OTRR LEVEL UP – MEGAN ARSZMAN – PROFESSIONAL WRITER PART TWO
If you missed part one with Megan, please check it out here.
How did you start your MA Communications? Tell us about your business:
I started my company out of necessity. I had lost my job and needed something to supplement my income while I found something else, so I really started the push to grow my client base and to write for anyone that would have me. I felt that I needed to be more professional, so that’s why I started the business instead of just being a “writer.”
While I wanted something catchier than just “MA Communications” (or Megan Arszman Communications), a good friend once told me that I needed to be simple—if someone were to Google me, what would come up first? So, hence the name.
I’d like to think that I’m a full-service writer. I do press releases, blogs, social media marketing and lots of content curation. As far as types of articles goes, I’ve written training articles, how-tos, horse profile, people profiles, event coverage, horse health, human health, and some news stories.
I got into the social media side of things thanks to my job at The Horse, when I started managing the social media for the magazine. I became addicted with learning about the different social media channels, and have been rewarded for that effort in awards and other jobs. I enjoy helping small businesses grow via the simplicity of social media.
How did you know you could be self-employed?
Again, I knew I could be self-employed mostly by necessity. While a lot of people say, “I enjoy being my own boss” I think, for me, it’s just about enjoying the process. I don’t see myself as “my own boss”, I just see myself as a writer working to bring someone’s story to thousands of readers. I work to please my editors and my clients, and I find fulfillment by seeing their stories in print. Everyone has a story, you just have to get it out and share it with the world.
A lot of self-employed people say that they work harder than they ever did for an employer but they love it, do you agree?
I agree. This business is my life. While I am also employed full-time elsewhere, this is my second full-time job (and my third is as a mother). I find that I work harder for myself because I feel I have something more to prove with my own writing and business. I want to be successful and I want to show my daughter that you can be successful on your own or with someone else—it’s whatever makes you happiest.
**As a side note, while I was fully self-employed for a half year, I didn’t make it my only source of income because I was afraid I couldn’t do enough or make enough to live solely on my business. Plus, there are the benefits. Also, I craved something different to do on the side. I’d get bored working by myself, and I felt way too much pressure to make a certain amount of money to support my husband and I. While it does make things harder, I enjoy my full-time job and my “full-time side gig”. It means late nights and less sleep, but that’s OK.
You are a mother and a business owner, how do you manage your time?
It is so, so hard. I don’t do time management well sometimes. Especially with working another full-time job, you realize you’re not going to get much sleep. I try to do majority of my work at night after I put Aubrey to bed. Interviews are during nap times, my lunch break, or even while driving (phone on speaker, holding voice recorder and just having a conversation with my subjects).
One of my goals for 2017 is to come up with a process of organization for articles. I say that every year, but with Aubrey getting more active, the three of us in our own home, and me starting a new job at the end of January (Communications Coordinator for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission) it’s imperative that I am more organized and staying on top of things.
There are times that I try to work around Aubrey, and it’s hard. She does not like it when she sees mommy bring the laptop out. It tends to be frustrating for me, but I have to constantly remind myself that she won’t be this little for long.
What advice would you give someone that wants to start their own business?
Start slow and be okay with starting small—you don’t have to be the biggest and the best from the very beginning. And you don’t want to stretch yourself too thin.
Remember to network. Find a group or association closely related with your field, become a member, and be active. While it is important what you know, sometimes it’s more important who you know.
Keep your ego and your temperament in check. There will be critics, there will be someone who says “no.” Just like horseback riding, just dust yourself off, straighten your hat, get back on and move on. Ask for advice and critiques and then see where you can improve.
Looking back on your career, what is your biggest failure as a business owner and what is your biggest accomplishment?
Wow….two very tough questions.
I would say my biggest failure is when I miss a deadline. When you miss a deadline, I feel that I not only let the editors down, but it slows down the entire publishing process. I get more disappointed in myself than I’m sure the editors do, but that’s because I’m my toughest critic.
My biggest accomplishment is not just earning recognition in terms of awards, but I think when I hear from sources how much they love their article. To have someone in tears because you shared their story in ways that maybe they never thought, or to hear someone say they were inspired by reading something I wrote—that’s why I love it. I love interviewing the big time stars—Bob Baffert, Donna Barton-Brothers, Andrea Fappani, Shawn Flarida, etc. But I also love talking with the everyday person.
What are the top publications you have been in?
American Quarter Horse Journal, Paint Horse Journal, Horse Illustrated, Quarter Horse News, the Equine Chronicle, NRHA Reiner, Western Horse & Gun (formerly Western Shooting Horse)
Thank you to Megan for this great interview!
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