P H E N O M E N A L W O M E N
A N N I E R I D O U T
Journalist for Forbes, Guardian etc, Author of the Freelance Mum & SHY, Founder of The Robora (for women in business)
Annie Ridout is editor-in-chief of digital lifestyle and parenting magazine The Early Hour and works as a freelance journalist for national news and women's magazines and has written for the Guardian, Red Magazine, Stylist, Metro and more. She lives with her husband and her two children in London.
Annie Ridout: I'm a writer first and foremost, I studied as a journalist and have worked as a journalists and still write articles. And then I am an author, I've written a book called The Freelance Mum, which came out nearly 2 years ago and I've got another one called Shy coming out in March. And; as of last year, I started writing online courses and it was a way to make a bit more money alongside my journalism, but it took off and people signed up. And then I launched another one and people kept signing up and suddenly it became a business. So that's what most of my working week is focused on now running the Robora it's called and I've run it with my husband Rich and we've got a woman who helps us as well. I think that's the work stuff. And then I've got 3 kids who are 6, 3, and 1.
Florian London: You wear so many hats, how do you juggle being a mum, a journalist, an entrepreneur?
Annie Ridout : I think I'm quite good at managing my time and prioritising, so I have my base work, which used to be client work as a copywriter. And now I have my courses and I work 3 days a week on the Robora. But then if the guardian wants to contact me and say, we want to commission you to write a piece that becomes a priority because it's good for my profile, its good PR for the business. I like being paid to write for them, which is really nice because I trained in journalism and that is where my heart lies...
Florian London : As a journalist.
Annie Ridout : I like sharing stories, so that becomes the priority. But like mostly our weeks; my week is spent running the online courses, growing in the community, that side of things. And the other stuff seems more impressive, I think, like having a book or writing for Forbes, but actually, it's quite a small proportion of what I do.
Florian London: Can you tell us a little bit more about your business and how you're helping other entrepreneurs in terms of like branding and you know, being more visible on social media?
Annie Ridout : Yeah, so the business is the Robora it's called.
Florian London: Oh yes, the Robora, I couldn't pronounce it.
Annie Ridout : It means to encourage in Latin.
Florian London : Ahh, interesting.
Annie Ridout : So it's only for women, we have a few men sign up, they're not banned, but we speak to...
Florian London : Women in business, yeah.
Annie Ridout : Yeah, women in business. So the first course that I launched was teaching people how to do that, so I come to it from the perspective of an editor. So I know how to write a story about your business and send it to the right people in the right way so that they want to tell your story in the Guardian, Red Magazine, whatever. So I start teaching other people how to do that, so that was like the first step. And then I started teaching people how to go freelance or start a business through another course called becoming your own boss. And then because the online courses were working, I created a course on how to launch your own online course. And that really took off, because I work with women, not all of them, but lots of them have kids, so they want to find what they can do around..
Florian London : Around their children, yeah, of course.
Annie Ridout : Yes. And the online courses are like, perfect because you know, we all have something we can teach, a skill or some expertise, and it's about finding the way to package up so that people want to learn from you. And then we realized it's obviously not just about creating the online course, it's about selling it, so we created another course with like the whole marketing strategy. But that's like the foundations of the business, its online courses. We run a consultancy program, we're involved and then we occasionally take on clients, but we're fully booked at the moment.
Annie Ridout : We work on a one-to-one basis because when we work with people where we're going in, Rich (Annie’s husband) does phone calls. I'm on Voxer messaging with them, checking everything they send us, checking their website and their customer journey. And we can't go into that kind of level of detail if we have too many people. So we keep it small. So that's the business and it's helping other women to grow their businesses, but particularly the online side. We've helped with social media as well.
Florian London: Okay, so what kind of help do you offer people on social media, because obviously, we are on Instagram this evening. What kind of help did you help a business on social media that want to become more visible on social media?
Annie Ridout : So I've got a course, a recent course, which is on using Instagram for your business and brand building. So that teaches all about running a business on Instagram, I think a lot of people are on Instagram and they're scrolling the platform, but they feel like, they don't know what their focus is.
Annie Ridout : Instagram is your shopfront; so you need to be representing the brand side of your business. So it needs to look good, your captions need to read well, you need to be telling stories, giving loads of information away. So, yeah I guess in the Instagram course, it's teaching about the visual side, about the captions, there's a bit likes, hashtags and that side of things. But I think the people who are really successful on Instagram are the people who are really good at telling stories.
Florian London : I agree.
Annie Ridout : They haven't necessarily got like 50 hashtags and I think that is a common misconception that there's this like formula, marketing formula for Instagram, but actually it's about presenting your self in a way that makes people want to like more...
Florian London: How do you deal with Mum guilt?
