Sophie Walker, podcaster, Australian Birth Stories

If you’re anything like me, perhaps podcasts have only recently come on to your radar. But now that I’ve discovered them, there’s no looking back. Goodbye dull commute or aimless walk, hello opportunity for learning, laughing, mindfulness or anything in between. Check back here in a couple of weeks, when I’ll let you in on my current faves. In the meantime, here’s an up-close-and-personal with Sophie Walker, the woman behind one of them. In case you missed it, Australian Birth Stories was one of the hottest podcasts to drop last year!

Sophie lives in Melbourne with her husband and their two young boys. Holding a Master of Public Health, she was interested in babies and birth from a young age. While pregnant with Niko (4), she immersed herself in all things birth, dreaming of a drug-free, birth centre experience. Despite her plans to the contrary, Sophie had a 36-hour labour, complete with hospital transfer, induction, epidural, episiotomy, forceps and then a postpartum haemorrhage. Second time around, she researched like crazy to prepare for another attempt at an unmedicated birth centre birth. Juggling a toddler and a part-time job, podcasts were a good option as they could be listened to ‘on the go’.

After achieving a beautiful birth with Louis (2), Sophie was inspired to create the Australian Birth Stories podcast. It is an important collection of varied women’s birth stories from right across Australia. I’ve known Sophie for many years and have been so excited to watch her rise up the podcast ranks. She’s a warm, friendly and determined woman. Enjoy the read, and then be sure to check out the podcast for yourself.

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In the work you do, how important are the right words?

In my current line of work, they’re essential. It can be so easy to offend people when it comes to birth. I try to steer clear of terms like ‘natural birth’ if I can. There are many negative connotations with other words in my field, such as epidural and induction. It’s so important that I’m always mindful of how I come across when interviewing women and discussing birth.

What gets you up in the morning?

My 4 year-old and way too early. We tend to start the day at 6am. On a professional note, the emails and messages I get daily from women saying I helped and inspired them to have a great birth. This is something I never really considered when I first started the show.

What led you to your current career choice?

I studied and worked in public health for many years, most recently in cancer research. I have a Master of Public Health and love working and talking to people. An obsession with birth, women’s health and podcasts led me to try my hand at starting my own podcast.

What are the most effective ways you market your podcast?

Without the finance for a marketing budget, I’m currently relying on word of mouth and Instagram.

What have you learnt about the world of podcasting since you began Australian Birth Stories?

Consistency is the key. Oh, and editing takes 10 times longer than I ever plan for. Although I know podcasts are available on a global scale, I never expected to have weekly listeners in countries such as Romania, Spain and Pakistan. It’s mind-blowing. I’ve also learn that while it’s great to be regularly ranking in the top 5, nothing beats getting a personal email from someone saying how they used something they learnt from the podcast in their own labour.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other podcasters?

Only begin if you can keep up with the schedule you have set for yourself. If you say you’ll be releasing a weekly show, have four shows ready to be released before you launch. In the early days, I found myself ringing around friends the day before the show was due to air as I had nothing to release for that week. Thankfully, I now have around 150 people on the waiting list, so a shortage of stories is no longer an issue!

When you’re not listening back to ABS episodes, what podcasts are your faves?

I love This American Life, Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People, and Ladies, We Need to Talk.

You can find Sophie and the Australian Birth Stories podcast here.

Need a hand generating content or communications for your creative business or side hustle? Let me help!

Emily Brewin, author

Emily Brewin is a quiet achiever. Not only is she an accomplished English and Media secondary teacher, in the early mornings and late into the night she is an author. As a former colleague and longtime friend, I have watched Emily's rise with fascination, in admiration of her commitment to her goal - publication of her novel Hello, Goodbye in 2017.

Emily is fiercely determined, tenacious and incredibly patient. She penned her debut novel while raising two young children, working as a teacher, and studying writing. This is not a woman who does things by halves. Whether you're a freelancer, writer or reader, I know you'll be interested in Emily's processes and musings on her work. Enjoy!

Emily Brewin, author (Photo: Harriet Tarbuck)

Emily Brewin, author (Photo: Harriet Tarbuck)

In the work you do, how important are the right words?

In the published form, the words can make or break a novel. You may have a fantastic story, but if the words fail to bring it to life, it won’t keep readers reading. Saying that, I think the right words are less important in those initial drafts. First and second drafts for me are mainly about getting the story down, rather than crafting sentences. The end product is a bit of a dog’s breakfast but it gives me something to work with and to shape into something more palatable.

What gets you up in the morning?

Usually the alarm clock on my phone, which rings at an ungodly hour. I tend to write early in the morning or late at night when my children are in bed. Apart from that, I’m driven by a desire to create something that belongs just to me, that I can disappear into and take pride from. Writing is exhausting, thankless work at times, but there’s also no better feeling than seeing a story that’s lived in my head coming to life on the page.

What led you to your current career choice?

I am a secondary school teacher as well as an author. I went into teaching because I don’t think there is a greater gift to give than education. And, there’s a certain type of magic that happens when a young person becomes engaged in a topic or begins to see the world from a new perspective.

