About this column
“You guys . . . the blog post is coming from inside The Voice Bureau.” Let’s talk insider stuff.
Hi. It’s Abby, Founder of The Voice Bureau and creator of the Voice Values paradigm for branding.
A while back, in the midst of some big life changes, I found that my relationship to creativity had changed. And, after years of full-time creative self-employment, so had my relationship to work and livelihood. That changed profoundly.
In a tight nutshell, creativity became more important to me. Not in an abstract sense — not creativity “as a birthright” or a concept or a practice. But creativity in a concrete and vital way: my personal creativity and my capacity to explore it. I became very interested in my bandwidth for my own personal creativity, aside from anything that was tied to earning income, meeting expectations, or packaging work for market. I became greedy for more time and more freedom to explore my personal creativity, separate from business.
At the same time, my relationship to livelihood changed. After a decade of full-time creative self-employment (first with a store, then with a freelance copywriting business called Abby Kerr Ink, then with the agency that is The Voice Bureau), I began to question the gestalt of creative self-employment, for me.
The last stop on this self-exploration around creativity and livelihood, for me, was this:
I no longer wanted my livelihood to be tied to the most personal expression of my creativity that I had bandwidth for.
I wanted to separate art and earning.
I decided that I wanted to earn a good living using the following criteria MORE than I wanted to be self-employed:
- work that left my deepest, most exhilarating, personal creativity largely untapped
- work that occupied about 40 hours a week and rarely, if ever, more
- work that stayed out of my nightly dreams and my weekend musings
- work where I could be an individual contributor, but not the face of the brand, the driver of the business, or the heart and soul
After so many years of completely running the show, I realized that what I wanted now was a job, not an empire.
In short, my priorities changed. As they do, for most people, over time. I was 27 when I first became fully self-employed. I’m nearly 39 now. I want different things, in a different way than I once did. My vision of fulfillment and success has changed.
So a while back, I decided that the right next step for ME was to separate creative desire and work-for-pay. (I know — I might’ve once thought this was blasphemy.)
My current stance on totally embracing a j-o-b doesn’t jive with the ethos and mythos of creative entrepreneurship, a stage on which (theoretically) you should find a way to package what you love to do so that you can do it in a way you feel good about, and earn good money at it.
After 10 years of self-employment, I decided that I no longer wanted to pursue this goal.
And yes, I know that many of my creatively entrepreneurial friends cracked their own code on work-life balance, mastered organic systems, and productivity-hacked their way to fulfillment. Work-life balance is something I’ve always massively struggled with (as my close friends both inside and outside of entrepreneurship know), and I’ve made my peace with that.
So I got a traditional day job. And then a different one. As I write this today, I’ve been full-time employed in the traditional workforce for about a year and a half. I have a job description and a salary and benefits and a manager and co-workers and an office I go to about eight days a month.
I also have evenings and weekends almost always free from income-generating work, and time on my calendar to pursue not-for-pay creativity (hello, fiction and cooking and home design) and relationships and fitness pursuits and SLEEP and travel and hobbies and just all the things I always demoted out of guilt when I was self-employed.
I work a day job so that I can use my creative energy outside of work hours to pursue art that isn’t imminently for pay, and possibly never will be.
I’ve separated art and money, for myself. At least for now, and for the foreseeable future.
But this isn’t the end of the story.
I’m happy knowing that The Voice Bureau can still thrive and is on page one of a whole new volume.
Even though life has moved me into a new season, and I’m no longer self-employed, this business I started 8 years ago is continuing on.
The Voice Bureau is moving into a brave new season of its own. This work that captured my heart and engrossed my imagination for so many years will go on.
I’m so happy to announce that the business has a new owner, the inimitable Katie Mehas.
If you’ve been part of our community for long, or if you’ve been a client of ours over the past 4 years, you already know Katie, the person who’s been running The Voice Bureau alongside me. If you hired us for copywriting or consulting from 2012 onward, Katie’s been your main point of contact throughout the life of the project, and on the blog you’ve gotten to hear her perspective on seeing what’s unique about you in business, hearing your own brand voice, and thinking like an editor about your own brand.
Katie has helped build The Voice Bureau into something even stronger, especially the backend in terms of operations, infrastructure, and organization. She’s a natural born writer with a very distinct voice, style, and point of view, a love of wordplay, and client management super-prowess, so it’s been easy to share decision-making with her over these last few years.
That’s why the decision to hand this nearly 8-year-old business over to her, officially, has been easy, too.
Recently, Katie and I signed the papers that would transfer full ownership of The Voice Bureau to her.
So yes, this is an official announcement that I’m moving on. I’m no longer the owner of a brand voice development and copywriting agency called The Voice Bureau. But the amazing Katie is — and I can’t wait to watch how it flourishes under her aegis.
Like most of the incredible people in our clientele and our readership, Katie is very much invested in remaining creatively self-employed — and she’s going to be even more engaged than ever in working with others who want the same.
She’s been involved with The Voice Bureau long enough to have internalized everything this business stands for. She’ll be carrying on the core tenets of what it stands for — working with values-driven businesses, tapping a business’s innate Voice Values for website and offer language and symbology, helping businesses and brands to discover and use their own unique voice in a way that draws their Right People to them. All the things that I (and that she and I) have created will continue to be a part of that.
It’s true that I won’t be the face of The Voice Bureau any longer. But the work I created for it, namely the Voice Values, are still very much the soul of it.
I’ll be keeping an eye on things from a distance and popping in from time to time with a blog post. I didn’t pour myself into building this business for almost a decade to just walk away without a backward glance.
To you, the casual reader who’s recently discovered us, and to you, the devoted reader who’s been following my entrepreneurial journey and the work of The Voice Bureau for years — thank you. Getting to work with you, your dreams and visions, and your amazing repertoires of talents and skill sets, has been creatively rewarding and personally affecting.
I’m so proud of what we’ve built, and what you allowed us to build through entrusting us with helping to bring your brand voices to life online.
I look forward to seeing what’s next for Katie and The Voice Bureau. She’ll be in touch very soon with a post of her own, a post heralding the start of her first ownership year, and letting you know what you can look forward to.