Tale of two working mums – what we’ve learned since launching Talented Ladies Club

Six months ago today, Talented Ladies Club went live for the first time. It was the culmination of five months of hard work and careful planning and was an incredibly exciting moment for us. It was also the beginning of a huge amount of highs, lows, not much sleep and even more hard work!

We thought that now, six months in, was a good time to share what we’ve learned and experienced on our journey so far. Not just because it will be interesting for us to look back on in the months and years to come, but it may help you on your own career, freelance or business journey.

A year ago Talented Ladies Club wasn’t even an idea! 

It’s funny to think that a year ago, Talented Ladies Club didn’t exist. It wasn’t even an idea. It was just a desire that we both had to inspire, empower and bring together working mums like us. And if we hadn’t hired the services of brilliant business coach Teri Samson, that’s all it may ever have been.

But last December, Teri was looking for a client to launch her new coaching business, and we snapped up the chance to get some help turning our vague thoughts into an actual website. Within a week of our first session we had a (very rudimentary!) business plan and that was it – we were off. Just five months later the site was live.

What we set out to do

So what exactly did we set out to do? As mums we’ve met lots of lovely, talented friends with children. And it struck us that we all faced the same problem – how to still have some kind of career and find a way to be ‘us’ while being the mums we wanted to be.

Some of our friends had found a way to make it work, some were really struggling, and we realised there were hundreds of thousands of women like us all around the UK. Women who’d spent years building a career they loved, doing jobs they were really great at, but who, after children found their old way of working no longer fitted with their new life.

Using our own experience to help other working mums

Over the years, we’d both tried lots of ways to make our careers work after having our children – working full time, working part time, going freelance and starting a business, with both successes and failures. We also knew that we had lots of skills we could pool to help mums – Hannah’s writing and psychotherapy experience, and Kary’s amazing design and illustration talents.

So we created a website for working mums like us. We wanted Talented Ladies Club to inspire and empower you to use the brilliant skills and experience you’ve acquired over the years in your career, and find a way to realise your ambitions while raising your family.

Opportunities are there – we’re here to help you find them

We truly believe that opportunities are still there if you look for or make them, you just need to approach finding work or working for yourself a little differently, and we wanted to provide you with genuinely useful advice and resources to help you do it.

Of course over the past six months we’ve had ups and downs. Not everything went as we envisaged. Some things worked out amazingly better than we could ever have hoped for, and other things didn’t work. But everything – good and bad – has been a learning experience (and still is!) and most importantly, we love what we do.

Three highlights of the past six months

There have been some amazing highlights over the last six months.

1) Lovely words from you

Probably the most rewarding part of Talented ladies Club is hearing how much you enjoy reading and get great advice from our articles. It was important when we started Talented Ladies Club that we genuinely offered intelligent, practical advice to working mums– and we try to ensure that all our articles are both interesting and useful, two key words that inform everything we do.

All too often, we come across blogs that promise a lot, but deliver little in terms of actual usable information. We hope that our articles really do inspire you to look for rewarding flexible work positions, launch out as a freelancer or start your own businesses – and make it easier for you to make a success of it.

So it’s lovely to hear from you on Facebook, Twitter and in emails and know that our site is helping you. Please don’t stop letting us know what you like and want more of, and also what doesn’t work for you. We’re happy to take constructive criticism too, to help make Talented Ladies Club even better for working mums.

2) Sharing your stories

Another big highlight is talking to all the amazing women we’ve interviewed for our inspirational real life stories (you can read them here). From primetime TV presenters and bestselling authors, to chutney makers and garden designers, every single woman has an amazing story to tell.

They’ve certainly inspired us to be better and work harder! They also remind us how many different ways there are to achieve our dreams if we’re committed enough, and really demonstrate the spirit of what we’re trying to achieve.

We’ve also been inspired and really impressed by our many brilliant experts and contributors, and are really appreciative of their support in helping us make Talented Ladies Club a great resource for working mums.

3) Becoming experts in lots of new areas

As you can probably imagine, creating and running our own, ambitious site has been a massive learning curve. We’ve had to research and master so many new skills. It’s taught us that mistakes are really valuable as they’re a massive opportunity to understand what doesn’t work, so you can do less of it. Becoming less afraid of mistakes has also made us braver in making changes and experimenting to find new, better ways to achieve our goals. And that can only be a good thing.

