Interview with Anne Hebert – Independent Marketing Consultant and Writer

Interview with Anne Hebert - Independent Marketing Consultant and WriterTell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey. 

I moved to Austin, Texas after attending college in San Antonio. While I was looking for a full-time job, I worked as a freelance writer for two different companies. Then I took a job with a public affairs firm, where I worked for just under three years before I decided to start my own business. I’ve now been self-employed for almost 20 years.

How are you making money? 

I have several regular clients for whom I provide ongoing services, as well as returning and new clients who need one-off project help.

Give us an example of how you landed one of your first clients.

I had a friend design a logo and business cards, and I created a simple tri-fold brochure that listed my services. I sent it to everyone I had met or worked with, and I followed up with emails. Thanks to that outreach, a former colleague who had also recently started her own PR firm called to see if I was interested in subleasing an office from her. I shared office space with the firm for six or seven years, and that relationship led to multiple projects and connections.

What projects are you working on currently?

I manage social media for three of the country’s largest women’s conferences: the Pennsylvania Conference for Women, the Texas Conference for Women, and the Massachusetts Conference for Women. I also provide social media services to a new science museum coming to the Texas Hill Country, the Hill Country Science Mill, and a unique outdoor events, nature and adventure center, Reveille Peak Ranch. I just edited a marketing plan for an advertising agency and a business plan for a venture firm, and earlier this summer I worked on a case statement for a local nonprofit. I’m very lucky in that colleagues I’ve worked with over the past 20 years often cycle back around with projects, so I’ve always got something in the pipeline.

What do you believe has contributed to your success?

I believe I have a reputation for providing great service in a timely manner. Austin is a very creative, supportive, entrepreneurial community, so it’s easy to build a strong network of people in similar and complementary fields who might need your services or refer business to you.

How are you currently growing your business?

I’m not actively trying to grow my business, because for the moment I have enough work (in addition to being the mother of two boys, ages 9 and 12). I do, however, try to maintain a relevant social media presence, schedule regular lunch or coffee with past and present colleagues, attend the occasional networking event and keep my website up-to-date.

What is the biggest mistake you see new entrepreneurs make? 

Not telling their networks that they are actively seeking projects, clients, or business. People are always willing to help; you just have to ask.

What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own business? 

Clearly define your services and your target clients. Survey people who do the same thing you do to get a sense of market pricing. Define your brand and be consistent in your branding and messaging. And again, network with as many people as possible, explain what you’re doing and ask if they will keep their ears open for projects or clients that would be a good fit.

On those “don’t feel like it days”, what motivates you to keep going? 

Sometimes I’ll take a break in the middle of the morning and take a walk, or run an errand. If I have trouble diving into a particular project, I might work on a volunteer project for a while. Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something on my to-do list anyway.

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities? 

Now that school has started again, I have a pretty good balance. I try to exercise by 8:00am at least three mornings a week so it’s out of the way. My secret weapon in the battle of balance is letting my husband and neighbors drive the carpool to school and soccer practices. When my kids get home from school, I take a break from work to get them snacks, check in about their day and make sure they do their homework. During that time I’ll do some household task like getting dinner started or paying bills. Then during their sports practices I have another couple of hours to finish up the day’s work or answer emails.

Since I work at home, I find that checking in with friends and colleagues is essential to my state of mind. I try to schedule at least one or two coffee or lunch dates during the week, and getting that outside perspective and conversation really keeps me in check.

Connect with Anne Hebert … 

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