As part of my interview series, I sat down with digital marketer and entrepreneur, Anne McAuley Lopez to discuss her entrepreneurial journey and health issues.
What is your background?
I graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Economics. For the next 15 or so years, I was in jobs related to numbers, ending up as a data analyst. While I loved the work and excelled, it didn’t feed my soul. In September 2010 I was laid off from corporate America and have not looked back. Soon after the layoff, I decided to become a professional writer.
Since starting my business, McAuley Freelance Writing, LLC branded as Agency Content Writer, I have worked directly with clients as well as partnered with digital marketing agencies. My other brand, Blogging Badass, was designed for direct clients as well as DIY-ers, to offer tips for creating content for their own brand.
During the COVID-19 quarantine, I took time to think about my business and realized developing a brand focused on website designers and developers, social media managers, and graphic designers was needed and so Agency Content Writer was born.
What inspired you to start your business?
The first step I took in my business was to learn how to network with business owners. I knew how to connect people within my corporate job, so it wasn’t a completely new skill. I also joined Toastmasters to learn how to speak one to one as well as in front of groups of people.
When new writers ask me how I built a business, I always say I networked my you-know-what off. For two years, I spent almost every day meeting people, presenting my business, and connecting my colleagues. To this day, those relationships serve to build my business. Just this summer I did work for a client I met 10 years ago!
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
Fear of success. Fear of public speaking. Fear of not being talented enough.
All of these were overcome when I put fear aside. I developed relationships with business owners who loved my style; not just my writing style but how we work together. I went to Toastmasters and entered, and won, a few speech contests with a speech called Just Outside the Comfort Zone.
During COVID-19, I developed the Agency Content Writer concept. With the help of my husband who is a Marketing professional, we developed target client personas and marketing messages. Then I reached out to my referral partners and hired them to work on the website and press release. The goal of this brand is to connect with digital marketers to create written content for their clients.
I am always learning so virtual classes and seminars are also part of the plan. Solopreneurship, digital marketing, copywriting, and SEO are a few of the classes I’ve taken this year.
How do you protect your mental health as an entrepreneur?
Protecting mental health as an entrepreneur means making the most important people and events a priority while saying no to others. You will not be able to attend every event so don’t try. I also include walking and yoga as a way to wind down and refocus on myself and my home life.
Make spending time with family and friends a priority. Take time away from business. You will return refreshed and motivated with new ideas.
Don’t listen to the haters. You can’t please everyone. Find your people and stick with them.
What’s your best piece of advice for new entrepreneurs?
It’s a quote from Dave Ramsey, “It took me 15 years to be an overnight success.” Being an entrepreneur is a marathon, not a sprint.
Being busy doesn’t mean you’re making money. What are you doing to foster relationships that will potentially make you money? Focus there, not everywhere.
Don’t compare yourself to someone who has been in business for a long time. They’ve worked hard to be where they are today, and you should too.
Find what you love and pursue that.
What’s your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
Other business owners are my resource. I love to learn how they got into their area of expertise and learn from their experiences.
I have a friend who is also an entrepreneur. She and I have had many conversations about being small businesses. We like to be small. For me, I am a writer first. Expansion means managing other writers and that’s not what I want to be doing. I want to be writing. Everything else happens around that.
It’s also about keeping things simple, whatever that means to you as a business owner. I have colleagues with online tools and assistants, and I stick with shared spreadsheets, phone or Zoom, and my laptop. Do whatever is simple for you and your business.
What are your tips for balancing work with life?
In July 2016, I was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), just four months after getting married. While it is no longer considered a terminal illness, it is a chronic condition for which there is no cure. I take a chemo pill every night and deal with the side effects that include headaches and bone pain. It took about a year from diagnosis to start to feel like myself. I say all of this because it forced me to balance my home and work life.
When I started feeling better but not well enough to write all the time, I got a part-time job with a friend who needed a legal assistant at her office. It has been a blessing to have that opportunity as I continued to learn how to live with a chronic illness.
I also learned that I like to work outside my home office part-time which means when I get back to the office, I am ready to write!
What’s your favorite way to destress?
That depends on my mood. I am a Gemini, so you never know!
Walking my dog, yoga, wine tasting, watching reality television, rom-coms, or documentaries, and dates with my husband are the most common ways I destress.
What are your top wellness tips for entrepreneurs?
Wellness is a three-part experience of mind, body, and spirit. Bedtime rituals like baths and soothing music, exercise, and mindfulness and/or prayer are my top wellness tips for entrepreneurs. You’ve got to turn off business for a little while every single day. If you don’t, you will burn out and no one wants to have to come back from that.
What projects are you currently working on?
Earlier I mentioned I had reconnected with a friend from 10 years ago for a project. That project was out of my comfort zone, but I said yes. I’ve been writing scripts for videos for an educational company. I am so glad I said yes! It has been a fun experience to stretch my writing in a new direction.
How can our readers connect with you?
Anne McAuley Lopez