Marisa Head is a professional writer, editor, and consultant based in Cincinnati, Ohio. Capitalizing on her experience in the newspaper and marketing industries as an online content specialist, she consults with small businesses on their editorial, content, and social media marketing needs. She is a recent graduate of the Conscious Feminine Leadership Academy offered through Women Writing for (a) Change (www.womenwriting.org), and holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She teaches creative writing workshops and works one-on-one with writers as a writing coach, and is working on completing her first full-length novel.
We sat down with her ahead of her presentation at the Women In Enterprise Summit, taking place in Boston this October 25-26.
Can you tell us a bit about your career so far?
I’ve spent my career so far looking for the best way to make a living off of my talent and education in writing. I started off as a reporter and photographer for a few community newspapers while I was in college. My supervisor at the time was far ahead of his time on the social media and web content front, and that’s what he had me prioritize. I stayed with journalism through college, where I was pursuing an English degree with a creative writing emphasis, which I completed in 2008.
I eventually moved into a position as an online content producer, translating the newspaper’s print content into online packages with appealing headlines, photo and video galleries, and email newsletters. This was right around the time that Twitter was really starting to challenge the traditional news media’s way of doing things, especially when it came to breaking news, and Facebook was beginning to expand to brands and businesses but was not yet a news outlet itself. So I got a front-row seat to those transformations. I feel that’s been a huge advantage to my career path in general.
I left journalism in 2011 because I felt I had no upward, or even lateral, mobility at the newspaper, and I very much wanted to be in a role that had me writing more than just headlines. So I did what many disillusioned former journalists do and went to the “Dark Side” – marketing. I worked for an outsourced new business development firm that served mostly small to mid-sized marketing agencies, which in turn served a diverse range of industries. Along the way, I absorbed a lot of valuable insights and knowledge about what it takes to run a business, generate and nurture leads, and make the best use of online media – another huge advantage to my career. Even though I did have a promising path to leadership positions with that firm, in 2014 I decided to take my chances on my own and see if I could support myself as a freelance writer, consultant, and instructor. I ran My Writing Coach on an “experimental” basis, you could say, until I incorporated as an LLC in 2015.
What do you think holds women back from becoming entrepreneurs / setting up their own businesses?
Actually, I haven’t found this to be the case. Maybe this has to do with my generation, or the stage of life that I and many of my peers have reached, but I know many, many women who are self-employed or running a small business, either full-time or on the side of their regular jobs. They include fitness instructors, designers, therapists, event planners, consultants, artists, musicians, programmers, and freelance creatives. In fact, I know more women who are doing this than I do men!
As for those women who want it, but haven’t pursued it: I think one of the biggest barriers is access to support and resources. Not just on the business management front, or capital and loans, but from their community and at home. Starting a business involves taking some pretty big risks with your income and lifestyle, especially if you’re leaving a regular full-time job with benefits. If the people you depend upon aren’t ready to back you up, or worse, are waiting to see you fail, that’s a significant ball and chain around your ankles. The women I know who are succeeding as entrepreneurs don’t only have the confidence and skills to make it, they have robust support systems of family, peers, and mentors. Those are just as important as investors and loan officers.
What do you think are important skills for women in leadership?
I think the most important thing for women leaders is to lead like women, not try to act like men. Traditional, masculine leadership is results-driven, competitive, externally focused, scarcity-minded, even ruthless. To be clear, I don’t think these are bad traits; they are very useful for getting things done. But women and men both suffer from the absence of the qualities of the feminine – communal, conscious, abundance-minded, authentic, holistic leadership – in tandem with the masculine. A good leader of any gender or sex must strive to embody and harmonize both. For women in particular, what is most important is that they never forget or downplay the value of feminine leadership just because it often flies in the face of “the way it’s always been done” – i.e., the masculine way.
This is the basis of the Conscious Feminine Leadership model in which I have received my formal and informal leadership education, as described and defined by Mary Pierce Brosmer, a woman I am lucky to call a mentor and a friend. She has so influenced my perception of leadership that I cannot answer this question without paraphrasing her work and naming her as a source of wisdom.
Can you tell us a bit about My Writing Coach?
My Writing Coach serves two distinct populations: small businesses/solo-preneurs, and individuals who wish to write creatively, either for publication or their own fulfillment. It is the latter group who I had in mind when I started the business, but the former who provide the financial foundation that allows me to do that passion work and still support myself.
As a writing coach, I work with individual writers who are at any stage of a creative project, from early ideas and visions to complete manuscripts ready for feedback and editing, and anywhere in between. While I don’t represent writers as an agent, I consider my services a good step toward preparing writers to be published. I also facilitate group writing workshops through Women Writing for (a) Change, a non-profit writing school based in Cincinnati where I received my leadership training and certification, and am available for private parties and workshops as well. As of this writing, I am the only Writing Coach in my business, but the long-term goal would be to recruit others to do similar work with individuals.
My Content Coach is my service for businesses. I provide strategic consultation and content to support their goals in the realm of online marketing and brand presence. My full-service offering includes editorial planning; generation of content (usually written, but sometimes including multimedia); distribution of that content through social (including paid), email, and print channels; and review of online analytics to determine future strategy. I’m also available on a project basis – articles a la carte, proofreading and editing, website refreshes, and so on. Up until this year, I have done all the hands-on writing and content production myself, but have recently begun employing freelancers to support these services so I can focus more attention on growing the business.
What will you be discussing in your presentation?
The focus of my presentation will be those feminine leadership qualities named above, what they look like in action, and what women can do to nurture those qualities in themselves and in their workplaces, whether they are entrepreneurs or not. I am planning an interactive session modeled off some of the methods used in my writing classes, so it will likely feel a little different than the types of presentations you’re used to – which is precisely the point. My mission is for the women in attendance to walk away with a clearer understanding of their strengths as women leaders, and concrete tips and skills that they can begin to employ immediately in their own work environments.
You can hear more from Marisa, along with other leading women in enterprise, at the Women In Enterprise Summit. To register, click here.