It’s Safe To Have Boundaries – Reimagining Hustle with Sarah Dickinson

My big takeaway:

It’s safe to have boundaries! (Also, start an email newsletter!)

Sarah Dickinson is an email marketing genius, copywriting wizard, and mom to 2 neurodivergent kids. In this episode of Reimagining Hustle, we chat about parenting neuro-spicy kids while launching a business, the importance of an email newsletter, and how setting boundaries is critical for growth.

Links from the show:

Show Notes:

[00:00:00] Roxanne: Podcasting from my closet in Northern Japan. This is re-imagining hustle, a podcast for entrepreneurial parents, creating a life where business and parenthood live peacefully in the same space. I’m your host Roxanne market, a mom of two micro-business coach and serial entrepreneur on a journey to prove that it is possible to do what you love without sacrificing all your precious time.

[00:00:31] Let’s do this.

[00:00:34] Welcome back to Reimagining Hustle. I am already so excited to introduce my guest today. I have Sarah Dickinson with me. Sarah, I know it’s been a rough week, but how you doing today?

[00:00:44] Sarah Dickinson: I am doing fantastic. Everything is going and everything’s coming up sunshine today.

[00:00:48] Roxanne: Good. Good. I’m really glad to hear it. Sarah has been gracious enough to allow us to reschedule this podcast. We’ve had some funny, um, family issues and, and Sarah’s been just glorious. So thank you for your, your generosity and, and also like your ability to be on top of things in the middle of chaos and your family is just mind blowing and admirable.

[00:01:05] So my hat’s off to you.

[00:01:07] Sarah Dickinson: Lots of practice. Let me tell you, lots of practice,

[00:01:11] Roxanne: Sarah, will you tell us about you? Tell us about the work you do, and I know you have a really interesting journey that has brought you where you are, so will you tell us a little bit about that too?

[00:01:20] Sarah Dickinson: Okay, so, um, I’m talking about staying organized. I was a homeschooling mom to a neuro spicy daughter.

[00:01:28] Roxanne: Okay.

[00:01:28] Sarah Dickinson: So that’s, there’s a lot of organization that has to happen with that. Um, and, uh, I love to write and as my girl got a bit older and didn’t need as much one-on-one attention, uh, I started doing piece work for a digital marketing company and helping university students write essays and being a coach for authors.

[00:01:49] And as I was working with them and doing this, um, I discovered just how much I love email marketing and writing newsletters my whole life. I have been a relationship builder. I really love everybody’s stories and hearing about stories. So, um, I just fell in love with newsletters, um, and I also discovered that many business owners really struggle with their newest letters and their email lists, whether it’s finding time to create content or the tech set up, cuz there’s so many platforms to, uh, choose from or figuring out their lead magnet or their freebie. Um, I just found that there was just so many people that found it daunting and it would drop to the bottom of the priority list. So, um, after my girl graduated high school, which wasn’t ever supposed to happen,

[00:02:44] um, yeah, she’s autistic and, um, my whole life was wrapped up in raising her and when she was in grade eight. Um, the whole plan was, was she would probably get sort of the, the token graduation and she would live with us for the rest of our lives and we would help her with living and life skills and that kind of thing.

[00:03:07] But she is an inspiration to me, daily and stubborn as a mule. And she just put her head down and by grade 12 she graduated with honors and is now at university.

[00:03:22] Roxanne: Oh my word. I have goosebumps. That’s so cool.

[00:03:25] Sarah Dickinson: Yeah, she is, she inspires me daily,

[00:03:28] so, yeah. But the problem was, was that my whole identity was wrapped up in being a mom, and now she’s off, and I have another neuro spicy child, and, they had graduated. So now my entire identity is like, I’ve, I have, I’m having a midlife crisis. Um, at the same time, the lady that, um, I was doing the digital marketing for, uh, she, her company went a different direction and they didn’t need me anymore either, so I lost, I felt like I lost everything.

[00:04:04] Um, but I have very supportive friend who’s also an entrepreneur and uh, along with her, along with the lady that I was doing the digital marketing for, they both said, you know, you are really good at what you’re doing for us. You should go out on your own, start your business, do your own thing. And so that’s what I did.

