Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast


The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 40: Freedom Through Freelancing, with Bettina Deda

Bettina Deda

Freedom Through Freelancing

August 30, 2022
Courage is one of the most important parts of a business owning woman's life. It's the fire of our ambition, livelihoods and wellbeing. It's also a core ingredient to the work that today's guest is most passionate about.Bettina Deda is a freelance writer, editor and author who is on a mission to empower other women to face their fears and live with purpose and creativity.

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Bettina Deda


Produced & Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Bettina Deda

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Episode 40 Transcript

00:06:29:02 - 00:06:53:15

Carrie Kwan

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of New South Wales, where this podcast is produced, and all Aboriginal elders past, present and emerging. We respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and waters of New South Wales and the continuing cultural, spiritual customs and practices.

Courage is one of the most important parts of a business owning woman's life. It's the fire of our ambition, livelihoods and wellbeing. It's also a core ingredient to the work that today's guest is most passionate about. Today we meet Bettina Deda, a freelance writer, editor and author who is on a mission to empower other women to face their fears and live with purpose and creativity. Bettina, welcome to the Mumbition podcast!

00:07:19:10 - 00:07:22:03

Bettina Deda

Hello and welcome and thank you so much for having me.

00:07:23:12 - 00:07:28:15

Carrie Kwan

Now we're passionate about telling women's stories. Can you please tell us yours?

00:07:28:19 - 00:10:38:15

Bettina Deda

Where do I start? So, I’ll try not to make it too long. I was born and raised in Germany. I grew up there, studied there and had an interesting job in public relations for a long time. Then I met my husband, and we had two kids, and I was quite settled there, never really looking for change or doing something.

But I always felt a bit of something in me that I wanted to work more creatively, but I never really did it in Germany. Then one day my husband came home and said, “I've got a job offer in Sydney.” I have to say, he is German-Australian. So, we met in Germany, but he was born here in Australia.

We then decided, “okay, let's do it.” We moved to Australia and that was in 2008. Then I kind of followed my creative calling, I immersed myself in all the creative arts. I studied at a design school, I did painting classes and drawing classes, and I started dancing salsa and immersed myself in art and design. After I finished my design course, I self-published my first book called Downsize with Style, which was literally a guide for empty nesters to downsize into apartments.

I thought I’d start out in this business, in this industry, but somehow it didn't work out. I ended up writing more design features, house features, and then started my copywriting business and so life went on. Then in 2016 I had a really life changing massage. It sounds really weird, but literally 90 minutes that changed my life.

It was in a wellness retreat, and it was the catalyst for change, for everything changing in my life, literally. I was so confused. Only later I learned from a coach that I actually had a spiritual awakening. I questioned everything and anything, and my marriage ended in 2017.  I decided to separate from my husband because I realized I was not happy anymore, but I kind of just had kept going over the years.

Then a lot of things changed in my life. All of this story kind of came into my book. Then my memoir Dare to Dance, which I had started in 2015 initially. But, you know, it just went on and off. It was literally a seven-year project.

I thought I formed what I started, initially it was a different story, but then it kind of totally emerged into a new manuscript after my experiences. It was published this year, so it was a big success for me!

00:10:38:22 - 00:11:13:00

Lucy Kippist

Yeah. Thank you for sharing all of that because I wanted to touch on the book that you just mentioned there, because what I found fascinating about it was that it's essentially a call to arms for women over 50, but I guess it doesn't have to actually relate to women over 50, but basically to encourage us all to face our fears and live life to the fullest.

This is a really inspiring message. I wanted to know what drives your writing in that? Was it that personal transformation that you've described?

00:11:13:05 - 00:13:03:08

Bettina Deda

Initially, it was just my curiosity to learn more about my family history. That was really in 2014, I had got a little book that I found somewhere online, with questions about your life. I realized when I started filling it out, how, how many gaps I had, I didn't know so many things about my parents and how they grew up.

I thought, “Oh my God, I need to start writing about this and figuring it out.” I just thought that this wasn't all that I wanted to do, so I started life writing. I guess the first thing was curiosity, which is also one of my personal values, like the love of learning and, connecting with finding out new things, connecting with people and just being curious about everything.

That was initially, then because of what happened in 2016, I then thought, I need to write about this too, because my journey going through this separation and this awakening, and then questioning everything in my life and leaving a relationship of 23 years, which really took so much courage.

I was totally freaking out at the time and thought, how am I going to manage that? At the end of the day, it was my values that drive my writing. Now I'm sort of really thinking, what's next? What could I write next? I kind of thought of some essays or something. I don't know. I haven't really got any inspiration, but I guess that's to answer your question. It's just courage, curiosity, sharing and also sharing my story and the learnings basically.