Writing is similar in that it has the power to transport us to another time and place. I love that it allows me to stand in a character’s shoes and to see through their eyes. I tend to write as a way of understanding people, issues and the world around me. I believe that fiction in particular encourages empathy, and that society as a whole could do with a bit more of that.

What are the most effective ways you market your book and, indeed, yourself?

Word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to sell books, although a major literary prize never goes astray. I didn’t think seriously about the business side of writing until my first novel, Hello, Goodbye, was published and I witnessed the power of publicity. I’ve since learnt that social media is a great way to build a profile, although, it does take time and commitment to do properly.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

I think that people, especially young people, are much more media savvy. There is an expectation these days that authors will have and maintain a social media presence, which publishers can tap into to sell books.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other writers/freelancers?

Talent will only get you so far. Determination, discipline and a willingness to learn from your mistakes is just as important, as is connecting with other writers. In terms of being an author, being able to survive on very little sleep so that you can write at either end of your day job is also a must.

To learn more about Emily and her debut novel Hello, Goodbye, visit her website.

For assistance with marketing your creative work, generating a social presence or other communications bits and pieces, holla at a copywriter!

 

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Andrea Drake - Fitness & Wellness Superstar

Andrea Drake is a real dynamo. Not only is she an accomplished Physical Education secondary teacher who leads a department, she is the inspiration behind Melbourne Fitness Diaries (MFD). Ange runs this group to empower women to take control of their fitness, strength and wellbeing. She operates with passion and infectious enthusiasm, and genuine joie de vivre. I should know - she's my trainer and, my oh my, she's good! 

I admire Ange as a businesswoman and wanted to know more about what makes her tick and how words factor in to her work. I know you will enjoy getting to know Ange and MFD.

How important are the right words?

The right words are incredibly important when trying to engage, motivate and support members of my community to be the best versions of themselves.

Nutrition science can also be so complicated. My role is to make this information accessible, simple to understand and easy to follow for my clients. There is so much content on the internet, particularly in social media feeds, that promotes fitness and nutrition advice. Unfortunately not all of this content is credible, which can create confusion for the girls I work with.

When counselling clients through sticky points in their lives or writing health and lifestyle articles, I can’t go on faith alone. My words reflect proven systems and science because my clients’ success and happiness depends on me doing my job properly.

What gets you up in the morning?

Passion. I feel so blessed to have found a career that enables me to have such a positive impact on other people's lives. From a personal perspective, I see the start of each day as an opportunity to be challenged, to grow, learn and become the best version of myself.

What led you to your current career choice?

I have always been active. Growing up in country Victoria, I played a lot of sport and spent a lot of time outside. I have always had a passion for human movement, which led me to complete my Bachelor of Education, specialising in Physical Education.

After a few years in teaching, I realised that many of my friends and family were looking to me for fitness or health advice. Getting my certification in Fitness was the best decision I could have made. As soon as I began working in the fitness industry, I fell in love with exercise programming, creating and sharing nutritional plans, and working specifically with women.

What are the most effective ways you market your business?

Word of mouth and client referrals continue to be the best way to market myself. I am incredibly fortunate that my community of girls are so supportive of Melbourne Fitness Diaries and of me.

Facebook has revolutionised the marketing world. I use Facebook advertising to find girls outside my training community who have similar interests. I have been really successful in using this method to recruit girls into my 28-Day Intro Challenge.

How has the landscape of your industry changed since you began?

Technology, social media and the plethora of apps available has transformed the fitness industry over the last 5 years. You don't have to look very far to find a cheap online gym program that will be sent to your inbox faster than it takes to put your gym clothes on. While this could be seen to be putting fitness professionals out of business, nothing could be further from the truth.

People will always value the ability to connect with a professional and a community, with research suggesting this supports individuals reaching their health and fitness goals. Apps, such as MyFitnessPal, Fitbit and RunKeeper, help to increase client accountability to set behavioural goals.

I use technology every day to help me stay connected with my community, via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and blogging (Wordpress). I also use the online training system Trainerize for online clients and Hootsuite to help me schedule posts.

What is the best piece of advice you could give to other freelancers/small business owners?

Be patient. It takes time to develop systems and learn new things. It can become overwhelming when you look at individuals who have 'made it', have a great website, loads of followers and testimonials. It takes time to build a great brand. You are running your own race, so take your time, know what you are about and trust your gut instinct.

Why should people working in any industry prioritise their health and fitness? How does it help you to work smarter?

For a long time, I thought exercise was about helping you to 'look better'. As I have grown in the industry, my training style has changed based on what works for me and letting go of ego. You don't need to be a maniac and train every day to get results.

Training and eating well gives me clarity and a sense of calm. When my body feels good, so does my mind. In a world where we are all so busy, taking time out for yourself is the best form of self care you can commit to.

To learn more about MFD and Ange's approach to training, visit Melbourne Fitness Diaries.

To give yourself more time for fitness and wellness, consider outsourcing your copywriting!

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