Running A Freelance Business With Michelle Chai Of Daisybutter

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This week’s interview is with an online creative who I’ve been following for the past few years. Not only is Michelle a blogger and business owner, but (not to be dramatic) she is also one of the big reasons for why I decided to start my own business. Before I started following her I never really knew that you could be both an at-home career woman while still maintaining your own level of freedom and creativity online.

She showed me that balance is key when it comes to your creative journey and I was so excited to read her insightful answers for this interview series.

1) How has your mental health affected the way you approach your job/career?

Working for myself has been a godsend for my mental health. A true introvert through and through, I treasure days working from home and find it does wonders for my creativity and productivity – a must as a copywriter! Mental health-wise, I struggle a lot with taking public transport and so being able to command my own workday means I can completely remove that aspect from my day.

2) What do you like and dislike about being a freelancer? 

The clear pro is that I can work from home and be able to prioritise my relationships. I can spend more time with family and my dog which is incredibly important to me. I absolutely love working for and on myself; it’s rewarding to actively work on both my personal and professional goals at the same time and know that everything I achieve is solely down to me. What I dislike? I miss having a team. I recently took on an in-house contract with a client and it was great being able to bounce ideas off colleagues and have some of that office rapport again.

3) During a particularly stressful week, what do you find to be the best way to recharge and to realign your mental health?

I always, always schedule workouts into my week. No matter how busy I am, I find I feel most recharged when I’ve been out for a run or have gone to a Pilates or Barre class (my favourites). It’s cliché, but also stepping away from my workplace and laptop is excellent for realigning my mental health. The online world is busy and cluttered, but in the real world you’ll always find space for clarity.

4) What would you want other new freelancers to know about the process, whether good or bad?

Patience is a virtue. I mention this all the time, and in my e-book, but nothing is achieved overnight and my own business certainly didn’t gain success overnight! Freelancing and business ownership are slow but steady races. It took 10 years’ of industry experience and three in the business ownership game to get to this position where I finally feel like I’m really achieving what I originally set out to do. Oh, and always plan in advance for those dastardly late, unpaid invoices – they used to ruin me but now feel like a happy surprise if they are paid.

5) How do you maintain your motivation when you feel like your journey isn’t going according to plan? (i.e. your dream clients aren’t interested, you don’t want to compromise on the industry you’re interested in only for money, etc.)

I think one of those important things to do is spend a little time outside of your business. You don’t always have to be working for your clients to further your journey. Sometimes meeting up with a fellow freelancer or giving yourself a whole day to hone in on your goals or planning ahead can do lots for your biz. In instances where my pitches have been turned down or brilliant opportunities land in my inbox but aren’t aligned to my business values, I graciously reply or politely decline and then give myself some space to understand why that happened and how I can continuously work on the biz to ensure I set myself up better ‘next time’.

Also, it’s incredibly important to remember that not everybody is your dream client. If it doesn’t come your way the first time, perhaps that’s for a reason.

6) How do you balance the pressures of social media with your personal goals and image offline? 

Oddly enough I feel like I’m the only person around who doesn’t feel particularly pressured by social media. I think my online presence – particularly on Twitter and Instagram, where real-life friends and family follow me too – is so closely aligned with who I am offline that I don’t feel the pressure. My business offering is much like me: copy fuelled by personality and magic. And thus I’ve never felt the need to strictly create a balance. 

7) At this point in your freelance journey, is there anything you would have done differently when starting out?

I only wish I’d done a little more research and forward-planning! Although having said that, that would’ve drastically changed my journey. I started out by chance and thankfully already had seven years’ industry experience under my belt already. So my business offering hailed mostly from what I’d been producing in-house for my employers. I’m in the process of rebranding at the moment, so I wish I’d have taken some time to really consider how I wanted to ‘look’ to clients.

8) Do you have any advice for when you go through slumps with your creativity or motivation?

Get outside! It is the ultimate writers’ cliché but getting outdoors and hearing the song of the trees, breathing in fresh air and getting some adrenaline flowing through the body definitely helps you to switch off from work mode and spark up the creativity. I always make sure to read lots and consume plenty of content, be that a book, newspaper, podcast, TV show or even the backs of shower gels! Your creativities and talents are always a melting pot of everything you’ve come across in life, so maximise that opportunity!

Motivation-wise… Create a mood board of how you’d like your life to look in five years’ time. There’s no greater motivation than working towards being the puppy Mama to six dogs and having a kitchen island!