Act first, reflect later.
Hardly the sound advice most of us have grown up with. But it’s one of my favourite tips that Roman Krznaric offers in his inspiring book How to Find Fulfilling Work. I’d certainly class myself as someone who over-analyses, who feels like I don’t quite know enough to take the next step, who wants to register for one more class or read one more book before I act. But I decided that this year would be different.
I made the decision to start a freelance writing business recently, and the sense of urgency and rush of adrenaline of simply doing it helped me get past the vocal spectators in my head that are risk averse, full of self-doubt and just a touch lazy.
But adrenaline will only get you so far.
To keep the momentum going, I’ve signed onto Seth Godin’s Freelance Course on Udemy.com. I’m only on lesson 1.4 and he’s already making me want to be a better human being, copywriting aside! If you’re a freelancer and need a shot of inspiration, book onto this course immediately.
He’s asked us to do this course in public, to post our exercises online so that we can be held accountable. To that end, here is my first exercise entitled ‘Who Are You?’.
What do you want to do?
I want to be a freelance writer and content strategist, helping individuals and brands communicate more effectively with their audience. I want to assist individuals and brands identify the high-level vision of what content will help them achieve as well as plan, create and manage that content as part of an ongoing process.
Who do you want to change, and how do you want to change them?
The Internet made publishers out of us all, but it’s quickly become clear that what’s needed now is high-quality, purposeful content that cuts through the noise and truly adds value.
I want to change the type of content coming from individuals and brands. Impactful content is informed first by an understanding of the audience and second by the wider context the copy sits within. I want to ensure that my work is based in customer research and is personalised for a specific group. It should also aggregate ideas and information already available and draw a conclusion that is actionable and useful for readers.
How much risk (from 1 [a little] to 10 [bet everything]), are you willing to put at stake to make the change you seek?
I’d say I’m around a 7 or 8 at the moment. I’m not yet in a financial position to throw off the day job and do this full time, but I’m not willing to spend another year wishing my career path were different and not having the guts to do anything about it.
How much work are you willing to do to get there? Be specific about the tradeoffs.
I am willing to sacrifice my evenings and weekends to achieve my goal, cutting back on time with friends and family and other extracurricular activities to get my business off the ground. This time will be spent learning the ins and outs of communication, persuasion and content strategy. But mostly, I will use the time to write, to refine my approach and my techniques.
Does this project matter enough for the risk and the effort you’re putting into it?
Yes. It is time to pursue a job that aligns with my passion and my talents, that allows for autonomy and flow, that gives me the freedom to choose how I spend my day. Life is short – it’s time to find fulfilling work.
Is it possible — has anyone with your resources ever pulled off anything like this?
I believe it is. While the content strategists and writers that I look up to are a few years ahead of me, I know many have started out in a similar situation. The people and companies I currently draw inspiration from are Kristina Halvorson, Margot Bloomstein, Karen McGrane, Karen Marston, Ash Ambirge, Contently and Content Standard by Skyword.