00:13:03:08 - 00:13:44:20

Lucy Kippist

It takes a lot of courage to do this, and I don't think it matters what point you're at. There's so much, we've only got so many reference points. So, hearing other people's stories unlocks inspiration. I always, always think that what you say today or what you share may not be fully known in terms of, is it a catalyst for someone else's journey? So amazing.

Now, you migrated to Australia from Germany about ten years ago and we know that about a third of business women owners in Australia are migrant women. In what ways has being born in another country enhanced or perhaps challenged the work that you do now?

00:13:45:18 - 00:17:10:18

Bettina Deda

I arrived 14 years ago and before that I had a long career in public relations. I actually thought when I came here that I don't want to do that anymore, which was after 16 years. Now it's time to do something new. If I'm in hindsight, looking back, I actually ended up circling back to what I was doing there because now with my content writing, editing and copywriting.

I'm not only a writer, I also help people with content marketing ideas. I did a messaging workshop this week for a new client, helping them to figure out what they want to say on their website. I think my career in Germany has kind of helped me as well here, but I didn't see that in the beginning.

I thought I’d do something completely different, but unconsciously, you probably circle back. I have to say generally, I started from scratch when I came here, I literally only knew my husband and maybe three of his friends. So I had no connections. I have no family here, no work experience, nothing.

I wrote that in my book as well, in some chapters I said Australia has treated me well. I think a lot about it because had we not moved here, I probably would still be in that PR agency where I was for 13 years at the time. I wouldn't have discovered all this creative stuff that I've been doing, writing, dancing, painting.

My whole life would have been totally different. I'm not sure if in Germany it would be the same situation because from what I experienced when I grew up there, the country is not that open as it is here. With this multicultural society, everyone has a chance to do things and I found that this kind of encouraged me then also to start my own business.

I never had a business before; I was always employed in Germany. I thought, “oh my God, I hope!” But I knew at the same time I didn't want to go back into employment. I tried several times in these 14 years to apply for a job, and I never did it with my whole heart.

I kind of thought, “I’ll see if I get the job,” but then I didn't. It didn't feel right, and I didn't want to do that again. So, I kind of thought, “okay, I'll give it a go.” I always find people never ask me, “Oh, so you are from Germany? Have you never worked here?” or something like that - never happened! It was quite a positive experience.

I'm very lucky in the sense that my business is also location independent of what I did. I could literally transfer my knowledge about writing into another country. It's literally the same, it's just another language. But the industry works the same. Journalism writing and what people do there, it's not like I had to learn everything from scratch, so that was good.

00:17:11:14 - 00:18:06:23

Lucy Kippist

I think there is so much richness and so much experience that people from other countries can bring to any place, and that's both ways. So it's wonderful that you've had that welcoming experience in Australia. I think that's very much part of the entrepreneurial spirit here too. It's that willingness to have a go, like we're really brave, in that aspect, and that should be celebrated.

Now looking at this, there's always two sides of the coin and lots to consider when running a business. So I'd like to flip our conversation to some of the areas in terms of how risk comes into your work as a business owner now? Are there any particular processes that you might have developed as you've grown that you'd be happy to share?

00:18:06:23 - 00:20:50:16

Bettina Deda

I guess the biggest risk as a freelancer, what I'm doing is balancing or managing the workload, because literally, this goes like a rollercoaster sometimes, you have work and you think, “Oh yeah, that's great!” I'm like a one woman show, I don't have staff for that. I can only manage a certain amount of work in writing because you need several hours to get it done. Sometimes you have enough work and think, “oh, it's all great! I have enough to do. It's fun!” Then all of a sudden, like earlier this year, I lost two clients for different reasons. Then I was like, “Oh, I need to try and replace that now somehow!” It's just not like you press a button and there is a new client, so it's kind of you go back and think okay, “where do my clients come from?”

That is where I rely a lot or believe a lot in networking. I'm a member of a Facebook group, which I've been for five years for copywriters, where there is a job board. So I try to put some things in place where I can then go back to and look for work if I need more.

When I separated from my husband, I kind of freaked out about this whole financial side of things because my husband, when we came to Australia, he was literally the breadwinner. He had this corporate job; it was always a back up. I kind of was in that position where I didn’t really have to work if I didn't want to, but I always wanted to do something. So when I separated, I thought, “oh my God, how am I going to survive?” Then I started an online business, which kind of found me in times of change.

I always say in the health and wellness space, it's a totally different business, its product based. But then I had another source of income, and I could balance the two things. If I don’t have that much writing work, I can always work in my other business and the other way round.

I guess a lot of people these days have more sources of income, it's very common. I heard that people have different side hustles, or have two businesses or do other things, where they can earn some income.

