A day in the life of a Duck Pond member – Emma Hewlett
Next up in this series of posts giving an insight into the lives and businesses of members of The Duck Pond, today I’m welcoming Website Editor Emma Hewlett to the blog.
Note from Katie…wait, why the lack of pictures? In an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of my web presence, I am only using images at the very top of my posts, as well as where they serve a true purpose, such as headshots or infographics. That’s why you won’t find any purely decorative photos here anymore.
Thank you very much, Emma, for sharing this with us. Over to you!
I’m Emma, a website editor and proofreader for businesses that make a difference. I’m the details person, also known as ‘laser eyes’. If you’re looking for an objective and skilled pair of eyes to spot any mistakes and inconsistencies, or vague, clunky or wordy text, then I’m the person for the job! These things jump off the page at me and I love bringing consistency of writing and style to content and websites. Websites are particularly fun because I can also get into the gritty elements of the design, branding, accessibility and functioning of the website.
I haven’t always been a proofreader; for a long time I was a social worker but three years ago I took time out and played about with the idea of running my own business. In 2019, as a family, we then went travelling, volunteering on organic smallholdings for a year. I was resigned to becoming an independent social worker on my return until someone on the road introduced me to the world of editing – I was hooked! It’s the perfect career for me and allows me the flexibility to indulge in my own interests, spend time with the family and continue travelling if we want to (we do!).
I’ve always been a bit of an eco-warrior and pursuing a sustainable and conscious lifestyle became even more of a priority after living off-grid for a year. I decided to combine it with my proofreading business by connecting with like-minded businesses. I want to work with businesses who are doing something great for humanity or the planet. These people have an energy I thrive on, and I really believe in their messages; helping them to create clear and professional content so their messages shine is one of the best things about my business!
Three mornings a week I’m in charge of getting the kids up and ready for school. Thankfully, the COVID restrictions lifting means that they are now both through the school gates at 8.40 and I don’t have to wait around for half an hour anymore – this was sometimes tough, knowing that I had calls and a long to-do list to rush back to. I’ve now gained an hour a day – huzzah!
Once the kids are sorted, it’s back home for a cuppa and a bit of mindful yoga in the garden while the kettle boils. This is a fairly new addition to my daily routine that is really helping to create a calmer transition from parenting to working.
I’m fairly slow to get going in the mornings, so I tend to catch up on emails and social media notifications for a bit. There’s a lot that’s been happening in The Duck Pond recently, so I spend fifteen minutes or so taking note of resources (mostly ones that green my website) and arranging calls and potential collaborations with fellow group members. I’ve also got an email from an e-learning business I proofread and copy-edit for, asking for my availability over the next few weeks. There are rarely definite dates from clients because I’m usually the last part of the writing process. As someone who quite likes to be organised, I’m having to adjust to the fact that I’m often called upon last minute with tight deadlines – it’s character building though, ha!
I write the day’s actions the previous day to remain focused. However I’ve learned not to be too rigid with my day’s expectations; it only stresses me out, and sometimes you just need to go with what feels good that day. I would much rather skip a task I’m dragging my heels on and be more productive by doing something I enjoy.
I’m a member of several online networking groups and I’ve usually got a meeting at 10am. These meetings are always so different; some are more business-like, where you give your quick business pitch and recommend other businesses, whereas other groups have small breakout rooms where you can really develop a connection with other business owners. I prefer these because a pitch doesn’t always say a lot about your business and there’s nothing like a conversation to help you remember someone, offer support and make a meaningful connection.
The Duck Pond is my favourite network. (Note from Katie: Thank you so much, this is so lovely to read). It’s full of ethical and green businesses and the members are so motivated, inspirational and resourceful. There’s a great vibe and people are always happy to offer valuable support. I’ve secured a couple of clients from this group and I’m always learning loads about how to be greener and more ethical in business. If you’ve not joined yet, I highly recommend trying Katie’s Power of the Flock challenge; the last one was on fire: so much innovation and support bouncing around!
Being able to connect online as a business has been really beneficial for me; we became a one-car household to reduce our footprint, so getting to meetings just isn’t feasible. Also, I can work with people across the country and overseas, so I don’t need to limit myself to groups that meet at the local coffee shop – I’m also too tight to buy a cuppa when I can make a zero-waste one at home for free!
It’s all about the detail
By mid-morning I’m a bit more spritely and ready to work on proofreading. It’s a job that requires a lot of concentration and real attention to detail, so a snoozy vibe just doesn’t work. Today, I’ve got a 2,000-word short story to proofread. It’s well-written by a native English speaker, so it’s just a case of checking any typos that have fallen through the spell check gap (it happens every time, you can’t rely on spell check alone!) and dodgy punctuation (in this case it was the wrong side of the speech marks and there were a few missed commas). It’s a nice, straightforward piece and should give the author peace of mind and confidence that their story is ready for a writing competition.
Time for another cuppa and, while this is brewing, I have a bit of a potter with some recently foraged goodies. This week it’s elderflowers, ready for making cordial (the kitchen smells lush!). I also sort out some items I no longer need and post them on Olio. I cannot bear waste and if I can’t pass on for free, I will try to think of obscure projects just to avoid throwing things out. My neighbours recently renovated and I rescued two (perfectly fine!) bins from their skip that I intend to turn into water butts.
Second cuppa and procrastination done, I head back to my office to tweak my resumé ready to send off to a couple of web agencies I fancy collaborating with, as well as some small publishing houses I contacted a few months ago. Getting into the world of publishing is a tricky game; if they respond to you (rare) it’s usually to tell you that they’re not hiring. The trick is to breathe and keep going. I found some really awesome small publishing houses oversees who specialise in the environment and animal welfare. They were super friendly and encouraging in their responses, so they will receive regular communication from me in the instance that a proofreading post comes up.
My husband is also part-time, so two days a week he makes me lunch (usually something spicy and vegan that the kids wouldn’t eat) and we hang out for a bit and maybe do a bit of barefoot veggie gardening (there’s nothing like feeling the soil in your toes!). He listens while I reel off details of all my current ideas and new connections – I process by talking lots about something!
After lunch, I’ll drag myself to my social media content. It’s by far the least favourite of my tasks and, as a result, I’m inconsistent with it. I’ve recently decided to get someone to schedule it all for me, so I don’t hit a wall a couple of times each week. I currently have a free website audit deal and a blog post that I need to promote, so I create a couple of posts for Instagram (you can find me @emmahproofreading) and mull over how to do the same on LinkedIn (Emma Hewlett).
If it’s a day when I’m in charge of the kids, I try to finish at about half 2, pinging to the refill shop to grab anything urgent on the way to school (usually sultanas – I think my kids must eat them during the night or something!). Then it’s back to parenting. Some evenings I might have a networking session booked in or I’ll work on the course I’m trying to complete – web editing. I don’t generally like working in the evenings, but when things are hectic it can be a productive time, though I often pay the price in quality of sleep! If it’s a free evening, I’ll either read a book or do something creative – I’m currently in the process of upcycling some coffee sacks (we befriended our local coffee roaster) into rugs for our bell tent and there are always clothes to repair (I try not to buy new if I can fix something with a bit of funky visible darning. Luckily my family aren’t fussed about what they look like!).
Make your messages shine!
Thanks for reading this far! If your content or website is a bit fuzzy and needs some refining or the awesome things you are doing are hidden amongst wordiness and clumsy grammar or typos, please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and let’s have a chat. Knowing that your content or website is the best it can be before pressing ‘publish’ is such a relief and can help you fall in love with it all over again.