[00:04:27] I started my business, the nerdy quill. I leaned into the fact that people struggle with their newsletters because I love newsletters and I could talk email all day. Um, so now I help business businesses run by women and folks in the queer community, uh, build the connections with their audience, whether I’m writing their content for them or I’m coaching them on how to do it.

[00:04:51] The sort of ins and outs with lead magnets and setups. So yeah, that’s me in a nutshell

[00:04:57] Roxanne: That’s incredible and it’s so interesting to me. . I mean, I’ve been an entrepreneur for a hot minute and I’ve met my fair share of entrepreneurs, and I genuinely think you are the first person to be like, I love email newsletters. Let’s talk about it. This like I am, I’m a little almost taken aback, so talk to me about, I mean, just the love of email I feel like is something that you either like you love it or you hate it. I don’t know that that there’s necessarily like you can learn to love it, but for entrepreneurs, so we have a lot of people listening to the podcast who are moms with young kids.

[00:05:32] So I know your kids are a little bit older, but moms with young kids who are trying to start a business and that idea of an email newsletter or email marketing genuinely shuts everything down. Like they’re like, I can’t do a business because I don’t wanna do email marketing. So what do you tell those people in that moment?

[00:05:52] Sarah Dickinson: Um, that it doesn’t, it seems very overwhelming. , but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Um, when you are super busy and you just do not have time for extra content creation, everyone is creating some sort of content. , right? Whether you’re writing a blog or whether you’re posting on social media, or whether you have a podcast, everybody who has a business is creating some sort of content and you can just take that content and repurpose it as a newsletter.

[00:06:21] So it doesn’t have to be, you know, brand new stuff that you have to come up with every week. And it, it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it. The best way to do it is to just break down the steps, right? So, um, the first thing you wanna do is choose a platform, and then once you’ve got that, you move on to the next step is, okay, maybe I need a freebie.

[00:06:45] And then you sort of figure out what that is. And then when it comes to content creation, um, you just, you use what ya got. And, and I believe that, uh, we’re all, um, as humans, we’re all stories. and experiences, and that’s, those are the best newsletters is when you’re sharing your stories and your experiences because that’s what’s brought you to this point.

[00:07:12] and you had so much knowledge in your head, and that’s the best way to write a newsletter, is just like you’re writing to a friend. So it doesn’t have to sound perfect. It doesn’t have to be, you know, you definitely don’t want it to be salesy like a sales email. Right. And it doesn’t have to be pushy or anything like that.

[00:07:31] It just, just write a letter to a friend.

[00:07:34] Roxanne: Hmm. . Okay. That’s a great reframe to just write a letter to a friend. How I’m gonna, I’m gonna ask you like very direct. How often do you recommend people send out an email newsletter?

[00:07:45] Sarah Dickinson: once a week. That is, that is the sweet spot. Um, , every other week is okay. If you like, it’s okay, but you definitely don’t wanna do it less than that because people will forget who you are and they’ll be like, who the heck is this in my inbox? Delete. And that’s not helpful at all. Once a week, you stay top of mind.

[00:08:05] They know who you are, they know what to expect from you. And. Sometimes you can do twice a week if you are, you know, really on top of things and you have lots of stuff to talk about. But once a week is kind of the sweet spot.

[00:08:21] Roxanne: Okay. Okay.. So I know that my listeners will also be dying to ask because this is, this is one of those questions that I get a lot. Is there a recommended day that you send out a newsletter?

[00:08:31] Sarah Dickinson: Well, it really depends on your audience. I, for myself, I send out my newsletter on Monday morning because that’s when I’m freshest for the week. And like for me, I’m freshest for the week. That’s when I can open things. A lot of people will say, um, like Friday morning or Thursday morning, cuz if you hit them on Monday morning, they’re email, there is inbox is just full.

[00:08:56] So hit them later. Right? Um, the other thing is, is you don’t want to, the one thing you don’t wanna do is send it at like eight in the morning. , you want to send it, you know, 10 or noon, right? So because they’ve gone into their email at eight o’clock or nine o’clock when they start work and there’s a hundred emails,

[00:09:16] but when they go into their email again at 10 or at noon, there’s only gonna be one or two or three, but yours is gonna stand out.

