the working woman’s guide to writing a working woman’s guide
Want to get ahead in your career? Writer, businesswoman and absolute boss Phoebe Lovatt wrote the book on it.
Working as a freelance travel, culture and lifestyle journalist, as well as a consultant for various brands, Phoebe Lovatt has learnt a thing or two about being a woman in the creative industries. In 2015 she set up The WW Club, or The Working Women's Club, a physical and virtual space for working women worldwide to meet, collaborate, learn and just generally hang out. Now she's back with The Working Woman's Handbook, in which Phoebe lays out the wisdom she's gained along the way. Below she's broken down key pointers so we can all be more boss-like.
When I was starting out in my career as a freelance journalist and moderator, I often wished there was a mentor or manual I could consult for all the endless career-related questions I had, which even Google didn't seem able to answer. Stuff like: How do I adjust my freelance rates from job to job? How do I know if I'm drained because I'm on the wrong career path, or if I'm just burnt out? And how the hell do I *network* without hating myself and everyone around me?
As the founder of The WW [Working Women's) Club and now the author of The Working Woman's Handbook: Ideas, Insights, and Inspiration for a Successful Creative Career I guess I can say that I've quite literally written the book on contemporary career advice (albeit with a huge amount of input from the many incredible women -- Penny Martin, Elaine Welteroth, Sharmadean Reid and Neneh Cherry among them -- who contributed their wisdom to its pages).
The world of work is changing all the time, and often even the most wise parents and bosses can't help us figure out how to navigate it in 2017. As someone who's tackling and solving these problems in 'real time' (through my newsletters, podcasts and events), my hope is that my book will feel a lot more relevant than the dusty career guides that line the bookshop shelves right now.
1. Create a prototype
A confession: I've actually written The Working Woman's Handbook before. Well, not this exact book, but a much smaller, simpler, self-published version of it titled The Handbook For Women Who Do Creative Work, which I put out into the world in 2015. That little book was a creative project I funded entirely myself and produced only 400 copies of, which I sold via my website.
Much to my surprise, that little book sold out its entire print run within a couple of weeks and was essentially what led to me getting the attention of Prestel, the publishing house who would eventually commission and publish The Working Woman's Handbook that exists today.
2. Consult your crew
I was 26 when I started The WW Club and I'm 29 now; needless to say, there's a lot of stuff about work that I'm still yet to learn myself (despite the fact that I started my working life at the tender age of 13, when I somehow managed to blag an internship at the now-defunct Elle Girl magazine. Strange kid.) But I've always been lucky to know a lot of particularly brilliant, creative and fearless women -- both in London, where I grew up, and later in Los Angeles and then New York, where I live now.
It was these women I turned to when I need to fill the gaps in my own knowledge, to ensure The Working Woman's Handbook did what it needs to do. Whether it's The Gentlewoman's editor Penny Martin explaining how her background in academia has informed her entire editorial approach; or WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid breaking down the reasons why going out raving in her 20s was essential to her career, these women are able to offer unique insights and advice that I could never supply on my own.
3. Keep it simple
Life is really bloody complicated, and I'm a fan of streamlining and keeping stuff simple where I can. The book is split into five sections: The Legwork (How and where to start), Work It! (Plan your work. Work Your Plan), Make It Work! (Make money. Save money. Spend money (and then make some more), Work Well (Learn. Improve. Evolve) and Working on 100 (Balance your hustle with your health).
These chapters are intended to cover the spectrum of contemporary career advice in a thorough but hopefully non-overwhelming way. My aim was to create something that soothes, rather than induces, any work-related anxiety you might have.
4. Make it interactive
I'm a big believer in the therapeutic and clarifying benefits of putting pen to paper; whether that means making lists (I really love a list), filling out worksheets (I make these all the time for the members of The WW Club) or just writing streams of consciousness as a quick way to get to the root of whatever is currently causing you stress.
For that reason, the book features pages for taking notes; tables and equations (like the one I included for calculating your hourly rate) and tick sheets to help you focus your thinking. It can feel sacrilegious to write on books -- at least if you're someone who loves them as much as me -- but I positively encourage you to scribble all over this one.
5. Take it worldwide
Over the past three years I've lived and worked between London, New York and LA, hosting dozens of The WW Club events in all three cities -- with pit stops in Paris and Taipei along the way. The women in The WW Club are similarly global (we have members from Stockholm to Seoul) and the international profile of our community is always at the forefront of my mind. While the internet has undoubtedly had a homogenising impact on global working culture -- and just about everything else -- there are still huge variations in the ways that women make it work worldwide.
To celebrate the launch of the book, I've just hosted events in London and Paris, and I'm about to head to New York, LA and Mexico City to complete the first tour. I've also recently introduced a structure called THEWWCLUB/YOU that enables my members to host meet ups in their own cities and my dream is that this will facilitate the growth of the community worldwide. While that happens, I hope that The Working Woman's Handbook will serve as a reassuring reference and for all the incredible women I've met and worked with over the past three (crazy!) years.
Here's to the next chapter. Thanks for reading -- and following -- all the way to the end of this one.