Interview with Jennifer Lopez – Creator, Writer and Designer of Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy

Interview with Jennifer L. LopezTell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.

Hello, my name is Jennifer L. Lopez (yes, I have the same full name as the celebrity!) I am 33 years old, and I live in central New Mexico. I have been happily married to my high school sweetheart for over 14 years and we have 2 sons, ages 13 and 12, and 3 dogs.

I am the creator, writer and designer of Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy, a blog (started in June 2010) intended for like-minded individuals, that are looking to learn how to live life better by saving money and being more savvy in everything that they do. I am also self-employed as a Freelance Writer & Blogger and Social Media & Research Consultant.

After years of working both full-time and part-time positions, I found it difficult to balance the demands of my work life with my family life. I was also diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which causes extreme depression, and I was not able to get adequate sun to combat the depression while working in a traditional office setting. So I left my job, starting doing per-piece writing in 2009, and my career just took off from there with a lot of hard work, perseverance and dedication.

What did you do before launching your own business?

My career prior to being self-employed consisted of a variety of full-time and part-time positions with small businesses. Given my introvert nature, I enjoyed working at employers with only a handful of employees and the opportunity to be jack-of-all-trades that comes with the territory. I have been in the job market since I was 16, and my background is primarily office-based, including reception, customer service, office management, bookkeeping, and marketing.

Although I worked full-time at some positions, I always found the demanding schedule to be difficult. My husband and I often worked opposite shifts in order to share babysitting duties and a vehicle. In order to make things work, I often had to resort to working low-paying part-time positions whose only benefit was the promise of flexibility, a promise that often did not pan out. Many times the positions were hardly worth the net pay after travel, not to mention the stress they caused us.

How did you fund your business?

From the beginning, I have kept my overhead expenses extremely low, so at first I spent basically nothing (and actually made money by doing per-piece writing and producing articles for a local publication). I started a free blog on WordPress, so I only had to cover the normal items that I was already paying for—Internet, phone, electricity. To this day, I pay very little in overhead to run my business: just WordPress website hosting, annual domain name renewal, annual domain mapping, printer cartridges, etc. I write off any related expenses on my taxes (including my home office), which keeps some money in my pocket as well.

How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent is your home office?

My workload varies depending on my client portfolio, but due to a number of recent changes, I am currently working approximately 20 – 25 hours per week. Earlier in the year, I was working 40+ hours, including weekends and evenings. But it was adversely affecting both my quality of work and overall well-being, so I have scaled back significantly. Although I used to travel to businesses to interview them when I was producing publication articles, now all of my work is conducted from my home office.

How would you rate your success?

If I had to describe my level of success so far, I would describe it as consistent and sustainable. Unlike others who may tell you that they have made astronomical amounts of money being self-employed, the income that I have made has helped to supplement my husband’s full-time income and provide what we need to live. I have been pleased not only with the amount of income that I have made, but the method in which I have made it—in other words, my work makes me happy! To further demonstrate my level of success, I earned more in the first 6 months of 2013, than I made for the entire year in 2012, which is a significant accomplishment.

What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?

The biggest struggle for me personally has been finding time to run and promote my own blog due to my paid freelance workload. This is especially true since most of my income is generated through my freelance/consultant work, so naturally that takes priority over my blog. I hope to eventually solve this struggle by either making more per hour/project and working less or hiring an assistant to focus their efforts on producing content for and promoting the blog.

What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?

Keep your overhead as low as possible. This may require some creativity, as well as patience for your current situation. It is true that it takes money to make money, especially in certain inventory-based businesses, but spending can also reduce your profit and ultimately your growth. Start small and only spend as much as required to keep your business growing. Take full advantage of plentiful FREE resources, including social media, networking/referrals, e-Books, webinars, word of mouth, etc. We are lucky to have access to so many useful methods of marketing and promotion these days that cost very little to utilize.

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

Time is always a struggle. However, I try to reserve weekends for taking time off with the family unless a major project is due. During my work breaks throughout the day, I tackle phone calls and other personal tasks. I try to prioritize my work time earlier in the day and do errands, if need be, later in the day. I also try to motivate myself to get work done so that I can handle those other household responsibilities later in the day. This schedule also works out since it allows me to work when most of my clients are working, since I am in a time zone 2 hours behind them. Things are about to get a little more wild with my 2 teenage sons starting online homeschooling this year (a privilege that being a WAHM affords us), so we’ll see how it all works out. Willingness to adapt and time management skills are a must for those who are self-employed.

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