A year ago (okay, 12 months and 10 days ago. I’ve been busy, yo!) I left my old job at WPMU DEV, never to go back*. The next Monday after my boyfriend left for work, I wandered into the living room, switched on my computer and thought, “Holy shit, I don’t have a job.” Queue brain explosion.
A couple of things dawned on me that morning: I didn't have a "real job" and—ever scarier—I could no longer rely on a regular paycheck.
It took me a while to get used to the idea of working for myself. On November 17, 2017, I finally went full-time with Words By Birds, my copywriting and content business. After side hustling for a while, watching my client list slowly snowball, and then getting so ridiculously busy I had no choice but to quit my day job, there I was, sitting in front of my computer screen, wondering what I should do that day.
Mixed in amongst the fear and imposter syndrome was encouragement. So many people in the WordPress community had validated my business idea, so I figured, why the hell not? If I failed, I could get a job waitressing or something. (Funnily enough, I've become pretty damn good, if I do say so myself, at making lattes since I got a coffee machine!).
Originally, I started out working with Jenni McKinnon, an amazing WordPress writer in her own right. But trying to navigate working between Australia and Canada proved too much of a headache for us. We (virtually) hugged and parted ways, and her business WP Pros(e) has gone gangbusters.
My little business, Words By Birds, has grown from strength to strength too. Over the past year, I’ve:
- Launched two Skillshare courses: Creating Content That People Love to Read (and Google Loves to Rank) and Marketing on a Shoestring: How to Promote Your Business on a Tight Budget. The lovely folks at Skillshare approached me earlier in the year about creating a course about content. So that’s exactly what I did. There are now over 1000 students in my first class (!) and I’ve enjoyed reading their projects and feedback. My second class is still pretty new. Check it out for quick marketing tips!
- Hired three writers: Nick, Danielle, and Carmine. They are absolute guns, let me tell you. Hiring is freaking hard. I’ve had potential writers ghost me (what’s up with that?!) and I’ve agonised over hiring people to join my little team. But these three are amazing and I’m looking forward to working with them more in the New Year.
- Worked with some incredibly smart and successful WordPress companies. It’s been a hell of a ride watching them grow and knowing my content has played some part in their success. This week, one client shared his Google Analytics traffic with me and I did a little dance in my chair when I saw how traffic has grown consistently, month-on-month, since we started working together late last year.
- Redesigned my site at least six times… ? I want to promise that I won’t do it again... But damn it, I can’t help it! I love playing around with WordPress and design. Though I must admit, I do love the current design and I’m planning to stick with it for a while. (Like ScoMo, I won’t define what “a little while” is ?)
The best thing about the past 12 months is that I turn up for work every day (and a lot of weekends ?) and I freaking love it. I love that I get to write every day and work with super smart people.
I’ve got big plans for next year. I’ll be blogging regularly with bullshit-free tips and advice on how to create quality content. I work with a lot of different businesses and see how they operate behind the scenes, so I’ve got a lot of insight into what works and what doesn’t work content and SEO-wise.
I’ll also be sending out my first newsletter in the New Year. Thanks to everyone who’s joined my list—you’re super patient! Every week I’ll be sharing writing and content tips, along with the best marketing links I’ve come across during my web travels. I read a lot and want to share what I learn!
I'm also planning to put together some digital resources to help small business owners who want to look after content themselves. So things like checklists and guides so you can audit and improve your own website copy for SEO and conversions. Writing is bloody hard and copywriting for conversions is even harder. I want to help empower business owners to improve their own writing because it’s such an important skill to have if you want to connect with potential customers and clients and grow your business.
Finally, thank you to everyone who’s supported me this past year. All of the clients I’ve worked with, you’re all so incredibly passionate about what you do and it’s infectious. Thanks also to Jenni—you are an absolute gem of a human being and such an amazing writer and motivator. Lastly, thank you to my amazing boyfriend Markus. When I work late at night or on weekends, he never complains. Instead, he cooks and cleans and plans our amazing hiking trips.
P.S. For the record, I celebrated one year of Words By Birds in the wilderness of the Mitchell's River National Park, completely offline ✌️