Welcome to another Small Business Update, and it’s a bit different this time, as Karen White, ELT editorial project manager from White Ink Limited. has made a big decision and kindly shared her story with us. I love sharing all sorts of freelance paths and I think some of us might be a little envious of this one! Karen’s been talking to Libro about her business since March 2014, and gave us an update in June 2015 and then August 2016, when her plan by now was: “I hope that by this time next year, the third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday will have been a huge success, and that the fourth one is in the pipeline. I hope the industry will have settled down a bit, with plenty of work for everyone who needs/wants it. I hope I’m still remembering to put my desk into the stand position!” So, what happened next?
Hello, Karen. Well, you’ve got some big news for us, haven’t you! First of all, though, are you (at the moment) where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?
Yes, in that the third ELT Freelancers’ Awayday was a great success, with participants coming from as far afield as Canada, Greece and Spain, as well all parts of the UK. The fourth Awayday will be held at the end of January 2018 and we’ll be adding on a day of practical workshops the day before as well. (Full details here.)
Work-wise, this year has been as productive as ever for White Ink, and it seems that there is plenty of work to go around the ELT freelance community, which is good news.
What has changed and what has stayed the same?
In some ways, nothing has changed. Interesting work offers continue to come in, and I still enjoy running my busy White Ink Facebook page, which continues to be somewhere freelancers can come to ask questions, discuss hot topics, find work opportunities, share tips and post the occasional photo. With my ELT Teacher 2 Writer colleagues I’m continuing to help writers get training and get published.
In other ways, everything has changed! My husband and I have decided to leave work behind and do some travelling in 2018. A number of friends have been diagnosed with serious illnesses in the last year and we realise that if we wait any longer, it might be too late to do the travelling we’ve always talked about. So, on March 16th we’ll be getting on a plane to Australia where we’ll spend a few weeks shopping for a motorhome, then plan to set off on a Big Lap. Whether we complete a lap or not, it will be an adventure! (We’ll be blogging about it here: https://thewhitewayround.wordpress.com)
What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?
I’ve learned that it’s good to have trusted colleagues. Although the White Ink Facebook page is just a page, it’s become a lot more than that to me and the ELT freelance community, so I was reluctant to simply close it down when I finish work at the end of the year. Fortunately, I’m leaving it in the capable hands of two fellow freelancers who I’ve known for many years. They will rebrand it and give it their own personality, and I’m sure I’ll stay tuned to it, but I’m happy to leave it with them because I know they will carry it forward.
I’m also learning that planning a big trip takes a lot of work. My husband has already finished work and has applied for visas, booked accommodation and started planning our route, but there’s still a lot to do in preparation for letting the house out, etc.
Any more hints and tips for people?
There is more to life than work. Although I realise that not everyone can up sticks and head off to the other side of the world (and not everyone wants to of course), I think it’s worth taking a step back from time to time to assess your priorities and see if you can make any work-life balance changes before getting to the point when you say ‘I wish I’d done x, y and z’ and it’s too late to do anything about it.
And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?
On a beach in Australia!
Isn’t she brave! What an exciting thing to do! But it’s true that there IS more to life than work. I’m training to be an endurance (cross country and road race) official at the moment, which means lots of time outside, wearing gaiters and clutching a clipboard, pen that writes in the wet and whistle, a real antidote to sitting at a desk. Good luck to Karen and her husband and let’s all follow their blog!
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 (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources.