I want to share this success story about an introvert who is making a living with writing. I love sharing real-life stories of introverted women who are doing meaningful work, with a sense of balance. Sara is making self-employment work beautifully, in ways that fit her introverted nature.
Meet Sara Barry
Sara’s business offerings include content strategy consulting and copywriting, especially for small businesses and solopreneurs. She is based in a small town in the Northeast US, but her clients are all over. She’s also a mom and she’s writing a memoir.
Writing for a living is a popular career choice for introverts, and you’ll see in Sara’s story how it all fits together for her energy and her sustainability. (By the way, Sara co-authored an article with me about Career Ideas for Writers.)
Sara is actually on my team (as an ongoing independent contractor, not an employee). She helps me plan my content and helps with editing too. (My business is so much easier with Sara on board. I love it.) Interviewing her about her business journey was another gift! You’ll see:
My Interview with Sara about Her Journey
She’s at the point in her business where she takes it all in stride and has the most lovely calm presence for her clients (like me!).
We recorded a more detailed video interview that is available inside my course, Bridge to Self-employment, about the inside stories of making heart-centered self-employment work. I’ve captured some highlights from Sara’s comments below.
Please give us a glimpse of what your work is like.
Sara: As a content strategist and copywriter, I help small businesses and solopreneurs connect with existing and potential clients through the power of words and story. I help people plan their editorial calendar; write blogs, newsletters, podcast show notes, video scripts, social posts, and more. Sometimes it’s about managing an online community. I help business owners show up in ways that work for them.
I mostly work with people on an ongoing basis, but take on some individual projects (e.g., a new services page, an email sequence, an edit of an ebook). That can be a good way for us to see what it’s like to work together.
When first considering self-employment, what was a big fear and how did you get past it?
Sara: Concerns about having a regular income held me back from leaving a job that was really stressful/not great for my health. I got a new job that suited me better, but got laid off, and because I was still worried about money, I was focused on getting a new job initially.
I was fortunate to have one client who offered me a lot of freelance work right away, and I realized how much I liked working for myself. I enjoyed the flexible schedule and having a mix of things I was working on at any one time. Plus it felt like I was getting paid to get something done rather than be somewhere for a certain amount of time.
In other words, I accidentally explored self-employment and found it felt good.
How did you end up managing the income stability concern? How are you making it work?
Sara: I lost two jobs in three years, so the perceived financial stability got stripped away for me. It helped me to think of my freelance work as temporary initially. Eventually I decided to make self-employment work.
I didn’t have a lot of savings and I had some debt when I started. I kept costs low, but learned where it made sense to invest. I made sure I put money aside for taxes, and I budgeted tightly.
After a few years, I had a better sense of the rhythm of my business — when I’d have a lot of work, when I’d worry that I wouldn’t work again, and when I’d get paid. I got better at negotiating payments for smaller deliverables or shorter pay schedules. I used credit carefully when I knew money was coming in, but not quite available yet.
What do you wish you knew before you started toward self-employment?
Sara: I wish I knew how good it was. Part of me wishes I had trusted myself enough to do it sooner. At the same time, I learned a lot from all the jobs I had, and I also developed relationships that led to client work when I did move to self-employment. In the end, it was more like a bridge than a cliff.
How have you found clients in ways that work for your personality?
Sara: I get most of my clients through my network and referrals. For instance, I’ve worked for former employers and former co-workers who moved to new companies.
That looked like sending emails saying, “I’m freelancing now, and I have availability starting next month. Are there any projects you’re looking to outsource?” I asked people to pass my name on if they knew somebody else looking.
Another time I was on a group call and someone said, “I’m so tired of writing my blog. I wish somebody would just do it for me.” When we got off the call, I emailed her and said, “I could write your blog. Let’s talk.”
I learned to reach out to past or existing clients before I need work. “I’m booking projects for June now. Do you have anything coming up?”
I believe in connection, so I like to just reach out to people occasionally to see how things are going, what’s new in their business or life. Sometimes that leads to a job or a referral. Sometimes it maintains a connection.
Val: Aha, I see your introvert superpowers shining here. Your one-to-one connection talents are helping you build genuine connections, and people can easily trust you and want to hire you. All without social media hoopla. What a relief. (What a great example of networking for introverts.)
What helps you maintain a sense of well-being while running a business?
Sara: I love the flexibility to make my own schedule. Being able to work with my own rhythms, which have changed over time, or within the rhythm of my family has been really helpful. I also recharge being outside — walking in the woods, working in my garden, even working on my porch — and I can set my day up so I get plenty of that time.
Connection is really important to me too, and while I work alone from home, I connect with clients on calls and Zoom. I meet friends and colleagues for coffee or lunch. But I choose who and when and how that fits in with other things going on.
Lessons from Sara’s Story…
Everyone is unique but there are things we can learn from everyone’s story. I hear at least 4 great lessons in her story:
- You can build a business around what you want in your life — like autonomy, time in nature, and time with family.
- The expected social media frenzy is not necessary to have a steady freelance business. You can build trust through calm, simple one-to-one connections.
- Over time you understand the rhythms of busy and slow times and can adjust your systems to make it work for you.
- Paying attention to the budget and where it makes sense to invest is an important part of the job.
I’m enjoying these inspiring stories from introverts and HSPs. I like hearing all the details of how they make it work. More coming soon. You can subscribe below.
Wondering about your own path?
You might like these resources:
- Career Clarity Course for Introverts and HSPs. (A place to get clear on your values, strengths, and how it all fits together.)
- Career Ideas for Writers/ People Who Love to Write or Edit
- Self-employment needs to be easier.
- Course: Bridge to Self-employment