Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in freelancing but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristina Van Winkle, Founder of Write Shift RN LLC, located in Tucson, AZ, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
I own a medical/health content business. I research, write, and edit medical and health content for publications or healthcare professionals.
Tell us about yourself
I worked as a nurse at the bedside for over 15 years, caring for both pediatric and adult populations. For years, I worked one or two nights per week, never two in a row, to be home with my daughter during the day and homeschool her. It was exhausting, but it was worth it to be able to be there for my daughter every day. A little over a year ago, I snapped my ankle and couldn't return to the bedside. I looked around for a nursing job I could do from home and discovered medical writing. I had always enjoyed and been good at it (I passed one particularly difficult college class because I aced all of the papers), so I took a medical writing/ business course and a proofreading course and got to work. I love that I can use my nursing degree and experience to continue to educate people about their health and medical needs while still being home with my daughter. The flexibility gives me opportunities I never had while working at a hospital. I can homeschool my daughter and take her to her horseback riding lessons or to other activities she enjoys. And I get to sleep every single night! That in and of itself is well worth the change in career direction!
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
I can use my experience as an RN to simplify very complex topics and write them so they can be understood and retained. But I had no experience in business, marketing, advertising, or anything like that. And my technology skills were pretty much what I learned from my phone and the computer charting systems at my hospital jobs. Learning all of these new skills within a very short amount of time seemed overwhelming and impossible at the time, but looking back on it, I am happy with how far I have come and with the new skills and knowledge I have attained.
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
Marketing myself. I am confident in my nursing and teaching skills, but promoting myself has never been my strong suit. I would work hard and wait for others to recognize my work when it stood out from the crowd. In a business, you have to position yourself as the best of the best in your field. I am an excellent researcher, writer, and editor, but to say that out loud is very difficult for me. Just writing those words makes me feel uncomfortable. I struggle with self-promotion and marketing.
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Don't compare yourself with others. You are in a different place than anyone else in the world. Your personal life, work situation, health situation, and other factors combine to make you unique. Nobody can put themselves into your shoes; they would not understand. Don't look at others and think you are doing something wrong because you are not doing it exactly as they are or getting the results they seem to be getting. They may look successful, but you don't see the whole picture of their life, and your life is different. What works for them may not work for you. In my own experience, I am a "stay-at-home wife" and a homeschool mom with a part-time writing business. Until that changes, I will never have the time to market, advertise, and network like others who can work full-time without distractions. It's not going to happen. And a "side hustle" may need to wait a few years as well.
- Pick your business times and stick with them. I take care of my house and homeschool my daughter in the mornings and run my business and write in the afternoons. I can't mix the two, or both suffer. Running a business from my home requires me to set up definite boundaries for my time and energy. I start "work" at 1:00 and end work at 5:00. I may need to write a bit more in the evenings after my daughter is in bed, but I stop around 10:00 to keep my bedtime consistent. Set time boundaries and stick with them.
- Never stop marketing. As much as it pains me, marketing is the key to consistent writing work. You never know when a client will drop you, or you will need to drop a client for whatever reason. You need to have a backup plan in case you lose this income unexpectedly. You may not be able to send 30 cold emails daily as some small business owners claim to do, but maybe you can send 3 each day. Or set a timer and look for clients for a certain amount of time each day. Find what works for you, and do it.
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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