Annie Ridout : Well I think what I did was work towards creating a balance that I didn't have to feel guilty about. So I work 3 days, my son's in the house those 3; my baby, child minder, from 10 to; 9:30 to 4:30 and the others are at school. I do feel guilt and I do feel like if my kids come home and they want to do something with me and then I'm like, no, I'm going to go off and do work, occasionally they get annoyed. But I just try to, and for one be more like my husband, doesn't give a shit, he's like, I see my kids loads, you know, we spent loads of time together. So it's just about kind of keeping some perspective on what your kids actually need from you and what they don't.
Florian London : Exactly.
Annie Ridout : It's like, every part of you all the time, they need like the best parts of you when they need you and it's good for them to have balance and to go to school or to go to nursery.
Florian London : Precisely.
Annie Ridout : But yeah, it's like, I mean, we all feel it and I was thinking just the other day, I know one woman who says she doesn't feel any mom guilt and I don't believe her.
Florian : Neither do I.
Annie Ridout : And I just don't think we do because society tells us that kids need their mums like men just don't seem to feel the same guilt because they're not told that if they're not there, the world falls apart, but we are.
Florian London : What woman inspires you?
Annie Ridout : My sister, she always like pops up first, she's on Instagram Hayker London, a designer. She's a real creative and she's good at all the things that I'm really crap at, like design and cooking. We are kind of opposite in so many ways in our temperament and our work style in our interests; I find I always learn a lot from her. So I think I'm inspired by people who have a different skill set to me or who are creative in a way.
Florian London: Your business is all about providing consultancy for women in business; how do you think we as women can empower one another?
Annie Ridout: So that's a good question. I think I'm all about supporting women and I know there's always this stuff circulating about lifting each other up, but I think there's also an undercurrent of competition. And I can't lift her up because it's going to take away my customers or something from me and actually it never does. It only ever makes you look good when you join with another person. So I think to be really open with supporting other women doing what you're doing, and it's so nice to be invited onto this to speak. Just bringing all the people into your community and sharing how we're doing it, talking about things like Mom guilt and like opening up about the challenges we face so that other women know we're all struggling in some areas and we all have bad days and have hard times. Yeah, so I think being really open and honest about the female experience because it is different than the male experience in the business.
Florian London : Can you tell us a little about Imposter Syndrome
Annie Ridout : Yes it is feeling like, you don't deserve a place in your industry like you aren't qualified enough or you're not good enough or know what to do. So maybe someone has a book published and they feel like an impostor because they're new to this book publishing world and they feel like they're not good enough to be there in the first place. So it's feeling unworthy to be where you are. And that's quite hard to overcome imposter syndrome, even if you feel you shouldn't be there, even if you're not sure if you're good enough. Just stay there, because the longer you stayed there, the better you become, because you've got to keep practicing whatever you're doing to become better at it. And then suddenly you're just like, oh, I don't, I'm not an imposter anymore
When I started writing articles, I would feel like I can't call myself a journalist. I've only been published one time or twice, for a long time, I just felt like that thing of if I'm not being published, like every single week, I'm not a journalist. But now I'd be like, no, I am, I write articles, and so I think just keep doing what you're doing and trust that in time, you'll see you're meant to be there.
Florian London : What advice would you give someone that would like to follow in your footsteps in terms of writing for Forbes, writing for Guardian, writing for magazines, and just, you know, getting the articles published?
Annie Ridout : It depends if you are running a business and you want to have your business featured, then the requisite is to create a PR story around your business. So rather than me just going to the Telegraph and saying, I'm Annie and I run the Robora, it's an online course for women wanting to grow their businesses, that's boring, they won't read it. Also, don't bother with press releases if you're running a business, take a really personal approach, so find something that's interesting and different about your journey as a business, something that will kind of pique the interest that will make them listen. You've got to find an individual person, don't just write to the like opinion out or comment out, whatever publication. Find a journalist or an editor, you can find them on Twitter, like find the relevant section for your business. If you're working in tech, look for the tech section of the telegraph, find out who the editor is and email them directly and say you know, tell them your story and tell them why they should publish the story about you and your business, because it's so interesting.
Find a site or find a news hook, so if there's some industry news or new statistics studies being done, then have an opinion on it. And tell them, I'd love to respond to this new statistic about whatever your industry is and then if you want to be a journalist and it's nothing to do with your business, you want to be a journalist, then it's about , again, pitching thoughts this time unless you want to write first-person pieces. In which case you have an opinion about something and you tell them you've got this story it's just broken; it always needs to be attached to a news story. And I want to write an opinion piece and then say who you are and why you should write it. Or you might want to write features for a magazine, you've got to keep an eye on what's going on in the world, trends. And if any trends aren't being spoken about that you know about, you've got to be; it's quite hard being a freelance journalist because you've got to just be really on the ball. You've got to be ahead of everyone else, one thing a journalist gave me once, which is really good is to pitch really early in the morning at like 6 or 7:00 AM.
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