I hope you’re all having a good Monday. I’m kicking the week off with a new Career Inspiration interview. For those of you who’re new to Career Inspiration, the aim is to help people looking for career ideas, a career change or simply an insight into what others do.
It’s very hard to know what you want to do in life and I’ve always loved finding out about what others do and the journey they took to get there. So, I hope you enjoy today’s inspirational interview with Lu Ann, a tea writer and founder of The Cup of Life.
When did you discover your love of writing?
I first discovered my love for the art of writing when I was in high school. I had a writer’s craft course and that was probably one of my most favourites. The idea of just sitting down to a blank sheet and creating your own magic fascinated me. At the time, I was self-conscious of some of my pieces. However, my writing evolved when I began my blog and I gained confidence from that experience.
What inspired you to write about tea?
My love for tea. Simple as that. I was someone who went through many different blogs. Mainly because I was never interested in sticking with one after a few posts. I never had a concrete topic and I just thought something would flow into it naturally within time. I stumbled upon some tea blogs and I thought to myself that my topic has been with me this entire time and that’s how The Cup of Life was born. Loving tea since I was about 7 years old I knew that I had to begin writing about it. It’s been beneficial in many ways. I have been learning about the leaf and connecting with wonderful tea lovers in the world.
How did you turn blogging and writing into your career, was it a natural progression?
Looking back, I think it did occur more naturally than I thought. Prior to, and still today, I am a freelance marketing consultant. I focus mainly on online marketing such as social media and there are some projects where I work on developing blogs for companies or even press releases. So I was always doing writing even if it was in a different form. When you think about tweets and Facebook posts, I like to treat them as writing exercises. They’re a short form of something great that will come eventually.
What did you study at university and how has it benefited your career?
I studied Advertising for 3 years. While studying, I did an internship at a local PR company. I loved it because it was an excellent way for me to experience another form of writing and it allowed me to give my writing a professional style to it. Advertising was extremely beneficial because I use my learnings daily, whether it is with social media, emails, networking, or even my own advertising for my tea blog.
Do you do any other work alongside blogging and writing?
As mentioned earlier, I do freelance marketing and am currently working with a cool non-profit that I did some work for back in school. In addition to writing blogs and social media posts for them, I am also responsible for marketing their services to the community, creating promotional materials and updating their website.
What has been your biggest challenge since becoming self-employed?
Encouraging myself. When I feel I do not have enough work, I have to push myself to believe that something will come. I also have to motivate myself to go out there and find new business or new topics for my blog. Part of being self-employed is being a business owner. With that, I have to not only be in that mind set but also the consumer’s mind set to know what I should be doing for them better. Also, I work from home which has its ups and downs. I enjoy it but sometimes it’s more difficult to find a work-life balance that way.
What do you enjoy most about being self-employed?
Being able to use my own ideas. I like that I am the main idea maker and I seem to always have a lot of them. It is rewarding to see what was once just an idea, flourish into something wonderfully. Of course, being your own boss and working from home is a perk, too.
Have your friends and family been supportive of your career decisions?
My boyfriend is super supportive. In all honesty, I do not think I would be where I am today without him. He is the reason I decided to give the self-employment thing a try. I used to always get discouraged from not finding a job and he was the one that told me I should start working for myself. That I should create social media accounts for my blog. That I’m on to something that could potentially be big. He’s a freelance musician so it’s nice that we are able to help each other with our work too. I guess I have a third title: manager as I am usually the one to book him gigs and such.
What is a typical workday like?
No two work days are the same for me but I’ll give you an idea of what one may look like when I am around all day.
7:30am – Wake up
8am – Breakfast and preparing a cup of tea
9am – Open laptop and organize my planner for the day (paper, not digital!)
9:15am – check and respond to emails
9:30am – social media check ins for clients’ account and The Cup of Life
10am – implement some marketing strategies for freelance position
11am – construct a list of upcoming topics for upcoming blog posts
11:30am – take a break (even as self-employed, this is so important!) make my second cup of tea
11:45am – send a few emails to tea companies regarding interviews or product reviews
12pm – begin to write article proposal ideas for publications
12:30pm – lunch break
1:30pm – back to marketing for freelance position and reaching out to clients on other projects
2pm – break time for General Hospital (I always look forward to this one hour break of the day where I can relax and enjoy my soap opera!)
3pm – writing blog posts for The Cup of Life and taking photos if necessary for posts
4pm – social media check ins for clients’ account and The Cup of Life
Towards the end of the day I will usually make another cup of tea and read up on some marketing or tea research. I will also write in my planner for tomorrow’s urgent items to work on. Before I go to bed around 10pm I will check my email one last time for anything pressing that came in.
How do you go about finding projects and work?
I really just do a lot of researching. When it comes to writing, I read magazines or online publications that I think best suit some of the tea ideas running through my head. I will prepare a topic and reach out to the editor hoping to hear back (but that is not always the case). Sometimes I have run into the luck of editors actually reaching out to me. From seeing something I have written on my blog, I have been contacted to write more about it in their publication. So I think a professional online presence is vital. Another great way is networking through your connections. A lot of the time someone you know knows someone who is looking for help. I have found a few small marketing projects that way and your network only keeps growing from then out.
What keeps you motivated?
Ironically, tea and reading. I’m a firm believer that reading makes you a better writer because you are exposing yourself to so much more content. Reading motivates me because I want to enhance my skills and create better content each and every day. Tea is inspiration in a cup and as my writing medium, a great motivator in itself. I also enjoy receiving feedback whether it is from an article I sent to a publisher or a comment on my blog. Knowing that people are reading what I have to say is a great feeling and I want to keep doing what I’m doing for them.
How do you plan to develop your career during 2015?
I hope to eventually focus more on tea. Writing has always been a passion of mine and I am happy I’m able to marry my other passion (tea) with it. I hope to one day be able to do that for marketing and assist a tea company with their strategies. Until then, I’m going to keep writing and focusing on The Cup of Life. I have a lot of ideas steeping in my head such as tea workshops and tea infused recipes. I really need to put them on paper and take action.
I encourage anyone looking to get into the field of writing or even just tea to contact me directly if you have any questions!
Thank you so much to Lu Ann for taking the time to be a part of Career Inspiration. I love talking to people who’ve managed to create a career through their passions in life. I think it’s important for everyone to remember that it’s possible to find or create a job you love. Lu Ann has taken her writing and marketing skills and paired them with her love for tea. I hope that she has a successful and exciting 2015.
Have you created a career through your passions? Let me know in the comment section below.