Sometimes it can feel overwhelming as there’s so much useful knowledge out there to absorb, and we know that we still have SO much to learn (and many more mistakes to make). But we’re loving growing our knowledge, seeing positive results, and being able to share the fruits of our efforts.

We’ve also seen the benefit of our learning in other areas of our lives too. We’ve been able to use our new expertise to improve the results of our own freelance clients, and pass on valuable tips to our friends. This is all thanks to the many generous people who have shared their own experience and skills online for others to learn from, and we hope that passing our own new knowledge on helps you too.

Our top 10 most popular articles for working mums

There are now well over a hundred articles on our site, and we add a new one every weekday. We thought it would be interesting to look at which ones were the most popular with you, based on the number of hits they’ve had. And here they are:

  1. Three words you should never use to describe your work or business
  2. Your beginner’s guide to using Twitter for business
  3. 10 common social media mistakes and how to avoid them
  4. The five biggest marketing mistakes small businesses make
  5. Three important questions to ask yourself when looking for a job
  6. How to invoice for freelance work
  7. Where to find work as a freelancer
  8. 10 quick marketing tips that work for freelancers
  9. How do I cope with teenage tantrums?
  10. How to make time to work from home

Three lowlights of the past six months

Just as there have been highs, pretty predictably there have been things that haven’t been absolutely perfect too.

1) Not enough time!

As much as we’d love to devote every available working hour to Talented Ladies Club, we can’t afford to yet. Like many start-ups it costs us a lot more than it makes us at the moment. So we’re both still working as a freelance copywriter and designer.

This has meant that, at times, we’ve really struggled to devote the time we need to the site. Our social lives have dwindled considerably, and we’ve had many a sleep-deprived meeting where we could barely string two words together as we’d both been working late into the night. But this isn’t a complaint… we love and fully believe in what we’re doing, and are energised by it. We’d just wish we could spend all day every day making Talented Ladies Club even better.

2) Not getting 1,000s of hits on day one

Of course, as a new site, we measure our success at the moment in terms of traffic. In the short term, we’ve been really focussed on helping people find our site, and making sure we deliver what they’re looking for. Naively, when we first launched we assumed there’d be thousands of daily visitors just waiting to click on every morning. Of course that didn’t happen, so we’ve been trying to find ways to achieve that.

We’ve experimented with Google Adwords and StumbleUpon paid discovery, but long term we couldn’t afford to continue to pay for traffic. One brilliant investment was to hire a Twitter consultant, Alison Perry of Purple Dog Network, to teach us how to maximise the opportunities for our business. We’ve since been applying her brilliant advice and have built a growing Twitter following of over 3,700 (as of writing). More importantly, we’ve learned how to use Twitter to share our articles, and are now beginning to get more traffic from it.

On a personal level we love Twitter. And in fact Hannah probably spends far too much time on it. But working from home, it’s often her only day time communication with other human beings (she usually has a fat cat snoring somewhere near her, but he’s not much good at conversation). It’s also an incredibly friendly and helpful environment and we love how everyone is so supportive of each other. (If you’re on Twitter you can find us at @talentedladies.)

3) A monthly e-mag that’s too long

We’ve also realised that our over-ambitious monthly e-mag was a bit too long. Not only was it creating a LOT of extra work for us to put together, but as busy mums, not many of you had time to read the whole thing, and commented to us that you probably missed some great stuff because you never made it to the end!

So you’ll be pleased to hear that we’ve instead created a much shorter weekly roundup of all the latest articles on Talented Ladies Club, as well as a few older ones we think you may enjoy. So you can be sure you’ll never miss another article again.

The future

We’ve got lots of big plans for Talented Ladies Club. We want to work with recruitment agencies to list flexible career positions that are genuinely interesting and rewarding. We also want to start using our resources section properly (if you’ve ever looked at it you’ll realise how unloved it is at the moment!) and help professionals such as coaches and accountants reach women they can help.

But our big aim is to launch a proper club for working, freelance and business mums. We plan to create practical online training courses and advanced guides to help you, and give you access to exciting opportunities and experts. We also want to develop best practice guides to help employers see the benefits of flexible working, and implement it successfully so everyone benefits.

In short we’ve got lots of big ambitions for Talented Ladies Club! And we’re excited about working towards them and experiencing more highlights (and the inevitable lowlights too). We’d just like a bit more sleep occasionally!

What do you think of Talented Ladies Club? Does is inspire and empower you to to pursue your career ambitions? Is there more you’d like to see? We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to send us an email, or get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter