This week, we’d like you to get to know Debra Eckerling of Social Media Examiner.
Debra, a professional writer and communications specialist, has worked in publishing, education, financial services, and tech. She writes for companies of all sizes, and has been published online and in national, local, and trade publications. Debra also excels at public speaking, live networking, and social media.
A successful entrepreneur herself, Debra generously shares her time and expertise with other budding entrepreneurs, training individuals and small businesses not only to communicate more effectively, but also to strategize, set goals, and manage their projects.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today.
My background is in communications and project management. I’ve been a freelance writer and editor during most of my career, while also working in publishing (production editor), education (assistant to the director of admissions), financial services (director of communications), and startups (senior editor and social media manager).
Currently I’m an editor for Social Media Examiner, I do freelance communications (writing, editing, newsletters) and lead events, and am author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages.
I’m a project catalyst to ignite and drive people’s passion projects. Through workshops and one-on-one coaching, I help individuals and businesses figure out their goals and make a plan to reach them. Projects include books, blogs, business ventures, marketing and networking plans, and more. People usually come to me after they’ve tried for months or even years to do something on their own. My favorite example is an entrepreneur who tried to write his book on his own for years, and, working with me, got it done in three months,.
2. What led you to start Write On! Online and Guided Goals?
When I managed events at Barnes & Noble in Schaumberg, Illinois, I got a suggestion to start a writers group, which I did. We focused on goal setting, accountability, and networking.
In 2002, I relaunched the group in Santa Monica, California. We started up at an art gallery and after a few months relocated to the Barnes & Noble in Santa Monica. In 2008, I launched a dedicated website, and WriteOnOnline.com was born. In 2010, I took the group virtual.
Around this time, writers started asking me for assistance with projects one-on-one. In 2013 I launched Guided Goals to embrace anyone (beyond just writers) with a side project.
A few years ago, I reintroduced my live hangouts again, this time for writers and entrepreneurs. In October 2015 I started the Guided Goals Podcast, which is a series of interviews that offer tools, direction, and resources for people pursuing passion projects.
3. What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
The flexibility of being on my own schedule enables me to do a variety of different things. I enjoy doing my afternoon hangouts, scheduling coffee meetings, and other events during the day. Work gets done, just on my schedule, not necessarily 9 to 5.
Plus, I have my own passion projects, so they figure just as prominently into my schedule, as my client work.
4. What inspires you? What keeps you motivated?
Helping others inspires me. It gives me great joy to see my clients succeed.
Listing and posting my goals keeps me motivated to achieve them. On Write On Online’s Facebook page, I ask people to post their goals at the beginning of the week and to report on them toward the end. I post mine, as well. It’s important for accountability.
The other factor that helps me – and others – motivate is visualization. I recommend clients put up a visual cue for their definition of success. It could be their name in lights, their product in a store, or their website launching. If you see what you want, it seems more real and therefore becomes more achievable.
5. What’s one thing you hope to accomplish in 2016?
I’d like to do more live and virtual speaking engagements, as well as write more books and grow my podcast, so I can extend my reach. Mainly, I want to keep building my business and keep enjoying my life.