From buttoned up corporate executive working 12 hour days, to work-from-home copywriter, Jacqueline Fisch is driving her career on her own terms, and her own time now. Like most entrepreneurs, the road to success was bumpy, but the end goal of having a more flexible schedule and more time at home with her kids has made it all worth it. Find out how this mompreneur navigated the road to discovering her passion and pursuing it full time.
Q: What’s the story behind Jacq Fisch Copywriting?
It wasn’t a straight and narrow path to get here that’s for sure! It took me getting laid off three times from big corporate firms to realize that I needed to create my own job security.
I spent the first 13 years of my career in corporate communications and management consulting. It was a very buttoned up industry as I worked with big corporate clients and the US government. Like many people, I went to school, got a “good” job and then worked hard at climbing the corporate ladder, and it turns out, I was really good at it.
When I went back to work after my first maternity leave with my son, everything was different. I couldn’t work late anymore and I hated constantly being in meetings. It made me wonder, “What’s the point?” I started reading every self-help book, and find your talent and strengths book that I could find. Shortly after, my life took the first of many turns — I was laid off from my job. Since we didn’t have any family in Chicago where we were living, we decided to move to Toronto where my family was located.
I was really lucky (so I thought) to get a job with Research In Motion (RIM at the time, and now BlackBerry) who was doing really well, this was back in 2009. I was on their corporate communications team and loved having a more focused writing role. We then welcomed our daughter into the world and around the same time I started to switch up our family diet and decided to blog about our journey to becoming plant-based and back again. It was here that I discovered that I really loved writing. A few years later, we all know what happened to BlackBerry, and I was laid off yet again. This time I knew the drill and was more prepared for what to do next.
We moved back to Chicago and I knew I needed to do something on my own. I was able to get a job back with my original company while I built up my own work on the side. This kept us afloat to pay our bills while I could spend the time I needed to grow my offerings and client list. Low and behold things with the government changed again and I found myself looking at another severance package.
This helped me to take the leap I knew I needed to make and take ownership of my own career by starting my own copywriting business.
Q: How did you get back up again and again after getting laid off each time?
The first time, it was definitely not easy nor graceful. There were rumours going around, but I thought it could never happen to me. I had a few days at home where I just cried. I really had to get up to speed about the next steps to take, update my resume, and find out how to start job searching again. From a financial standpoint we needed to replace my income so I had to get back out there as soon as I could.
I went on a lot of crappy job interviews before landing the job at BlackBerry. When I was laid off the second time it actually worked out that we were thinking of moving back to Chicago anyways, so the timing wasn’t so bad. This time I had kept my resume and portfolio up to date and knew how to apply for unemployment benefits.
The third and last time it happened, I knew as soon as the meeting request was sent over. I walked in laughing (they probably thought I was crazy)! I knew it was coming and this time getting laid off meant I was free. On one hand, I wish I had chosen to leave on my own terms, but in the end it all worked out.
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Q: What were some of the biggest challenges in moving from a side-hustle to a full-time business?
Initially, it was getting the word out there to find the right clients. In the beginning I worked with anyone so I could to get some practice. I made a list of all my family and friends and everyone I had networked with in the past and sent them all individual emails. I told them I was looking to grow my copywriting business and offered up a few hours of my time for free in exchange for open and honest feedback. This started to get the ball rolling so that I was eventually getting paid and then referred to other clients.
Today, now that I work from home, I really have to work to protect my evenings and weekends. When you work from home full-time it can be easy to let your work bleed into all the other parts of your life. Since I made this move to spend more time with my family, I really have to make sure that I do block out that time.
Q: What has childcare looked like for your family along the way?
I think we’ve tried a bit of everything! When we were in Chicago with our first child, we tried a nanny share but that didn’t work out. We then tried to get our own nanny, but that also wasn’t a great fit. Then we moved him to an in-home daycare which was great until I was laid off and then he was home with me.
When we were in Canada and had my daughter, we found an in-home daycare that worked for us. The only downside is that you have to be flexible around the other family’s vacation schedule. We eventually moved to a daycare centre as the hours were better for the long days I was working. The down side was that more kids meant more germs and more time off work for sick days.
The biggest difference now is that I’m working far fewer hours and we finally don’t need before or after school care for my kids who are now 7 and 10. I limit my working hours to their school day so that I can pick them up and drop them off each day.
Q: How has your husband supported you along the way?
