I joke, quite frequently, that I was raised by wolves. Not because I actually was (that would be far too exciting) but because by the time I hit my early teens I had two very much absent parents, two equally absent siblings, and a mental health condition that would run rampant for another decade before it was diagnosed and treated. I didn’t feel I had love, affection, warmth, or safety. I was alone in the woods.
And the night was dark and full of terrors.
What I did have was my dog. My mindscape was a bleak, terrifying place back then, and it was not my parents or siblings or friends who noticed when I was lost in the dark. It was my dog.
He just joined me in the woods and showed me how to be fearless in the face of all that darkness.
Trigger Warning: I’m about to talk about mental health, PTSD, abuse, suicide and several other nasty things. Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending, but before you get there you’re going to read a few things that might unsettle you.
The Early Drive For Independence…
Watching my parental dynamic growing up, my mother becoming a powerful force who worked hard and changed the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of people for the better. My father, meanwhile, lost his job, allowed her accomplishments to emasculate him, and became so wrapped up in his own internal issues and needs he completely forgot he was supposed to be caring for his children.
I determined very early on that I would not be depending on anyone for anything.
Unfortunately, I’d failed to realise that I already did rely on someone, as ridiculous as it may seem: my trusty hound. He was the coping method I had unconsciously developed to help me handle everything life threw at me, and by the age of 16 it had already thrown a lot. When I moved to university I couldn’t take him with me.
A small thing, a normal thing, yet it led to a complete unravelling. I was acustomed to that constant companion. I relied on his presence to keep me balanced. Without him, I came to rely on my boyfriend.
I really shouldn’t have.
He was a teenage boy who knew nothing, and eventually was gone. After a great deal of crying, moping, and melodrama, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and determined that I needed to rely on myself. And in some ways I succeeded.
I got myself through my undergraduate degree, then on to a Masters degree which I funded myself through bar work, lecturing part-time, and working in the library. I had two papers published before I’d graduated, and went on to land a job as a site assistant while I secured funding for my PhD.
My career seemed well in hand.
My independence seemed assured.
Unfortunately, the universe had other plans.
When Life’s Just A Relentless Bitch…
That first job out of uni ended when I was fired, because I complained about being manhandled by a supervisor. Naively, I assumed my bosses would be outraged by his behaviour and fire him. They didn’t. In fact, they continued to expect me to work with him like nothing had happened until my displeasure at the situation annoyed them and they fired me.
I went to work for another archaeology unit and CHRIST what a difference. It was like a magical wonderland. I wasn’t groped by a single supervisor. Nobody locked me in a van on my lunch break while they did unspeakable things. I wasn’t belittled for being a woman, or for having a brain, or for having ambition and drive. Quite the contrary.
I was actively encouraged, nurtured, cared for.
Then of course the credit crunch hit and everyone who wasn’t yet on a permanent contract lost their jobs overnight.
With no other recourse I moved back in with my parents, and went to work for my brother as a barmaid while I continued to secure my PhD funding.
My father left in a manner so spectacularly traumatic that it left my mother with PTSD.
I moved in with my brother permanently.
And then I met a man.
He was not a good man, or a kind man, or even an attractive man. He was simply a man. With so many hits taken, so many knocks, and my mental health deteriorating at an alarming rate, he seemed like ‘the answer’.
My PhD funding came through but by that time, I was too much of a wreck to cope with it. Another 2 years would pass before I was diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar 1. In the interim I found myself in an abusive relationship rife with gaslighting, infidelity, and all manner of toxic horror.
But I stayed.
Because there was that voice in my mind telling me, “You can’t do this alone.”
In 2011 I died…
One day I snapped, attempted suicide, and for a very brief instance succeeded.
The apparently relentless melodramatic nature of this tale is not lost on me. I may seem casual when I mention some of these events now, but that comes after years of distance, therapy, and incredibly hard inner work. At that time, life was an overwhelming, unstoppable juggernaut.
Suicide felt like the only possible escape from the impossible situation my incomprehensible mind and driven me into.
As difficult as the experience was, something in me shifted. I knew I had to leave, but couldn’t fathom how to do it.
Then I realised something that really should have been obvious from the start:
I needed a dog.
It may sound flippant when I say it like that, but what I really mean is, I needed a way to feel secure enough to leave the person who had conditioned me to believe I couldn’t survive without him.
I got a puppy. I discussed it with my mother. We agreed I’d move back in with her while I finished my PhD and found a job.
I told him I wanted to leave him.
He set the house on fire.
With him, me, my dog and both his dogs inside it.
While we all came through without physical damage, pretty much everything I owned was gone. I found he hadn’t been paying the insurance and the policy had lapsed, so there was no cover. I moved back in with my mum and slowly began to unravel the extent to which the man had screwed me over.
Debts, and debts, and debts, and debts.
Many I knew nothing about.
All were in my name.
