Hey readers! Here’s another featured freelancer in my remote work case studies. I met Megan because she signed up for my free email course on how to start freelancing. She was a rockstar student and here’s what she had to say about the course:
“Since taking Amy’s course in June 2017 I registered as self-employed in the UK in August. Within a few weeks I had found three clients, which was a really exciting start. I carried out a mixture of tasks for these three clients, mainly: blog writing and proofreading, creating content for static web pages, drafting Instagram captions and outreach emails on behalf of clients.
I thank Amy’s course for giving me the boost to actually get out there and get started. Once I got going I realised that the only thing standing in my way was me. Opportunity was waiting just around the corner; all I had to do was go looking!”
I asked her if I could feature her on my blog because I thought her example would be very helpful to any of you looking to start a freelance business, particularly if you’re interested in becoming a virtual assistant.
Without further ado, here’s Megan Davies of Smash Your To Do List!
How long have you been freelancing?
I have been self-employed since July 2017, which is when I launched my website and began invoicing for my work in August.
Please describe your freelance business.
Smash Your To Do List offers writing services for brilliant female entrepreneurs and small businesses who are struggling to keep on top of their web, blog and social media content. I also help my clients stay productive by taking admin tasks off their hands, such as client outreach. I mainly write blogs and articles, proof read, create static web page content or draft Instagram captions.
I help my clients to get their message across by creating on-point content that their audience will love. As a lover of all things textual, it’s very unlikely that I’ll have a shortage of words, which is perfect for a small business finding it hard to carve out time to write.
I find my clients through a mixture of channels. I have used Upwork successfully to bring in a long-term client. I actively network in several Facebook groups and have also signed up to networking events in my local area to forge connections with local businesses. I spend time researching potential client leads and love Instagram for this. I reach out to people via email and have landed a few fabulous opportunities this way.
What inspired you to start your business?
Travel has definitely inspired me to start my own business. I left my full-time 9-5 job behind in 2011 and hit the road with nothing but my backpack. Fast forward six years and I have been semi-nomadic ever since, travelling and working in far flung places such as Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
During this time I realised that I did not miss sitting behind a desk and waiting for the weekend. I figured that instead of trying to find an employer who would place as great an importance on travel as I do, I would create my own opportunities by working for myself. Travel has made me more independent, embrace creativity and determined to carry on forging my own path through life.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
The first few months – probably even a year – is a huge learning curve. In the beginning I was so keen to land clients that I didn’t appreciate the value in taking the time to analyse whether they’d be a good fit for me. I was so eager to please and say ‘yes’ to every opportunity that there was one time when I failed to reflect on whether the job was going to make me happy.
After struggling with the new client and their expectations for about a week, I finally admitted to myself that something felt terribly wrong. I wasn’t filled with happiness at the prospect of working with this client and as I was just starting out I found this particularly soul-crushing. It took all the courage I had to go back to that client and explain how I didn’t feel I would be able to provide the kind of support she needed.
As soon as I had the conversation a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. I realised that I needed to be a lot more selective in who I took on in order to be entirely happy with my business.
What lessons did you learn from overcoming this obstacle?
That you can’t be everything to everyone.
The temptation is there to spread yourself thinly in the early days just to be able to see some money coming in. Whilst I appreciate that sometimes we have to do whatever it takes, there has to come a point where you look yourself straight in the eye and ask yourself whether you’re doing what really sets your soul on fire
If the answer is no then you have the power and the opportunity to do something about it. Make sure you only take on work that makes you happy and strengthens you in some way – whether it’s personal development, building your portfolio or simply a great piece of work to be involved with. Trust your gut and say no to the things that won’t bring you any joy.
Do you take advantage of the fact that you work remotely to be able to travel more? If so, please describe where you’ve been while working!
I love nothing more than a change of scenery and the beauty of what I do is that as long as I have an internet connection I can work. I have taken my laptop with me to the rolling green hills of South Wales and Devon in the UK.
