It’s fascinating how much you can learn and understand about yourself, your own shortcomings, if you pay attention to your thoughts and if you want to become a better version of yourself.
Anca Dumitru is a freelance writer and content strategist. She specializes in helping midsize businesses boost their lead flow and revenue by writing their customer success stories. Hailing from the Romanian capital city of Bucharest, Anca has been living and working in Western Europe for almost 20 years now.
After a long stint in the corporate logistics world in Romania, Belgium and Germany, she’s made a 180-degree career change, exploring her lifelong passion about the entertainment industry as a digital journalist.
Her area of interests broadened gradually, being inspired by the people she crossed her path with. She has interviewed a wide range of experts, entrepreneurs, actors, directors and authors for various blogs and websites including Huffington Post and Digital Journal.
Her constant curiosity and journalistic experience were instrumental in her decision to approach business writing. That’s because writing customer success stories is a great mix of three elements she loves most: journalism, marketing communications and storytelling.
Anca is passionate about growing her business by helping others grow theirs.
Where did the idea for your freelance writing business come from?
I hunted in the corporate jungle for more than 16 years until the end of 2009 when I was laid off. With a financial cushion yet no idea what was ahead, I knew that I wouldn’t go back to a similar environment where office politics and the prospect of a new layoff would have been too much for me to bear.
Nine months into my unemployment I thought I should give freelancing a try. I had already started a personal blog to maintain my sanity during those uncertain times, and realized blogging wasn’t just therapeutic but also enjoyable. I didn’t know where exactly to start. Entertainment was my favorite topic so I wrote TV show reviews, actors profiles and covered pop culture events for a few industry related websites. After a while, I slowly branched into covering various subject matters like marketing, productivity and lifestyle.
Reading some of the biggest blogs, discovering the greats of blogging like Jon Morrow, Darren Rowse and Brian Clark’s Copyblogger were instrumental in shaping up my own freelancing business.
What does your typical day look like?
As for a typical day, every day is different from the other, mainly because every day I write about different topics and talk to different people. I try to write in the morning until noon, and leave phone/Skype calls for the afternoon. I check my emails three times a day and try to shut down by 6pm. I don’t have a smartphone because I think it’s not healthy to be connected to technology and be reachable 24/7.
Other than that, I try to get out of the house as often as I can, and be where expats are. Meetup.com helped me a lot to establish new business contacts here in Germany.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I simply put them on page before they vanish from my head. If I had a nickel for each time I lost an idea just because I didn’t have pen and paper at the right time, I’d be a millionaire by now. For me, ideas come from the people I meet or talk to. Their journeys always inspire me. I enjoy immensely making their narratives known, whether it’s a customer success story or a journalistic piece in Huffington Post. It’s what I love doing the most and what I do best.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Personal development. I don’t know if I can call it a trend, but over the past five years since I firstly got into it (as a consequence of my layoff), I’ve been doing just that: working on myself. It’s fascinating how much you can learn and understand about yourself, your own shortcomings, if you pay attention to your thoughts and if you want to become a better version of yourself.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Morning meditation along with mild yoga stretches. The way I start my day sets the pace for how the rest of the day unfolds. There’s nothing that keeps me more centered and calm when I’m dealing with deadlines and the ups and downs of running a business.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The first job I had after I finished high school. Punching cards for those huge computers in the mid 1980s. I didn’t learn much other than a programming language I’ve never used and how massive computers where back in the day.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Oh gosh! Lots of things. Firstly, I wouldn’t overestimate what I can do in the first year. Networking in the right circles would be another. Having an accountability partner. And I’d specialize sooner and spend fewer years figuring out what I was good at, and how I could be of better service to my clients. It is important to explore and test what works and what doesn’t, but I went through too much trial and error and second guessing myself than I should have. Trusting yourself and your abilities is the key factor that propels your idea and makes your business a success.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
That would probably be: never give up. Not even in your gloomiest of days, when you’re burned out, have no clients, no one to cheer you on, and you don’t recognize the silver lining in what you do. You either didn’t try everything to make your biz work, or you keep doing the same old things that didn’t bring you success in the first place.
And practice gratitude. You’re healthy? Celebrate it. You have food on the table, clothes on your back, you live and breathe? Celebrate all that. You’re loved? By all means, do take time to celebrate that too. Practicing gratitude isn’t a cliché – it’s what brings you more in life of the things you already have, gives you hope and keeps you happy.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Guest posting on popular blogs was the strategy that worked the best. Even though I approached it quite late (in my second year as a writer) it had the right outcome. It’s the best strategy that makes you visible and marketable.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I burned out several times. Almost as many times as I wanted to quit. I wrote for clients who treated me as a commodity instead of an investment. I procrastinated and was unable to put some structure into my schedule to focus on what was important.
But in the back of my mind there was always the idea that I’m unemployable and that somehow I must find a way to make my business work. So I kept writing, marketing myself through guest posting, networking, telling everyone I know what I do and how I can help, asking clients for testimonials and referrals.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I can’t help thinking how great it would be if someone could create courses and teach kids from early on, since they are 5-6 years old, all aspects related to personal development, something we were never taught in school. The world would be so much better if this idea would be adopted and accomplished in every country.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I always eat a piece of chocolate before I go to bed.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
For social media sharing, Buffer is the best scheduler. And I love their simple analytics.
To schedule my emails I use Boomerang. I can write them in one batch and send them at different hours depending on where in the world my recipients are located.
And to save URLs for later I use kippt, which also helps me to categorize my links, follow other people, share etc.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’ve read quite a few personal development books in the past few years. I wanted to change my mindset which was constantly negative. And to start that process when you’re suddenly a jobless female in your early 40s isn’t an easy task to do. Someone suggested me to read Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life. This book was exactly what I needed to guide me in my ongoing spiritual healing process, with positive effects in all areas of my life.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) – her philosophy of redefining success beyond money and power was a real eye opener for me. Besides that, Huffington Post was my go-to blog years before I even dreamed of becoming a contributor myself.
Miki Turner (@mikiturner) – she’s an inspiration through her body of work in photojournalism, and a woman who reinvented herself. She is the author of two photo books: journey to the woman I come to love (a tribute to women coming into their own) and Tomorrow (features portraits of children from around the world).