With debt collectors hounding me for £30K+ of money I hadn’t even borrowed, and none of them willing to accept someone else had taken out the credit because I had apparently either signed something or spoken to someone on the phone, I had no choice but to repay it.
And in the interim my credit rating was in the toilet.
The only good thing to have come out of all this was that I had finally been diagnosed. I knew I had bipolar. I knew I had anxiety disorder. I knew I had PTSD.
For the first time in my life my mother and I had something in common and, while I would not wish PTSD on anyone, in a bizarre way I am grateful that we have both experienced the same condition.
Mental illnesses really are incomprehensible to people who have not themselves lived it. So while she did not understand my bipolar issues much of the time, she was able to relate to and empathise with my anxiety and PTSD problems, and vice versa.
I got treatment for all of it. And in the course of that treatment I realised one fundametal thing: It was time.
Time To Create Financial Freedom And Write My Own Fairytale…
Time for me to create a life I loved on my own terms, independent of anyone or anything.
And while I abandoned my thesis and the career I had always envisioned for myself as a university lecturer, I found something infinitely more valuable.
And a burning desire to never be dependent on anyone again. To ensure I could feel free to choose who I was in a relationship with, where I worked, who I worked with, and never again feel I had no choice but endure a bad situation for the sake of a roof over my head, or a paycheck, or the simple presence of another person to make me feel less alone.
From the box room in my mum’s house, me and my pup set about building a business.
It was called The Bookshine Bandit, and it offered proofreading, editing, ghostwriting, and book creation services to entrepreneurs and small business owners.
I rapidly realised one fundamentally vital thing:
I knew fuck all about how to market a business.
What I did know, however, was how to learn. And how to write.
9 years at uni will do that to a person.
So when I came across something called content marketing, and the concept that all you needed to do to market your business was create awesome content, I was 100% onboard with that.
This I could do.
As it turned out, I could do it so well that it not only made my business successful, it led to clients asking me to do the same for them. I added copywriting and content marketing services to my business.
They took off.
This allowed me to repay my debts. To move out into a home of my own (paid for myself). To furnish that home. To pay my bills. To buy a new car.
For the first time in my life I had true independence. There was no parent footing the bill. No man in the house. Nobody else to pick up the tab. It was just me, doing my thing, and doing it well enough that I no longer had to rely on anyone other than myself.
After realising where my true talent and passion lay, I rebranded and shifted focus to content marketing exclusively, packing everything I knew about writing, content creation, marketing, and the psychology of soulful selling into a signature service.
I tripled my income.
Since then I have honed my digital marketing expertise. That signature service has created amazing results for me and my clients.
A client who hired me to provide part-time cover for three months of maternity leave turned into a full-time role as head of marketing at a digital agency.
The experience gained from this was phenomenal.
Yet the craving for independence never abated. Something about working for other people just didn’t sit right with me. And I had spent years encountering other entrepreneurs and small business owners who were desperate to hire me to run content marketing campaigns, but didn’t have the money to do it.
I’m not cheap.
There’s a reason for that: I’m ridiculously good at what I do.
But something about that didn’t sit right with me either.
Because I’ve been there.
I’ve been the struggling entrepreneur trying to get a business off the ground from the box room of someone else’s house. Drowning in debt. Unable to secure a place to rent due to my atrocious credit history. Relying on someone else to buy me food some weeks, pay my phone bill some months. Unable to afford to pay the rent even if I could rent somewhere.
Forget buying a house.
That’s a pipe dream.
That’s for other people.
Feeling with absolute certainty that success and financial independence were within my reach if only I could afford to pay someone to market my business.
Knowing what it’s like to scrape together just enough for a Google Ads campaign you were promised would change everything, only to have it produce a measly handful of jobs with clients who were nothing like my ideal.
Understanding the stress and pressure of having a phenomenal idea, a life/business-changing product or service, but no way of putting myself in front of the people who needed it.
And then I realised something.
I’d reached a point I could not only be independently successful, but I could also empower others to find their own creative and financial freedom, by teaching them to do exactly what I spent years (and a lot of pain and suffering) learning to do for myself.
Life shouldn’t be that tough. Business shouldn’t be that hard.
Sure, in an ideal world we’d outsource our content creation to a digital marketing specialist. They would just handle it all. No muss. No fuss. Zero stress. And if that’s what you’re looking for, I’m more than happy to oblige. But there should be other options.
There should be a way to create that same level of content creation when you’re just starting out. When you’re established but don’t yet have the disposable income to spend £4K+ per month getting someone else to do it for you. When you’re an absolute boss bitch and even though you could afford to outsource it, you choose to do it yourself. You’re just not quite sure how to do it effectively.
Today, you can download a FREE advanced reader copy of Divine Blogging, the book that outlines exactly how I created financial freedom for myself. You can begin, right now, to learn how to do it. In your own time, on your own terms.
Just like I did… but without spending years trying to figure it all out for yourself! Just fill in the form below…