"Your life is a result of the choices you make. If you don’t like your life, it is time to start making better choices." - As quoted by somebody pretty smart, but who decided to stay anonymous. Emma decided to take control over her destiny and carved her own path that has seen her flourish into an established proofreading expert.
Hi Emma! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I'm a business owner, mum of two and I'm houseplant obsessed. I love being creative, reading and being in nature. I am a zero-waste fanatic and I love foraging. I currently live in Hampshire, but we're planning a move to rural Devon in the autumn.
Oooh, a fellow houseplant fanatic! Talk to us about your business...
I'm a website editor and proofreader for businesses who make a difference, either to humanity or to the planet. I'm basically a word nerd. I love deep-diving into the details of someone's writing, helping their messages to shine and resonate with their readers. I offer full website edits that assess the copy, the styling, the functioning, accessibility and general user experience of a website before updating or publishing. My website audits are for those who maybe need some guidance about what's working or not working for their website, or what they need to consider if they're updating. I also offer power packages, a mix'n'match proofread of blogs, emails, newsletters, whatever your content needs are. And there's always room for a bespoke project. I have worked with students writing their PhDs, fiction authors and e-learning companies. Wherever there are words, there's a need for my services.
I'm an eco-warrior and actively try to keep my impact on the planet as small as I can; I'm constantly learning and implementing changes both at home and in my business. I'm also an advocate of kindness and compassion for ourselves and others.
My ideal clients are those who have similar values and interests. There are so many innovative businesses out there who are putting purpose before profit. I get a real buzz out of working with these people; they're so inspirational. Where did the idea for your business come from?
Until 2018 I was a children's social worker, working frontline and feeling unhappy. The role had an impact on my wellbeing, so I decided to quit and invest in myself and my family. I've always been passionate about the planet and had a go at working with Neal's Yard Remedies. I loved their ethics and the purpose behind their brand. I also really loved running my own business and decided I wanted to pursue this idea. However, we were planning a big adventure in our family, so plans for a business were put on hold. In July 2019, my husband also quit his (stressful) job, we pulled our kids out of school, rented our house out and bought a rusty old van (Betsy, the love of our lives!) to live in for a year. We travelled across France, Spain and Portugal, volunteering on various permaculture smallholdings and connecting with like-minded folk. We wanted to experience different ways of living that might inform a more balanced life for us back in the UK. As the end of our trip drew closer, I assumed I would be returning to social work, albeit as an independent social worker. But then I met a woman on the road full time with her family. She introduced me to the world of academic editing. I've always been academic and loved reading and writing. During my social work career I wrote countless reports and complex assessments for court and panels; this was an element of the job I really enjoyed. So, once lockdown hit and we were settled with my in-laws in northern France for 3 months, I trained and got a job editing for students across the globe. The role suits me really well and I love it! It also allows for the flexibility we need as a family now. We want to travel more and we want to spend time together (amazingly!) after sharing a small van for a year. As the months went by, I learned more about who I wanted to work with and the types of documents I wanted to read and proofread.
My passion for words and the planet have come together, which helps a lot with my marketing, as I just have to talk about my passions!
Your van adventures make me want to get back on the road and travel! What have been your biggest learning experiences since becoming a business owner?
The biggest is that you need to be super resilient to run your own business. I've surprised myself at how quickly I can bounce back from a knock and incorporate that into my learning and business growth. Sometimes it hurts, but after a bit of self-care, the creativity and determination kick in again and I'm back on track.
The other thing is to be authentic. I'm in a variety of networking groups, all very different. But the ones I enjoy and build the best relationships and collaborations with are those in which I feel comfortable being myself and talking about what I love. I've also embraced my own tone and style in my content. It won't resonate with everyone, but those who like my vibe are those I want to work with.
If you could give one bit of advice to someone thinking of starting their own business, what would it be?
Don't try to do everything at once. Building a business is a huge undertaking and it takes time. There will always be a massive to-do list; try not to let it overwhelm you. Self-compassion is a must. It's important to recognise when you're feeling overwhelmed and take time off. I find nature really nourishing and I pay for Forest Bathing sessions every couple of months, when those feelings of panic start to kick in.
I also recommend putting time aside to just sit and reflect on your business. Every two or three months I find that my focus waivers and I can't plan effectively. For example, I took yesterday to sit and think about my goal for the next couple of months, reminding myself of my 'why'. A bit of objectivity and clear headspace gave me insight into the fact that I needed to go back to basics and talk about my services with my audience again. Sometimes these reflections are as simple as reminding yourself of your who, why, what and how. It never fails to bring me back to my goals and calm me down.
What has your biggest success/accomplishment/achievement been since starting your business?
I think this was when I secured two ideal clients, purely through hard work, marketing, networking and being authentic. I knew that I had made that happen and; it was a great feeling!
Is there anyone who inspires you?
I have a friend who has very successfully built her creative business from scratch, through hard work, determination and being herself. Seeing how her business has grown is a great reminder that it can be done.
Lastly, what book/article/podcast really gave you that OMG moment?
I recently read 'How to Fail' by Elizabeth Day. I've always been a high achiever and have had few experiences of 'failure'. Whilst this may sound great, it isn't always as liberating as it might sound. I've had to grow my resilience since running a business, and I've done this by getting things wrong. This book made me realise that 'failing' is totally normal and, in fact, necessary if we want to learn and grow. It helped me embrace failure a little more and just see it as a part of the journey.
Recent blog post showing a case study of a website edit: https://www.emmahewlettproofreading.co.uk/?p=655
➡️ You can find Emma:
Emma Downey | Founder, Women Who Do
Emma can be found glued to her laptop/kindle or embarking on her next favourite hobby. Avid cake-eater, Disney-superfan and passionate about female empowerment, Emma founded WWD in 2017. She's currently travelling around Europe in her converted camper van and eating far too many croissants.
You can contact Emma: firstname.lastname@example.org
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