[00:09:24] It’s not just gonna get lost in the hundreds that are already.

[00:09:28] Roxanne: That’s, I love this cuz I feel like I’m. Like pulling you for all the information I can. very selfishly, but also I love, and I appreciate you being so forthcoming with it. So I wanna, I wanna talk a little bit about this shift that you made from, you were an employee and then you shifted to being a business owner.

[00:09:47] Being an entrepreneur. And anybody who’s been an entrepreneur knows that there’s this, it’s almost like you have to split your brain and half of it gets to do all the things in the business and half of the brain gets to do all the things on the business, how has that shift for you?

[00:10:03] Sarah Dickinson: It was really, really tough. Um, because I love marketing.

[00:10:09] and I love, um, creating content and writing emails, but there are pieces of marketing that I really don’t like. Um, and when I first started, um, my business, I thought, oh, okay, well, my business is gonna fail if I’m not on social media. I’m just gonna tell you that that’s not true.

[00:10:28] Roxanne: Yes. Yes.

[00:10:29] Sarah Dickinson: yeah, so, um, I really tried to force myself to stay consistent on social media and it was just so draining and I couldn’t, I couldn’t get myself to do the stuff I loved cuz I was so busy doing the stuff I hated.

[00:10:42] Roxanne: Mm.

[00:10:43] Sarah Dickinson: then I eventually gave myself permission to just stop doing social media, or I shouldn’t say that.

[00:10:50] I gave myself permission to stop being consistent on social media. I still do post on social media now and. but it’s not a big focus. And so I shifted my focus to what I was good at. And so that was obviously writing my newsletter. It was talking to people and um, telling them about my business. Right. And when I made that shift, I was able to, I was able to sort of go all in and really enjoy my business.

[00:11:24] In the beginning it was like, okay, I’m gonna, I’m gonna write all this stuff. Oh yeah. And I have to market, right? And oh, I must be on Instagram to do that. Well, that’s not true.

[00:11:36] Roxanne: Mm, yes. I love that you said that too. I. My background, I have, uh, an undergraduate degree in marketing and a master’s degree in communication where I focused on social media. And I will be the first one to tell you, you don’t need to be on social media. And so I love that you said that, that that’s been your experience as well.

[00:11:54] So thank you for sharing that.

[00:11:56] What does success look like?

[00:11:56] Roxanne: So Sarah, what does success look like to you as you’ve made all these shifts as you’ve. taken yourself back, you know, almost from like this role of only mother and you kind of redefined and reclaimed yourself. What does success look like to you?

[00:12:11] Sarah Dickinson: So success right at the moment is sort of financial based. So I have two goals that are just going to, once I hit those goals, like. , I’m going to be like, yep, I’ve made it. The first one is, uh, having a house. I want to own a larger house so that my kids have somewhere to come home to after they move out.

[00:12:35] Um, my, my parents’ house is teeny, teeny tiny. It’s like, it’s a little two bedroom and I have five brothers.

[00:12:42] Roxanne: Oh,

[00:12:43] Sarah Dickinson: no.

[00:12:44] Roxanne: So you’re on top of each other when

[00:12:45] Sarah Dickinson: yeah, like Christmases and Thanksgivings are a little tricky.

[00:12:50] Roxanne: yeah.

[00:12:50] yeah

[00:12:50] Sarah Dickinson: So that’s, that’s my big thing. And then my other thing that I’m really, um, working hard towards is I wanna retire my partner, cuz I really like him and I think the idea of him making me tea all day while I work just sounds luxurious.

[00:13:05] Roxanne: Do it for the luxury.

[00:13:07] Sarah Dickinson: That’s right. He’s not particularly old. He’s not ready for retire. Like he’s not a retirement age, but I’m like, so I’m gonna make enough money to support us both cuz he’s been supporting me for years and I’m like, and then you can come home and just make me tea all day.

[00:13:22] Roxanne: Yes. Is he on board?

[00:13:24] Sarah Dickinson: Oh, totally

[00:13:25] on board. Are you kidding?

