Kenzi Wood is an experienced freelance writer who partners with marketing agencies. In her past life as a marketer, she specialized in SEO, PPC, and content marketing. She’s a Google Ads Certified Professional.
Where did the idea for Kenzi Writes come from?
I created Kenzi Writes by accident, actually. I had been freelancing for several years off and on as a side hustle. Over time, I built a sizeable list of freelance clients and eventually eclipsed my full-time earnings.
After paying off my student loans, I took the plunge in October of 2018 to go full-time with Kenzi Writes. I’m a one-woman show (plus an amazing virtual assistant) and I’ve learned so much in the past 2 years.
But I do think self-employment has been such a blessing; it’s hard writing your own meal ticket, but I love it!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m an insufferable morning person, so my days start at 5 am. I spend the first few hours of my morning working out, cooking, and cleaning the house top to bottom. I’ve always worked remotely and my productivity dips if the house is dirty.
I do the bulk of my actual work from 7 am – 12 pm every day. That includes outlining, writing, and meeting with clients.
I try to take 2 hours for lunch every day to recharge. I start losing steam in the afternoon, so I save the less-intensive tasks for after lunch.
From 2 pm – 4 pm, I pitch, reply to emails, and check LinkedIn. I’m usually out of energy by 4 pm and call it a day.
I credit my productivity to Asana for task tracking and Timeular for tracking each task. I’m a big fan of batching tasks and achieving Inbox Zero every single day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
While I love all things digital, there’s just no replacement for old-fashioned paper.
I’m a big fan of dumping my ideas on paper first. For example, when I was redoing my web copy, I used idea clouds and really ugly doodles to brainstorm.
From there, I digitize everything. When it goes into my computer, the ideas are much cleaner and ready for the world.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I know the push for remote work in 2020 was the result of a pandemic, but I’m still excited to see brands embrace going remote. I’ve been working remotely since 2016 and it’s shown me the inefficiency of office operations. I’m convinced that leadership and processes will only continue to improve, filling that gap between remote and in-person work that’s there right now.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I know people are torn on this, but I check all of my emails and messages almost immediately. Yes, it interrupts whatever I’m working on, but it helps me achieve Inbox Zero every day. I’ve seen people’s inboxes with 10,000 unread messages (no exaggeration) and it gives me hives.
The great thing about this habit is that people love the responsitivity. I’ve actually won contracts just because of my response rate, so it definitely matters.
What advice would you give your younger self?
“Stop worrying so much.” I would be filthy rich if I had a penny every time I worried about something stupid. Self-employment is stressful, but there’s no need to let work seep into your off-time.
I’m trying to compartmentalize work versus my personal life these days, and after two years, I like to think I’ve improved.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
SEO isn’t about keywords, and it never actually was.
I work knee-deep in the trenches every day as a blog and website writer. Business owners have a lot of misconceptions about SEO, and my least favorite is the obsession with keywords and keyword density.
Don’t get me wrong—these can be valuable indicators when you’re writing something. But search engines care way more about intent and semantic relationships.
In layman’s terms, that means that, if you write awesome content that humans understand and find valuable, it’s likely SEO-friendly already.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I take breaks! I believe the 24/7 hustle culture is really harmful to entrepreneurs. We’re human beings, unfortunately, and that means we need to take breaks. But entrepreneur culture says we have to work, work, work to get results.
That’s true, but you can’t win a marathon by sprinting.
I’m a big fan of taking intuitive breaks throughout the day. I go outside between writing and checking emails. I play with my cat before a meeting. Sometimes I take a nappuccino during lunch to make it through the afternoon.
I’m able to do mentally taxing work, like writing thousands of words a day, without driving on an empty tank. It’s all thanks to regular, guilt-free breaks, and I think that’s healthy.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My business went from zero to sixty the second I realized retention mattered more than acquisition. I was spending way too much time acquiring clients, only to earn maybe $100 from the project.
I tracked my time and realized I spent way, way too much time pitching new clients. So, instead, I started pitching retainer agreements to my existing clients. I also started going after bigger clients that wanted ongoing work.
This has not only saved so much time, but it’s given the business a more stable income month to month. It easily doubled my income in just a few months.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was way too shy about pricing and advocating for my value. I’m conflict-averse and didn’t want to seem like I was strong-arming people on money.
Of course, people pulled the wool over my eyes and I learned about things the hard way. The sting of seeing unpaid invoices spurred me to change direction.
Today, I’m adamant about charging for my true value. If it doesn’t fit the client’s budget, so be it. I’m more than happy to refer them to another writer. I have worth as a professional and I’ve learned how to advocate for myself.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think urban farming, AI, and automation have a lot of promise. We’re living in the richest nation in the world—why do we allow food deserts and food insecurity to happen? I’d love to see urban agriculture take off en masse with the help of technology and automation.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Conference tickets! To be specific, I love attending Digital Summit and DigiMarCon.
It’s easy for freelancers and self-employed folks to overlook professional development, but it matters. I don’t get the benefit of chatting with coworkers about my industry, so conferences keep me updated on what’s going on in the world. There’s almost always a virtual option, too.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I think my business would collapse overnight if Asana disappeared. I put absolutely everything in this task tracking software—which is free, by the way.
I use both the desktop and mobile versions to track my outlines, writing, and edits as well as my virtual assistant’s tasks. Asana also reminds me about important dates I always forget, like sales tax due dates and retirement contributions. It’s a life-saver!
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Sorry I’m Late—I Didn’t Want To Come” by Jessica Pan. This book isn’t about business, but it’s a hilarious account of how introverts can become more extroverted.
I’ve applied a lot of the lessons learned from this book to my business, actually. For example, Pan suggests asking more meaningful questions when you chat with someone. Instead of talking to my clients about the weather, I ask about their hobbies, family, and other more specific questions. We get to know each other better as human beings and it helps me eliminate any pre-presentation jitters.
What is your favorite quote?
“Bloom where you are planted.” I first heard this quote when I was in sixth grade and I loved it. I was bullied mercilessly that year and I hung on to this quote for hope. I even scrawled it on my school binder!
I love this quote because it reminds me to be resilient and resourceful. No matter where I’ve gone in life, this quote was relevant.
When the pandemic happened and my business took a 50% hit, I found a way to make the most of the situation. I started offering blog strategy and ideation service to grow my business and it worked. We all need to bloom where life plants us.
- Guilt and insecurity have no place in your brain as a business leader. Give yourself time to rest and fight through your fears to make it past the finish line.
- Tools like Asana and Timeular make it possible to manage your daily tasks, check your profitability, and even achieve Inbox Zero.
- Continue developing yourself as a professional. Leaders focus too much on managing their employees that they forget to manage themselves. Invest in yourself.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.