you like to share with other entrepreneurs?
That confidence and consistency are key. You have to keep your self-confidence up and not let your mistakes define where you’re going with your business. Self-doubt and negativity are killers, so you have to keep them at bay and remind yourself that you do have what it takes to run a successful business.
You also need to stay consistent. Stay consistent with your strategy and the tactics you’ve developed for success. I’ve formed a three-part system that helps me stay consistent with what I need to do in order to maintain my business and keep it constantly growing. It consists of spending each part of my day doing three things, all of which are essential to my success as an entrepreneur: crafting writing samples, conducting research, and networking to potential clients.
As an entrepreneur, keep your head up, develop a consistent strategy, and don’t forget we’re all here to support each other.