I work from the shed.
There, I said it. It's out there. Phew!
It's not that I've ever made a secret of the fact that I work from the shed; if a customer asks, or maybe we're just chatting, I'm always happy to say where and how I work - but I've never really thought about it as a unique selling point.
My light bulb moment...
This changed very recently, when I went along to a social media workshop (given by the rather brilliant Pop Social in a rather brilliant kitchen). Whilst there, I broached the challenge of finding my 'voice' on social media. Who and what is Author Ink Limited? What do I want to say?
This is something that I'd been giving a lot of thought - like the builder whose own house is falling down or the gardener with a lawn that's been neglected for years - I can do a great job helping customers express themselves on blogs and social media, but my own feeds lay like tumbleweed, occasionally catching the breeze.
Anyway, somebody at the workshop asked me a simple question:
"What's different about Author Ink?"
I thought for a second and then said the first thing that came into my head:
"Author Ink is just me working from a shed in the garden, usually with a cat overseeing the process."
Everybody leapt on this instantly - "That's It!" They said. "That's your voice!"
And of course they were right. My voice - my unique(ish) selling point - is my shed. Totally obvious when you think about it.
OK, not literally the shed. But the fact is that Author Ink is only me; there are no officlal offices or people to delegate things to (when did you last try to get a cat to do anything on demand...?), but there is a very good, very professional technical writer who just happens to do things a bit differently. I think that's worth talking about.
There are some truly brilliant technical writers out there who can reverse engineer Robohelp in their sleep; wax lyrical about advanced macros for Microsoft Word; explain the difference between a diphthong or a digraph in a nano second - they all have their niche and I for one love hearing and reading about that stuff. But now it seems I might have a little niche of my own. I've got technical writing in the shed.
So, back to that shed...
When is a shed not a shed? If anyone were to get really accurate/pedantic about it, I'm not entirely sure that 'the shed' actually qualifies as a shed because it's made of stone. Truth be told, it's an old wash house complete with copper (the washing kind - not a sitting tenant policeman) and its own chimney - but with a new roof, big glass doors and LOTS of white paint, it makes for a lovely place to work:
Being stone, it's gloriously cool in this current heatwave (hoorah!) and keeps the heat in winter. On the downside, I've seen some doozey spiders - horror film scale spiders - but other than that I'd have to think long and hard about any real negatives.
Do I miss working in a glossy office? Sometimes, yes. Not so much the office gloss, but the people and the buzz and the camaraderie when you're working late for a seemingly impossible deadline and someone turns up with pizza and some rubbish jokes. Sometimes I miss that.
But right now, working from home has some amazing advantages and I love it - that's why you're likely to hear me banging on about it a bit more as I try to breathe new life into this blog and my social media feeds...
** If you enjoyed reading this post then please do leave a comment - it's always nice to hear your thoughts. Similarly, if you're looking for a technical writer for a documentation project - large or small - I'd love to hear from you.