“Making it is about spending time as I want to spend it,” says Sophie Lizard, co-founder of Be a Freelance Blogger.com. In this episode, she shares how restlessness was always driving her to jump from job to job. But the financial crisis in 2008 forced her to rethink everything...and then she began to thrive.
Welcome to Making It. This weekly show explores the lives and stories of entrepreneurs as they share their unique perspectives on their success and the path to making it.
Episode summary: A feeling of constant restlessness has always been a driving force for Sophie Lizard, the co-founder of Be a Freelance Blogger.com. Unless she found the work meaningful, she would move on to the next job within six to twelve months and not commit herself to anything.
But when the economy hit bottom in 2008, she lost her job. Now, what should she do? The precarious situation forced her to commit to the one thing that’s always been important—writing. In this episode of Making It, she shares her story of what ‘making it’ means to her.
“Your own voice is really not as relevant as your ability to write in the voice that is needed for the work you're doing. So that's an interesting split there between people who are going to blog for themselves and people who are going to blog for clients.”
– Sophie Lizard
Guest Bio: Pro copywriter and blogger Sophie Lizard is here to help her clients make money with words. She’s the founder of Be a Freelance Blogger.com and specializes in copywriting, blogging, and non-fiction ghostwriting. Her favorite topics are science and technology, culture and subculture, psychology and design, and the spaces in between. And she’s been told that she is "like a one-woman TED conference without any breaks."
For the past few years, Sophie has made a living blogging on other people’s blogs. Her blogging income supports her whole family, even though she only works part-time.
How did she do it? By becoming an expert in freelance blogging. So if you want an intelligent writer and editor who never stops connecting the dots, that's her.
Sophie has worked with lots of awesome entrepreneurs—Stever Robbins, Melinda Cohan, Danny Iny, Tom Poland, Chris Brogan, Ron Friedman--as well as global brands, exciting startups, and a couple of confidential celebrities.
• Resources or websites mentioned in this episode:
- Sophie’s website
- Sophie’s Be a Freelance Blogger
- Sophie’s LinkedIn
- Sophie’s Twitter
- Guest: Sophie Lizard
- Hosts: Danny Iny & Abe Crystal
- Producer: Cynthia Lamb
- Executive producer: Danny Iny
- Assembled by: Geoff Govertsen
- Audio Post Supervisor: Evan Miles, Christopher Martin
- Audio Post Production: Post Office Sound
- Music soundscape: Chad Michael Snavely
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Music and SFX credits:
• Track Title: Sweet Loving Waltz
Artist Name(s): Sounds Like Sander
Writer Name: S.L.J. Kalmeijer
•Track Title: The Sunniest Kids
Artist Name(s): Rhythm Scott
Writer Name: Scott Roush
•Track Title: Arches
Artist Name(s): Aaron Sprinkle
Writer Name: Aaron Sprinkle
I'm Sophie Lizard and you're listening to Making It! I run a business called Lizard Creative Chaos and I'm a copywriter for people with something to teach.
From my point of view, I had to jump to get somewhere. I had to catch the trapeze, otherwise I would fall when I jumped instead of getting somewhere. My life has always involved a certain amount of getting a brilliant idea, running after it, falling over and then getting back up and starting again. So my career was really no different to that. I started college, dropped out of college, got a job, went back to college repeatedly. I did all sorts of random jobs, data entry, market research, lots of small things. And often they didn't last very long because I just was not fully engaging with them. And after a while I kind of settled into a rhythm where I would get a job of some kind, usually in an office and I would work it for six months to a year. But sooner or later I would just get a feeling of absolute restlessness there and want to move on again. I never found something that I wanted to go like, yes, this is it. This is what I want to do.
And the only thing that really made me even think about freelancing was when the economy absolutely fell out of the bottom in 2008 and I lost my job. So I was just like, oh, okay, what do I do now? And it was only really casting around for 'how do I rescue myself from this joblessness,' that made me think, "What are the things people have ever actually told me I'm good at?" And the answer was before letting me go from my previous job. My boss had told me that the one thing I was brilliant at was writing the messages that got sent out to the customers, she said I've done that so much better than anyone else ever had and perhaps I should consider a career in writing. So I thought, okay, career in writing. How does one go about acquiring one of those then? And I was incredibly lucky, it was complete fluke, that I happen to have the BBC news on. And there was a new story about the peopleperhour website which just launched back then and it basically said this is like Ebay, but for people who want freelance work and I said, "oh right, you are." And immediately went and logged on and within a week or so I was working, I had become a freelance writer on the click of some fingers, literally without having planned any of it in advance.
