Jessica Thiefels

“Know your worth as a business owner, freelancer or entrepreneur and don’t accept less than that. By saying “no” you open yourself up to greater opportunities.”

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a full-time freelance writer and self-employed content marketing consultant. She’s been featured in Forbes and Business Insider and has written for Virgin, Infusionsoft, StartupNation, Manta, Lifehack and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 and connect LinkedIn.

Where did the idea for Content Marketing Consultant come from?

It just kind of happened for me, which may sound weird to say. I’ve always worked in content marketing and thanks to a series of events, I started working as a contract employee, remote, from home. From there, I started taking on more freelance work because I had greater flexibility, dropped the hours of my contract job to part-time, took on even more work, and now have 5+ clients at any given time.

Often times we feel we have to KNOW our purpose and take the right path, and while I think that’s true in a lot of ways, sometimes the best opportunities just show up when you’re ready to receive them. I worked with a career coach because I felt I needed to “find the right path” and her recommendation was to drop what wasn’t making me happy and open myself to receive what comes next. I did, and here I am.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My typical day starts by waking up naturally or when my husband’s alarm goes off—usually around 7 or 730am. I have coffee, put on the Today Show (my favorite morning routine) and slowly ease into my day. I’m a personal trainer as well, and very focused on mental health, so most mornings I also meditate around this time and then decide if I want to take a yoga class or workout, and if so, at what time. Then I go through my day here at home; sometimes I’ll go to a coffee shop, sometimes I don’t. I have one main client that I work for part-time, so I focus on my work for them most of the day, then switch over to other work around 4 or 5pm and usually work until about 7:30pm, with a break for post-work catch-up and dinner with my husband. Then I relax with tv, reading or stretching.

I stay productive by having a to-do list. I live and die by my to-do list. I have one for the day, along with a weekly planner that sits on my desk with daily to-do’s, and a physical calendar that’s also overflowing with to-do’s and deadlines.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a big “take time to brainstorm” person, and I like to free-write as I do. So I’ll sit with an idea and just write ideas as they come to me. I find that’s the best way to narrow from broad to specific, while finding what sticks.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The gig economy—I love having the power to control my income and to make money doing something I love and am good at. For so long people felt they had to just go to work, punch in, punch out and that was that. We spend 40+ hours a week working, so we might as well be doing what we love. With so many people in debt, this style of work also empowers them to take control of their finances. Rather than being a slave to set salaries, annual reviews, etc., there’s more wiggle room for people who really want to step up and make what they’re worth. The best part: there are many companies out there that want to pay for that passion and skill set, whatever it may be.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

My to-do list; I know I mentioned it before, but it truly structures my day. Instead of finishing one thing and wasting time thinking, okay what’s next, hmmm, hmmm, I’m able to jump right into the next task, or take a break and then get back into it.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be okay with working jobs that might suck—each one is taking you one step closer to where you’re going. I had 5 jobs in 5 years and every single one is responsible for the success I’m experiencing now. In some of those jobs, I was unhappy and knew it wasn’t the right fit, but sticking out to learn what I could was worth it. Not that you should say in a horrible job for your whole life, but there’s almost always something to learn and for a short period of time, that to me, is stil valuable.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Guest posting is beneficial to everyone—not SPAM—but high-quality guest posting that’s well managed. I also wrote about that for Bitly.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Networking – I’ve never enjoyed networking, going to events and talking to people I don’t know. I do a lot of networking via email; it’s my job to make relationships and maintain them, but I’ve never been good about going to networking events.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Knowing my worth as a professional and not accepting anything lower than that. Let me back up—this is relatively new for me and something I worked on for a long time. As any entrepreneur or freelancer knows, it’s hard to turn down money, even if it’s less than what you deserve or normally charge. My career coach helped me learn that by turning things down, I open myself up to receive something greater. I truly have seen that work time and time again and believe it’s why I am where I am with my business.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Quoting pricing or service offerings without taking time to sit back and think about it first. Then I have to deal with accepting either something I don’t want to do, or pricing that doesn’t make sense for the work I’m doing. I can be quick to jump the gun, and I’m learning that I need to say less and listen.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Ghost writing—so many executives and business owners know they need to write but don’t have the time to do it. If you’re a good writer, it’s an easy side business that can pay well.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Getting a massage (it was a little less than $100), or getting my hair done. I am very focused on making sure I take time for me, outside of my business, especially since I work most evenings and am juggling work for 3 to 5 clients each day. Spending money on ME is always worth it.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

I use Google Keep for my to-do list every day. It’s really easy to use, very simple and I love that I can access it from my phone as well. I’m not big on tools and apps, I’m more of a manual person (I have a hand-written to-do list and calendar as well), so I love the simplicity of Google Keep. I LOVE that you can use checkboxes, and once a task is done, you click the checkbox and it drops it down to the bottom. This is super helpful for me in the way I report work for one specific client—and who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing something off their list?

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. It has nothing to do with business/work but it changed my life. If we want to run successful businesses we need to take care of ourselves first and that starts with what we put in our body.

What is your favorite quote?

There are many versions of this quote and I’ve always loved the sentiment of it—not everyone is willing to work for what they want, but if you are, it will pay off:

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”

Key Learnings:

  • A to-do list doesn’t need to be fancy; it can be hand-written, but have one. It will structure your day, allowing you to stay on track and productive.
  • Know your worth as a business owner, freelancer or entrepreneur and don’t accept less than that. By saying “no” you open yourself up to greater opportunities.
  • Take care of yourself. We entrepreneurs work long hours, and by taking care of your mind and body, you have one less thing to worry about. Not to mention, you’re more confident, better able to handle stress, and are likely more energized and mentally clear.


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