Welcome to the first in a lovely set of updates I’ll be publishing over the next few weeks. I’m so glad that so many of my interviewees are still going strong (if maybe not in quite the same direction in which they thought they’d be going!) and are willing to share their updated stories with my readers. Thank you, everyone! Today we’re chatting to Alison Thompson (was Neale), who runs The Proof Fairy, originally a proofreading and editing company, but she’s now branched out into an exciting new venture after publishing her own book during the past year.
Alison is one of my original interviewees, and so we’re on to the second update now! I last featured Alison on 21 July 2012, and when I asked her where she wanted to be in a year’s time, she replied, “I really enjoyed running the blogging workshop, so that’s something I’d like to do more of. I’m also still keen to build a group of proofreaders/editors to handle that side of the business so I can focus more on writing and blogging”. Is this what happened? Well … no!
Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
I think I’ve gone sideways a bit rather than forwards! In October last year I finally decided to spend some time writing a book I’d had in my head for several years – about parenting a child with ADHD. I self-published the book in March and really wasn’t prepared for the response. In the last few months I’ve been on local and national radio, I’ve been commissioned to write a series of articles for a magazine and I have been invited to speak at a couple of big conferences later this year! To get in practice (as I’m not a natural public speaker) I have been doing some “author talks” at local libraries and have really enjoyed sharing my story. It’s been an exciting time but I think I have taken my eye off the business a little so while things have moved in different directions, and they haven’t developed as much as I would have liked. Having said that, I do have two workshops booked, one later this month and one in September – not on blogging, but on writing – and I have put out some feelers to recruit a few outsourced proofreaders to assist me when (not if!) the business grows.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
Interestingly, the direction of the business has changed completely yet stayed very much the same! Writing the book has awoken in me a passion to help other people write and self-publish their own books and I’ve developed a Complete Coaching Programme that helps people find an idea, plan and write their book and then offers them assistance with proofreading, formatting, cover design and marketing. I’m working with my first “coachee” at present, which is a huge learning experience but tremendously rewarding too. So while I’m offering new things for a new audience, it’s actually using all the skills and experience I’ve developed over the last few years – as I said, still the same but totally different!
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I wish I’d focused on a specific target market years ago. I’ve always done all things for all people – proofreading for business owners, copywriters, authors; websites for charities and SMEs and so on. Now I know I want to work with aspiring authors and making that mind shift has already changed the way I work. I’ve learned that I have a butterfly mind – I’m great at focusing on things for a short while but very quickly lose interest and am onto the next idea. I hope that the coaching programme will give me the variety of work that I crave, and will also give me some time to continue my own writing career, as I have half a dozen books in my head that are desperate to get out if only I can find the time!
Any more hints and tips for people?
Be open to opportunities and don’t be afraid to explore new directions because you never know where they’ll take you!
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time.
The plan is that I will be working with between 6 and 10 people every month, helping them to write books. Once I have a few clients, I want to start outsourcing the proofreading and formatting work as far as possible so that I can concentrate on the coaching side and also spend more time writing myself. I also want to run regular workshops and webinars, and continue to raise my profile as an expert in ADHD parenting.
So a really interesting development for Alison here. I have always sung the praises of having a diverse customer group, because that is what has worked for me – having different kinds of client in different world regions and offering them different services has evened out the peaks and troughs that happen in all industries. But Alison’s now profiting from homing in on a smaller client group that she can really get to grips with and become an expert on. I think she’ll do well with this new endeavour, building as it does on skills she already has, and I look forward with great interest to her next update! See how she was doing in 2014!
You can buy Alison’s book, The Boy from Hell: Life with a Child with ADHD on Amazon.
If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured. If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my book.