"I wanted to inspire, entertain and empower women and show them that you can strive to become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously accepting yourself exactly as you are."
- Emma Norris
Check out our Q&A with Emma about her branding experience.
Emma shares an insight into her experience working for some of the best print mags in Australia, her journey as a writer and, how owning her truth and following her passions has led a pretty extraordinary life she can lead from anywhere in the world...
Q: Where did your passion for writing start?
A: I’ve loved writing for as long as I can remember — probably for as long as I’ve been able to read. When I was six years old, I would write these crazy little stories about ghosts and fairies and force my poor parents to read them! When I started school, it quickly became clear that I was rubbish at anything that required the left side of my brain or physical prowess or coordination, but excelled at English and writing. In high school, I was the girl who would write raps for my science assignments or make up dirty versions of songs for my friend (yes, I was really cool.) So, writing and being creative has always kind of been ‘my thing.’
Q: Tell us about the different seasons you’ve been through in the industry, how have you found time to be a journalist, copywriter and a blogger?
A: Growing up, my dream was to work in magazines. I’ve been reading them from the age of 10, when Barbie Magazine was a thing (yes, that Barbie.) Throughout my childhood and teens, I would eagerly count down the days until the newest additions of my favourite mags came out with the enthusiasm normally reserved for Christmas and my birthday. My mum would get irritated when I would devour the entire magazine from front to cover while we were still at the grocery store, but still insist on buying it for my collection.
As a teen, I would imagine an older, more polished version of myself, sashaying into the lobby of ACP Magazines (now Bauer Media) with a takeaway coffee in hand. And after finishing my Journalism degree and interning for free for a year at CLEO, that did happen (although, in reality, it was less ‘sashaying’ and more ‘trying not to spill my coffee on myself or anyone else.’)
At age 21, I nabbed the dream job in mag land. Granted, it was working on the picture desk at TV Week magazine (rather than the glossy magazines I had imagined) — but hey, it was a foot in the door! I actually got the assistant photo editor role because I had filled in for the editorial coordinator/junior writer there when he went on holidays. When he got promoted, I went for his job but they gave it to the current assistant photo editor instead. So, I took her job. I did that for a year or so, then moved into the editorial coordinator/junior writer role when she left. Again, I did that for a year, as well as a short stint at digital writer before I left. I took a month off, then started working as features writer and later, health editor, at Take 5 magazine.
I LOVED the role, team and the fascinating case studies I got to interview (including a woman who lived with three crocodiles. Yes, in her house!) But it was becoming clear that my passion was in health and lifestyle writing. Plus, print publishing was — and is — sadly on its way out (although, TV Week and Take 5 will probably be the last ones standing!) and I knew I had to get more digital experience. So, when a content producer role came up at one favourite lifestyle websites I took a $10,000 pay cut to take it. A risky move, but one that certainly paid off!
At the one year mark, I started to get antsy again (are you noticing a theme? haha) I really liked the work and the freedom I had with what I wrote, but I was realising that I really struggled with being stuck in an office, writing for just one publication. So, I started my copywriting business, Content in the City, as a side hustle to give myself some variety, diversify my portfolio and supplement my income.
After a few months, I came to a bit of a crossroad with my role. I was extremely lucky in that my employer allowed me to continue working for her, in a remote freelance capacity. It allowed me to continue working for the site I love, while building up Content in the City. I re-branded with a health and lifestyle focus and started working with clients who aligned with my values and interests. Now, I still write for the publication (as well as a range of others), while building my personal brand. I run my business from anywhere in the world — whether that’s in the couch in my PJs or in a deckchair in Hawaii. I’ve dabbled in everything from social media management to event MCing and TV extra work. And, of course, I recently launched a lifestyle blog of my own A Girl In Progress, which Kira did my stunning branding for!
Q: Why was ‘A Girl In Progress’ so important for you to create?
A: Working in lifestyle publishing, I’ve come into contact with a lot of influencers and bloggers. You know, the kind you see on your Instagram when you’re actually feeling good about yourself — and then they come along make you feel like crap with their shredded abs, flawless makeup and seemingly perfect lives. Don’t get me wrong, I admire their dedication. But as someone who worships at the altar at carbs and falls over/drops food/says something awkward at LEAST once a day, I just couldn’t relate.
I wanted to provide an antidote to this image of polished perfection. So, I decided to start my own blog — one that celebrates being raw, real and perfectly imperfect. A Girl In Progress is a lifestyle blog for women who are working on themselves, FOR themselves. I wanted to inspire, entertain and empower women and show them that you can strive to become the best version of yourself, while simultaneously accepting yourself exactly as you are.
While A Girl In Progress was an opportunity for me to do my own thing, it’s important that the brand isn’t just about me — it’s about girls in progress everywhere. I’ve been really lucky in that I’ve already had contributors from all over the world come on board, who share and believe in the Girls In Progress ethos.
Q: What’s the hardest lesson you’ve learnt as a writer?
A: That you’re not always going to get it right the first time! Whether it’s from a publication or a business client, I tend to beat myself up and take it personally if my copy comes back with lots of edits and changes. But what I try to remind myself is that it doesn’t matter how good of a writer you are — chances are, you’re not going to nail every writing style and tone of voice on your first go, 100% of the time. This is especially the case if you’re like me and write for a wide range of audiences and demographics. What I’ve learned from this is: 1) Don’t try to be a mind-reader — get as clear and detailed of a brief from the client as possible and 2) Use these situations as an opportunity to grow into a more agile and adaptable writer.
A: What do you wish someone told you when you first started out?
Q: That my career path isn’t always going to be linear! I always imagined that I would work my way up to being a magazine editor with a nice, big office to myself — but, of course, it hasn’t worked out like that! I’ve taken jobs that weren’t quite what I wanted to get my foot in the door and have moved up, down and across to get to where I am today — and I wouldn’t change it for the world!
Q: What did it mean for you to work with Kira?
A: I actually randomly stumbled upon Kira’s work in the Facebook group Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine and thought “I NEED to work with this girl!” Her style was exactly the fun, feminine and minimalistic vibe I wanted to create for A Girl In Progress. So, I reached out to Kira and I’m SO glad I did. She’s really helped me elevate A Girl In Progress from ‘just a blog’ to a cohesive brand I’m really proud of. Not only did she create gorgeous, professional looking branding, but she’s just an absolute dream to work with. She’s enthusiastic, patient and super inspiring. I’m so thankful that we’ve been able to establish an ongoing collaborative relationship, because Kira is exactly the sort of person you want in your corner!
Q: Do you have any blush worth words to share about your branding experience? ;)
A: Kira was an absolute dream to work with. Not only is she a talented branding specialist and designer, she is incredibly personable, approachable and reliable. Throughout the entire branding process, Kira let me know exactly what to expect from each stage. Despite the fact that we were both travelling, she maintained constant communication and was able to seamlessly deliver gorgeous branding for my lifestyle blog. Kira isn’t a designer who just whips up an on-trend logo within a few hours and leaves you to your own devices. She really takes the time to understand you, your brand and your audience and creates an entire brand concept you can use for years to come. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Kira’s services to anyone who wants their branding done RIGHT!
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