Roxanne Hawn is a writer, journalist, copywriter, and blogger based in Colorado.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I come from a print journalism/publishing background, so as those opportunities began to disappear, I retooled and redirected my efforts to digital. I still do some print, but most of my work is digital now.
People like to talk about digital media like it’s something new and different, but to me, media is media. Many of the same skills and ethics apply.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I structure my work days around how I want to live my life. Unless I have an early meeting (many of my clients are in the eastern U.S. time zone), I do not set an alarm.
While other people are commuting, I take the time to cook a real breakfast every day. I’m a big fan of breakfast food. Often, I can check and at least sort through my email while things cook so that I know if anything urgent or weird has cropped up.
I live with 2 young border collies, who require a lot of exercise and attention, so we play fetch and often do a little agility training in the morning and at lunch. Depending on how many meetings I have and the weather conditions, I also walk them about an hour most days.
I prefer to work a long morning and short afternoon, so I typically take a lunch break somewhat late-ish. I also prefer to write in the morning and do other work (research, meetings, etc.) in the afternoon.
I usually save things like webinars, other reading, and tasks like answering these questions for the end of my day.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I’m lucky to have a separate home office space with 2 big windows for amazing natural light. I think it’s important to have a well-defined workspace and to maintain a well-defined work day.
I’m old-school and keep much of my work planning and scheduling on paper, including Franklin Planner, in addition to an Outlook calendar.
Because I had to do it for my first writing/editing job out of college, I still track my time in 15-minute increments. While some clients do pay me based on billable hours, it’s also good to know how much time I spend on various projects so that I’m sure that I’m not burning more time (or energy) than the project’s fee. One of my clients uses an online project management tool that includes a time tracker, but I still like to write it down … both on my calendar and on each project’s jacket.
Because I’m on the phone so much doing interviews and such, I use a headset, and I have a way to record my interviews for later transcription.
WHAT DO YOU TO GET INSPIRED?
Get away from my desk. Walk the dogs. Keep tabs on what my journalist friends (in all media outlets) do and share and post. I would guess that my social media feeds look different than the average person’s because I know so many journalists and writers.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
My favorite feature article lede of all time that I wrote is the first few paragraphs of a profile of a veterinarian who is also a stand-up comedian and former reality-TV star. It’s called “Paging Dr. Big Laughs.”
That piece opens like this …
I hustle down a Denver street alongside Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, of Animal Planet’s Emergency Vets fame. It’s late. It’s cold. He’s carrying a crockpot.
We’ve just left the Comedy Works, where Fitzgerald did nearly an hour of stand-up. Abuzz over having his first DVD filmed, he’s spent an hour seeking assurances the performance went well. Wearing holey green tights he revealed for his tap-dancing finale, Fitzgerald asks repeatedly, “It was okay? It was good?”
We head to his cousin’s Irish pub two blocks away. Inside, Fitzgerald navigates his way past well-wishers and heads straight to the back room. A woman rushes up to me, visibly concerned, and asks, “Does he have a turtle in that box?” Without missing a beat, I say, “No, it’s a crockpot.” As Fitzgerald sometimes quips on stage, “It’s not a joke yet, but it’s a good story.”
IS THERE A PRODUCT, SOLUTION, OR TOOL THAT YOU THINK IS A GOOD MATCH FOR YOUR DIGITAL PUBLISHING EFFORTS?
I just finished a total redesign of my blog’s site, and I’m thrilled to be using a new conversion-focused theme and visual editing tool. I’ll be interested to see how it affects my book sales, t-shirt sales, subscriptions, and overall engagement with my content.
WHAT’S THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Expanding my passive income sources to be a greater percentage of my income.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
- Make sure you have at least 6 months of income socked away before you quit your job if you plan to quit.
- Buy all the new technology you need before you quit your job.
- The people you know right now will likely only provide enough leads to get you through your first year, so work steadily to expand your network. Not in a smarmy or overly aggressive way, but keep at it.
- Stay connected with people you like and trust. Most of my biggest successes came from relationships I’ve kept over the long haul, not necessarily from something I did last month, last quarter, or last year.
- Be grateful. Thank people all the time.
- When I spoke at ASJA years ago, another panelist openly disagreed with me, but I believe in NOT scooping yourself. If you can write and sell a piece into a respected and paying market, do it — rather than putting everything into your own publishing avenues all the time. Keep some of it for yourself, but you have to build some credibility in publishing as a whole too.