For the last two years, entrepreneurship has been a wild ride. I relished the personal freedom to work from my living room or desk at any hour of the day, but for all the perks of independent working (and trying to create a business that could scale and grow), there are some obvious challenges. Never knowing where your next pay check is coming from, and recruiting, training and organizing talent, to name a few. Over time, the cons of business ownership began to outweigh the good. To solve my problems in life, I have the habit of pressing the reset button, when in reality, sometimes things need to die in order for them to be reborn.
I wrote last month about how I felt inspired to transition away from content marketing production (at one point this year we published up to 150 blogs per month on a regular basis), and pursue marketing and self publishing work. A new logo, a new color palette, some different fonts and a new website -- ta da! It was almost too easy.
Why does it still feel empty? I wondered. I had it all lined up clearly. A clear path to success; some content marketing ad campaigns were in the queue; and I had authors reaching out for services. Why was it still empty?
In it to organize it
It turns out, for all my soul searching and organizing and visions around branding and marketing, I was still disconnected from my heart. As a serious-minded sort of person, I've always focused more on outcomes than the journey. This has served me well in finding a job, but not in finding real joy in life. Why be bothered with such trivial things like "work that comes from a place of abundance"? Stuff and nonsense, I said! When I looked at my steps to create a formal publishing house, I saw a clear pattern: I was following my old formula of organize, plan and execute.
With my new publishing focus, I had done it again. I had organized (in record time) a way to reach an outcome, not created a path to follow my heart.
What's the alternative?
Looking objectively at my habit, I realized that I would likely never find fulfilling work if I kept following the same formula. It seemed like the only way to discover what's next was to become a student again, which is what I've essentially done.
I've shut down A.B. Editorial. I've shut down Abridge Publishing. And I've done something very unnerving: I've combined my personal and professional blogs into one site (amandabray.com) and delved into social media sites with much less of my conclusions on life and much more of what I'm playing with in life. This is foreign territory, folks. I love authority, rationale, plans, predictable outcomes. But that is not the path to greater creativity, and I know it. If entrepreneurship felt like a vulnerable vocation, what does being a freelancer offer? I have no clue.
How will you pay the bills?
In the meantime, there's a very natural point of tension for me: I actually like the work I do in my companies. I like editing; I like working with authors; I like helping people understand small business marketing options. After tossing the idea around, Kris and Rachel and I decided to create what we're calling:
The Publishing Squad
We'll manage our own independent freelance clients and collaborate on larger client projects--much like we've done the past few years, but without the burden of marketing an intimidating company on my shoulders. I think this opens a few doors for me: first, it lets me say yes to smaller projects without feeling like I'm letting the team down if the project doesn't have design or copyediting work; two, it lets me have a less intimidating approach to publishing and marketing clients; and three, did I mention it takes the pressure off trying to market a company? Because that's a huge one.
Playing in the sandbox of life
Right now I have two clients whose books I'm working on (ghostwriting and publishing), and I'm busy enough to bring in some income, but not so busy that I can't explore things I find fascinating right now. Nothing is off limits. For example, I recently began posting pictures of my new apartment decor on Instagram along with captions that chronicle the process of getting engaged. Who knows if it'll lead to clients or business or a different kind of work -- that's not the point right now. There's a lot of digging I think is necessary before I'll uncover what's been missing. In the meantime, I'll keep using this blog as a way to talk about self-publishing and marketing on the ground in real life. I hope you'll stay tuned.