Um, do you know that I’ve coached hundreds of women since I started offering dream career guidance in 2008? And that these women are freakin’ rock stars, leaving soul-sucking jobs and traveling the world and launching creative, grown-up businesses and simply doing work that fits their lifestyle goals? Well ya do now – and you’ll hear their stories firsthand in my Client Case Studies series! Like she says below, Jen was part of my studio audience for Create Your Dream Career class on CreativeLive. She hired me a few months later for one-on-one sessions, and I was just in awe of the work she did and the results she got before she even put up a website! Learn more about her journey below.
Why did you decide to work with a creative career coach?
I was part of Michelle’s Creative Live class, Create Your Dream Career, and that was the first time I had met or heard of her. I loved her after that class and knew how fun she’d be to work with. I needed help figuring out what was next and realized in that class that it could be a fun and creative process. With the Michelle’s coaching, it didn’t have to be as serious and heavy as I was making it. Life gives us enough serious challenges to contend with, I needed a change in attitude to make this process more playful.
What were you doing work wise when we started our sessions?
I had just returned from living in Bali, Indonesia for three years after leaving a career in health care. I had started doing some freelance writing and photography when I lived in Asia so I tried continuing that but was bouncing around freelancing with things that didn’t fit. I needed some grounding and guidance about how to set myself up to create writing and photography work that I enjoyed and that paid the bills.
What was your biggest takeaway from our work together?
For me it was to keep moving forward and trying out my ideas. In working with Michelle I sent out proposals for work that didn’t actually happen, but the responses I got back were what I’d call, “No’s, pointing me in the right direction.” I realized with Michelle’s support that each effort I made gave me great feedback showing me that I was on the right track and people really liked my work. Sometimes people didn’t have the budget, or they had other priorities, but I always got really good feedback and that kept me moving in the right direction. The other thing that really helped was the confidence to price my work appropriately so I could stay in business and support myself. It’s so hard in the beginning to value yourself and ask for what your worth without discounting yourself too soon in the process. Michelle’s support with that and the encouragement to simply take the next step forward is what kept me going until I got some momentum.
Was there anything else you tried to do as a career between the time we stopped our sessions and what you do for work now? If so, how did it inform your current career?
After Michelle and I stopped working together a friend suggested I try real estate writing, so I started talking to agents about hiring me to write their listings. When I was working with Michelle I really wanted to create a business where I could help companies create online content for social media. The real estate writing started out as a possible side gig. I worked with the same principles Michelle and I talked about, moving forward, telling people what I wanted to do, trying it out and then evaluating how it worked. Pretty quickly a few real estate agents were interested in my social media work and now I write and photograph for a real estate blog and also do marketing materials. I love it and it and I get to incorporate lots of things I like to do, like interview people, street photography, visit beautiful homes and they happily pay my rates.
What would you tell someone now that was in your shoes when we first started working together? What’s your best, “tip” to allow them to make a grown up living doing what they love?
Invest in yourself and don’t undervalue yourself. You are your greatest asset and you need to believe that and treat yourself that way. So many times we stop ourselves with small minded thinking like, “I’d better do that because it’s what people will pay for, that’s what’s valuable.” We completely discount what we have to offer and what we would be able to create with some help, guidance and a few new skills. We get overwhelmed before we take the first step. Let the first step be investing in yourself to give yourself the guidance and support you deserve.
What’s on the horizon? Offering? Goals?
Right now I’m enjoying writing and blogging and I’m focusing on building my mailing list at JenBaxter.com. I love teaching people how to take better photos with their mobile phone and I have a lot of great photos from my own image library. I’m sending out stock photos for people to use on social media and their websites, as well as regular tips and tools to learn to take better photos on their phone. I’m targeting the entrepreneur who’s just starting out and needs high quality photography for their online content but doesn’t know where to start. With my newsletters they will get free photos every month to use and also information to guide them to think through the kinds of images they want to create for their own business. My intention is to build the list through learning what people need in order to create their own visual storytelling for their businesses and then be able to provide tools to help them. I’d love people to sign up for my mailing list and give me some feedback, or even just say Hi if they read this post!