Updated: Aug 1, 2019
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Carly Leonida, and I’m a freelance technical writer. In April 2019 I set up a consultancy called The Intelligent Miner which provides independent editorial services for companies operating in the mining sector. Prior to that, I was a mining journalist and editor at a major publication for nearly ten years.
What inspired/motivated you to create your business? Two things: first, I have two small children and wanted more freedom in my career so that I could do school drop offs/pick-ups and spend the holidays with them. Second, I could see that there was room for an experienced freelance technical writer within the mining industry. I had been thinking of going freelance for years but was never brave enough to take that leap. Having kids and the desire to be there for them gave me the courage to finally do that.
Do you feel being a woman has been a barrier in anyway during your career and setting up and running your business? When I first started out as a writer in the mining sector 10 years ago, I found it was hard getting people to take me seriously; there were very few women working as mining journalists at the time. But on the flip side, because I was female, I stood out. People remembered me, and I’d like to think that the good quality of my work helped to strengthen my presence. Was it a barrier when setting up my own business? No. There are lots of excellent female journalists in the mining industry now and the playing field has been significantly levelled. Times have (thankfully) changed.
What advice would you give others wanting to start a business? Or rise up through the ranks? If you’re setting up a business, do your research. Make sure that niche that you think is there really is there. Find out who your competitors are. Get a good website, it doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive, just simple and intuitive. Think carefully about your branding and make good use of all the free PR tools there are online. If you’re a journo and want to rise through the ranks in a more corporate environment, be prepared to work hard and make sure your articles are thorough and well researched. Take pride in the quality of your work. Read around the subjects you’re covering. Network. Go to industry events and talk to people you admire. Embrace social media. Above all, be prepared to put in the time. Longevity earns you respect.
What have you learnt on your journey as a business owner? That I still have an awful lot to learn about running a business!
What has been the toughest challenge being your own boss? Knowing when to switch off my computer and put my phone away. I work with lots of different clients in different time zones so there is a temptation to try and always be available. Also, learning when to say no. I’m just one person and I can’t do everything, but I hate turning down opportunities.
What is the best thing about being your own boss? Creating a better work-life balance for myself and my family.
What do you do in those moments when you feel like quitting? Talk to my family, they are my biggest supporters and know how to re-energise me.
Do you feel there is a women's revolution coming as more women set up and run their own businesses and is this a good thing? Yes, and I am delighted about it. We’ve got a lot to be thankful for when it comes to technology and the internet, because it’s allowing us to craft careers and businesses around our lifestyles. And I love how supportive most women are of each other; there’s definitely a ‘lift each other up’ mentality rather than ‘trample each other down’. I am a firm believer that there’s room for everyone.
What does the future hold for your business? Success hopefully and longevity. I’ve got lots of ideas, I just need to get them out of my head and on to paper.
Seven random facts about yourself
1. Cornwall is my favourite place in the whole world; I’ll live there one day
2. I’m good at pub quizzes. I have a lot of seemingly useless general knowledge that is only applicable in these situations
3. I have a cat called Dave
4. I could eat Thai food every day and never get sick of it
5. I really love nice stationary. I could spend a small fortune if left unsupervised in Paperchase 6. I’m very clumsy. I once fell over and slid down the Great Wall of China on my bum. It’s steeper than you expect
7. People often tell me that I seem really confidant, but I actually suffer quite badly from anxiety. I went to drama school as a kid so I’m just good at hiding it
Anything to add?
Mining is often thought of as a male-dominated industry and can be overlooked by women as a career path, but there are some fantastic opportunities available. There are organisations like @women_in_mining_uk and @internationalwim that provide support and learning opportunities for women working in the industry. Check them out.