Friday 7 June 2013

Women Who Dare to Dream 5 - Jen from Interiors Addict

Jen from Interiors Addict just oozes style so is it any wonder that she found her calling in writing an interior design blog?

Apart from being uber chic, Jen is incredibly down to earth and kind and generous with her both her time and advice to others. And for all those reasons and so much more, it is no wonder Jen has acheived the success she has in such a short amount of time.

And today today Jen shares with us how she turned "losing her job" into the beginning of her dream job.

The secret of my success: working hard and being nice to people!

It's the dream. But very few people get to do what they love and get paid for it. Those of us, like me, who do, should count ourselves as seriously lucky. But the thing is, it doesn't just land in your lap. You don't just get lucky. But it can happen! There are a few key ingredients required and I want to share them with you, along with my story.

My name's Jen and I'm an interiors addict. There, I said it. I am obsessed with homewares. I have way too many cushions. I love arranging and rearranging furniture. And I've been doing all this since I was about 12. These days I like to think my rooms look a lot better than they did back in the early nineties...

Two years ago, I started a blog called Interiors Addict. It was just for me really. I didn't even call it a blog back then. I don't have any design qualifications, I'm just a serious enthusiast, an addict. These days it's my full-time job and I have almost 50,000 readers per month. I absolutely LOVE what I do. I've never worked harder, or longer hours, and it's the first time I've been self-employed (a serious learning curve in itself), but I've never been more fulfilled or passionate and it doesn't really feel like work. Which means I rarely switch off. But why would I? I love this stuff! I've been richer, but I'm, getting there and the signs are looking good.

So, how did that all happen?

Passion, an unwavering, genuine love of interiors, writing and publishing (I'm a journalist by background), lots and lots of hard work, losing my job (yup!) and being nice (more on that later).  

About a year into Interiors Addict I worked out it could turn into something more than a hobby. I didn't really know quite how it would work out, and it seemed too amazing a dream to contemplate, but if I wanted to give it my best shot, I knew I had to work my butt off (I would work the rest out later). That meant working late into the night, on weekends and every lunch break at work, where I had a busy and well-paid job as publisher and editor of a business magazine. I juggled events for work, and events for my blog, I did interviews with people via email and wrote them up after office hours. Back then, many people didn't even realise I had a job as well as my blog!

I was trying to pluck up the courage to leave that job of five years but I'm not very good with risk and I was planning a wedding (hello, expensive!). I'm loyal and I cared about my team and my magazine and I didn't want to leave anyone in the lurch without a plan. Behind the scenes, my boss was planning to close the magazine and make me redundant. To cut a very long story short, at the time, having my job pulled away from me with no warning was horrendous. But now I realise it gave me the push I needed. So no, I can't claim I was brave enough to follow my dreams, but circumstances led me to. At the end of the day, I still could have gone and got another 'proper'  job but I knew this was my best shot at jumping on the momentum around Interiors Addict and running with it. And I did.  And I still am! It often feels like a race, believe me! Last week I even launched a second blog, Appliance Addict, with my fiance!

So, to go back to my original key ingredients for creating yourself that job you really love:

·         Passion and a love for what you're doing: This is almost a bit too obvious. If you don't really, really love it, live and breathe it, you won't want it as your dream job. But it's passion that drives you on and keeps you going when times get tough. And they will.

·         Hard work: There's no getting around this one. It is hard work. When you work on your own and no longer have a support team and colleagues to delegate to, you realise how many little things someone else used to do (pay you, pay the business' bills, recruit, do your tax, answer phones, make you the odd cuppa, etc, etc). My advice here is to outsource some of the stuff you're no good at to freelancers. You probably won't be in a position to employ someone for a long time (if ever) but you can afford to pay people a few hours here and there and you'll probably get a lot of value out of outsourcing those things to the experts (you have to spend money to make money). For me, that's graphic design, web development and advertising sales).

·         Losing your job: Not everyone is lucky enough (ha!) to get pushed out of their comfort zone and lose their job. But it's amazing how many success stories come out of people being retrenched. You probably know a few of those people yourself. If it's you that has to take the plunge and quit your job yourself, it's both easier and harder. You benefit from being able to leave at a time when you know you're in a good position financially (not saving for a wedding, perhaps) and from not almost having a nervous breakdown through the stress of it all. Equally, you have to make that big brave call yourself, and consider all the opinions of everyone else trying to put you off (let's face it, many of them because they'd love to be chasing their dream too, and can't).

·         Being nice: I cannot stress how important it is to be nice. It's a small world. If you're not genuine, people will find you out pretty quickly. If you're nice, and generous with your time and skills and in promoting and helping other people where you can, these things will come back to you later, I promise. Word gets around, good and bad. People warm towards people who are friendly, sincere and real. I think we're all secretly more impressed by people who hold their hands up to making mistakes and not being perfect but just getting on with it and work hard anyway.

Thanks Sonia, for letting me share my story! I hope it inspires a few people!

You can find Jen on Facebook here, Instagram and Pinterest too.

Don't forget to check back next week for more guests in the Dare to Dream Guest Post Series.