This week sees the start of our Entrepreneur Spotlight, which focuses on amazing ladies who are rocking their online businesses.
We kick off with the delightful Alexa Tewkesbury, an award-winning screenplay writer, author of books for children and creative editorial specialist: freelance copywriter, copy editor and proofreader.
Hi Alexa, What’s your business name and what’s it all about?
I trade under my own name – Alexa Tewkesbury. Sometimes I think about changing it to something more imaginative, but as clients are used to this as my business name now, it might confuse things! I’m a copy editor, proofreader and copywriter working with publishers, independent authors and businesses. Wherever words are involved, my aim is to shape and refine them so that they showcase the writer or the business in the best possible way, delivering the true heart of the message.
What was your “Big Why” that drove you to start your business?
I’m a fairly solitary person, so I’ve always quite liked the idea of working on my own from home. But the main driver to actually doing something about it was the fact that my son is autistic and has epilepsy, with a few physical difficulties to go along with that, and I needed to find a way to work but be based at home so that I’m around when needed too. It’s too easy for autistic people to become isolated, and I don’t want that for him. Although it’s a bit of a juggle at times – most of my work is to deadlines so there’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre – I can’t imagine being able to ‘do’ life any other way now.
What lights you up about your business? What do you get to do in your business that was not possible in your 9-5?
I love creating my own schedule, albeit a bit haphazardly sometimes. And I get a real buzz when potential new clients find me online and contact me. It’s very rewarding to know that all the digital marketing does pay off! I also love the variety of work. I can be copy editing a new writer’s novel one day, switching to some website copy the next, proofreading a regular magazine for a publisher on another, and in between, creating content for my Twitter feed and scanning relevant editorial blogs and articles to share. That’s a variety I never had in my 9-5!
What daily habits do you without fail, that make a positive impact on your business day?
I recently had to give up caffeine, which was a bit of a blow! I always enjoyed the routine of settling at my desk with a mug of steaming coffee, checking my email and social media accounts to see what’s happening in my work world, noting anything especially good to share, and picking up a few hints and tips from my industry in the process. I still have coffee now, but of the decaff variety, and I’ve pretty much adjusted to a caffeine-free life. So the mug-moment still stands and kickstarts my work day.
Would you say you’re living the “freedom lifestyle” and how does it look and feel to you?
Because so much of my work is to deadlines, I wouldn’t exactly call my freelance life a “freedom lifestyle”. I can be flexible up to a point, but if work is due in for a certain time and date, that does take quite a lot of the freedom out of it! I suppose that’s the nature of editorial work. Having said that, on hot summer days, I can set up outside in the garden, and on cold winter ones I can snuggle with my laptop on the sofa. And if it’s all been especially manic and suddenly there’s a quiet day, I can decide to finish early and go for a walk. So, in those respects, yes, there is freedom, and I think I’d find the rigidity of 9-5 really hard to adapt to now.
Where do you see your business in two years’ time?
I’d like to have grown! I have one business client who pays for my services with a retainer fee monthly, which is great because it’s regular income to rely on. I would love to be able to find more clients who would like me to work for them on that basis. I’d also like to be able to regularise my work flow more, rather than everything landing at once, as it so often does! It’s an aim, but I’m still working on how to achieve it at the moment…
If there was one piece of advice you’d like to give to a woman who’s considering starting a business, or who’s finding the initial set up of her business longer or a little trickier than expected, what would it be?
Read as much as you can about how other women are building their businesses – how they’re networking (face to face and online), what digital marketing channels they’re using, where the needs are that you can fulfil in your industry. Having a marketing strategy is so important in making yourself visible to potential clients, but connecting with people doing what you’re doing also builds an amazing and vital support network for you and your business.
What’s your favourite motivational phrase/quote/mantra?
“My life – my rules” (not that I’ve by any means cracked this yet!).
Thank you for taking part in the Entrepreneur Spotlight, Alexa. It was fabulous to hear all about you and your business. All the very best for the future, Sharon xox
If you’ve been dreaming about starting your own online biz, then why not take the first step today with this guided visualisation...