My life is exactly how I pictured it a year and a half ago. Sitting by the beach in Byron Bay, I drew an image of myself living in a house by the water and working from home. I had, what seemed like, simple dreams. But when you’re a year short of graduating university, you don’t really imagine working for yourself in the comfort of your own home. I drew it anyway and just over a year later, I’m living the dream.
Sophie Zen was created in the spaces between university and a part time retail job. Working 24/7 to create content and fill my social media schedule, the work was soul fulfilling. It was my love affair, as Elizabeth Gilbert so eloquently describes it in her book Big Magic.
I quickly transitioned from retail into a magazine job and fell even more desperately in love with my work. Juggling university and part time employment, my freelance work organically grew into a full client load. And while I was chuffed that people wanted to work with me, and I wanted to work with them, something started to feel off.
I couldn’t work around the clock anymore and I started to feel tired, burnt out and resentful of my work. Blogging was a chore and my own social media platforms felt neglected. The love affair was over and everything felt really … real. Having graduating university and basing a large amount of income on my freelance work, I no longer had the option to slow down. I had to work to pay the bills.
It wasn’t until a mini-disaster that I got the chance to really reflect on the direction of Sophie Zen. The truth is: I never really wanted Sophie Zen to become a business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so incredibly grateful for the opportunity but it happened too quickly for me to plan and prepare. I was so caught up in building my business that I forgot why I was doing it and fell out of love with my passion.
The good thing about break-downs are the revelations that follow and this one forced me to really hone in on what I love to do. With a clear understanding of what I was passionate about, it was time to implement some rituals that would supported my growth.
Scheduling creative writing dates
Creative writing dates were the first step that I took to nourish my creativity. I’d started Sophie Zen for my love of writing and less than a year into my business, I only had a handful of blog posts on my website. Scheduling dedicated writing time allowed me to get back to what I love and reminded me why I love it. The commitment also had a ripple effect on all areas of my business and inspired me to show up and be more visible.
Do you want to start creative writing dates? This is how we do it:
1. Take a look at your schedule and block some time for your creative writing dates. I suggest blocking out an hour a week when getting started.
2. Choose a location. This all comes down to personal preference and your options are endless. Perhaps you want to take yourself for a coffee date like me or maybe you’re more of a dinner date kinda lady. You might like somewhere quiet and intimate. Or loud bustle might be more your jam. My only recommendation is that you go somewhere without an internet connection (no distractions) and you choose a venue where you feel comfortable (dining by yourself can be difficult enough).
3. Grab your laptop and get going! Order your coffee, take a seat and commit to writing for the next hour (even when the words come slow).
4. Repeat as required. Soon you’ll be scheduling three hours a week just to write!
Investing in ecourses and programs (and actually working through them)
One of the first things that I did when I started my blog was to invest in a program that I’d been dreaming about doing for months. The program was Bright Eyed and Blog Hearted by Rachel McDonald and I still consider it one of the best investments that I’ve made in my business! But after that initial investment, I stopped believing that I needed to spend my money.
“I can just Google information as I need it,” I said. But it wasn’t quite the same. And it had zero impact on holding me accountable and getting shit done. There is also a really lovely flow on effect that comes from investing in yourself and while a course might focus on just one or two areas of business, the ripples run through all areas of your work.
Some of my favourite courses and ebooks have been:
So you want to be a social media manager? by The Digital Picnic
Mailing List Makeover by JuJu Creative Hub
Free to Brand Me by Jenna Black
And on my current wish list is:
Workshop Wonderful by Jade McKenzie
Ecourse Launch Formula by Kathryn Hocking
PodWell by Katie Wyatt
Creating a 90 day plan
Finally my last three months was super-charged with the implementation of a 90 day plan. Please, don’t stop reading here! I knoooow that planning might seems like the least sexiest part of running an online biz. But this shit works, seriously! With a solid plan in place for my business, I was able to nail my social media goals for the quarter, secure a podcast interview, get three of my guest articles published, co-host a webinar and launch Issue Four of The Goddess Sisterhood!
Tell me: what rituals and practices do you use to ensure you're in a long-term love affair with your business?