00:20:51:01 - 00:21:33:19

Lucy Kippist

That's interesting, it's almost like a diversification. One of our experts, Paris Cutler, I remember her saying that in terms of the future of work now we're looking at trying to create almost seven revenue streams of income. You might have property, you might have investments, you might have your part time job or your full-time job and then might have a passion project as well. You can be doing other sorts of consultancy gigs here and there. It's really interesting how we're kind of diversifying those sources of income.

00:21:34:12 - 00:21:54:18

Bettina Deda

I think the whole COVID experience has accelerated that massively. It's everywhere now. People don't want to go back to their corporate jobs anymore. They only like a couple of days or so, everyone realised how nice it is actually to work from home a few days a week.

00:21:54:18 - 00:22:28:24

Carrie Kwan

That flexibility has given birth to lots of things, including a lot more activity in work, I think. Bettina, you came to us via another member of ours. So, networking is a huge part of what we do and a huge part of the glue of our community here at Mums & Co. But I'm wondering what role general networking plays as you're building your freelance business as well and whether you have a preference for any kind of digital networking tools that makes that more efficient or just more enjoyable for you.

00:22:29:17 - 00:25:08:24

Bettina Deda

Networking is vital and I started networking literally as soon as I tried to build my first business in interior design, which then failed at the end, but it doesn't matter. I was always in a networking community at the time, it wasn't a group of designers. Then I was in BNI, now I’ve been in Bx Networking for over a year, which I actually really enjoy because it's a mix of online and offline meetings.

You have your regular face to face meetings every fortnight and then you also can see people online and the beauty of these online meetings is that they come from Australia, New Zealand and now also the US. Because my business is not location dependent, I have clients in the US and for me that's perfect. So if I can’t attend a meeting in person, I can always choose an online meeting. Then I joined your community and the lady who kind of connected us is also a fellow Bx member, that's how I met her, and she connected me with you. Ultimately, we are all in networking groups to find new business, but there's so many other benefits of being in a supportive community and making new friends.

For example, Anne, who connected us. I didn't know her, and it turns out she lives literally 10 minutes from me across the road! We were like, “Oh, great!” Now we have become almost friends, we see each other at the networking meetings, and we went together to different functions and things like that. So I guess it’s helping each other out, supporting each other in these groups and then there's also obviously Facebook, every networking group now has a Facebook community. That's also where you can connect with others.

I like a mix of digital and in-person in a way. I'm still very much an in-person person. I love seeing people in real life and just chatting to them and seeing them. The connection is different, and the energy is different that you feel from the people in the room, than if it's all on the screen. Sometimes we have to do the screen, obviously!

00:25:10:06 - 00:26:17:21

Lucy Kippist

I think for you, it's the best of both worlds really. That's why we love the hybrid approach now because we know that people still want face to face interaction. It's always going to be the best forum to create connections and create that trust faster and the ability to influence face to face just has a more potent effect in person, but digital allows us a lot of flexibility and freedom and opportunities that we didn't have before.

So yeah, we want the best of both worlds now. That's definitely something that I think is playing out in both the workforce and the events. We often say that business doesn't suit business owning mums and business owning women, so we're definitely bringing hybrid back in. Now, we definitely do talk about harmony as this triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing in our movements. I'd love to hear how you describe the shape of a good life for you?

00:26:17:21 - 00:28:03:00

Bettina Deda

I love that question because I always say a healthy lifestyle, it's not only not being sick, it's just really a balance of different columns or areas. Obviously, the nutritional side of things, your diet, what you eat and what you don't eat. Then there is the emotional side of things of physical wellbeing.

So this needs to be all sort of in balance for me and especially since 2017, that separation year, which was really the most challenging year in my whole life, it was far more challenging than COVID for me and I realised how much I kind of started doing all these new things that then helped me go through this year and a lot of it was around mindfulness.

It was changing my diet, being more mindful about all sorts of things. So for example, one thing that I’ve done since then, every morning is to have a morning routine. I got into this habit which comprises meditation, journaling, gratitude, all these things, personal development and exercise. Some mornings I go, then other times of the day I'm a passionate ballroom dancer so I have my exercise at other times. But yeah, it's really having this in balance, that's the good life.

00:28:03:00 - 00:28:28:15

Lucy or Carrie

Bettina, thank you so much for joining us on Mumbition: the podcast today. If you'd like to find out more about Bettina and her wonderful book, you’ll find her on LinkedIn. If you haven't already, please come and join the thousands of business owning women just like you at mumsandco.com.au

What do you love the most about writing books?

00:28:28:15 - 00:29:12:08

Bettina Deda

I guess one is obviously sharing some learnings, inspiring some other people in some shape or form. Also, the challenge actually to complete a manuscript, it’s a project in itself. It's very rewarding when you get to that stage that it's actually completed and getting published. For me it was really this feeling of accomplishment after seven years, having my book finally in my hand, and that's really what I love about writing books.