In deepest rural Ireland, a woman on her own has developed a micro business that is securing some notable clients from around the world — and business is booming.
Wordhouse, started by Gill Pavey in 2011, offers proofreading, editing and copywriting services. Add to that the specialist area of localisation with the concept of a virtual editor, and you have a service that’s catching on fast. Much of Wordhouse’s work comes from overseas and regular clients are from the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, UK, the Balkan states and the Far East including some well-known names from commerce, NGOs and academia.
Gill (60) has taken conventional editing and proofreading into new areas and along the way has collected around a dozen awards including the prestigious Small Business Sunday Award from TV’s “Dragon’s Den” founder Theo Paphitis. Copywriting was added in 2014 and Wordhouse is busy on all fronts.
However, to say this started from small beginnings is like saying a house on fire is “a little warm”. Gill, who has been a qualified accountant since 1989, found herself out of work in the recession and finding another job was proving impossible. In the middle of building a house and with debts mounting, the future looked bleak. Then she looked into returning to a previous career in publishing, with a view to setting out on her own. With financial backing from the Back to Work Enterprise Allowance Scheme and Longford Enterprise Board, Gill set to work and while the business was getting off the ground, she completed a Master’s degree and a number of specialist courses to bring her skills up to date.
Now, the future is rosy. “It’s been hard going it alone”, Gill reflects, “but I did have some really great help. In particular, Nick Jones from Findaproofreader.com, Joy and David McCarthy of WORD-right and the Copywriting Apprentice, and Alison Smith at Galloway Media made a huge difference. Winning the award from Theo Paphitis gave me a massive boost and the support there has been fantastic. I was so excited to go over to the UK to meet him, he is truly inspirational”.
So where does the dog come in? “Diva is a clown, a loyal companion and keeps me sane — most of the time!” Gill grins. “She forces me out of the house every day for fresh air and exercise which gets me away from the computer. She now has her own Twitter account and ‘her’ tweets show the more entertaining and informal side of Wordhouse.” Needless to say, Diva appears on the Wordhouse website as the rather unlikely guard dog.
Going freelance especially in a recession is never straightforward but with determination, hard work and patience, an outstanding micro business has evolved. What next for Wordhouse? “I’m concentrating on developing the corporate clients but students and novelists are still welcome,” says Gill. “It’s immensely satisfying and I’ve met a lot of great people so far.”
As a neighbouring business owner remarked, “it’s surprising what goes on down a quiet country lane.”
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