[00:13:27] Roxanne: I know. I mean, I I would be, but that’s amazing. Oh, what, what? Great goals too, and I appreciate you sharing that with us. So I would love to know how parenting, especially neuros spicy kids, and I love that you use the term neuros spicy. That’s so, it’s just so much flavor. I love it.

[00:13:43] Sarah Dickinson: It fits with our family.

[00:13:46] Roxanne: So how has parenting these two amazing kids of yours, right, two, right? How has being a parent during this journey into entrepreneurship changed you as a person, because obviously it’s gonna play a, a huge effect in, in all the roles, but how about you as a person?

[00:14:03] How has this changed YOU?

[00:14:03] Sarah Dickinson: Yeah, so right from the beginning when I first started doing the piece work, and now, especially now that I’m trying to run my, I’m doing my own business, um, I really had to learn how to set and stick to boundaries.

[00:14:17] Roxanne: Hmm.

[00:14:18] Sarah Dickinson: because my whole life is sort of wrapped up in being a parent. And, you know, that was the only goal I ever had was to be a parent.

[00:14:24] I didn’t, you know, I never wanted to be a doctor or an airplane pilot. I just ever wanted to be a parent. Um, setting boundaries and then learning how to stick to them, especially around my time, has been, uh, has been a journey.

[00:14:39] Roxanne: Mm-hmm.

[00:14:41] Sarah Dickinson: I didn’t really do well at the beginning and, um, set those expectations with them and I found, you know, like super burnout was happening.

[00:14:53] But the more I do it, the better it is. And the funny thing is, is the better I stick to those boundaries, the more independent my kids get.

[00:15:02] Roxanne: Oh, interesting.

[00:15:04] Sarah Dickinson: Yeah,

[00:15:05] Roxanne: You all benefit from them.

[00:15:07] Sarah Dickinson: absolutely. Absolutely.

[00:15:08] Roxanne: Oh my goodness. Do you, you talk about kind of this learning boundaries those who are listening who are like, ah, not this darn B word. Again, like, can you give us some wisdom there as to what it’s like being in the learning process of learning boundaries?

[00:15:31] Sarah Dickinson: there’s a lot of, uh, self-talk about how it’s okay to have boundaries. So I’ve done a lot of, I, I call it mind trash.

[00:15:42] Roxanne: Oh, okay.

[00:15:43] Sarah Dickinson: I have a lot of mind trash around whether it’s okay for me to do something on my own that doesn’t include my children.

[00:15:52] Roxanne: Hmm

[00:15:53] Sarah Dickinson: that mind trash creates, you know, a lot of guilt and a lot of, um, uh, like I don’t feel, I don’t feel adequate, right?

[00:16:03] But a lot of self-talk and giving myself permission. that it’s okay to set this boundary. Nobody’s gonna die , right?

[00:16:11] Roxanne: Mm-hmm.

[00:16:12] Sarah Dickinson: No one’s gonna die if I am working right now. Right? Lots of parents work, so it’s okay. And the fact that I work from home, it’s, you know, lots of parents leave the house. So if something really major happened with the kids, at least I’m home.

[00:16:28] Right.

[00:16:29] So it’s okay for me to set those boundaries and really reminding myself over and over and over, it’s okay. It is safe. You are safe to set boundaries. Your kids are safe when you set boundaries, and I mean, Honestly, when our kids are really, really little, we’re setting boundaries for them all the time, right?

[00:16:49] Like, don’t touch the stove, don’t run into the street, right? We’re setting boundaries for them all the time. Why is it so hard to set boundaries for them when they’re older? Or, you know, why is it so hard for us to set boundaries for us that care for us? Does that make sense?

[00:17:08] Roxanne: It does make sense. And it’s so interesting. You’re right because we do this, you’re you’re, it’s funny, I, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book Heckedy Peg, but I was reading the book Heckedy Peg with my son last night, and in that book the mother tells her children don’t let in strangers and don’t play with fire.

[00:17:22] And sure enough in the story, the kids. Let in a stranger and play with fire. Right. And my son pauses and he looks at me and he goes, why would they do that? Their mom was trying to keep them safe. And I’m like, thank you, young child. You know? Right. And it’s this, it’s boundaries. Right. And it’s like this lesson in boundaries, even through a little fairytale.