It’s great to have the ability to schedule my work around my life, so that if a friend invites me to do something I can go, or I can make an appointment during the daytime knowing that I can just work a bit extra at night to make up for it. Sometimes I treat myself to the occasional coffee in a café where I can bring my laptop and I’m looking around for a coworking space to be a part of. Travel is a huge part of my life and so I absolutely see myself working location independently more in the future.
Can you give us an idea of how much revenue freelancing brings in for you?
Since August I have made a profit of almost £3,300 GBP / $4,350 US. I have had several outgoings in the beginning of setting up my business such as a new laptop, web hosting and a few other tools to help me run the business, including networking events.
Do you make enough to support your lifestyle?
I knew that starting a business would take me time and I’m quite open and honest about my finances. Unless you strike it lucky from the get-go, it’s my opinion that sustainable business is something that is built over time. The amount of work you put into it starts to pay off and everything in the early days is a learning curve – especially figuring out how to charge for your services!
I have quite a minimalist approach to life, which I attribute to my years of travel. I don’t have extravagant tastes and place a higher value on experiences rather than possessions. I have kept my outgoings low over the past few years by living simply as I’ve been travelling. This mindset has helped me as I’ve begun to work for myself because it keeps my expenses to a minimum. I’m content with starting from the bottom and working my way up.
What’s a typical “day in the life” for you?
A typical day in my life currently involves waking up to a cup of coffee and an hour of writing first thing in the morning. My day gets consumed by work for my clients, so I found that I wasn’t writing for myself as much as I wanted to. After writing for an hour I will pull on my trainers and head out of the door for a walk. I stick on a podcast to get me motivated and really feel the benefit of getting outside to clear my head and set me up for the day.
When I sit down at my desk I usually focus on client work in the morning. Around lunchtime I spend a little time on Instagram, my favourite social media platform for making connections with other business owners. Later on in the day I’ll get stuck into my inbox, draft content for my site or guest posts and carry out some prospective client research and outreach. As I run a travel blog in my spare time, I often find it quite hard switch off at night. I can usually be found spending an hour or two after dinner formatting blog posts or pinning content on Pinterest.
What’s one thing you wish someone had told you before you started freelancing?
That you can’t do it alone.
I do appreciate that this is a bit of an odd statement, especially coming from someone who has gone into business alone. I have become a solopreneur, which sounds exciting and exotic, just like social media would have you believe. However, what it actually boils down to is that I now work alone, for myself, and this can quickly become rather lonely.
I realised the importance of finding my tribe and I have been working hard to reach out to other female business owners in my niche and local area. I find that networking enables me to feel connected to the world outside my office walls, keeps me motivated and allows me to share my experiences with other people who ‘get it.’ Online communities on Facebook are ok for this to an extent, but nothing can beat a catch up over a coffee or a glass of wine with someone (or a group) of supportive, sympathetic ears who can raise you up when you feel like you’re not making any progress.
What have been your some of your best business expenses?
When I was travelling I was using my little netbook to write my travel blog. This worked perfectly in the backpacking context as it was small and light to carry, but when I arrived back home in the UK and set up my business it was soon apparent that it wouldn’t be suitable. Because I found myself working for eight or more hours a day, the tiny screen of the netbook just wouldn’t cut it. My biggest – and best – business expense therefore has been purchasing a new laptop, with a far larger screen and more power from which to run my business. It has totally transformed my productivity. Although my bank balance took a hit, my eyes thank me!
How can we follow your business and/or support your endeavors?
Instagram is where you’ll find me hanging out most days. I’d love it if you wanted to take a look at what’s going on at Smash Your To Do List or drop me a line to say hello. I love getting emails! firstname.lastname@example.org
About Megan Davies
Originally from Reading, England, Megan quit her desk job in the UK in 2011. She has spent the last six years travelling and working abroad in Australia, New Zealand and parts of South East Asia. Merging her passions for writing and a background as a personal assistant, Megan became a freelance writer offering content writing services to kickass entrepreneurs and small businesses. She loves impromptu road trips, cups of tea, sloth memes and crushing people’s to-do lists one tick at a time. Catch her over at: www.smashyourtodolist.com
If you liked this, be sure to read the rest of my remote work case studies! Are you a freelancer who’d like to be featured here? Email me at amy@ .
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