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Crafting a career writing for organisations that 'do good'.


October 19, 2017

Ever wondered why our Associates just seem so god damn happy? It’s because they love what they do!

To celebrate this we have launched our #lovewhatyoudo blog series sharing the unique stories of some of our amazing team. Each of our Associates has a different story – they have all had a variety of struggles and successes along the way, and have all joined The Hoxby Collective for such different reasons. Read along, and hopefully, you’ll find some nuggets of wisdom to help you on the path to #lovewhatyoudo too!

Introducing Associate and copywriter, Kate Duggan… 

I’m a copywriter for charities, artisan brands and businesses that make a positive difference to their community or the wider world. I write everything from web copy to award applications, newsletters, packaging descriptions and magazine articles. Basically, I help my clients to attract new audiences and keep their existing customers happy.

How did you figure out that this was what you wanted to do?

One of my earliest memories is of hanging upside down from a climbing frame declaring that I was going to be a lion tamer, stunt woman or writer. I don’t like pain, so soon gave up on the first two ambitions, but the love of writing never left me. I started off in journalism, before moving into marketing and copywriting around 10 years ago.

Why do you love what you do?

Every day is different and I’m forever learning new things. I can go from writing about morning sickness to mobility scooters in one day. I also get to meet some really lovely people, with innovative business ideas and inspiring stories to tell.

What have been some highlights of your career/some cool things you have done?

I worked on the communications for The Co-operative’s Charity of the Year partnership with Mencap. My role included everything from checking brand compliance and proofing fundraising materials, to writing blog posts to engage Co-op employees. The partnership raised £7.2 million for Mencap – way more than they were hoping for. That money has helped thousands of young people with learning difficulties to access opportunities, which is a pretty great feeling!

What limitations or struggles did you experience when you worked in a more traditional 9-5 format?

When my daughter was born I dropped down to four days a week. On the days I was working, I usually left the house at 8am and didn’t get home until after 6pm, so I hardly saw her, which was really hard. I was incredibly lucky that my employer embraced the idea of flexible working, so let me drop my hours and switch to home-working when I moved to Devon, but I still craved more freedom.

Why did you decide to join The Hoxby Collective and the workstyle movement?

One thing I miss about being self-employed is working as part of a team. I love bouncing ideas off people and chatting about random stuff while waiting for the kettle to boil. Most agencies want you to work 9-5 in-house (or 9-9 in some cases). With Hoxby, we all work wherever we want to, at times to suit us. And there’s even a Slack channel to stay connected and for the all important water cooler gossip!

Now that you have the freedom to work how you like, do you love what you do more? Why?

Yes! I really enjoy working for different brands, and being able to choose the projects that I know I’ll have fun working on. I never have that Monday morning feeling any more. If anything, I relish Monday mornings as I truly enjoy what I do.

What’s your #workstyle?

My office is also the spare room, and tends to become a bit of a dumping ground. Luckily I’m pretty good at zoning out the mess! I tend to work from 9am to 3.30pm, with a break to walk the dog. If I need to I’ll head back into my office in the afternoon for an hour or two if the kids are occupied, and again once they’re in bed. I try to attend a networking event fairly regularly, but don’t manage it as much as I should.

The joy of working for yourself is you can be flexible. If I’m not busy and I fancy a lazy brunch with a friend, then that’s what I’ll have. If I need to finish early because there’s a school assembly on, or take the whole day off to watch sports day, then I can.

Any advice for anyone else thinking about leaving the 9-5?

Be realistic. It’s great to have a dream, but you also need to pay the bills. I despise all those ‘I work 2 hours a day and I’m a millionaire – you can do it too if you just buy my coaching course’ adverts. Working for yourself is hard. It’s great having flexibility, but there will still be times when you’re working late into the night to hit a deadline and your kids keep asking why you never have time to play.

Learn to ride the rollercoaster. There will be times when you’ll earn more in a day than you used to earn in a week. There will be other times when it takes you a month to earn what you did in a week. You need to be able to ride the highs and lows.

Dip your toe in. See whether you can work from home for a week to make sure you can focus without your boss nearby and that you enjoy the solitude. Use your free time to get ready for freelancing – build your website and get to grips with the business side of things, such as invoicing and tax. Once you’ve handed your notice in at work, tell everyone what you’re going to be doing. You never know where a client is going to come from. I’ve had three big pieces of work come through ex-colleagues.

Accept help. There isn’t as much support available as there used to be, but there’s still some free help available for start-up businesses. There are also plenty of online resources, including webinars, on everything from tax to marketing.

Any advice for anyone struggling to find their passion?

Be open to new ideas. I didn’t start out wanting to be a copywriter, but actually it allows me to be creative every day and I earn a decent income. Try writing down all the things you most enjoy doing, and think about what type of work could fit around the rest of your life.

What would you like to do?