“I’m just not in the mood to scale my business right now.”
That ^^^ is what I wrote to a couple of copy pals a few weeks ago when I had an epiphany (in the shower, you know the kind).
T’was after a day when I had about 20 tabs open, updated my website (one day I’ll be happy with it…), scheduling content, checking my Mailchimp list for updates to my free UX writing course, starting a project and pitching a couple of new ones. Oh, and looking after a baby full-time.
I was strung out. Feeling equal parts failure at the many different things I was trying to crack, and yearning for the many different things I wanted to do. Ah, the old multitasking myth. It’ll get ya.
What did I have to do to feel successful?
But then I realised: success means something different to every individual.
When you spend a lot of time online, it’s often met with a bombardment of tales of epic successes and seven-figure years, people launching a new course here, a webinar series there, invites to join exclusive Facebook groups and the trials and tribulations of hiring and firing VAs or project managers.
There’s this bullshit notion that in order to be deemed ‘successful’, freelancers / startups / founders must work 40, 50, 60+ hours on and in their business. And that’s not even including home commitments like partners, kids, friends and networking.
All this ‘doing’ and busy-ness is worn as some kind of badge of honour.
And yeah, I get a little FOMO every now and then when I think about launching new things and investing ALL THE HOURS into my business.
But I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say:
You can make good money working at your own pace (and half as much).
I’m proof of it! I’m doing pretty well landing clients who respect my limited availability and commitment to work less.
And it’s not slacking off, oh no. Am I working smarter? Yes. More strategically?Definitely. But most certainly not 60+ hours a week.
So why isn’t this way of working celebrated more?
I think it should be. And it should be spoken about more, too.
In an effort to lessen the workload and narrow my focus in 2019, I’ve come up with a set of inherent things that I know to be true and come back to when I need a reminder:
- Be really, really good at what I do.
- Work with a smaller number of really, really good clients.
- Take on projects that challenge me but also light me up.
- Connect with people who value my work and therefore helping me to value it more, too.
I’m focusing on getting even better at what do (and what I love) and investing in THAT.
- I’ll be buying less books on all the marketing, business ownership and copywriting (I’ve got plenty to keep me going) and buying more on conversational interfaces, user research and UX design. (So far I can recommend this one: Simple and Useable by Giles Colborne.)
- I’ll be spending less time in groups on social media that are more of a social distraction than genuinely helpful.
- I’ll be quieting down my inbox from all the ‘fluff’ that comes into it.
- I’m going to stop comparing myself to others who are on a different path.
- And I’ll be spending more time with my type of clients – getting to know them better and giving them the full Laura Luck experience (oh wow that sounded wrong).
Be really, really good
I’m sick of comparing myself to others in a different phase. And that’s all this is, after all.
After doing this writing / marketing / comms thing for almost a decade, I’m at a different stage in my life and my career and I feel like I don’t need to prove myself as much. I can just be really, really good at what I do. And that’s ok, right?
I’m not really interested in setting up a micro-agency or pilfering out sub-par work to outsourced writers. Managing my own workload is enough.
It’s 100% me here, you guys. And that’s what my clients are investing in. My expertise in the niche I’ve chosen – which is tech brands who know the value of streamlined and conversational content and UX writing.
Working with a smaller number of clients
I’ll only be working with one main client at a time, on one big project at a time – this means they’ll get the personalisation and 1:1 attention they deserve.
My main filtering process: making sure we can do some real cool shit together.
It’s been tough to find the best way of working as a UX writer these past few years. I need to be part of a broader team, but I’m freelance and remote. It’s not enough to treat this specialised work like a regular copywriting or content gig.
Every project I’ve taken on recently required me to get to know UX designers, project leads, subject matter experts, web designers, developers, branding specialists and founders / CEOs. I join team Slack channels, am looped in on emails and add my dulcet tones to conference calls.
It makes sense for me to be part of the team, but traditionally I have been restricted by project terms and a set amount of client work time.
All of that leads to this: a new way of working
So going forward, I’m changing things up. Now I’m offering full access to me in chunks of time for projects instead of the usual hourly rate or project fee.
For example: clients will be able to book me to jump in as part of the team in blocks of a week or a month to work on a bunch of deliverables in that timeframe. We could create things like a full brand voice guide, train up a team on good conversational comms, get full website content done or create an app. All good things.
It’s way better value and it means I can really devote myself to each project and team member. And if it doesn’t work out, that’s ok too! It’s all an experiment after all.
More on this to come (and when I’ve dotted all the Is and crossed the Ts it’ll be up on my services page).
Focus on you (and on your customer)
Heck yes I’m happy about earning a decent amount but only working part-time. But I’m also realistic about it too.
I love what I do and I will never give up the ‘writing’ part of UX writing. I just don’t think I could hand this over to a sub-contractor yet (unless I found the perfect partner to work with on projects – any takers?).
If you’re in a similar position to me, I want you to think of ways you can cut back from the noise of the internet over-achievers.
Find out what the value is that you’re trying to bring and just focus on that.
Work on projects that make you so damn happy to get up every day. Then do some more of that. Try working with just 1-2 clients at a time. Sink your teeth into the practical side of what you do.
And lastly, remember why you started.