It all comes down to you have to commit yourself to it. Whenever I didn't commit myself to something, I didn't do very well at it and I would sooner or later lose interest. The things that I fully committed to which included, for example, the modeling. I did that for about three years and when I was working I would do literally almost anything for a good photo, you know? I climbed almost completely naked halfway up tall trees and hung out of them for a good shot, that kind of thing. The other thing that I would say I learned from all that kind of patchy jumping around is that you can find fulfillment in almost anything. Sometimes I had jobs that were fairly simple. I worked in the citizens advice bureau in my town and my job there was simply that when people came in with problems, I had to find leaflets or publications that we had in a back room that I could give them that would help them. So it was like being the librarian of a very, very small library that was only filled with advice. And you know, I found that that kind of thing for having a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose was very important for being able to make the commitment I'd have to make to succeed at anything.
I think in some cases it was because I felt too much part of the organization. So sometimes I would go in somewhere and I would be a filing cabinet worker; my job was to alphabetize and put things in date order and so on and not to get in anyone's way. And being me and having an incredibly busy brain if I was ever invited to a meeting, I would have ideas and I would share them. And quite often people would be surprised that these ideas were coming from someone who was just a forehead sticking out of a filing cabinet the rest of the week. And I think sometimes I grew restless because I was bringing up ideas and they were never addressed or sort of talked about. They were just like idea from the filing lady, ignore carry on. So then I would start to feel that, okay, maybe this isn't the place for me, maybe this isn't the team for me. You know, I'm trying to contribute but they don't seem to be interested in receiving my contributions. Whereas when I work places that the team welcomed me as much as I wanted to fit into the team, it was always much easier.
It's a difficult thing to define what making it means to me. But I guess I would say that making it, for me, is about having time to spend as I want to spend it. Even when I was very young, I remember people asking me "what do you want to do when you grow up?" And I didn't know how to answer them because the real answer was "I want to think." I want to think for a living. I want to have deep thoughts and get paid becoming a writer is possibly one of the closest things to that paradise of getting paid just to think that I could possibly have done. People don't warn you about the right things I believe. For someone who is literally just thinking about starting a business, there are many things I was never warned about and I'm maybe they were so obvious that no one thought they needed to warn me about them. But really simple things like make sure you know how much tax you and exactly when to pay it. Being late, paying my taxes in one of the first years I was in business, set me back and put me back in debt after I just finished paying my way out of debt. So that's one thing that I would definitely recommend other people don't do.
I think another thing that people don't warn you about with going into business for yourself is that sometimes it gets very emotional. You know, it's when people are talking about setting up their own business, it's about the freedom you're going to have by being your own boss and how great that's going to be. Or it's about how you're going to be able to earn money and you know, set your own rates and that kind of thing. But a lot of people don't point out and by the way, when something goes wrong, it will be entirely your own responsibility and you're going to feel bad about it and you're going to be annoyed with yourself and then you're going to have to fix it as well.
Be yourself. I see too many people who start out that think that they have to take on a certain voice or a certain style that they've seen elsewhere. And the trouble with that is that the more you try and take on someone else's voice and style, the less you stand out. So if you're blogging for yourself or your blogging for your business, you want to stand out and you want to stand out as you, not as somebody else. Whereas if you're going to become a freelance blogger, it's precisely the opposite. In that case, your own voice is really not as relevant as your ability to write in the voice that is needed for the work you're doing. So that's an interesting split there between people who are going to block for themselves and people who are going to block for clients.
If you want to start a business, for the love of all the gods, just get on, find out what you need to do to get it started and start it. If there's any one regret I really have about my own businesses that I didn't start it 10 years sooner.
This is Sophie Lizard and you've been listening to Making it! You can find me at beafreelanceblogger.com