[00:17:41] And so it’s, but you’re right. It’s so interesting that we, that that changes for us.

[00:17:47] Sarah Dickinson: yeah, yeah. It’s so easy. It’s easy as a parent to set boundaries for your children because that’s how you keep them safe, and that’s how you teach them to be good humans. But it’s so much more difficult when it comes to yourself, so it’s safe to set them for your kids. It’s also safe to set them for you.

[00:18:05] Roxanne: Mm. Do you ever experience guilt around setting those boundaries?

[00:18:08] Mom Guilt

[00:18:08] Sarah Dickinson: oh. You better believe it. I think mom guilt. I think mom guilt is real. No matter who you are, no matter what your job, whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or whatever you do, mom, guilt is just a thing and you just gotta, you have to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can and it is fantastic.

[00:18:33] Whatever you’re doing is great and keep doing it

[00:18:36] right. So yeah, mom guilt

[00:18:39] Roxanne: one

[00:18:40] Sarah Dickinson: But like I said, like I said, the better I stick to the boundaries, the more independent they get, right? Like suddenly they don’t need me to make them lunch anymore. They can make lunch themselves, right? Because I’ve set this boundary that this is what I’m working, right?

[00:18:57] Oh, you need a snack. There’s the kitchen

[00:18:59] Roxanne: Mm-hmm. . Has that helped with the guilt, do you think? Has, has really sticking to those boundaries made the guilt better or worse? I guess

[00:19:10] Sarah Dickinson: Um,

[00:19:11] well it initially, initially, it made it a whole lot worse,

[00:19:15] Roxanne: Yeah.

[00:19:16] Sarah Dickinson: but now that I. Now that I’ve, um, learned more about setting boundaries, I’ve been able to stick to them more. And I do a lot of work. And you know, it’s when I feel start feeling guilty. No, Sarah, it’s safe to set boundaries. It’s okay. You’re safe, your kids are safe.

[00:19:33] Um, I have seen my kids. You know, learn around my schedule, you know, and they are more, um, independent now. And so because I’m seeing them grow along with me, it really reduces that guilt.

[00:19:49] Roxanne: Hmm. Man, I get goosebumps as you talk about it. That’s so cool. Sarah, what do you wish people knew about being a parent to neuro- spicy kids and being an entrepreneur all at the same time?

[00:20:03] What do you wish people knew?

[00:20:03] Sarah Dickinson: Don’t do it all yourself. Uh, you’re gonna need help. And do not be afraid to ask for it.

[00:20:08] That is, that’s something I learned, um, when my kids were young. Um, and it doesn’t. And then now that I’m doing a business, it’s absolutely like imperative that you give yourself permission to not have to be supermom and do everything cuz you’re just gonna get stressed out in 10 different ways.

[00:20:32] And if you don’t make self-care a priority, hello? Burnout, right? So whether it’s hiring a cleaner once a week or um, if you’re in your business hiring a VA to some of the stuff off your plate. Right?

[00:20:48] Roxanne: Hiring someone to help with your email marketing. I’m

[00:20:50] Sarah Dickinson: there you go. Yep.

[00:20:53] Roxanne: I’ll plug it for you.

[00:20:54] Sarah Dickinson: Yeah, absolutely. Um, yeah, just having some help, you know, having, um, having a sitter.

[00:21:02] Oh, let me tell you, when my, um, when I was homeschooling and still trying to do the work for the digital marketing company, Like hiring a sitter once a week so that my husband and I could, you know, have a couple of hours of our own time to sit and watch like a whole episode of television without being interrupted.

[00:21:26] It was, it was brilliant.

[00:21:27] Roxanne: yes.

[00:21:29] Sarah Dickinson: yeah, just, you know, don’t be afraid to give yourself the permission to, to take care of yourself and ask for help.

[00:21:36] Roxanne: I feel like that ties in so perfectly as well to what you were saying about boundaries, right? When you do have boundaries and you say, okay, this is the boundary, so if this is going to happen, I do need help. I think that there’s, they, they really do go hand in hand.

