Today, we have an interview with Katy Tafoya, a blogging consultant, and the owner and editor of ConstantChatter.
How did you get into freelance writing? Why did you choose freelancing over a full-time jobs?
I didn’t really choose freelance writing, for the most part, it chose me. I’m more of an accidental entrepreneur. I’ve always been a bit of a writer, but typically, it was always just part of my job. About five years ago, I found online journaling which quite naturally progressed to blogging. I realized at some point that I wanted to try my hand at writing for an audience instead of just writing the day to day details of my life. Two years ago this month, we decided to add a blog to my online women’s community, ConstantChatter. From that point on I started getting more and more comfortable with writing. This year I became involved with the Ladies Who Launch organization and out of passion for wanting everyone to understand Social Media, I started writing articles to get the information out there.
I haven’t held a job with a traditional sort of work schedule since I was teaching ten years ago. For the most part, freelancing has kind of chosen me and works very well with my workaholic husband’s schedule. I’ve gotten very used to working from home and having my own schedule, so much so that I don’t believe I could go back to a traditional sort of job. I love knowing that I control my environment (in particular the noise level and accessibility to others). Better still, I love knowing that I can take my work with me wherever I go. Earlier in the year, my father had a stroke and I flew back east to be with him. It was great knowing that I could spend time with him and help him get settled back at home, yet still get work done. And of course, being able to run errands and go shopping during the middle of the day, without the crowds sure is nice.
Why did you choose blog consulting to add to your writing offerings?
I actually started officially freelancing about the same time I starting doing small business visibility consulting. I was teaching workshops about blogging and social networking to women just getting started in business and realized that there was so much confusion surrounding social media. The Ladies Who Launch group has a weekly ezine and I started writing articles for them. I figured that if I took my teaching skills and combined it with my knowledge and experience in blogging and social media, that I could reach a lot more people by breaking things down into simple, easy to understand bites and getting the message out there through one-on-one tutoring and small group workshops.
How does your consulting work compare to your writing? Any major successes or challenges?
I absolutely love doing the consulting work, especially the workshops. I love helping people in anyway, so when I can sit down with someone and teach them something new that will help them and their business, I consider it a major success. Interestingly, I never really thought of myself as freelancer or even a writer. I’m completely comfortable blogging about whatever is on my mind, but I seem to fight myself a lot more when I need to write something that’s not quite so casual and has a real point to get to. It’s all still a work in progress, but for the most part, it’s all been quite successful. I think my biggest challenge is my own fear and my ability to engage in full on procrastination – if procrastination had a kingdom, they’d probably call me their Queen.
How has Constant Chatter allowed you to build on your freelance experience?
In the early days of blogging on Constant Chatter, I wrote all the content myself. In true Web 2.0 fashion, I eventually went to member-created content. That eventually got to be a lot of editorial and organizational work for me, so I recently changed tactics and started to reach out to “experts” that are comfortable writing about their area of expertise. We may have been blogging on Constant Chatter for 2 years now, but we’re still a work in progress.
Since I’m no longer involved in the day to day tasks around the Constant Chatter community itself, it’s freed up a lot of my time that has allowed me to focus on my consulting business, design more workshops and create some new goals of my own. I still do quite a bit of writing on the site, mostly in my blogs, but I rarely publish under my own name these days. My goal over the next couple of months is bite that bullet and take that step to actually start pitching pieces to magazines (yes, under my own name) and to start putting together a proposal for a book idea I’ve been toying with.
How much of a time commitment is Constant Chatter?
As I mentioned previously, I’m no longer involved with the community-side of Constant Chatter. Taking care of the day to day requests of the site became too much for me and didn’t allow me time to focus on other aspects of my business, so I hired someone to help out. This has been great though, as it has allowed me to focus completely on the blog side of Constant Chatter. As the editor of the blog, I mainly focus on looking for contributors, coming up with topics, promotions and giveaways, conducting the author interviews, handling the advertising, etc. I only post twice a week right now (but I also post daily on my blog and twice a week at my business blog), so for the most part, taking care of the blog-side of Constant Chatter takes only a couple of hours a couple days a week.
Any advice for writers interested in more entrepreneurial projects?
This is a tough one for me to answer. As an accidental entrepreneur, I basically fell into both of my most recent projects. For Constant Chatter, I was basically in the right place at the right time. I never actually set out to create a community or a blog, I just went with the flow. With my business consulting work, I was actually planning to get back into life coaching, but wound up doing a lot of work around basic web stuff including blogging, SEO and social media. Next thing I know, I was teaching workshops. Again, for me, it’s all about going with the flow.
- Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes (and there will be many). Just brush yourself off and move on. There’s a lesson in there when you can finally look back.
- Don’t be afraid to go with the flow, even if you don’t know exactly where it’s taking you. At some point though, stop and allow yourself some time to create some goals and expectations around your new “accidental” project.
- Take the risk. The worse thing that can happen is that you might fail and learn something. The best thing that could happen…you succeed and learn something.
- Share what you know. You’d be surprised how much you know about something having experienced it. You’d also be surprised how much more you learn when you share what you know with others.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. When you’re first starting out or working as a solopreneur, it’s easy to get caught up in the I can do it all attitude. Trust me, you may think you can do it all, but in the end, you just can’t. Ask for help. Know your strengths and your weaknesses.
- Don’t forget to spend time on yourself and with others. It’s easy to get single-minded and to spend all of your time focused on your project. Thing is, it’s not healthy – for you or your business.
- Find a group of female entrepreneurs that you can relate to. Plan time together over lunch or coffee and chat about your day, your business, your successes and your failures. Again, you never know what might come your way (as well as their way – it’s all about the give and take) from a casual chat over coffee; new ideas, new information, new employees, new tools, new manufactures, new suppliers, new connections, you never know.