Her Story with Ciara Gigleux: How a PhD and an 8.5 Year Career in Academia Set Her Up to be a Creative Entrepreneur
Meet Ciara! - Fun Facts:
1) I am from Scotland, but I am currently living in France (and soon in Brussels!) with my husband.
2) I have a cat called Freya and she means the world to me #catladyandproud.
3) I am working towards having an international copywriting agency, working with companies and entrepreneurs that are trying to make an impact on the world!
4) One of my favourite things ever is eating: I love good food and so living in France is definitely helping me hit that!
5) A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited Vero Beach in Florida (and LOVED it) and now we both use this as our motivation for when things feel hard and difficult: we want to get back to Vero!
Tell us about your business, Ciara Gigleux Editing!
My business, Ciara Gigleux Editing, is at its simplest a copywriting agency. I believe in companies and entrepreneurs who want to challenge the status quo, shake things up and make an impact. My main mission is to help them stand out from their competition and make a profit so that they can make this impact. I help them do this by creating and strategizing stand-out copy for their business.
I love it because I genuinely love helping passionate innovators achieve their goals. When I believe in a business and its mission, I want to help them get to where they need to be. I get so excited thinking about all of the ways in which a stand-out copy strategy can help each business I work with to be seen and heard. I love nothing more than immersing myself in my client's business, stepping into their shoes and really embracing the passion they have for what they are doing and using this to create stand-out copy for them. Our words and our messaging are powerful things and we should use them to their full advantage!
How did it get it’s start?
I have always loved creativity and communication, and I've always loved marketing and advertising. I'm a complete sucker for a good marketing campaign and secretly I always wanted to be involved in something like that. However, I ended up on a different path and was in academia for 8.5 years. After I got my PhD (and for a good while during the journey!), I knew that academic life and all that it entailed (and didn't entail) was not for me.
So, I made a pivot and got into editing because I have always loved reading and writing. I started off in academic editing, I guess because it felt natural and 'safe'. I was lucky enough to land a full-time, permanent job in academic editing before I had even submitted my PhD and even though I knew very quickly that this still wasn't the path for me, I felt I had to stick at it for a while because most people would give their right arm to be in my position and I felt I should be sensible and stick with it.
After 8 months I finally took the biggest leap of faith of my life and quit my job to start my own business. Again, at first I thought that I should stick to 'what I know' and I started doing some work for academics and book publishers. But, very quickly I realized that 1) I wanted to be creative and be involved with helping businesses in their messaging and marketing and 2) if I was going to be working so hard and sacrificing so much, it had better be to get to exactly where I want to be! So, I decided to make an even bigger leap of faith and throw myself in to what I ultimately, deep down wanted to be doing: copywriting. And I haven't looked back!
I know now that all of the things that just seemed to 'speak' to me over the years, the things I loved doing and got me out of bed in the morning, the things I dreamed about doing, were leading me to this point. My 'why' behind my business is the fact that I love entrepreneurship and creativity. I love that there are people out there with plans to change the world for the better. People who see things not working and who come up with a plan to fix it. People who dedicate their lives to social causes and trying to make things better for everyone, not just make money for themselves. I am one of those people and I realized that if I could use my inherent flair for creativity, writing and seeing things from different perspectives, then I could help these people get to where they need to be with their businesses to make the impact they are trying to make.
What are some experiences you had to go through to make that leap and what did you learn from those?
First of all, I felt a lot of guilt and anxiety about coming away from a path I had spent so many years walking on and working towards. I was worried that I would regret my decision and that I wouldn't succeed. I am so lucky in that my husband has always been 110% supportive of me. When I started to come home from work and say 'I think I want to have my own business', he didn't scoff or tell me to get real. He understood and he believed that I would be able to do it.
My family was also very understanding, albeit I think they struggled with understanding how I could do this and if it could actually work! I flip-flopped a lot about when I would actually quit. I knew I needed to save some money first and bide my time a little, but some days it was so hard to keep going.
That experience taught me a lot about perseverance and keeping going even when you think you can't: I'm really proud that I stuck it out for so long. When we decided to move back to France (where my husband is from) that was another big leap and then when I decided to fully pursue copywriting instead of academic editing, that was ANOTHER big leap! I am kind of leaped out for now!
But what all three leaps have taught me is to believe in myself and to know that good things come when we step out of our comfort zone.
I know we all hear this message to niche down right away and decide on who exactly who our audience is. Right now you serve two pretty different audiences. What advice could you give those of us who have more than one as well, or don't yet know?
I think the best piece of advice I could give to anyone who is trying to figure out who they are serving is to start with the why. Why are they doing this, what do they believe in, what is their mission?I think once you figure this out, you can start to see who this applies to and, therefore, who your ideal clients are.
I do serve two audiences that on the surface are quite different: French-speaking businesses trying to expand internationally and English-speaking businesses. But, beneath that, they are actually very similar because their end goals are the same: to stand out, gain clients and make an impact. So, by knowing my why, and by identifying my clients and their why, I can start to think about what they are struggling with and how I can help them.
I would also say that, although I totally agree with the idea that you can't serve everyone, I think we need to let things evolve naturally and not niche down too early. You might at first look at two (or more!) different client groups and think they are so different and you can't possibly speak to both of them effectively. But, if you give it some time, let yourself and your business evolve, spend time really thinking about your why and your mission, you might see that the two clients groups have something in common. And this is the spot you can speak to, which will resonate with both groups.
It's so easy to look at people's social media "highlight reel" these days and think we're the only one that "failing miserably" or going through a tough time. Would you be willing to share a business challenge you have you had to overcome to get where you are now? How were you able to overcome that or what are you doing now to overcome that’s working?
