It’s hard for me to talk about work without using the words ‘I also’ – but then, nowadays a portfolio career is increasingly becoming the norm. In my case, I’ve been a journalist for many years, working on a variety of teen and women’s magazines, but I’ve also diversified in many ways since becoming self-employed.
A freelance writer for broadsheets and women’s lifestyle publications (eg Daily Telegraph, YOU, Red and Woman & Home), I also help businesses nail their press strategy and word their business message, whether that’s their web pages, blog or newsletter. The rest of my work time is spent blog coaching and collaborating with entrepreneurs to help them write and publicise their books.
But that’s not all. Since September 2018 I also edit audrey, a website full of advice, wisdom and inspiration for midlife women who feel stuck and want to change their lives. Along with co-founder Faye Watts we have created a movement for women who often feel overlooked and, with our #bemoreaudrey message, we are helping empower them to reach beyond the day-to-day and follow their dreams.
I think this need to find meaning, to do something that we truly love, is one of the drivers of the increase in ‘I also’ entrepreneurs. The audrey audience is made up of women who want a second bite of the cherry – another chance at happiness – and often that means starting a new venture alongside the day job. But there’s often a financial need too, as many people struggle to make a living from one profession and have to add other strings to their bow. At this rate we’ll all end up needing a selection of business cards, depending on who we’re talking to!
I love having more than one role, but I can’t deny it’s challenging. As a magazine editor back in the 90s (Sugar, More!) I always had a team to help make things happen, so I’ve had to learn to dig deep and find resources within myself that I didn’t know I had. But there’s never a dull moment (albeit a few hairy ones), and I wouldn’t have it any other way, although sometimes I have to stop myself and ask “What am I being today?’.
Being an ‘I also’ entrepreneur means I’m living my brand too. The audrey ethos is all about finding a way to follow your passion, and for many women that means having a side hustle alongside multiple other obligations. I know exactly how it feels because I do it every day – but I also know that if you really love that side hustle, you’ll find the time to do it somehow. For me, audrey is an absolute passion and a pleasure, so it rarely feels like hard work. Having said that, I can’t stress enough the importance of having cheerleaders around you – people who really ‘get’ what you’re doing and urge you on – and of ignoring the naysayers.
As well as my work I also squeeze in a little volunteering, doing writing workshops with English GCSE students and career workshops with a variety of secondary schools in South East London. With two teenage sons and a clear memory of the careers teacher at my South Manchester comprehensive sneering and laughing when I said I wanted to be a journalist, I want to do all I can to give young people self belief.