I’m starting this new year with a new focus – instead of interviewing other editors (which may not be very interesting for most business owners), I’ve decided to interview other professionals: small business owners, entrepreneurs, freelance workers. And instead of asking such editing-centric questions, I’m asking others how they’ve made it work. Some of these professionals are writers and editors, but the monthly interviews are less about my line of work and now about how you can make your business work for you.
I’m kicking of 2017 with my college classmate, sorority sister, and friend Laura Brandenburg, an entrepreneur, wife, and mother who runs two businesses while making time for herself and her family – and she’s helping other moms do the same thing. Here’s Laura:
Welcome to Write Now Editing! Please tell us about your business (include what you do, when you started your own business, and why).
I have two businesses:
- First, I started Bridging the Gap in 2008. I started this business after I left my corporate job. It was originally a blog that I intended to use to market myself to consulting clients. Over time, I published a book How to Start a Business Analyst Career and evolved the business into a virtual training company helping mid-career professionals start business analyst careers.
- Second, I started Momstyle Your Business in 2015 to help other mom entrepreneurs experience the financial freedom and flexibility I experienced through my first business, by teaching them how to build passive income with digital products.
What has been your biggest struggle in launching your business/career?
There were so many! I would have to say the biggest one was finding my niche originally. As I mentioned, I started a blog to find consulting clients. But as I published content, I noticed that other business analysis peers were my primary readers. Then I focused on helping business analysts with their careers. Finally, my business really took off when I focused on helping mid-career professionals start business analyst careers.
How did/are you overcoming it?
I don’t think there is a magic bullet to finding your online niche. It’s a messy organic process. For me it involved writing a lot of blog content, sharing it online via my email newsletter and social media, and reading the comments and feedback I was getting. Through the process of seeing what resonated and what I enjoyed, I eventually narrowed my marketing down enough to be able to play in a space I became extremely well-known for.
What’s surprised you the most about working for yourself?
When I started my online business in 2008, my goal was to keep my career going while I had young children, even though at the time I wasn’t even married. I’m a planner that way and I was thinking ahead to being able to enjoy flexibility that a corporate job wouldn’t allow.
What surprised me was that I enjoyed the work more than I ever enjoyed my corporate work. What surprised me even more was that I was able to build a much more substantial income via an online business. Once everything really started clicking in my business, my income quickly eclipsed what I could have reasonably expected to make in corporate, even while I was working 20-30 hours per week.
What’s your favorite part of this kind of work?
The writing and the creating are incredibly fulfilling to me. I love going into my creative cave for a few hours each work day to write content and create products.
But what really matters is that my creative work serves others. I love receiving emails from course participants about how much my work has helped them. And I still do a little happy dance every time I hear about someone finding their first business analyst position or making their first digital product sale. I know that I was part of making a positive difference in someone’s life and that is incredibly rewarding.
Is there any one event/moment that helped you move from starting your own business to making a living with your own business?
Yes. In early 2012, shortly after my first daughter was born, I hired a coach. I has been in business for 3 ½ years and felt like I was sitting on a huge untapped well of abundance. I was making a decent income, but not enough to justify the time away from my daughter.
I hired a coach and he was able to help me tweak my offers. He also helped me see that I needed to repeat some of my more profitable offers again and again to meet my revenue goals. I came close to doubling my income the year after my daughter was born. And then doubled it again the following year. And this was after cutting my work week down from about 50 hours / week to about 25 hours / week.
If you could give a new freelance worker/entrepreneur one piece of advice, what would it be?
Give yourself permission to focus on the revenue. We can create all kinds of stories about what we should be doing and what we need to be doing. The most important question to ask yourself, especially in the beginning, is what do I need to do to actually make money from this? Because if you don’t find the answer to that question, your time as a freelancer or entrepreneur will get cut short.
Focusing on the money is not going to make you a greedy, selfish person. It’s going to make you the owner of a profitable business, and give you the freedom and flexibility to show up in new ways. For me, owning a profitable business with a lot of passive income freed up time and energy for me to help mom entrepreneurs. I could never have done this work if I didn’t first focus on the money.
If you could do one thing differently in your career, what would it be?
I would have hired a coach sooner to help me find those revenue-generating activities sooner, so I could have experienced a truly profitable business sooner.
What’s your favorite kind of work? Why?
Writing. I love putting words on paper. And I love the timelessness of writing. Once you write and publish, your words have a life of their own. They help others now and in the future. It’s my way of leaving a legacy and making my impact on the world.
What does your work space/office look like?
Like this, except those windows are typically open. I have a garden-level office and we live in the foothills. It’s not uncommon for me to see deer right outside those windows.
What does your work day look like?
With each new school year, my work week and days have shifted. My current schedule allows me to work full days on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. On those days I do creative work in the mornings. Then I go for a run mid-morning. I often will return to my desk and do a quick piece of writing. Then shower and prepare lunch.
In the afternoon I schedule calls and plan in tasks that don’t require as much creative energy, like reviewing copy, researching tools, responding to emails, etc.
What’s your go-to snack when you need one?
Apple and peanut butter
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
If you’d like to learn more about creating a financially-freeing online business, I offer a complimentary guide: 10 Steps to Building Passive Income with Digital Products.
(I also strongly caution against believing some of the hype around digital products. This model is not easy. I do not give you a 90 day plan to 10K months. Building consistent passive income takes a lot of work and strategy and patience. But the results are worth it.)
Thank you so much for appearing on my blog. Have a blessed day!