I definitely had to get over comparing my process to what I was seeing from other people, and yes the 'highlight reel' was a big factor! It is so difficult running your own business, especially at the beginning when it is just you.
When you start feeling like you aren't seeing results from your efforts, it can be so hard to keep motivating yourself. We all look for instant gratification and instant success, but it doesn't exist.
Instead, we need to remember that our big wins will be made up of all the small day-to-day tasks we do. When we see others already there, of course it can make you feel like the mountain you're trying to climb just grew another few thousand feet! But, we have to remember that highlight reels are just that: highlights.
Stories of success don't focus on the hard bits; the days where you feel like it's never going to happen, when you put out content on social media and hear crickets, when you email 50 people and get 2 replies.
What I am doing now to overcome this is I am staying in my lane and doing me. I am not comparing myself to others. I am not worrying that I should be doing x,y,z just because I see someone else doing x,y,z. I am showing up, being consistent and chipping away. I should say that I am TRYING to do all of these things; sometimes I do slip up because I am only human! I get a lot of help from listening to podcasts (e.g. The Life Coach Business School, Lessons From a Quitter) and motivational music (my Spotify premium account is worth every penny). The other thing I am trying really hard to remember and to do every day is to stop. This thing is definitely a marathon, not a sprint, so I need to take breaks and get fresh air, move, do something unrelated to my business that makes me smile. And the funny thing is, when I do these things, when I stop 'working', my creative juices flow, I get ideas, I get pumped up. It really is a necessary business activity!
What would you say has been the main key so far to helping you get to where you are now in your business?
Consistency. Not giving up. Continuously learning and exploring.
What are some things you've had to do as a business owner to get "out there" that may have seemed scary at first (or still do!)?
Putting my face out on social media! Doing IG lives and stories!
That sort of thing used to give me the fear but once I started doing it I realized that 1) I really quite liked it and 2) it's not that scary!
Networking face-to-face! I really jumped into the deep-end by starting my networking adventure in France, but in some ways this has helped me because I know now that if I can network in another language, I can definitely do it in English!
Sharing my opinions + thoughts. Like a lot of people, I sometimes suffer from 'imposter syndrome'. Especially when I am putting out content and tips, I often get a wave of 'who are you to be giving people advice?' and my biggest fear is that someone is going to call me out on this and demand to see proof of my knowledge of copywriting! I recognize that this is just my inner critic coming out to play so I just try to shut her up!
What are some of your top tips for marketing that have worked for you?
Having a clear marketing and content creation strategy; thinking about what my end goal is in sharing my content. Being consistent in my efforts. Not overthinking it too much, just doing it.
What are the investments you've made into yourself over this process to set you up for success?
Taking the leap to start my own business was me betting on myself. Since I am still quite early on in my journey, I sometimes feel like I should wait to invest money in certain areas. However, I ultimately know that if a service or product is going to help me get where I want to be then the investment is worth it!
I use paid-for plans for content scheduling, client call booking, design software, professional memberships, and training.
I recently invested in a professional photoshoot for new brand images for my website and social media platforms.
I am also currently working with a marketing strategist who has really helped me define my marketing strategy and helped me clarify my business. All of these things are definitely worth their investment!
What advice would you have for someone looking to launch their own business in 2019?
Depending on the type of business, I wouldn't focus on making a business plan. Instead, I would focus on exploring some of the initial key questions like why are you doing this, how are you doing to do this, who are you helping, what do they need.
Think about what you want to be known for (related to your why) and what you can do to enable this to happen. Oh and of course, think about your copy and how you can make it stand out! ;)
What are some tools that help make life easier/better for business or for personal development?
For business development: I make use of Planoly for Instagram scheduling; Tailwind for Pinterest scheduling; Buffer for LinkedIn scheduling. I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit photos and create custom graphics for my own use. I use Canva to create graphics + resources. I use Calendly to schedule client calls and Zoom to call people all over the world!
I use Elementor Pro with my Wordpress site to create a custom website with lots of cool features (I really recommend Elementor!). I use Cut Story to chop up Instagram stories into 15 sec segments so they flow better. I use Evernote to clip relevant articles and web content to help with my training and development.
For personal development: I use Spotify a lot to listen to music and podcasts. I use my Kindle to read books (+ for my business!).
Something non-technological: I write on paper a lot because I find it helps me brainstorm and get ideas out of my head! I like to write down things I am grateful for, reminders that I'm doing well, my daily intentions. I am also really trying to start my day by doing a bit of journaling and going for a walk instead of lying in bed scrolling through Instagram or reading negative stuff online – it makes such a difference to your mindset!
What is a book or podcast you would recommend for others looking to start or grow their a business or just for general positive mindset motivation?
Definitely 'Building a Story Brand' by Donald Miller and/or 'Meaningful' by Bernadette Jiwa. Both books focus on the most important aspect of any business: your customer!
I also loved Michelle Obama's 'Becoming' for general motivation about what you can achieve.
What are you looking forward to with your business in 2019?
Developing my 'brand', helping more businesses stand out from their competition and learning more!
How can people find out more about you and your work?
They can visit my website: www.cgediting.com and they can follow my Instagram (where you get to really see me + what I am about + get daily tips for creating a stand-out copy strategy!): instagram.com/ciaragigleux/
Is there anything I haven't asked you about that you would like to share with this group?
Just some final words of wisdom for fellow entrepreneurs (and those who want to be): go for it! You can achieve anything you want to as long as you work hard, show up and never give up. It can be a really hard journey, but the highs are definitely worth the lows.