My husband is an IT developer and in demand in his line of work, so he was able to move around with his jobs or easily switch jobs. I was jokingly the one with the “steady” corporate job (even though I kept getting laid off).
When I went full time in my own business, he did have to put a few things on pause for his career. There were times that an interesting project would come up that would have been fun to work on, but didn’t pay very well, and he had to turn it down to take on better paying work.
The whole way along he’s been supportive and he always knew I would find a way to figure this out. It’s also made managing our household a lot easier, as I have the time now to take on more of those responsibilities. He’s currently working from home full-time as well and that’s been an adjustment for both of us!
Q: What do your kids think about you being an entrepreneur? How has it shaped your relationship with them?
When I was growing my side hustle while still working full-time, this was really hard as I was working all the time. I made sure to keep them in the loop and explain to them what was happening. I would tell them that mommy has to work a lot right now for a little while so that in the future I can be home with them more. They hopefully understood the short-term trade-off for the long-term gain of getting to spend more time with me.
Now they think it’s cool that mommy is a writer. Before I had to rush out the door every morning with them to go to a job I didn’t even like. Now our mornings are a lot more relaxed, we actually have time together in the evenings and I can go to their afterschool activities.
Q: What’s been the most surprising on this journey to running your own business?
I thought I would just love being home all the time when I became a full-time business owner and a few days into it, I realized I needed to get out of the house. I have to change up my settings and work at a coffee shop sometimes so I don’t get stir crazy and to keep my creativity fresh.
I’ve also really learned how to track my time since I limit my working hours. I block my calendars for meetings so they don’t take over my whole day. I had to learn to add in those boundaries. For me, I know my best time for writing is in the morning so I try not to take any calls then.
Q: Have you had any mentors or support groups along the way?
In the beginning I joined a few Facebook groups to find other online business owners to relate to. I joined a paid Mastermind group last year (Kickass Masterminds) which has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my business. This highly curated mastermind is by invite only so everyone there is a good fit for the group to learn and grow from. There are six of us right now, and we chat all the time over Voxer.
Around the time I left my last job I took on a role as a writing coach through Make It Work. Online with Jenny Shih. This group helps to get online business owners up and running with everything they need to start their online, service-based business. It happened at the perfect time for me as I got access to the course materials and I loved helping other business owners become better writers. I’m going into my third year of coaching with them and I love being part of this team.
Q: Do you use any cool tools or resources that you would recommend?
Q: What’s been the biggest change for your family with your new business?
That we finally don’t have to rush around all the time. Before there was no time for anything. Every day it was a matter of getting home from work late, running around with the kids, feeding them dinner and then getting them to bed just to do it all again the next day. I went from working 50 to 60 hours a week to 20 to 30 hours a week.
The benefit to all our lives has been huge. I now have the time to drive them to and from school every day and be there for their after-school activities. I also have the time to take a break for myself and not just until from sun up to sun down every single day of the year.
Q: Do you think being a woman has helped or hindered your success?
I would say it’s been a positive thing overall. When I worked in the corporate world there was always a lot of masculine energy and I was good at exuding this as well. When I began to follow my gut in running my own business, I had to rediscover this other side of me to do business differently.
There’s a certain camaraderie that women have when working together. Almost all of my clients are women as well. Many of my clients feel like good friends, so overall, I think being a woman has helped my business to succeed.
Q: What advice you would give to another Mompreneur?
I wasted a lot of time trying to figure it all out from my laptop. As soon as I started actually taking action was when I started to get insights into what I should be doing. If I hadn’t started my food blog I wouldn’t have known it was writing that I wanted to do full-time. If I hadn’t actually spent the time to email people I wouldn’t have started to grow my client list.
No matter how great your website is, it won’t get you clients. It’s easy to stay at home and keep tweaking things, but at some point, you have to hit publish. You have to spend the time talking to people — on the phone or in person — to start getting traction with your business.
Q: What’s next for your business?
I have refined who my clients are now and I’m enjoying the process of building a small community of other online business owners. I’ve recently launched a writing membership where we have writing marathons to keep everyone accountable and moving on their writing projects. I’ll continue to build this space out thoughtfully and carefully. I’m also working on refining my offers and working towards long-term writing projects with amazing clients.
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This is part of a series of everyday mom inspired stories who made radical changes in their work life to pursue their passion, all with kids in tow. If you enjoyed reading it, please leave a comment or a clap! See the full series at: medium.com/the-mompreneur
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