LAUNCHING:

CAITLIN MCALLISTER

Company:

Desk Life Project

THE BIG QUESTIONS

WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSIONAL TITLE?

I’m a freelance copywriter, but I’m also the founder of Desk Life Project.

WHAT DO YOU DO ON A DAY-TO-DAY BASIS?

As well as writing copy and content for brands, I run Desk Life Project where I work with contributors to publish inspiring interviews with entrepreneurs, and useful advice for those who want to start their own business. I’ve also recently spent time putting together resources for entrepreneurs which I’ll be launching on the site soon, and I’d like to continue creating more in future.

WHAT DID YOU WANT TO DO WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD AND WHAT CHANGED?

I think the first thing I ever wanted to be was a Marine Biologist, but when I figured out it wasn’t all playing with dolphins and studying manatees all day, I let go of that aspiration. I always loved writing and being creative, but I studied quite a few different subjects over the years and never really knew what I wanted to do. I learned the term ‘multipotentialite’ a few years ago, and I think that’s me. I’ve never known exactly what I want to do, and I don’t think I ever will. It used to cause me a lot of stress when I was younger, but now I realise it’s OK, and I don’t have to do one thing for the rest of my life.

WHAT ACADEMIC QUALIFICATIONS DO YOU HAVE?

I started by studying an HNC [Scottish qualification] in Music which covered performance and production, then I spent a year doing Business Studies at university before changing my mind for the hundredth time. Eventually I moved to England and got a degree in Music Business, combining my previous course knowledge.

WHAT’S THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU’VE EVER BEEN GIVEN?

Nothing is worth feeling depressed or drained over, not even a career. Yes you have to work hard, but at the end of the day you’re still a human being, and your health comes first. That’s more life advice than career advice, but I’m a big believer that the two go hand-in-hand. We spend so much time working on our careers and we shouldn’t ignore basic human needs in order to pursue a goal.

WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL AND WHY?

When I first became self-employed I was understandably terrified and overcome with imposter syndrome, but I’ve since met and connected with so many other freelancers and people who have started their own businesses, and I’m so grateful to get to meet them for coffee and share our business highs and lows with each other. I’d say my role models are the self-employed creatives in London who are brave enough to go off on their own, I really admire them and they have given me a sense of community that I’ve missed since leaving my 9-5.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOUR CURRENT WORKING ENVIRONMENT?

I’m currently writing this while lying on a blanket in the park across the street from my house because it’s 25 degrees outside, so my work environment is pretty darn good! I guess the best thing about it is the flexibility I have to change it whenever I feel like it. Today it’s hot outside so I’m working from the park, next week I’m heading back to visit some family in Scotland so I’ll work from there, and last year I went travelling for 2 months and was able to work on the road. I love having that freedom.

WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR DAILY WORK ROUTINE IF YOU COULD AND WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 5 YEARS' TIME?

I would have a more even split between my freelance client work and working on Desk Life Project. At the moment I’m spending more time on client work, which I do enjoy, but I’m hoping to decrease my hours slightly to make more time for Desk Life Project. I love interviewing entrepreneurs and researching new resources that will be helpful for people about to start their own business, so I’d like to spend more time on this.

I honestly have no idea where I will be in five years' time. Not knowing exactly what I want to do leaves me with options and different paths I could take. I’ve tried so many different things since leaving university, and I still like to leave things open to the universe. I would love to turn Desk Life Project into a full-time job, but right now it’s in the early stages so there are lots of ways it could go, I’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

DO YOU FEEL YOU CAN BE THE SAME PERSON AT WORK AND IN PRIVATE?

Being self-employed has definitely allowed me to be more myself. I’m no longer a small cog in a large machine. My business is me, so I’ve had to think about what’s important to me and what my values are when working with clients and when creating Desk Life Project. The clients I’ve continued to work with are such interesting, passionate people, and the other freelancers I work with are some of my close friends, so I do feel that my personal and professional life are very much intertwined in a positive way.

WHERE AND IN WHAT ROLES ARE WOMEN IN THE LEADERSHIP STRUCTURE AT YOUR COMPANY?

For Desk Life Project it’s just me, myself and I running things. While it’s never been a blog or resource website specifically for women, I think by me being a woman and the other contributors being women, it has naturally ended up with a largely female audience. We have so far put a lot of female entrepreneurs in the spotlight with our ‘Inspiring Interview’ and ‘Startup Story’ sections of the blog, not on purpose, we just happen to have come across so many incredible female founders.

DOES DIVERSITY MATTER TO YOU?

Absolutely. Women have featured heavily on Desk Life Project so far, and while that’s amazing, I would love to get more men involved too. I think there has been such a positive push in recent years for women to have more leadership roles and inspire the younger generation, and I think as we achieve this more and more we need to strive for equality of opportunity, which will inevitably mean more diversity in business. I want Desk Life Project to have amazing resources, but I think even more importantly I want it to have contributors from all backgrounds, from all over the world, so that everyone can be inspired to start a business no matter their situation in life. It’s important that the younger generation hear stories from all walks of life, that’s why I love the Ladies-Who-Launch mantra “we are all mentors” so much, because it’s true. We should all be mentors, and you never know who could be inspired by your story.

HOW GOOD IS YOUR WORK LIFE BALANCE?

The primary reason that I became self-employed was because my work life balance was off-kilter. I knew I had to make a change, and that didn’t just mean adding more yoga to my schedule. I have prioritised work life balance from day one, so I always have time to do the things that keep me healthy and happy. Every so often I’ll take on too much client work and need to work a few hours on the weekend, but mostly I have maintained a very good balance.

WHAT QUALITIES DOES BEING IN YOUR ROLE NECESSITATE?

As a copywriter, I’d say you need to be extremely creative with great attention to detail, and this has served me well in starting Desk Life Project. To interview lots of entrepreneurs I also need to be very organised and do a lot of research on their businesses. To create the resources for the site I need to take feedback from our community and research the problems that aspiring entrepreneurs are facing, be it issues with work life balance, goal setting, financial planning, and so on.  I think overall it takes a genuine interest in the lifestyle and needs of entrepreneurs at this moment in time, and a willingness to be the person that will create what’s missing on their desk.

ANY FINAL COMMENTS?

If anyone is thinking of starting a business and has come across any roadblocks that are stopping them, I’d love to hear from you so I can create resources that will help, so please feel free to reach out.

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