[00:21:50] Sarah Dickinson: Yeah.

[00:21:50] Roxanne: Yeah, for sure. Sarah, I wanna ask you a question around the name of the podcast.

[00:21:55] So, , those who’ve listened before have heard this story. But when I first started my business, I was not a parent and I very much bought into hustle culture. It felt so good to me. The hustle, hustle, hustle, go, go, go work hard and then work harder because whatever. Right? And that was, that was very much the mindset.

[00:22:14] And then I had my first child and my whole world stopped and I knew immediately the path that I was on was not sustainable. So I’ve been on this quest to reimagine hustle since then. So I would love to know how do you reimagine hustle in your life?

[00:22:31] How do you reimagine hustle?

[00:22:31] Sarah Dickinson: So in my life it’s all around marketing. Um, , although I love newsletters and I love to create newsletters. I don’t like mar, I don’t like marketing myself. Um, I, I love talking about other people, but when it comes to talking about myself, I’m, I hold back quite a bit. It’s a little uncomfortable. So, um, when I first started, like I had said, That was where my hustle was.

[00:22:57] Was it just hustle, hustle, hustle, post here, post there, try and get the clients, do all the things. And I burnt out pretty quick and realized that no, no, no, no, no. I need to find a way to market my business that feels totally organic. That makes me happy. And so I just walked away from Instagram cuz I don’t Instagram or TikTok very well.

[00:23:21] and I, I leaned into, Having, going to networking events and talking to people. Cause I like to do that. I like to hear people’s stories. Um, building my newsletter list and since I gave myself permission to be able to do that, um, I’ve got so much more bandwidth to do the things that I enjoy in my business.

[00:23:45] And then also, uh, because I’m not constantly, you know, going, going, going, I have more time with my family.

[00:23:52] Roxanne: Mm.

[00:23:52] Sarah Dickinson: So that’s, that was me re-imagining my hustle was, rather than spending, you know, 12 hours a day trying to force myself to do things that didn’t feel organic to me, I just went, Nope, I’ll find another way.

[00:24:06] Roxanne: I love that. Oh, I love it. I love it. I love it. I love it. Sarah, you are inspiring to me. This is so fun. Before we find out, we need to find out where, uh, we can get more of you. But before we do that, will you please give us a 30 second pep talk for other parents on this journey of entrepreneurship?

[00:24:24] Sarah Dickinson: absolutely. You got this. I’m not gonna lie, it’s not always easy, but neither is only being a parent or only being an entrepreneur. So just give yourself the space to do what you love. Keep the faith, and you and your family will thank you for it.

[00:24:40] Roxanne: Hmm. Thank you Sarah

[00:24:43] Sarah Dickinson: I

[00:24:43] Roxanne: appreciate

[00:24:44] Sarah Dickinson: or

[00:24:45] Roxanne: It was perfect. It was perfect. Okay, Sarah, tell us, tell us everything we need more of you, so I know you don’t do a lot of social. Tell us where we can find you online.

[00:24:53] Sarah Dickinson: Okay. So my website is the nerdy Um, and you can also find me on Facebook at the Nerdy Quill. Um, I do post fairly regularly on my Facebook. Um, but yeah, you can find me on Instagram at the nerdy quill, but you’re not gonna see very much

[00:25:14] Roxanne: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. And we’ll make sure that we link everything in the show notes. And if you’re looking for somebody to help you with your email marketing, I know Sarah is gonna be, uh, perfect, perfect opportunity for you to work with. So, Sarah, this has been an absolute treat for me. Thank you for the gift of your time.

[00:25:27] Thank you for just, uh, for me it’s the morning. It’s really, it’s fairly early here and this has been a perfect way to start my day, so I really appreciate.

[00:25:35] Sarah Dickinson: Oh, and it’s, uh, quite late in the afternoon where I am, and so this has been the perfect way to end my day. I really had a good time. Thank you so much

[00:25:42] Roxanne: Ah, win-win. Thanks, Sarah.

[00:25:46] Thanks for listening to Reimagining hustle with Roxanne Merket. If you like the show and want more, check out reimagining and please leave a review wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll be back next week with another episode. See you soon.