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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What I’ve learnt in my first year in business

That first year in business. Would we still do it if we knew how hard it would actually be? The fact that you’re really ‘on’ 24/7, making very little money and frantically upskilling well outside your comfort zone? I would. Because, as tough as the first year has been in many ways, I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time.

Here are 11 important things I have learnt over this past year working as a freelance copywriter.

1. Mindset matters

Your mindset and attitude go a long way to ensuring you can go the distance! Things like goal setting, staying focused and thinking positively really do make a difference. I nourished myself with exercise and yoga, fuelled my passion for learning by listening to podcasts and reading, and networked with like-minded people. Importantly too, I spent time with my family and friends who centred me.

2. A network works

Having a powerful network around you is essential, including family, friends and professionals. Nurture these relationships. Push yourself beyond your comfort zone when it comes to professional networking (even if, like me, the idea terrifies you). I hunted around to find a business networking group that felt like the ‘right fit’, sought out like-minded types on social media and learnt to talk about myself and my skillset.

3. You have value

It is important to charge what you’re worth, perhaps not in the earliest of days, but once you become more established. Some small business owners are dead-against offering mates’ rates or freebies, but I’m open to it in the right context. It can be a good way to build up your client base and gather testimonials. Just make sure you have the time for it or you’ll find yourself resenting it. You might not always make the ‘right’ decision around this - I certainly didn’t - but it’s all part of the learning process. Always ask for testimonials too. They are gold! Let your happy clients do the spruiking for you!

4. Don’t wait

Stop waiting around for the perfect moment to start - it’s not coming. The time is now.

5. Trust your gut

Don’t waste valuable time over-thinking everything. Of course you’ll be winging it at times, especially in those early days. Be kind to yourself and trust that you’ll make the best decision you can in the moment. Just a note to trust your gut (especially when it comes to more difficult clients). Nine times out of ten, you're probably right.

6. Understand your client

In the beginning, it can be tempting to want everyone as your client. Unfortunately, this broad approach may mean you end up pleasing no-one. Try to understand your ideal client or customer by getting into their head (find ‘types’ of your client on social media and stalk away!) and figuring out how you can solve their problem.  

7. Social strategy

Social media marketing is important (engagement over ‘likes’), but it is just one piece of the pie. Spend time focusing on your website, network, write great content (and have the SEO gods smile upon you) and email any potential clients to reach out. I’m personally not on every social platform and I don’t always work with a particular ‘strategy’ in mind when I post. But I’m always 100% me.

8. Good things take time

There will be days where you feel like you’re winning and other days you almost throw the towel in. Take time to acknowledge the wins, however small.

9. Say no to 24/7

It can be so tempting to work all the time, but make sure you carve out time to rest, have a break and fill your cup. You’ll become a better business owner for it. Promise.

10. Systems and processes

Putting systems and processes in place will save you time in the long run. I certainly didn’t factor in that I’d be learning accounting software, or how to create graphics, or a newsletter template. If it’s just you, you kinda need to take it on. Occasionally I will outsource, if the task is way beyond the scope of what I can do, and that’s been great too.

11. You will change

This small business journey will alter you. There will be so many new people in your world, and you yourself will grow. Embrace the changes and all of those people who choose to walk beside you.

As I prepare for my second year of freelance life, I can't wait to see what learnings lie ahead.

Want to be a part of this journey? I'd love to work some word magic with you. Say hello!

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