From burnt out business development manager to novelist in the south of France: here's how

Larissa Ham

Cate Hogan was once a harried business development manager, working all the hours of the day for “pretty thankless” financial reward.

But when the Sydney film and events company she and her partner worked for fell into debt, the couple quit and headed for a holiday in Europe.

On their return, they stopped in Bali, and came to the realisation they couldn’t face the inevitable job hunt and expensive house hunt back home.

So they moved to Ubud to escape the “rat race” – a shift that eventually saw Hogan working four hours a day as a writer and editor. Despite the reduction in hours, her pay doubled.

She’s now in the south of France working on a novel.

So how did Hogan, who says she’s now “infinitely happier and less stressed”, manage to pull it off?

Charge what you’re worth

Hogan, in trying to establish herself in a new career, says she started by selling her wares for nothing, “and found it very hard to then ask for more”.

“But in the end, I saw what other people were charging and that my service was superior, and received so many rave reviews that I realised I was worth more.”

Her bookings grew from that point, and Hogan says the clients she lost were those who weren’t taking their work seriously enough to invest in.

Get on the front foot

“The second way I've increased profits is to remain proactive,” says Hogan.

“I don't just wait for people to come to me. I have a virtual assistant who works 10 hours a week distributing my content. I'm also constantly meeting new writers through freelancing sites, etc., so the stream of fresh opportunities never runs dry.”

I spend my time thinking of strategies and creating content, instead of doing the legwork.

Have a few tricks up your sleeve

Hogan says hiring a virtual assistant (sourced through Sidekicks) changed her life.

“Now my marketing activities have doubled in their effectiveness. I spend my time thinking of strategies and creating content, instead of doing the legwork.”

She also uses Boomerang for Gmail for reminders on client follow-ups, and time management site Pomodoro when she’s working on a big project – which times her work in 20-minute increments.

“Most importantly, I only have Facebook on my phone, and never open it on my laptop.”

Setting up systems

Hogan recommends creating lists to ensure you get through the important stuff first.

“Have short and long term goals that you're working towards, and recognise when you're procrastinating because you're scared of going after something full throttle,” says Hogan.

“If that's the case, you might need a mentor or coach to keep you accountable.”

Larissa Ham

Larissa Ham is a Melbourne-based freelancer. She write for publications including The AgeThe Sydney Morning Herald, The New Daily and Forge magazine, and also shares money saving tips at Hey, Little Spender!

Image: Renaud Camus, Flickr Creative Commons license